April 29, 2006

Definition of Personality

Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those Psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to its environment (Gordon Allport, 1897-1967)
•Dynamic : Transient. It varies with changes in Person-Environment fit across situations.
• Organization : It can not be studied with only one attribute. Therefore, it is multi dimensional.
•Psychophysical : It is related to changes in physiological system. There is a body-mind relationship.
•Unique : It varies from individual to individual.
•Determine unique adjustment : It directs individual to cope with environment in unique way.
posted by Dr. D. Dutta Roy, Ph.D. @ 4:45 AM

Taxonomy of Personality

Friday, April 28, 2006 Taxonomy of Personality (Indian)
Sri Aurobindo conceptualized development of personality by following stages :lStages of development : Physical, Mental, Psychic, Spiritual ( Shri Aurobindo) posted by Dr. D. Dutta Roy, Ph.D. @ 4:48 AM

Future's hope is Thou

Time voyages with Thee upon its prow
And all the future's passionate hope is Thou.
-- Sri Aurobindo
This arresting quote came to me as the antidote to watching too much of the news -- or the "olds" as I have taken to calling it. posted by Rachel Dacus @ 10:00 PM Friday, April 28, 2006

April 28, 2006

Frithjof Schuon is not for everyone

Your home environment is especially critical to an ambiance of ascent. Again, according to Schuon, “what dress is to nudity, one’s dwelling is to the natural environment,” in the sense that we should seek simplicity, use natural materials if possible, minimize clutter, and have sacred art and liturgical symbols to remind us of the vertical. “Your dwelling should be a a sanctuary in which everything works together in disposing your soul toward Prayer. It should be a garden or oasis in the midst of life’s turmoil where movement toward God is unimpeded by the world’s noise and distractions.” At least one corner--preferably a room---should be set aside solely for the purposes of divine reading, meditation and prayer.
You must also be extremely careful about what and who you allow to enter your soul. Everything has an effect, including music, television, newspapers, magazines. I’m sure that well over 90% of the the content of these things creates a tamasic atmosphere of descent. When I pick up one of the major liberal newspapers, or a Time or Newsweek in an office, I am primarily struck by how stupid they are. It is a world of breathless trivia, urgent superficiality, pseudo-sophisticated nonsense, and elevation of the momentary to far beyond its importance.
And perhaps most importantly, it is absolutely vital to associate yourselves with “men of ascending tendency.” Of course, there are many relationships we cannot avoid--coworkers, relatives, etc.--which is all the more reason to be part of satsanga or association of people who are serious about the spiritual life.
Clearly that is one of the purposes of this blog. I am sure there must be others, but I know of no other blog that explicitly attempts to reverse perspective and deal with contemporary events in an ascending manner, from the standpoint of eternity rather than time. I try my best to provide not “all the news that’s fit to print,” but all the perennial truth that the roaring torrent of eternity will fit into my meandering creek (or crock, depending on your politics) of a post.
Frithjof Schuon, whom I consider easily one of the greatest religious geniuses of the 20th century, is for many people a difficult read. Frankly he is not for everyone, for his is a way of jnana or pure metaphysics. Some of the above discussion was inspired by a book entitled Advice to the Serious Seeker: Meditations on the Teaching of Frithjof Schuon, by James Cutsinger. Even it would probably be a challenge for most readers who are not themselves of a jnani temperament. No need to worry, however. In the future I will continue to do my best to make Schuon’s ideas accessible and hopefully useful to all. As I said, while I do not agree with his every teaching, he is nevertheless one of about a dozen of my go-to guys. posted by Gagdad Bob at 7:44 AM 35 comments Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What Sri Aurobindo stated matches the theorems produced in the West

For me the mysterious power that created this universe preceded it and will outlast it. And it has the power to do so again and again. The Hindu sage Aurobindo, who lived during the same era in which the basic cosmology of western science was being revolutionized by Einstein, Planck, and Heisenberg, explained the birth and death of countless universes in terms of a divine cycle of introversion and extroversion. During the introverted stage, the divine sinks into its own essential nature, and the universe rests as potential form. During the extroverted stage, e.g. the Big Bang and its aftermath, it displays itself in a magisterial panoply of material forms in evolutionary flux.
Aurobindo merely restates what ancient Hindu sages had intuited, but he does it with an elegance that matches the theorems simultaneously being produced in the West (See the Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo). The point of Hindu cosmology, given to us by the same culture which first conceptualized zero and the idea of infinity, is that divine creation is not constrained by the limits that Western science carries like an escathalogical seed, a terminator meme within its elegant, but severely bounded theories.
As the wave swollen by feverish carbon burning begins to break upon us, ending a magnificent geological era in which our species arose and upon which all our earthly hopes rest, my Gaian hope is for complex life to continue to evolve in earth's remaining time. We know that the earth will outlast us and endure until her time, too, ripens. But it took a universe and time to evolve the magnificent Cenozoic. What kind of progeny will an aging earth have who has been blasted by a thankless, reckless child? My hope centers upon Gaia, and if I am faithful to what I know, living with integrity, then I will live as if to sustain the fabric of the Cenozoic, even as it tatters and collapses.
Beyond this field of dharma, Kali Yuga, the end-time of Earth's Cenozoic era, my deepest hope and faith are in the unquenchable and infinite possibilities of the Source of this universe, which even now prepares its rest from the battlefield of cosmic striving. Entropy is a universal law, yet it is matched by limitless Creation, implicit in the very fabric of possibility, even beyond space-time. But if it is humans that you love, and other mammals, and the wildflowers of spring, and the fishes and frogs, and the birds and magnificent forest remnants of this earthly time, then look upon those faces and forms you love best, with the gaze of a dying man hungry for every moment of consciousness, and commit them to soul-memory.
And if the soul transmigrates not only between lives in this bounded universe, but between universes, perduring through the long sleep of Brahma in between, then she will remember, however inchoate the form in the consciousness of another being totally unlike us, and our images will be everlasting in a way the seed of our species can never be. Rest well, oh Brahma. May your great works continue to prosper, in universe after universe. And you, my loves, my children and grandchildren, live the best life you can, as if this world would always remain in pristine, balanced perfection. As the itinerant rabbi in Palestine said 2000 years ago, the Father's Kingdom spreads out upon the earth, if we would only see. Next installment, BEGINNER'S MIND: [Remember the man who reached for the strawberry?] THE STRAWBERRY AT THE END OF THE WORLD. posted by robert at 9:31 AM Tuesday, April 25, 2006 PRECOGNITION OF SPECIES DEATH

April 20, 2006

Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Aurobindo

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 What is Enlightenment? Issue 32 - Thoughts
By far the best article is the public Q&A and Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen. An inspiring piece. Despite his contention that he's just a pandit, Wilber consistently comes across as one of the best spiritual teachers living today. I found Cohen insightful as well.Choice points:
"New structures in consciousness are being laid down right now - they are just faint footprints on the face of the cosmos. So your behavior to the extent that you live up to your highest, is actually creating structures that future humanity will inhabit. Therefore choose your acts very, very carefully. Make sure that the next thing that you say comes from your highest self." - Ken Wilber
Cohen emphasized action from the ground of enlightened being. He took a small swipe at both Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle: "Since the sixties, everyone's been talking about 'be here now', and now we have 'the power of now' - it's the same old thing. Personally, I think the last thing we need is more being here now. It's not enough." The dialogue had a strong emphasis on working toward unfolding God through our thoughts and actions.
My favorite AC quote in this vein: "When you realize that the universe can only know itself through the unique capacity for consciousness that you and I possess, suddenly it's not a burden to be alive. It's the greatest gift and greatest privilege to be a human being."
Elizabeth Debold stretches for a new model of femininity in "Beyond the Divine Feminine". I liked Debold's piece at the end on the call for a "new" femininity. She uses the example of Lucretia Mott as a woman with spiritual fire in her belly, a rabble-rouser - not your typical "let's sit down and knit our way to world peace" stereotype of women that was born out of the Industrial Revolution. I thought that observation was spot on. Beyond that, however, I thought the piece was flawed. Debold jettisons the idea of the Divine Feminine because it "[makes] the feminine superior". That's a conflation of the Divine Feminine with actual women and actual femininity - it's a context switch.
Sri Ramakrishna and Aurobindo were intoxicated with the energy of the Divine Feminine, and I don't think you can accuse either of these gurus of elevating women above men! The Divine Feminine is the closest way for us to approximate the Creatix, the power of birth and evolution as opposed to interruptive creation sui generis. It's much better to take the concept of the Divine Feminine back from the proponents of matriarchy than it is to accept the matriarchical interpretation of the Goddess and chuck the whole endeavor into the crapper.
Also, Debold manages to get away with talking about gender roles without ever once addressing the GLBT community, or discussing how male fear of homosexuality in the Western world might be preventing the very change she desires to see in men. How is it possible to discuss this topic today without incorporating that perspective? We need to see more writing on sexuality from the homosexual and bisexual community. (In other words: Buy Joe's book!)
Some stuff on reincarnation - whether there's physical survival of bodily death, and how we need to redefine rebirth in a postmodern context, free from the superstition and pre-science of the legacy traditions. Very interesting, but for some reason, the topic doesn't light a fire under my ass.Other interesting stuff in this issue that I haven't finished digesting yet... # posted by Jigdral Dawa @ 10:38 AM

April 17, 2006

Psychology in the Rig Veda & Yajur Veda mantras

Prof. R.L. Kashyap National Conference on Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology: Pondicherry, India September 29 - October 1, 2002
Every human being has a complex inner structure of which the physical body is only one aspect, the other aspects being those beyond the pale of the senses. In the modern language used by the tantriks, every human being is endowed with several bodies which are termed as subtle to distinguish them from the gross physical body. The subtle body is indicated by the word sadana, sadma, yoni, etc., in many verses. Each body is associated with a distinct psychological principle. There is an intimate connection between the subtle bodies associated with a human being and the various worlds of the cosmos of the Rig Veda.
  • The outermost sheath is the sheath of matter, derived from the world of matter.
  • Next s/he has the sheath of life-energy which deals with ambitions, emotions, higher levels, feelings, both noble and petty, goals, urge to dominate, drives, desires to possess, anger, urge for progression, the power of love, faith, sincerity, humility, aspirations, equality, peace, generosity, goodness, emotion, passion and love.
  • The mental sheath deals with our thoughts, understanding, control of senses, intelligence, reason, intuition, ability to make decisions and implement them, control of the organs of actions like speech, hands, legs etc., and the powers of meditation, contemplation and concentration.

Typically in an advanced person the sheath of prana or the vital should be under the control of the mind. Often it is the reverse, the vital overpowers the mental and orders the power of reasoning to come up with reasons for doing the action, which may have no support of our secret inner being. Return to List of Papers

April 16, 2006

Etymology of Indian word-roots

Date: Mon, 27 Feb 95 12:01:16 MNLFrom: "s. kalyanaraman" <[log in to unmask]>Subject: Re: Prof. Kalyanaraman's postings on the Vedas
I entirely agree with Debashish Banerjee's comments. I hold the vedantic scholarship of Aurobindo and others with the utmost respect and revere their scholarship with the highest regard. A variety of interpretations of the rks are possible. I have just focused on only one process elucidated: soma. There are many rks whose padapaaTha, can be interpreted beyond their mere bhashaa or 'semantic' levels. In all such myriad, possible, interpretations, one common strand is apparent: that is, the 'metaphorical'.
S. Kalyanaraman__ Reply __Subject: Prof. Kalyanaraman's postings on the VedasAuthor: [log in to unmask] at INTERNETDate: 27/02/1995 10:59 AM
Over the last few weeks, Prof. Kalyanaraman has been very active on this list, and it has been, for me, an invariable pleasure to read his postings. As a result, I regret that he has to leave us now, and wish him the very best for the future. I hope he can get Internet access from Madras, and continue to enrich our discussions on the Indology list. I think that the monumental work he has done with the etymology of Indian word-roots will leave a legacy as indispensable to Indian Studies as the work of a Monier-Williams, and for this and for the unsparing energy and intelligenceof his responses, I thank him on behalf of this list. However, regarding his postings on the meaning of Soma and other Vedic deities, while I read them with great interest, and concede their plausibility, I hope he does not expect us to believe that this is the only interpretation possible for these entities.
It is, for me, absurd to imagine that that body of sruti that has been acknowledged by all subsequent Hindu thinking as the source and fountainhead of its lofty cognizings, is a mere treatise on Alchemy. Spiritual interpretations of the Vedas in more recenttimes, such as the work of Dayananda Saraswati or of Sri Aurobindo, do not overlook the fact that much scientificknowledge is hidden in the Vedas. Sri Aurobindo goes, in fact, one stepfurther than Dayananda in saying that the sruti contains much scientific knowledge that has yet to be discovered by modern man. In a talk with a French scientist in 1926, Sri Aurobindo pointed out that the 3 forms of Agni enumerated in ancient yogic literature (jada agni, vaidyuta agni and sauryaagni) stood respectively for what we call fire, electricity, and atomicenergy.The third had not been discovered at the time of this talk. Sri Aurobindo says in the talk, "Science has only entered upon the first andsecond of these fires.
The fact that the atom is like the solar system couldlead it to the knowledge of the third." But of course, behind these threeforms of fire there is chidagni, the fourth, conscious fire, spiritual Agni which is everywhere. "The child of the waters, the child ofthe forests, the child of things stable and the child of things that move. Even in the stone he is there", says the Rig Veda (I.70.2)A coherent spiritual cosmology, teleology, and method of yoga can be derivedfrom the Vedas, and if such a derivation is possible, it must be the primarysense of this body of Knowledge, if we are to admit its eminence in the history of spiritual thought in India. Sri Aurobindo gives us such an interpretaion in his book "The Secret of the Veda". In this view, Soma stands for the principle of Delight or Ananda. In the being of the yajamana, sacrificer, the Soma-wine symbolizes the replacing ofour ordinary sense-enjoyment by the divine Ananda. Therefore, a soma-wineoffering is symbolic of the surrender of sense-enjoyment. The entire processof the soma sacrifice may be viewed in these psycho-spiritual terms. The stones, gravan or adri, which are used for the pressing of the stalks (amshu), are symbolic of thetravails on the path of yoga, loosening or cracking the pashas of samskaras, and yielding the rasa, freed from personal attachment, for theoffering to the gods.
The pouring of the rasa through the purifying sieve, pavitra, represents the refinement of the senses, the higher emotional and mental offering, kept ready in the subjective consciousness of the adhara (chamasa or kalasha) for the delectation ofIndra, Lord of the Divine Mind, who rejoices in the gift. Strengthened and delighted by this nectar, Indra pours the strength of Enlightenment into the yajamana and himself descends into the person of the latter, prepares him to transcend his humanity and eventually admits him into his native celestial abode or station of consciousness. As mentioned earlier, this is not to dismiss the possibility of analchemical meaning also being hidden in this description. For thoseinterested in more information on the book, "The Secret of the Veda", or on obtaining it, please write me privately.
Debashish Banerji

Freud made the "big discovery"

Saturday, April 15, 2006 Mind Parasites, Divine and Human posted by Gagdad Bob at 5:29 AM
In discussing mind parasites, there are several thinkers who had a profound impact on shaping my ideas. One of the problems is that most psychologists are completely unfamiliar with these thinkers. In fact, most psychoanalysts are even unfamiliar with them. For example, ShrinkWrapped--who is entirely sound, as I probably don't have to tell you--was trained in an entirely different tradition than I was. Although I am not a psychoanalyst, I attended a psychoanlytic institute, and all of my training was specifically in psychoanalysis. But psychoanalysis is as riven by various sects, movements, schisms, heresies, and orthodoxies as any religion.
I personally believe that Freud made the "big discovery," but that the discovery was so vast that it cannot possibly be "contained" by any orthodoxy. This in itself is instructive, because it segues into one of the main points I want to make about mind parasites. Traditional metaphysics always makes a distinction between the God-being and the God-beyond-being--between the personal God that can be named and thought about and the Supreme Reality that is beyond name and form. The former is the cataphatic God about whom we may talk, debate and theologize, while the latter is the apophatic God that so utterly transcends our categories that the most we can say about it is what it is not. Various formulations are "fingers pointing at the moon," and although they are "doorways" into the divine mystery, one should not mistake the finger for the moon.
As another aside, as always, this blog is not really aimed at people who are “at peace with God.” I have no desire whatsoever to try to change or to proselytize to those individuals. Rather, it is aimed more at people who are already esoterists such as myself, or at sophisticated people who are not at peace with God because they have difficulty finding a plausible or compelling point of entry into exoteric religion as it is usually presented. Most rank-and-file religious people have never heard of the God-beyond-being and might even be offended by the idea. They have a clear conception of what God is like, and don't want to be reminded that the real unconditioned God blows away those mental idols like a tornado through a Buddhist sand painting convention... which, by the way, is the whole point of a sand painting.
A Buddhist would enjoy the irony, for it would be a reminder that the tornado is more real than the sand painting. Anyway, you might even think that I made up the idea, but this distinction between the God-being and God-beyond-being is actually a distinction within God himself. It is not a bobmade principle, but one that is inherent in the inner life of the godhead. It is easy to prove that it exists, more problematic to prove that we or anything else exist outside it. As a matter of fact, the God-beyond-being is the only thing that cannot not be. Ultimately it is the distinction between Brahman and maya, between reality and appearance, between absolute and relative, between necessary and contingent. It is also the distinction between the symmetrical and the asymmetrical, which is the point I wanted to make about mind parasites. For, being that we are made in the "image of God," we have the same distinction within ourselves that God has within himself. That is, we have a conscious ego that "floats" upon, or is entirely surrounded by, an infinite ocean of unconsciousness. But "unconsciousness" is not the appropriate word, since it has some misleading connotations.
For the ego represents one type of consciousness, and is surrounded by another type of consciousness. To qualify it as "un" is to miss the point. It is perhaps "over", or "under," or "around," or "before," or “within,” but it is definitely not un. Nor is there really any bright line between the ego and the unconscious. Rather, like the distinction within the divine between God-being and God-beyond-being, there is in reality no distinction. Actually, we didn’t so much invent the distinction--again, it is real--as place a dividing line at an arbitrary juncture. After all, being inherently absolute and infinite, there is no line we can draw within God, and say to him, "you stay on that side." No. This is the secret of God's utter transcendence and his unfathomable immanence. This is precisely why we can say with a straight face that everything is in God, but that, at the same time, God is in everything. Relying upon normal Aristotelian logic, we would have to say that one of these statements precludes the other: you can either be in something or something can be in you.
Both statements cannot be true. It makes no sense to say that "I am in California" and that "California is in me." Unless you are employing a different mode of logic. This is called "symmetrical logic" in contradistinction to "asymmetrical" Aristotelian logic. As it so happens this is precisely the logic that governs the Freudian unconscious, and it is also what makes mind parasites so troublesome. If mind parasites obeyed normal logic and reason, it would be a simple matter to eradicate them. It would be just a matter of education. In fact, the more superficial forms of psychotherapy adopt this cognitive approach to do battle with mind parasites. Sometimes it helps, but in my experience, it is more palliative than transformative, and cannot touch more deeply rooted mind parasites because it specifically avoids the problem of symmetry. Being that the unconscious partakes of symmetrical logic, it is has certain qualities, such as being "timeless" and "infinite." Likewise, the part can contain the whole, while the whole can symbolize the part. You may be surprised to hear this, but most psychological problems are not "emotional" problems per se. Nor are they problems of faulty thinking, of ineffective or pathological defenses, or of learned behaviors.Rather, they are problems of logic. Not "logic" vs. "illogic." That is only how it appears on the surface. Rather, it is a problem of symmetrical logic vs. asymmetrical logic. For, just as God is in everything and everything is in God, our mind parasites are in us but we are equally in our mind parasites.

April 12, 2006

Sri Aurobindo and Frithjof Schuon

Sri Aurobindo said that the aim of the spiritual life is to lay open "a gate of escape out of the vicious circle of our ordinary human existence." Frithjof Schuon wrote that "the human state is a gate of exit," even "the only gate for the terrestrial world," the very portal "through which all of creation can pass on its return to God."
Science deals only with repetition. Without the vertical element, time, no matter how long, can produce nothing truly novel. It can just combine and recombine in a linear or cyclical way. But it certainly cannot account for the startling ontological discontinuities represented by the leap from matter to life or from life to mind. It can rearrange the furniture, but cannot explain how we go from one ontological floor to the next.
The only way you can really believe this horizontal nonsense is if your own life has become utterly linear, circular, and closed off to the vertical. Then it is a philosophy that makes a great deal of sense. Plus it is an excellent metaphysical defense mechanism, because you have an airtight explanation for your own vertical Failure to Launch. If it's impossible, why bother? Indeed Horizontal Man is superior to Vertical Man, because at least he does not live in the comfort of fanciful delusions about nonexistent vertical realms! posted by Gagdad Bob at 5:59 AM

Yoga by Sri Aurobindo

Yoga is not a modern invention of the human mind, but our ancient and prehistoric possession. The Veda is our oldest extant human document and the Veda, from one point of view, is a great compilation of practical hints about Yoga. All religion is a flower of which Yoga is the root; all philosophy, poetry and the works of genius use it, consciously or unconsciously, as an instrument. We believe that God created the world by Yoga and by Yoga He will draw it into Himself again. Yogah prabhavapyayou, Yoga is the birth and passing away of things. When Sri Krishna reveals to Arjuna the greatness of His creation and the manner in which He has built it out of His being by a reconciliation of logical opposites, he says "Pasya me yogam aishwaream", Behold my divine Yoga.
We usually attach a more limited sense to the word; when we use or hear it, we think of the details of Patanjali's system, of rhythmic breathing, of peculiar ways of sitting, of concentration of mind, of the trance of the adept. But these are merely details of particular systems. The systems are not the thing itself, any more than the water of an irrigation canal is the river Ganges. Yoga may be done without the least thought for the breathing, in any posture or no posture, without any insistence on concentration, in the full waking condition, while walking, working, eating, drinking, talking with others, in any occupation, in sleep, in dream, in states of unconsciousness, semi consciousness, double-consciousness. It is no nostrum or system of fixed practice, but an eternal fact of process based on the very nature of the Universe.Nevertheless, in practice the name may be limited to certain applications of this general process for specific and definite ends.
Yoga stands essentially on the fact that in this world we are everywhere one, yet divided; one yet divided in our being, one with yet divided from our fellow creatures of all kinds, one with yet divided from infinite existence which we call God, Nature or Brahman. Yoga, generally, is the power which the soul in one body has of entering into effective relation with other souls, with parts of itself which are behind the waking consciousness, with forces of Nature and objects in Nature, with the Supreme Intelligence, Power and Bliss which governs the world either for the sake of that union in itself or for the purpose of increasing or modifying our manifest being, knowledge, faculty, force or delight. Any system which organises our inner being and our outer frame for these ends may be called a system of Yoga.
As the Indian mind, emerging from its narrow mediaeval entrenchments, advances westward towards inevitable conquest, it must inevitably carry with it Yoga and Vedanta for its banners wherever it goes. Brahmajnana, Yoga and Dharma are the three essentialities of Hinduism; wherever it travels and find harbourage and resting place, these three must spread. All else may help or hinder. Shankara's philosophy may compel the homage of the intellectual, Shankhya attract the admiration of the analytical mind, Buddha capture the rationalist in search of a less material synthesis than the modern scientist's continual Annam Brahma Pranam Brahma, but these are only grandiose intellectualities. The world at large does not live by the pure intellect, although, immaterial in its origin, it bases practicality upon abstractions. A goal of life a practice of perfection and a rational, yet binding law of conduct, - these are man's continual quest, and in none of these demands is modern Science able to satisfy humanity. In reply to all such wants Science can only cry, Society and again Society and always Society.
But the nature of man knows that Society is not the whole of life. With the eye of the soul it sees that Society is only a means, not an end, a passing and changing outward phenomenon, not that fixed, clear and eternal inward standard and goal which we seek. Of Society as of all things Yajnavalkya's universal dictum stands: a man loves and serves Society for the sake of the Self and not for the sake of Society. That is his nature and whatever Rationalism may teach, to his nature he must always return. What Science could not provide India offers, Brahman for the eternal goal, Yoga for the means of perfection, dharma (swabhavaniyatam karma) for the rational yet binding law of conduct. Therefore, because it has something by which humanity can be satisfied and on which it can found itself, the victory of the Indian mind is assured.But in order that the victory may not be slow and stumbling in its progress and imperfect in its fulfilment, it is necessary that whatever India has to offer should be stated to the West on language that the West can understand and through a principle of knowledge which it has made its own. Europe will accept nothing which is not scientific, nothing, that is to say which does not take up its stand on an assured, well-ordered and verifiable knowledge. Undoubtedly, for practical purposes the West is right; since only by establishing ourselves on such an assured foundation can we work with the utmost effectiveness and make the most of what we know.
For shastra is the true basis of all perfect action and shastra means the full and careful teaching of the principles, relations and processes of every branch of knowledge, action or conduct with which the mind concerns itself. Indian knowledge possesses such a scientific basis, but, in these greater matters, unexpressed or expressed only in broad principles, compact aphorisms, implied logical connections not minutely treated in detail, fully with a patient logical order and development in the way to which the occidental intellect is now accustomed and which it has become its second nature to demand. The aphoristic method has great advantages. It prevents the mind from getting encrusted in details and fossilizing there; it leaves a wide room and great latitude for originality and the delicate play of individuality in the details. It allows a science to remain elastic and full of ever new potentialities for the discoverer. No doubt, it has disadvantages. It leaves much room for inaccuracy, for individual error, for the violences of the illtrained and the freaks of the inefficient. For this, among other more important reasons, the Indian mind has thought it wise to give a firm and absolute authority to the guru and to insist that the disciple shall by precept and practice make his own all that the master has to teach him and so form and train his mind before it is allowed to play freely with his subject. In Europe the manual replaces the guru; the mind of the learner is not less rigidly bound and dominated but it is by the written rule and detail not by the more adaptable and flexible word of the guru.
Still, the age has its own demands, and it is becoming imperatively necessary that Indian knowledge should reveal in the Western way its scientific foundations. For if we do not do it ourselves, the Europeans will do it for us and do it badly, discrediting the knowledge in the process. The phenomenon of the Theosophical Society is a warning to us of a pressing urgency. It will never do to allow the science of Indian knowledge to be represented to the West through this strange and distorting medium. For this society of European and European-led inquirers arose from an impulse on which the Time-Spirit itself insists; their object, vaguely grasped at by them, was at bottom the systematic coordination, explanation and practice of Oriental religion and Oriental mental and spiritual discipline. Unfortunately, as always happens to a great effort in unfit hands, it stumbled at the outset and went into strange paths. It fell into the mediaeval snare of Gnostic mysticism, Masonic secrecy and Rosicrucian jargon. The little science it attempted has been rightly stigmatized as pseudo-science.
A vain attempt to thrust in modern physical science into the explanation of psychical movements, - to explain for instance pranayam in the terms of oxygen and hydrogen! - to accept uncritically every experience and every random idea about an experience as it occurred to the mind and set ut up as a revealed truth and almost a semi-divine communication, to make a hopeless amalgam and jumble of science, religion and philosophy all expressed in the terms of the imagination - this has been the scientific method of Theosophy. The result is that it lays its hands on truth and muddles it so badly that it comes out to the world as an untruth. And there now abound other misstatements of Indian truth, less elaborate but almost as wild and wide as Theosophy's. And there now abound other misstatements of Indian truth, less elaborate but almost as wild and wide as Theosophy's. From this growing confusion we must deliver the future of humanity. posted by DJ @ 3:41 AM Thursday, April 06, 2006

April 04, 2006

Modern developmental psychoanalysis

Human knowledge is unavoidably embodied knowledge, and having the sort of body we do has a direct bearing on that. This is why I love modern developmental psychoanalysis, because it is the one science that understands the importance of the fact that we are embodied... You see, people still think about the body in premodern ways, as if there is a sharp division between body and mind, and that we consist of a sort of immaterial soul that is implanted into a body. (There is some truth to that, but I don't want to go there for the moment.)
Science continues to study human intelligence in the wrong way. There seems to be a default position that intelligence is simply a result of a complex enough nervous system--as if, through blind natural selection, our hominid brains just became more and more complex, until voila, human intelligence popped out. That is a very unsophisticated, pre-post-postmodern view. For human intelligence and self-consciousness only came about through a very species specific situation, not simply through genes and brains. Although genes and brains were obviously necessary, they were not sufficient to produce humanness. posted by Gagdad Bob at 6:10 AM 25 comments Friday, March 31, 2006

April 02, 2006

Putting out sweets to lure the flies

Tusar N Mohapatra said... Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have formulated an Integral roadmap for the future of humanity by synthesizing the best elements from all cultures and religions. They have written extensively in English and French the philosophical background of their vision as well as the practical means to achieve that.Their works need to be read patiently and over a long period. The next evolution that Sri Aurobindo has heralded is an inevitability but waits for our receptivity.

dilys said... PS to Tusar re: "the philosophical background of their vision as well as the practical means to achieve that." Unless you maintain that none of this can be represented except in the words as spoken/written (in which case why translation?), I would encourage and request that you drop a few tidbits of your knowledge into our discussion. Evangelistic reading assignments are not persuasive. The Historical Inevitability of the Aurobindean Vision may indeed be the case, but isn't there a principle somewhere of putting out sweets to lure the flies, in the buzzing blogosphere as anywhere else? Surely your Master must have set an example of productive communication. What have been your own recognitions? What aspect of the philosophical background, or means to reach the future of humanity, do you find helpful in your own experience? 21st Century listeners may be forgiven for being leery of a promise for a brighter future without the specifics. It may be necessary to find them interpreted by those advanced students who understand and bear the vision, to introduce those who do not yet grasp the promise. Should work so long as we lesser folk are allowed to read your comments without some kind of graduated access....

I wish, I enjoyed the privilege of creative interpretation of the teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Welcome to Savitri Era, nevertheeless. Posted by: Tusar N. Mohapatra April 01, 2006 at 09:49 PM

Gagdad Bob said...
Tusar--As you know, Sri Aurobindo had no interest whatsover in creating a new religion for the masses. Why are you debasing the teachings in this way? I would appreciate it if you would cease from doing so on my blog. If you wish to proselytize, please do it elsewhere. Better yet, stop doing it. Trust me--you are not doing the Master a service.

Authentic Self

Cohen: .... very few people seem to know about it. In fact, besides Aurobindo, I've never heard anybody speak about the Authentic Self in this way.
The HGA is said to be experienced as a deeply personal entity, separate from the mundane self, that offers one's ideal best aspect and aids one in acting with extraordinary effectiveness and fierce compassion. Very obviously the same thing that Cohen is talking about with the Authentic Self. Though western occultists are hardly unfamiliar with the idea of the egoless, universal transcendence of what Cohen calls the Self Absolute, this isn't nearly so much a preoccupation as pursing the HGA.
Cohen publishes a magazine about the nature of enlightenment, quotes Sri Aurobindo, and is literally a professional spiritual guru. So how is it he hadn't heard about this, and only recently came to understand it? Wilbur holds a claim to being the one of the leading contemporary scholars of spiritual practice. Why didn't he know to mention that the "Authentic Self" is a central preoccupation of an thriving community of contemporary spiritual practice?
Still, it is surprising to me that Wilbur, who has researched a wide range of enlightenment paths pretty deeply, seems to regard this as obscure. I know that he has said some dismissive things about western magickians and neopagans, but I would have presumed that he was familiar enough with the rigorous side of these approaches to have recognized the Authentic Self --- which he describes quite well --- as a preoccupation of folks working these paths. Jonathan Korman Miniver Cheevy Tuesday, March 28, 2006 Create a Link