August 19, 2006

Wilber never read Sri Aurobindo's books

Towards a Larger Definition ofthe Integral: An Aurobindonian vision and a critique of the Wilberian paradigm: PART THREE: AN AUROBINDONIAN VISION Alan Kazlev 3. An Aurobindonian vision 3-i. Wilber on Aurobindo, and a counter reply
Wilber, while greatly admiring Sri Aurobindo[1], and having a reasonable theoretical understanding of some basic concepts in Aurobindonian integral psychology[2], criticises him as having an incomplete Integral philosophy. There are two criticisms here:
  • one is that Aurobindo wasn't integral enough because he ignored or didn't fully develop the lower two quadrants[3],
  • and the other is that he is still stuck on “metaphysics”, and hence (in Wilber's opinion) abstraction (sect. 2-viii).
If I understand Wilber correctly, his methodology would be like this. Sri Aurobindo experienced of the Supramental consciousness, the infinite dynamic Supreme, Sachchidananda in manifestation; and described his experience in his many writings. His description unfortunately involves concepts that are totally at odds with the secular paradigm of modernity. Because modernity does not accept supra-physical realities (such as Supermind), and postmodern philosophers claim to have “deconstructed” metaphysics, Wilber therefore rejects Sri Aurobindo's entire description and all his teachings as “metaphysical”. But because he – and this I feel to be true – genuinely admires Sri Aurobindo for attaining transpersonal states of existence, Wilber abstracts what he considers the genuine “experiences” from Sri Aurobindo's explanation and description of them.
He then re-interprets Sri Aurobindo's experiences according to his own understanding; i.e. Supermind is actually an experience of the upper left quadrant of the “Early Nondual” level, and thus exactly the same as an early stage of Da Free John's “Seventh Stage of Life”, Sahaja Samadhi, or a stage intermediate between “Advanced Insight” and “Enilightenment” in Daniel Brown's cross-cultural studies (which seem fascinating, although not having read the original material I cannot judge its relevence, or Wilber's interpretation of it), as well as other correspondences provided by the tables at the back of Integral Psychology).
Thus Wilber is claiming that what Sri Aurobindo says about Supramentalisation is no different to what mystics through the centuries have said about world-negating liberation. Wilber makes this claim without to my knowledge having ever read any of Sri Aurobindo's actual books, only edited compilations.[4] Nor has he engaged in dialog with members of the Integral Yoga community.

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