July 31, 2006

Deity-free cosmos

Sunday, July 30, 2006 More Pneumababble With Sigmund, Carl and Alfred
The innerview with Sigmund, Carl and Alfred continues. I don’t know that all the answers will be as windy as the first, but the windbag bloweth where it will, so we’ll see. Fortunately, he doesn't charge by the word.
Q: Are morals and ethics really “moving targets”?
A: No, I think they are stable targets toward which we are drawn. Spiritual evolution--or devolution--is a measure of how close or distant we are to these generally unattainable ideals.
The concept of objective morality confuses a lot of people, because they conflate the realm from which morality arises with the realm in which we physically exist. But the two realms are clearly not identical. Rather, part of the “human project,” so to speak, is to bring these two worlds into accord. This is the meaning of “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In the esoteric understanding, the dichotomy of heaven and earth symbolizes the ontological vertical divide, without which we truly would be condemned to a meaningless flatland existence: a journey from nothing to nowhere, with a handful of gimme in between.
But the essence of our humanness involves our ability to intuit the realm of the real--to distinguish between appearance and reality, or maya and brahman. Remember, in philosophy, the "real" does not refer to the constantly changing material world, but to the abiding reality behind it. Platonic realism refers to any school of thought that attributes reality to general ideas that are considered universal. Now, there is a lot in Plato that I don’t care for (which you can say about any great philosopher... well, except perhaps for the pedophilia), but there is no getting around the fact that he was correct on this score.
For example, most truly great mathematicians, if they are of a philosophical bent and reflect upon what they do, are unabashed Platonists. Although great mathematicians possess a promethean creativity, at the same time, they know that they are not “inventing” anything. Rather, there is a deep and abiding sense that they are discovering permanent truths about existence. But where were these truths before the mathematician discovered them? Not only are these truths real, but in a certain sense, they are somehow more real than the world to which they give rise. In other words, these equations represent the enduring reality behind shifting appearances. A cosmos--which means "order"--is not possible without them.It is the same with modern physics.
There is a nifty little book entitled Quantum Questions: The Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists, compiled by Ken Wilber, who, by the way, has been stalking me for years and tapping my phones, but I really don't want to get into that right now. The book demonstrates how all these formidable scientific minds--Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Planck, Pauli, Eddington, et al--arrived at a mystical or transcendental world view that regards the world as ineluctably spiritual and conscious rather than merely dead and material. Among other things, they could not reconcile the awesome beauty of the timeless mathematical world they had discovered with any deity-free cosmos.
Again, as I mentioned yesterday, this kind of natural theology only gets you so far, because one cannot necessarily equate the “God of the philosophers” with the God of the Bible or the Upanishads. But it is certainly enough, in my view, to grant that latter God an interview. After all, it’s a pretty impressive resume. If he wrote the laws of physics, who's to say that he couldn’t have inscribed the moral law within our hearts? posted by Gagdad Bob at 8:21 AM 10 comments Clinical psychologist Robert Godwin is an extreme seeker and off-road spiritual aspirant

Spiritual Psychology

Harvard Review of Psychiatry Taylor & Francis Issue: Volume 12, Number 2 / March / April 2004 Pages: 105 - 115
An Introduction to Spiritual Psychology: Overview of the Literature, East and West
Michael Miovic [From the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Psychosocial Oncology Program, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA]
This article outlines the philosophical background to spiritual psychology and selectively reviews Western and Eastern literature on the subject. The world views of theism, atheism, and agnosticism are defined and critiqued, and the boundaries of scientific knowledge discussed. The views of James, Jung, and Freud are reviewed, and the contributions of humanistic psychology noted. Contemporary spiritual psychology is then summarized with reference to recent literature on theistic psychotherapy, Buddhist psychology, mind-body medicine, and transpersonal psychology. Sri Aurobindo's work is introduced as a modern Asian perspective on theistic psychology, and his model of the relationship between the “soul” and the unconscious described. Finally, a brief clinical vignette is given.

A basic underlying commonality

The Internal Conflict Model: A Theoretical Framework for Integration
Toru SatoShippensburg University The Humanistic Psychologist 2005, Vol. 33, No. 1, Pages 33-44
In the past, many psychological theories have been introduced in an attempt to explain the relationship between anxiety and internal conflict (e.g., Adler, 1954; Fairbairn, 1974; Freud, 1966; Guntrip, 1964; Rogers, 1959). Although each of them is unique in its own way, there seems to be a basic underlying commonality that runs through the vast number of these theories. This article is focused on introducing a theoretical framework representing this underlying commonality. It is referred to as the "internal conflict model," and is designed to understand many of our emotional experiences in relation to internal conflict. In this article, the internal conflict model is used to provide a simple explanation for the experience of both positive and negative arousal, coping strategies, the concept of forgiveness, and the concept of ego-transcendence among many others. Cited by John F. Cryan, Andrew Holmes​‌. (2005) Model organisms: The ascent of mouse: advances in modelling human depression and anxiety. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 4:9, 775 CrossRef Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.,

Cosmos and Psyche

Many writers and artists who did not use the word "integral" to refer to their theories nonetheless are considered by theorists to act, think or theorize in an integral way. These include contemporary thinkers like Jurgen Habermas and Rupert Sheldrake, and historical figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Gandhi. The following writers contributed essential ideas to integral theory:

See also Evolution Holarchy Holism Holistic science Holon Integral Links External links Integral Institute Integral Naked Integral World Integral Thinking Integral Review

Integral theorists

Integral theory seeks a comprehensive understanding of humans and the universe by combining scientific and spiritual insights. According to the Integral Transformative Practice website, integral means "dealing with the body, mind, heart, and soul." Integral theory flows into everything, but its genesis and basis is ultimately an attempt to overcome the drawbacks introduced by the advent of rationalism.
Rationalism, through Descartes' dualism, split mind (and by implication, spirit) from body. This freed science from religious control and enabled vast advances in our understanding of the physical world. But in doing so it subordinated, then ignored, then denied the existence of an ineffable realm. Scientism makes the error of thinking that its method is universally applicable, even in the face of mathematical proofs of the Incompleteness theorem and the Uncertainty principle which show that it, too, has its limits. Integral theory begins by acknowledging and validating mystical experience, rather than denying its reality.
These experiences have occurred to humans in all cultures in all eras, and are accepted as valuable and not pathological. Integral theory claims that both science and mysticism (or spirituality) are necessary for complete understanding of humans and the universe. Integral theory is a new and developing movement. Consequently, no member of a list of integral thinkers or artworks will be uncontroversial. The following thinkers used the term "integral" to describe their work.
The word "integral" was originally used by the Hindu writer and guru Sri Aurobindo to describe the yoga he taught (integral or poorna ("complete") yoga). Aurobindo's integral yoga involves transformation of the entire being, rather than, as in most other teachings, a single faculty such as the head or the heart or the body. Aurobindo's major works include: The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, and Savitri. Important concepts in Aurobindo's thought include: Involution, Evolution, the Physical, the Vital, the Mental, the Psychic Being, the Triple Transformation, and the Supermind. After his passing his co-worker, The Mother, founded Auroville, an international community dedicated to human unity.
Jean Gebser, Swiss phenomenologist, was the author of The Ever-present Origin, which concieved of human history as stages of consciousness. Gebser saw in the momentous events of the 1930s and '40s a revolution in consciousness which he identified as the transition to the integral stage.
Haridas Chaudhuri, a Bengali philosopher, was a correspondant with Aurobindo and founded the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Michael Murphy, author of The Future of the Body, and George Leonard, are co-founders of the Esalen Institute and the Human Potential Movement, and co-authors of The Life We Are Given.
Ken Wilber is the most visible and popular integral theorist in the world today. Wilber's books include: Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Integral Psychology, and Boomeritis. His major ideas include: AQAL, Integral ecology, Integral politics, and Vision-logic. Founder of the Integral Institute, Integral Naked, and Integral University.
Clare Graves, American psychology professor, was the creator of the Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory of human development, which inspired the book Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Chris Cowan.
Georg Feuerstein is the author of Wholeness or Transcendence: Ancient Lessons for the Emerging Global Civilization and Structures of Consciousness: The Genius of Jean Gebser, An Introduction and Critique, and founder of the Yoga Research and Education Center and Traditional Yoga Studies.
Allan Combs is the author of The Radiance of Being: Understanding the Grand Integral Vision, Living the Integral Life.
Robert Kegan and Susan Cook-Greuter are Harvard developmental psychologists who are considered integral theorists. They are members of the Integral Institute.

An Integral meta-paradigm

Edward Berge Says: July 30th, 2006 at 8:02 am I think you on right Marko that Buddhist and Postmodern thought are both on to some very similar ideas, though both sides would vehemently deny it. I’ve read numerous articles that suggest as much, though there are still some differences between the two. I intepret those differences through my personal, idiosyncatic integral lens as the pomo version being of a higher structural level of development and therefore more inclusive and relatively better than the Buddhist intepretation. (Ironically I also realize that I shouldn’t be able to make this judgment if I were the type of postmodernist criticized by Ken.)
I’d also agree that Ken uses more the Buddhist intepretation through his integral lens. But he also sees that the pomo worldview is an advance in some respects and I think he rightly includes some of those discoveries. I just think that due to his Buddhist bias he sometimes misinterprets some of pomo’s conceptions and misses how close it is to some of the Buddhist ideas of emptiness, witness consciousness and nondual realization. Only better.
alan kazlev Says: July 30th, 2006 at 2:52 pm Buddhism and postmodernism. To me this seems like yet another attempt to make Buddhism “respectable” to the secular West, much as Wilber is trying to do with traditional spirituality. Sure there are superficial similarities, but likewise there are superficial similarities with quantum physics, as Fritjof Capra showed. Jorge Ferrer, in Revisioning Transpersonal Theory, has some pertinant critical comments to make regarding these sort of apologetics...
For me it is very important that an Integral meta-paradigm break free of the shackles of western secularism. That means going beyond western academia and the limitations of the physical-secular consciousness. I am not here denigrating the vital role of academia in helping to elucidate the facts of the objective material world, and our physical consciousness’ individual and collective responses to and interaction with it and with each other. But this can only be a small part of the larger picture.
This is why I see Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as better exemplars for an Integral tradition than Wilber or any other academic or quasi-academic theorist, brilliant and insightful as they may be, and useful as their contribution may be in adding to the much larger understanding and praxis.

July 30, 2006

Sri Aurobindo guides us to the Future

From: "barin chaki" To: "Tusar N. Mohapatra" Subject: Re: THE PERENNIAL QUEST by Joseph Vrinte Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2006 12:29:39 +0100 (BST)
Hello Tusar, I have read the review by Julian Candy of the book THE PERENNIAL QUEST FOR A PSYCHOLOGY WITH A SOUL written by Joseph Vrinte in Savitri Era Learning Forum. I want to say something regarding the following passage quoted from Vrinte.

Vrinte's final position is shortly summed up when he writes, "It may be necessary that the integral views Sri Aurobindo once held have to be modified by his followers in the field of present-day knowledge. Ken Wilber's current integral views may likewise soon be seen as naive. That's why further revision of both integral approaches is necessary for future application to each seeker's unique life and circumstances." [p 544]

This is purely an intellectual view — limited to intellect only, having all the limitations of the narrow human understanding. All the philosophical or spiritual views of Sri Aurobindo, originated from higher levels of Realization, though they were expressed and conveyed intellectually, so that reason can comprehend, so that others can understand. Sri Aurobindo conveyed His message to us from 1914 to 1950 ; I am not speaking of His earlier writings. I do not find that present day knowledge, as in 2006, has been so advanced within fifty-six tears that it is beyond the supramental or even overmental grasp of Sri Aurobindo.
He did not live or think limited to His time, within the narrow frame of consciousness of an ordinary man. His Vision was / is so wide and all-comprehensive that He would have known what advancement of knowledge will be there. Mainly, He belongs to the Future. He had seen even the most distant Future, and that is why He guides us to the Future, to the Supramental Future. I am not speaking about Ken Wilber. But to say that the views of Sri Aurobindo was naïve and there is a need for further revision is a statement of a narrow opportunism without any depth or understanding. Personal uniqueness of life and circumstances has nothing to do with a true integral progress towards Supramentalization. Rather those things and aspects of life have to change with the progress made or to be made. Barin 30-07-2006 From Barindranath Chaki The New Horizon - ,

Pre-given ontological states

Marko Rinck Says: July 30th, 2006 at 2:38 am It seems to me that we are having an age old discussion here, which is already going on between Buddhists and Hinduists (mainly advaita) for more then 2000 years. The question being “is there Atman and Brahman or Noatman and Nobrahman?”. Part of this discussion is the question if identity, truth and consciousness are ontological states outside of our knowledge of it or not?
Ken in his essay Intregral Spirituality incorporates postmodernist thought which says that truth is only relevant in cultural context (LL) and outside of that there is no ontological truth. He then links is to the ultimate emptiness doctrine of Buddhism. But that is circle logic because postmodern thought was influenced by Buddhism itself. Aurobindo seems to be on the Hindu side of the discussion and believes identity, truth and consciousness are ontological states laid out in involution which are also there without us knowing them.
I see Ken‘s way of involution and morphogenetic fields somewhat artificial. It seems to me that he very much wants to incorporate postmodern thought because of the (postmodern) research that backs up this thought. I am on the Hindu side of this and see identity, truth and consciousness as pre given ontological states that are already there without us knowing them. Open Integral

July 29, 2006

Matter itself becoming conscious

alan kazlev Says: July 29th, 2006 at 1:21 am You are confusing the standard Eastern “two truths” form of monism with Aurobindonian Supramentalisation. Advaitin or Wilberian or other concepts of Enlightenment are not the same as Aurobindonian Supramentalisation, as I have argued at length in part 3 of my essay, and as anyone can see by reading the last four chapters of Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine or his other writings, the Mother’s Agenda, or even the extracts of the latter in Satprem’s Mind of the Cells or other books. This is not in any way to denigrate sublime insights of the traditional teachings, only to point out that the Aurobindonian concept of the Divinisation of matter goes even beyond that, it is a process of matter itself becoming conscious and enlightened.

Wholeness, not Unity in multiplicity

Motilal Banarsidass, 2002 Reviewed by Julian Candy
Vrinte notes that Wilber when discussing his integral practice makes no mention of Aurobindo spiritual methods: "aspiration for and faith in the divine, self-opening, equality and Grace or the paths of karma and bhakti" [p 455]. He criticises Wilber (as others have done) for a simplistic formulation of Aurobindo's model, one which ignores the context in which it originated, and which leaves aside those parts of the model which do not serve his own ideas.
He goes on: "Could it be that the difference between Ken Wilber, an intellectual thinker who mysticises, and Sri Aurobindo, an integral yogi who philosophises, lies in the fact that Sri Aurobindo starts from his realisations which he tries to express in the inadequate language of the mind, whereas Ken Wilber starts from his mental abstractions of his vision-logic realisations and tries to reach the essential truths in flashes of mystical vision?" [p 459]
And in the same vein: "Purely mental analysis and interpretation, even on a higher integrated vision-logic level, is not enough to understand Sri Aurobindo's writings. Only through a meditative reading of his works... is the reader able to understand Sri Aurobindo more deeply." [p 458]
But Vrinte is nothing if not even-handed, at least in appearance. In the following chapter he takes Aurobindo to task for failing fully to understand Freud and underemphasising physiological mechanisms in psychopathology, mistakes not made by Wilber.
"Could it be [a favourite phrase of Vrinte's] that [Aurobindo's] vision lacks some of modern psychology's explorations in such areas as childhood development, differential diagnosis and intrapsychic conflicts?" [p 468]
Not unexpectedly and quite properly, no final conclusions are reached on these and the many other questions raised by this penetrating discussion. In his epilogue, Vrinte notes that Wilber has recently disassociated himself from all the current factions within transpersonal psychology, claiming that although the integral school incorporates the essentials of all the others that is exactly what is sharply disputed by all of them.
He makes a mild and conciliatory contribution to the controversy surrounding Wilber's supposedly at times abrasive and polemical style, going on to comment that Wilber often draws material from Aurobindo and others without specific citation. (It is daunting to contemplate the yet more extensive notes that Wilber's more academic works would require were he to respond comprehensively to this point.)
To be fair to Wilber, his overall evaluation of Aurobindo is strongly favourable: "… India's greatest modern philosopher-sage, …the magnitude of [whose] achievements it is hard to convey convincingly…. He covered much of the scope of India's vast spiritual heritage and lineages, and brought many of them together into a powerful synthesis." [Integral Psychology, p 83]
Vrinte's final position is shortly summed up when he writes, "It may be necessary that the integral views Sri Aurobindo once held have to be modified by his followers in the field of present-day knowledge. Ken Wilber's current integral views may likewise soon be seen as naive. That's why further revision of both integral approaches is necessary for future application to each seeker's unique life and circumstances." [p 544]
But a book of this length and depth cannot be summarised in three sentences, even though they are the author's. His conscientious, and as far as I can judge, largely successful attempt to deal comprehensively with the thinking and writings of these two great men, is admirable. Whatever else, the book is a rich source of material both for the scholar and the general reader.
One caveat: Vrinte specifically excludes Wilber's Grace and Grit from his consideration, although this book, published following the death of his wife from cancer, includes some of his most sustainedly humane yet rigorously experiential writing, incompatible with any attempt to dismiss his work as a mere intellectual construction leavened by flashes of mystical insight -- a position Vrinte seems at times to be edging towards. Maybe this is a reflection of Vrinte's stance: an Aurobindian first, subsequently a student and admirer of Wilber.
While exceptionally thorough and generally easy to read, the book moves at a slow, even stately, pace. At times some may wish for a crisper and -- dare I say it -- more polemical style, dealing as it does with issues more central to our future as a species than most of us are prepared to acknowledge.
For me the significance of the word integral springs from its mathematical sense: relating to a whole, wholeness; and rests in the recognition that we err when we regard the one as made up of the many -- unity in multiplicity -- but that we have the truth when we know that the Many are the One in Manifestation -- Multiplicity in Unity. Our survival depends on our working through that truth. Dr. Julian Candy is a psychiatrist now involved in hospice work

Blavatsky, Alice Bailey and Jane Robert

m alan kazlev said... hi Mushin, interesting how you associate "vertical spirituality" with the Intermediate Zone; I hadn't thought of it in those terms but yes it does seem to be the case! Whereas egalitarian spirituality is based on empathy, and hence the level of the heart consciousness and the opening of the heart chakra. From there one can more easily attune in at least some way to the Divine, and to the Divine Soul. And that in turn can lead, eventually (or maybe even quickly) to the Psychic (Soul) transformation.
Regarding the Intermediate Zone entities/authorities being embodied or not. I don't see these forces as in any way human. That is why I use the term "attractor". Another word I have heard used in the guru context is "fascinator" You are probably tuning in to beings in the astral (which overlaps with the IZ; all these realities merge and inter-shade); there are lots of astral IZ beings that claim to be ascended masters and so on. Maybe some of them have melded with astral fragments of deceased people (c.f. Blavatsky on kama-rupa, etc) and hence taken on human characteristics, or maybe such characteristics only come about through the channeler's subcoonscious (I think this is what happened with Alice Bailey and her chennelled communications from "The Tibetan").
From your description the beings you have contacted (or that contact you) do seem to be of a positive nature, which means they most likely come from higher planes than the lower and middle astral (as presumably did Bailey's "Tibetan"). But as you point out they are still limited in their understanding. Most so-called New Age channelled communications I find quite inferior to the best of embodied human spiritual understanding and creativity. The only one I know (and ok i don't know that many) that is truly original is Jane Robert's Seth, and maybe what Seth said owes a lot to Jane Robert's own great imagination and creativity.

Sri Aurobindo's words - gateways to Soul

The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) makes some interesting comments. She says that meditation has nothing to do with spirituality. It is just a mental discipline. She gives the example of people with a remarkable capacity for meditation, but who become furious if their practice is disturbed (hmm, reminds me of someone with (so he and his supporters claim) a remarkable capacity for meditation, but become furious if anyone criticises his writings). I’m not talking about these sort of experiences, I’m talking about genuine spirituality. Spirituality that comes from the heart, that’s integral to the entire being, and that leads to true self-mastery.
Regarding rationally reconstructing such experiences, I have to disagree with you; in my understanding such experiences go beyond the rational-mental, and cannot be understood in terms of the rational mental. This is where empiricism - as superb a tool as it may be on the external physical level - fails; Jorge Ferrer has some useful comments here in his book Revisioning Transpersonal Theory.
As I point out in my essay on Integral World, to understand Sri Aurobindo - or any other authentic mystic or Teacher - it is necessary to go beyond the rational mind. Sure you can approach any mystic or sage or enlightened being or avatar from a rational perspective, and only see and appreciate that facet of them. Which is still valid, it is still a part, but it is just the barest surface, it isn’t what they truly represent. As Marko has eloquently explained in an earlier comment here, one has to contact the presence of a living spiritual tradition, and this cannot be done with the external intellect or mere theorising. And as I said in my essay, I only appreciated Sri Aurobindo when I stopped reading him intellectually, and instead used his words as gateways to the Soul. Says: alan kazlev Open Integral July 28th, 2006 at 3:17 pm

July 28, 2006

Marx, Smith, Keynes, and Melanie Klein

Jul 27, 2006 Lawrence Krauss: Don't Pit Science Against Religion
THE popular debate about intelligent design has, I am happy to say, discredited fundamentalists who want to censor science for religious reasons. It has also exposed pseudo-scientific organisations such as the Discovery Institute for what they are. Nevertheless, in pitching misguided evangelicals against the scientific community, it has had one negative effect: it has encouraged scientists to counter-attack by criticising religious faith in general.
Such attacks are nothing new. One of the more outspoken scientific opponents of religion, physicist Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin, has said: "There are good people, and bad people. Good people do good things, and bad people do bad things. When good people do bad things, it is religion." It was a brilliant sound bite, but one of Weinberg's less vituperative statements is more instructive: "Science does not make it impossible to believe in God. It just makes it possible to not believe in God." His point is that before the advent of modern science, all natural phenomena were viewed as miraculous, for want of any better explanation...

I know from experience that the great successes of our scientific exploration of the universe can tempt us to dismiss anything other than scientific understanding as of secondary importance. But spirituality, and with it religious faith, is deeply ingrained in human culture, and many people rely on their religious convictions to make sense of life. Whatever one's personal views about religion, it is undeniable that scientific understanding alone does not encompass the range of the human intellectual experience.

Scientists who fail to appreciate this, and who attack religious beliefs for being unscientific, do their discipline a disservice, not least because such attacks are themselves unscientific. This is why, while I am sympathetic with many of the points he raises, I disagree with Richard Dawkins's unfettered attack on God. Not only is it inappropriate to try to convince people of the validity of scientific theories by first arguing that their deeply held beliefs are silly, it is also clear that the existence of God is a metaphysical question which is, for the most part, outside the domain of science.

Now more than ever it is important to understand the limits of science. The phrase often used to defend aspects of evolution has particular significance here: the absence of evidence is not evidence for absence. This is not to say that all theological interpretations are beyond scientific criticism. A fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible is in clear violation of physical evidence. Continue reading "Lawrence Krauss: Don't Pit Science Against Religion" » Jul 27, 2006 in Religion Comments (5) TrackBack (0)

Jul 26, 2006 Harding Points us to Polanyi
Leander Harding directs us to Polanyi, although after reading the article I continue to wonder if the reasserters truly understand the reappraising position. Why not Paul Feyerabend? Levinas? Charles Peirce? Rauschenbusch? Are Kierkegaard and Schleiermacher, truly nihilisitic? Isn't Zizek dealing with these sorts of questions? And has anyone read Bernard William's article "The Truth in Relativism"? Sadly, no. I, for one, gave up on post-modern thought several years ago because I think the issues are still about Marx, Smith and Keynes. And to some extent, Melanie Klein. Harding demonstrates, alas, that there are few people who have philosophical skill in the reasserting camp but, perhaps, it is because there are so few among the reappraisers, who do not use the slow steady logic necessary to render the various controversies comprehensible. Jul 26, 2006 in Theology Comments (0) TrackBack (0)

Integral Transformational Practice

alan kazlev Says: July 27th, 2006 at 5:57 pm hi Marko The list of spiritual traditions and lines of development is fascinating; I hadn’t thought of it in such terms before. I’d previously followed Huston Smnith’s perennialist approach (see his small but worthy book Forgotten Truth) although obviously in more detail, drawing from the Theosophical, Kabbalistic, etc traditions. But that what still theory, and what you say really gives the practical key. A few more lines of development to add
o Interaction with Nature Kingdoms: Neopaganism, Shamanism, New Age
o Interaction with Subtle Realms: Tantra, Hermetic occultism, Shamanism, etc
o Pleasure / Ananda: Tantra, Taoist sexual yoga
o Transformation of Matter: Lurianic Kabbalah, Aurobindo and the Mother
o etc. but you seem to have covered the main ones.
I totally agree that a simple eclecticism would be pointless and limited to the mental plane (which is where Wilber goes wrong) Ultimately one gravitates to a spiritual tradition that one feels resonance with, uses that as one’s focus or central axis of spiritual development, and then supplement that with practices and techiques from other traditions.
Yes you are absolutely right, this is what is almost always lacking in the Integral movement, not just the Wilberian movement but the wider integral movement. This is due to KW’s being limited to the “middle mental” as i say, and hence attracting people who are likewise strongly mental centered. An important exception here is Michael Murphy, who has developed his own approach inspired by Aurobindo and others, and the Integral Transformational Practice which he co-founded and seems to be highly regarded.
re Wilber’s transition from pandit to guru, well he’s only human (and from the evidence of his blogs a very emotionally immature level of human at that, despite his middle mental level of brilliance) and the poor guy has all these people worshipping him and calling him a bodhisattva; although quite likely he is manipulating the whole situtaion anyway. Regardless, it is little wonder it has gone to his head and he now fully believes his delusions of enlightenment. Open Integral

Maslow was quickly co-opted by new age

will said...Bobsir, I'm not all that psychology well-read, but I do recall reading snippets of A. Maslow and his "peak experience" and "peak individual" observations. One of his descriptive profiles of the peak individual was so similar (albeit lacking in mystical wording per se) to that of a spiritual adept that I really was stunned by his insight. I was also favorably impressed by Maslow's idea that there should be a psychology that does, in fact, use the peak individual as a a template rather than that of your garden variety neurotic. And that's about as much as I know about Maslow. In what respect does he fall into your "utter nonsense" category? FWIW, I did know how loopy Laing was. And what ever happened to Arthur "primal scream" Janov? Reincarnated as Yoko Ono? really curious in chicago 2:55 PM
Gagdad Bob said...Will--You are correct. I suppose it's unfair to blame the teacher for the disciples. I believe that Maslow started off on the right track, but he was very quickly co-opted by the new age, and in fact, is now considered one of its pioneers. I don't think he would have been happy about it if he could have seen the shamelessly fraudulent "personal growth" industry that now exists. At the time, Maslow's ideas seemed liberating and progressive, a sort of necessary corrective to old-fashioned orthodox or classical psychoanalysis, which had, to a certain extent, lost its way prior to certain developments in the 1970's. I don't believe the "third force" psychology which he founded has really gone anywhere, because it's not rooted in a solid developmental model, and personal growth is going to be stymied unless one somehow deals with the good old unconscious. Of course, it's tempting to chase after peak experiences, but the idea is to transform altered states into altered traits, otherwise it can be somewhat like running away from one's problems. Plus, I like the idea of trying to see the transcendent in the mundane, as opposed to trying to have isolated peak experiences. 3:15 PM
Gagdad Bob said...Come to think of it, I just removed Maslow from the list of offenders altogether. There are literally thouands of better examples of the point I was trying to make, which is simply that a lot of psychological theorists in the 1960's and 1970's not only excused but actively promoted narcissism. Nor do I mean to necessarily imply that these were bad people--certainly Maslow was not by any means. On the other hand, someone like Timothy Leary apppears to have been an outright sociopathic narcissist. 3:41 PM

Skepticism and moral inversion

By The Rev. Leander S. Harding, Ph.D.
Michael Polanyi (1891-1976) was one of the most brilliant physical scientists of the Twentieth Century...Polanyi, the scientist, became convinced that the source of the nihilism and self-destruction that he witnessed rested on a false understanding of the nature of knowledge and the act of knowing. He called this false notion of knowledge “Objectivism” and sometimes “Scientism”. This ideal of knowledge elevated methodological doubt as the primary element in dependable knowledge. That which was really real was that which could be known by the dispassionate, distanced, neutral observer on the basis of direct observation...
Polanyi believed that “Objectivism” created a particular moral problem for the “modern mind.” On the one hand, the effectiveness of the scientific revolution intensified the human thirst for moral perfection and for a truly just society. These impulses Polanyi thought the inheritance of the Christian civilization of Western Europe. On the other hand, the objectivist principle caused a deep cynicism and doubt about all traditional and received wisdom...
“These two forces, skepticism and moral passion, then fused together in various ways, without losing their dangerous incompatibility. The first kind of fusion produced the individual nihilist, burning with moral fervour and hatred of existing society” . . .”The second kind of fusion of moral passion with scientific skepticism appears when the individual nihilist turns to political action and chooses political violence; this occurred in Europe with the rise of the armed bohemians who were the agents of the European revolution”. Lady Drusilla Scott, in her book “Everyman Revived"
This idea of a moral inversion which is the product of inflamed moral passion and thoroughgoing skepticism and which has a tendency to produce an oscillation between apathy and self-destructive violence in the service of a utopian vision is a powerful critique of contemporary society...Polanyi thought that Americans and the English in any event were saved from the worst aspects of moral inversion by their tendency not to take theories too seriously and by their pragmatism.
John Wilkins Says: July 26th, 2006 at 5:56 pm Interesting, although most of us on the progressive side who actually think about these things find some strength - not in relativism. The current sources of theological thinking include, for example, Girard, Levinas and Pierce, none of which were particularly nihilistic. Given that Levinas was also responding to the Holocaust, I wouldn’t overlook him. I also don’t think this description of Polyani exhausts, for example, Kierkegaard, Schleiermacher and Rauschenbusch’s influence on liberal Christianity. But have you ever read Feyerabend? He seems to address similar questions.

Solidified Godstuff, pure consciousness

grant said...Bob, I sure like your writing style. Anyway, on the subject of "interiority" as a property of life, I have a take from the Aurobindonian system that has a slightly different flavor to it--perhaps you'll like the taste.
First, maybe rocks and other inanimate things already have a dim form of consciousness buried within their humming nuclei and electron clouds. It seems counterintuitive, but nevertheless, perhaps even brute matter has a latent seed of consciousness (Aurobindo postulates that matter is constructed of 'frozen' consciousness, so the idea that a peice of granite may have some form of awareness shouldn't be intuited as impossible). In that case, life simply concentrates and amplifies that seed, in ever greater ways, chiefly by complex organization. Humanity (and specifically the human brain) is the greatest concentrator of consciousness yet. But, life did not introduce consciousness (that "interior view" of which you speak) 'twas already there, and in fact it is all that there is.
In the Aurobindonian creation story rocks and trees and fish and people are made of solidified Godstuff, pure consciousness. Therefore, anything and everything may become highly aware, even machines, under the right conditions of complexity. Or, it could be seen as process like oxidation; at a cetain level of complexity, awareness begins to 'burn' in something. Artificial intelligences are quite possible if this view is correct, in fact they would be hard to prevent. 12:50 PM
Gagdad Bob said...Grant--Oh, absolutely. That's exactly it--involution precedes evolution. Whitehead has the same idea, with his concept of "prehension." Evolution is the evolution of subjects, and subjectivity runs "all the way down" to its apparent negation. But it's only apparent. 1:04 PM
The Tetrast said...Actually I'd tend to hold with two pre-life levels rather than one. (1) A dynamic level, which is time-symmetric or nearly so; and (2) the material level, which is thermodynamic and which involves stochastic processes in which fluctuations tend to cancel each other out toward common tendencies and likenesses, qualities, a kind of natural coarse-graining, which implies a question of fineness or coarseness view; at any rate, before-&-after info equivalence become obscured and it's a swamp of imperfect representations, signs, in which life comes to thrive. With (3) life, there are particular viewpoints automatically interpretive by evolved goals and standards of value & importance; systems lower their internal entropy, sifting for useful energy.
With (4) intelligence, not only ends govern, but also governing and "causing" are side effects and after-effects, as confirmations, evidences, etc., e.g., the impact of knowledge and expectation on a market. Truth becomes open to question and to answer. Interpretations are learned and checked such as not to leave that task to biological evolution which tends to punish a bad interpretation by removal of the interpreter from the gene pool; and entropy is both raised and lowered by design, and this intelligence becomes a redesigner (an adventure which may have only just begun) of the overall system and is something of sink, retaining things and founding on knowledge.Thass my two cents' worth. 5:20 PM

Evolution of Consciousness

m alan kazlev's the quote by Sri Aurobindo on evolution that includes that reference that I mentioned, as well as a wider description of evolution in general. He is referring here to the "outward aspects" of evolution as opposed to spiritual evolution:
"...In its outward aspects this is what the theory of evolution comes to, -- there is in the scale of terrestrial existence a development of forms, of bodies, a progressively complex and competent organisation of Matter, of Life in Matter, of Consciousness in living Matter; in this scale, the better organised the form, the more it is capable of housing a better organised, a more complex and capable, a more developed or evolved Life and Consciousness. Once the evolutionary hypothesis is put forward and the facts supporting it are marshalled, this aspect of the terrestrial existence becomes so striking as to appear indisputable. The precise machinery by which this is done or the exact genealogy or chronological succession of types of being is a secondary, though in itself an interesting and important question; the development of one form of life out of a precedent less evolved form, natural selection, the struggle for life, the survival of acquired characteristics may or may not be accepted, but the fact of a successive creation with a developing plan in it is the one conclusion which is of primary consequence. Another self-evident conclusion is that there is a graduated necessary succession in the evolution, first the evolution of Matter, next the evolution of Life in Matter, then the evolution of Mind in living Matter, and in this last stage an animal evolution followed by a human evolution. " From The Life Divine, p.836 of the 10th edition (1977), Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry.
Note the strong parallels with Teilhard de Chardin. Obviously, Sri Aurobindo is more interested in the broad sweep of cosmic evolution than in details of the process, and he does indicate elsewhere in the chapter that other factors that purely physical may have been or were involved. My reason for critiquing Wilber so strongly on evolution is that Wilber specifically denies (or denied, i guess he has changed his mind now!) any sort of Darwinian physical process; Sri Aurobindo refers to Darwinian factors as part of the "machinery" by which biological evolution occurs, without specifically admitting or denying that this is exactly how it did work happened.
Sri Aurobindo is more interested in the transformation from man to superman (supramental being) than in the details of physical processes that are not actually relevant to this transformation. So obviously he is not an intellectual theorist-of-everything like Wilber, and that gives him the luxury to focus on his own specific message and teaching without having to incorporate all the knowledge of the entire world (which would be impossible anyway). Rather, Sri Aurobindo is an integral teacher in that he teaches the integral transformation of the entire being (see e.g. Synthesis of Yoga and Letters on Yoga) 12:19 AM

'wide enjoyment' or 'infinite delight'

The delightful urvaSi
Utter the word urvaSi and the popular imagination soars up to the court of Indra, the King of the Gods in the Heaven. And there can one see the exquisitely sensuous Apsara urvaSi. Surprisingly, there is mention of urvaSi in RigVeda, but is She the Apsara that we all have come to identify?
From "Essentials of Rig Veda" by Dr.R.L.Kashyap: So much has been written about Her not only in the Puranas, but also in literature, one hardly notices the fact of her vedic origin.The Brahmanas, YAska and SAyana, all have committed mistake of applying the Puranic legends to Veda. That is to say, they all try to read the developed legend into the original hymns. This is reversal of the true process for understanding them. The Vedic hymns must explain the Puranic legends and not vice versa. [Let us consider a couple of examples of references to urvaSi:]
1.In 2.27.4, the seer prays for "Abhayam Jyotih" (fearless light) in "urvaSi."
2.In 5.41.19, "urvaSi" occurs in both the lines of the Rik (mantras of Rig Veda are called Riks). Here she raises the chant [of the seers] and covers with her light, the offering of the sacrifice.
There is no idea of the nymph of the heaven, or even of the water-spirit here.In all ... references [found in Rig Veda regarding urvaSi], the etymological sense "uru" + "aSi" is dominant. "uru" is 'wide', and "aSi" is 'to enjoy'.
The name so formed can convey "wideness" of either light or delight.Beyond the heaven of the mind (dyuloka) , we find in the Veda several intermediate planes between Mind and Rtam-- the supermind, [the supertruth]. There is Brhat diva, "the great heaven"-- and there are the trIni Rochana, "the three shining realms". Of all these realms..., Indra is the Lord.
The [Veda suktas point to the fact that] "great heaven" [governed by Indra] has the "wide enjoyment", urvaSi. This original Vedic symbolism seems to have given rise to the Puranic legend in which urvaSi figures as a celestial nymph, a power in the hands of Indra.
[Hence, from] the references to urvaSi in Rig Veda... it is clear... that the word "urvaSi" is not used ... to indicate a person of that name. It indicates 'wide enjoyment' or 'infinite delight'. It is only when one has found the 'fearless light' that one can be established in 'the wide enjoyment' [of the 'great heaven']. posted by Gandaragolaka at 7:47 PM Kedar Location:Bangalore, India Saturday, July 22, 2006

Top 6 Books by Sri Aurobindo

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To read Sri Aurobindo is to experience the consciousness that lies at the heart of the Truth of existence. Nobel Laureate Roman Rolland said: “Sri Aurobindo (is) the foremost of thinkers, who has realized the most complete synthesis between the genius of the West and the East...” Here're a few enlightening books that can help bridge the gap between life and the spirit.
1) The Life Divine
"The most vital issue of the age is whether the future progress of humanity is to be governed by the modern economic and materialistic mind of the West or by a nobler pragmatism guided, uplifted and enlightened by spiritual culture and knowledge." This book resolves this question by reconciling the truths behind the metaphysical and the modern with a synthesis of the idea of divine life on Earth.
2) The Essential Aurobindo: Writings of Sri Aurobindo
Amassed from over two dozen volumes of Aurobindo's works, this book is essential to an understanding of one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, who combines "the alacrity of the West with the illuminations of the East." Edited with an introduction and an afterword by Dr. Robert McDermott, professor of philosophy and religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco.
3) Savitri: A Legend & A Symbol
A major work, this is a long poem of over 23000 iambic pentameter lines based on the ancient Hindu legend of Savitri and Satyavan. Didactic yet inspiring, it depicts myriad aspects of his views and explanation of the ancient Vedic-Yogic path. A unique specimen of spiritual literature, it is, in his own words, "A nectar of honey in the combs of gold" encompassing all human experience in 700 pages.
4) Synthesis of Yoga
A seminal exposition of the discipline of yoga, this book has a wide-angle view and all-embracing scope to help the seeker of spiritual realization. Here, Aurobindo reviews the three great yogic paths of Knowledge, Work and Love, and presents his own unique view of the philosophy of Yoga. It also includes his views of Hatha Yoga and Tantra.
5) Powers Within
Meant for the general reader as well the spiritual seeker, this book discusses the nature of various inherent potentials of man - powers, which we already possess and use unconsciously, and powers lying dormant within, which we need to develop and nurture in order to reap spiritual benefits in life.
6) Gems from Sri Aurobindo
This is a gleaning of Aurobindo's statements on subjects of interest from his vast body of works. Aphoristic in style, his sentences illumine the truths within. He packs each sentence with the depth and intensity of the inner meaning, and provides inspiration, themes for meditation and ideas for reflection on a wide array of topics.

Debates in Indian philosophy

Raghuramaraju, A.: Debates in Indian philosophy : classical, colonial, and contemporary - New Delhi : Oxford University Press, 2006. Dienstag, 18.07.2006
Debates in Indian Philosophy retraces the deep and disturbing impact of colonialism and Western philosophy on the dialogical structure of Indian thought. It highlights the general tendency in contemporary Indian philosophy to avoid direct dialogue as opposed to the rich and elaborate debates that formed the pivot of the classical Indian tradition. Perusing works in and on Indian philosophy, the author searches for possible and hidden dialogues.
He identifies three important areas where there is a clear possibility of debate: between Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi; V.D. Savarkar and Mahatma Gandhi; and Sri Aurobindo and Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya. He retrieves these debates on state and pre-modern society, religion, and politics, and science and spiritualism respectively. He concludes by indicating possible directions that Indian philosophy can take, and explicates the nature of the postcolonial self - not merely at a political level but by restoring the metaphysical texts of contemporary India. Providing theoretical gravitas to ongoing political and sociological debates, Raghuramaraju sheds light on their philosophical underpinnings. [Oxford University Press]
Inhalt Preface. ix1. The Discourse of Debates in Indian Philosophy: Classical, Colonial and Contemporary. 12. Swami and Mahatma Paradigms: State and Civil Society. 293. Savarkar and Gandhi: From Politicizing Religion to Spiritualizing Politics. 664. Sri Aurobindo and Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya: Relation between Science and Spiritualism. 92 Conclusion. 117Bibliography. 125Index. 134 AutorA. Raghuramaraju (*1957), Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Hyderabad. Faculty profile.Quelle: Centre for the Study of Culture and Society; Oxford University Press (India); Eastern Book Corp.; D. K. Agencies; Biblia Impex.Schlagwörter: Philosophie hastasiempre um 17:10 Philosophie TrackBack (0) Artikel versenden Dein Kommentar

The inner meaning of the Vedas

Notwithstanding the formal definition of the word "kavi" which is a 'poet', about 3000-4000 years ago, the word "kavi" meant something entirely different and denoted a person of a higher degree--a 'kavi' used to mean a 'seer'... somebody higher than a rishi. The Gods Agni, Brhaspati,etc., are all revered as kavis in Rig Veda.
This is just one example among many, of how our language, culture, and even religion have changed ever slightly by the day over thousands of years and finally have taken theie present shape. Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was one of the very few who saw a hidden, a rather cryptic meaning hidden in the otherwise mundanely ritualistic suktas of Rig Veda and Sri KapAli Sastry and Sri M.P.Pandit carried on the work started by Aurobindo. Dr.R.L.Kashyap, a Professor Emeritus at Purdue University has taken the responsibility of disseminating the inner meaning of the Vedas to the common people by writing and publishing numerous books that shed light on the real meaning of the Veda Suktas which can be viewed at
There is a dire need for the youth of this country to take up the study of Vedas because whatever interpretations we have of Vedas till now are by the western minds. Hopefully, atleast a few of us might devleop an interest in the esoteric knowledge of the Veda at some point of time.I intend to propagate the work done by them by posting excerpts from their books (which are small, easy to understand and cheap!!) . For that purpose, I have started a blog called "The Kavi". posted by Gandaragolaka at 12:54 PM 5 Comments

The experience of subjects

The Heavenly View From Inside the Cosmos
posted by Gagdad Bob Thursday, July 27, 2006 at 7:20 AM 6 comments
There is a thing called “the world,” there are nervous systems, and there is the space in between. That’s it. That transitional space is where everything happens and where everything evolves. Other animals do not live in this space, or barely so. Rather, they more or less live in their nervous systems, which are “designed” only to notice certain aspects of the environment--those necessary for immediate survival. The more primitive the animal, the more there tends to be an invariant, one-to-one relationship between information and environment. Lower animals obviously possess will, but not free will.
But with Homo sapiens, a sub-universe or microcosmos somehow opened up between world and neurology, which became the host or virtual environment for humanness to take root. To a certain extent, the emergence of psychological space mirrors the sudden appearance of biological life some 3.85 billion years ago. Prior to that--for the first 10 billion years or so--the cosmos simply was what it was-- a single level reality apparently consisting only of material processes. There was nothing there to witness the meaningless pageant. There was quite literally no there there, since there was no particular point of view through which to look. There was only all places at once, even though there weren't actually any places.
Prior to the emergence of life, there weren’t any qualities, since every quality is a function of a nervous system. As I noted in the mysterious book from which the cosmos derives its name, the cosmos didn’t “look” like anything, since vision is a property of eyes. Physicists say it was very hot, but not really. Only in relationship to present day physicists. Nor was it large or small. It was just.... a truly inconceivable nothing, for As Whitehead wrote, “apart from the experience of subjects, there is nothing, bare nothingness.” However we think about or visualize this nothing, it’s just us, projecting our ideas and images about it within the above-referenced transitional space. It is only within this transitional space that the cosmos can contemplate its own birth and even its own death.
The point is that, with the sudden emergence of life, the cosmos now had the makings of an inside, an entirely novel ontological category that cannot be accounted for by physics. Science can account for a lot of things, but one thing it cannot account for is the shocking presence of an inside, of a cosmic withinness, of an interior presence in the midst of what had only been an “exterior” up to the emergence of life. Prior to that, the universe had no freedom, no destiny, no meaning beyond itself. But the appearance of life represents the dawn of all those things, the unimaginable opening of a window on the world and a stairway to zeppelin. Clinical psychologist Robert Godwin is an extreme seeker and off-road spiritual aspirant

So much of psychology is utter nonsense

I was interested in psychology long before I actually entered graduate school in 1981. Although I didn’t major in psychology for my undergraduate work, I read fairly widely on my own, and I can see now that so much of it was utter nonsense--people such as R.D. Laing, Carl Rogers, N.O. Brown, Thomas Szasz, and Eric Fromm. Laing, for example, thought that people weren’t actually mentally ill, but that their symptoms represented creative responses to an oppressive capitalist society. As I recall, he even considered schizophrenics to be mystics that can communicate great truths about reality. Szasz wrote a best-selling bunk entitled “The Myth of Mental Illness,” in which he “debunked” the idea that mental illness existed at all. This is a very appealing idea to a raging narcissist, or even just a raging, immature, beer-guzzling, post-adolescent lunatic such as myself...
Again, the infant cannot be studied in the absence of the “mothering person” or "caretaking environment." It is in the intersubjective space between mother (in the generic sense) and infant that our narcissistic needs for mirroring, idealization, and twinship emerge, and where empathic failures inevitably occur. Our mental pain is first discovered in this intersubjective space, but the question then becomes, what to do with it? For it is very difficult for the infant to bear this pain. Thus, it can be split off, projected, broken into disconnected bits, or somatized (projected into the body), and become a sort of semi-autonomous subjectivity within the psyche, something I have called a “mind parasite.”
Because of the nature of unconscious logic, the internalized mind parasite is always polarized, with an affective link between subject and object, so that, at different times, we may identify with either pole--e.g., we may become the “victim” in search of a victimizer, or the victimizer in search victims with whom to engage in the intersubjective dance of projective identification. This is the stuff of most dysfunctional relationships. We tend to think of the “abuser” as the sicker individual in such relationships. Not so. Their pathology is just more visible. posted by Gagdad Bob at 7:35 AM 17 comments

Experience in an integral way

Towards a Larger Definition of the Integral: An Aurobindonian vision and a critique of the Wilberian paradigm, Part One: Historical and Comparative use of "Integral"
The Dutch spiritual psychologist Joseph Vrinte, a long time student of Sri Aurobindo and resident of Auroville, the universal village dedicated to his teachings, presents an intriguing attempt at a comparison of Sri Aurobindo and Wilber in his book The Perennial Quest for a Psychology with a Soul.[25] As yet I have only glanced at, and not read, the book, so I cannot presume to write any sort of review, so it may be that many of my comments here are totally in error. If so, I welcome feedback and corrections.
Dr Vrinte's methodology and conclusions apparently differ radically from my own, because (so it seems from my cursorary review) he only looks at Aurobindo from the mental level. In his book, Vrinte presents a sympathetic but scholarly intellectual overview of both Aurobindo and Wilber's integral worldviews, both of which he is clearly familiar with, and taking care not to unduly favour either. In fact he is among the few students of Sri Aurobindo's teachings to present Wilber in a highly positive manner (even if he does ultimately come out on the side of Sri Aurobindo as the greater thinker). His conclusion is that while both have much that is worthwhile to say, ultimately neither is perfect; Sri Aurobindo views need to be modified to accommodate present-day knowledge (this is Wilber's critique too – see sect 3-i), while Wilber's current integral views may well likewise come to be seen as naïve.[26]
Not withstanding the goodwill and sincerity in Vrinte's work, and the interesting material it contains, I cannot agree with this methodology of mental comparison, or with these conclusions, simply because they is limited to the intellectual plane of understanding, and this just doesn't work once you start looking at things like spiritual revelation. And while it is doubtless true that Sri Aurobindo's interpretation of, for example,
  • Freudian psychology is dismissive, and
  • his coverage of subjects like, say, sociology, minimal,

the point is that, unlike Wilber, he is not interested in presenting an intellectual “theory of everything”.

Rather he, along with the Mother, are providing a visionary revelation, in which words are just the gateways to a deeper spiritual awakening. This sort of “integral” is not intellectual, but yogic. And of course this is the same with spiritual and mystical teachings in general; if you approach them even in a sympathetic intuitive intellectual (let alone a more sceptical rational-intellectual!) manner, without the actual experience, the participation mystique as phenomenologists of religion like Mircea Eliade would call it, it is impossible to appreciate what is being described.
I had to myself let go of my attachment to intellect before I could realise this and experience it in an integral (sensu Aurobindo) way. In fact this very recent realisation (not just in a merely intellectual way which I had before, but in a more complete way) has been one of the main turning points of my own intellectual and spiritual development, and forced me to completely revise the central thesis and argument of my present book in progress (currently tentatively titled Evolution, Metapmorphosis, and Divinisation).

Almaas and Sri Aurobindo

alan kazlev Says: July 26th, 2006 at 4:42 pm For me, the techniques of spiritual practice are incredibly simple. One involves simply reading the work of Aurobindo and the Mother and contacting that presence (this absolutely fits in with Marko says, see below). Another involves offering up everything up to the Supreme. I read this in the Mother’s books, but a friend says it is also quite Sufi; obviously, the same techniques occur widely. There are otehr techniques too, but the situation is made more complex by the fact that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother did not teach a specific practice or series of practices, unlike, say, Buddhism, where there are very precise instructions on meditation, watching the breath, etc. But sure, I’ll write up somnething on all this. Thanks again for pointing it out!
Marko, I was very interested to read what you had to say, because there do indeed seem to be some intriguing similarities between Almaas and Sri Aurobindo...This concept of the Pearl is pretty fascinating too (likewise similar ideas like the Magnetic Center of Ouspensky and the Immortal Fetus of Taoism). They all seem to have some connection, even if they differ in details (or is the latter just the distorting effect of the respective thought-form of each teaching?). Can you recommend a book of Almaas’ where he talks about the Pearl?
Marko Rinck Says: July 27th, 2006 at 2:29 pm Hi Alan, Yes, interesting similarities, I think so too. The book Almaas wrote about and dedicated to the Pearl is called “Pearl Beyond Price” which is actually a good example of the integration of spirituality and psychology in his work. In it you can also find references to the pearl in other traditions, like Daoist and Gurdijeff, as you already said. But also Gnostic, Hermetic and Sufi.
I would say it is not extremely difficult to create an integral spirituality by seeing which spiritual lines need to be included, how they relate and develop towards the absolute and to refer to the teachings that are oriented around these lines. At the least that would be:
Identity; Advaita Space or emptiness; Buddhists Pearl/Soul: Sufism, Gnostics, Daoism Love; Sufism, Christianity Compassion; Buddhism Energy: Yoga, Daoism, Kashmir Shaivism Will; Gurdijeff Peace; Christianity, Consciousness: Advaita, Yoga Strength; Shao-lin, Shamanism Awareness: Buddhism, Krishnamurti Dynamism and creativity: Shaivism Knowingness; Gnostics, Ancient Greeks, Jnana Yoga
Together we could probably pick another ten and relate them to a lot more spiritual teachings then I just have done. But I don’t think you can then just take the practices of these teachings and design the practical part of integral spirituality. It would be a dead teaching, designed from the intellectual realm. It has some value of insight and understanding but it won’t take you to the ‘other side’, only a living teaching that is already on the ‘other side’ can do that, for the reasons I explained in my last entry.

Sri Aurobindo and Dawkins etc.

m alan kazlev said... Sri Aurobindo did not have any problems at all with Darwinism (he even refers in passing in The Life Divine to the history and evolution of life on Earth as being an interesting side-branch of study (I'm paraphrasing, I don't have the exact page). Nor does Darwinism (or any of its variants, e.g. Dawkinsism) refute the Aurobindonian position. Here is why.
Evolution pertains to the physical reality, higher states like the Mental, Overmental, and Supramental planes pertain to supra-physical realities. Wayne Ferguson has written a very good paper on how evolution does not disprove theism (e.g. Christianity), and reconciling (non-fundamentalist) Intelligent Design with biological evolution etc (see his very useful diagram on that page), he sent the draft to me for some feedback last year, and I'll refer to his common-sense conclusions in my book in progress. Basically he and I are very much in agreement on this point. And I am quite puzzled as to why Huston Smith (who seems to have a problem with evolutionary science) missed this obvious conclusion; since this is basically the metaphysic he presents in Forgotten Truth.
Now, it is true that the Aurobindonian and Teilhardian conceptions of evolution to divinity is not confirmed by the Darwinian position. But neither are they refuted by Darwinism. They are simply non-falsifiable by scientific means...
You should also read Teilhard de Chardin for an interesting integral synthesis of science and religion. Whereas Wilber first embraces christian Intelligent Design, and now it seems has done an about face and is citing Mayr etc approvingly!, Teilhard is the real deal, a true Integral thinker and a mystic too. His style of writing is flowery, but i find him a fascinating and inspirational character.

I used to be sceptical when I was younger

m alan kazlev said... On attaining a point from which one can evaluate all gurus critically. This is secular modernist thinking. In fact there is no such thing as a non-biased privelaged viewpoint, at least from the mental perspective (doesn't postmodernism say that as well? Also see Jorge Ferrer, Revisioning Transpersonal Theory). Moreover, true spirituality does indeed seem to require contacting a living tradtion (I used to be sceptical of this when I was younger; like you I thought there was a privelaged position, now I disagree). See Marko Rinck's comments and the discussion here. I will discussing this in my follow-up essay. 2:51 PM ...
At the same time there still remains the fact of a spiritual transmission or presence or light or force that constitutes a living spiritual tradition. And the fact is taht even false gurus have this (I have felt it with Da Free John / Adi Da for example, and I have also felt it with Wilber). I will argue in my new essay that qualitively the light of and the genuine and the false gurus is not the same - the latter derives from the Intermediate Zone and/or non-physical entities. See my comments on the "Attractor" behind Wilber in part 2 of my essay on Integral World. The challenge of the Integral Movement, and of a true Integral Spirituality, will be in how to reconcile these two aspects. 3:17 PM