October 29, 2006

Reification and sedimentation of Sri Aurobindo's work

Re: Re: Reflections on THE IDEAL OF HUMAN UNITY By Debashish Banerji by Rich on Wed 25 Oct 2006 09:24 AM PDT Permanent Link
Seems like we are following the usual course of misunderstanding inherent in considering Sri Aurobindo's writing in the same conversation in which other methods of intellectual inquiry are probed. I guess I should also make it clear that I understood this conversation going two places:
1) To identify a manner of discourse which could be fromulated to allow the presentation of Sri Aurobindo's system of integral yoga and transformation, in a language which could be legitimized in academic situ. It was in no means an effort at reducing Sri Aurobindo's message to criterion defined by postmodernist discourse . In this respect I do find some break throughs were (are) achieved (at least from my limited vantage point) The issues Deb raised of cross cultural hermeneutic arising from the Indic darshanic seeing, and the references to comments by Gayatri Spivak about legitimizing subaltern belief systems by accepting them on their own terms was for me highly insightful, and I think a small opening from which one can proceed in this direction. (To me finding such methods of cross-cultural intersubjective discourse regards the yoga is a raison d'etre of SCIY)
2) To address the problem of the reification and sedimentation of Sri Aurobindo's work in current doxa pervading the institutions which are founded on his vision. In this regards yes, I think it is important to subject the doxology which is now assciated with his teachings, to the methods of deconstruction. Unless one can legitimize these critical methods of inquiry within SA's institutions, my own belief is that they will continue on their way in creating a new religion. A religion whose metaphysical presentations will lend themselves only to interpretation by those with status and power in said institutions which are cloaked in their own cultural agenda. Hinduvta is one example. On the other hand the train of this conversation can also be useful to interupt and correct interpretations by contemporary commentators on consciousness like Ken Wilber who also cloaks his understanding of Sri Aurobindo in an academic language which appropriate many post-modernist references. I certainly dont think anyone here wants to leave this job up to him. And finally there is a need to address the mischaracterizations of leftist (and or/ marxist) who deliberately falsify SA works to set up their straw man thesis of communalism in India. The work of Jyotirmaya Sharma falls into this category
(although I do not wish to again appear sanctimonious, in my pronouncements I also see this as a founding vision of SCIY) rich

October 28, 2006

Symbols in ancient cultures

The Garden of Man and other stories from ancient times— Medhananda ISBN: 81-86413-35-9Publication Date: 25-Oct-2006Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 87Price: Rs 150
An avid student of ancient symbol-languages, Medhananda wrote this book of translations and interpretations, almost meditations, on the meanings behind three symbol-texts: a 3500-year old hieroglyphic message from an Egyptian tomb, the iconic image of the tree as presented in several ancient cultures, and an old Egyptian fairy tale. He views and presents these as teaching images, symbols that lead the reader towards self-awareness.
Immortal Wisdom from ancient times in myths, tales and legends— Medhananda ISBN: 81-86413-32-4Publication Date: 25-Oct-2006Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 177Price: Rs 190
Medhananda, a German disciple who served as the librarian of the Sri Aurobindo Library for many years, was also a researcher and interpreter of the symbols in ancient cultures. In this book he examines several myths, tales, and legends in the light of mystic experience. What he sees are not stories about nature gods or tribal histories of kings and warriors, but facts, events and powers of the inner life. For him Heracles is not the muscle-bound hunter and hero of Greek myth, but the seeker of ultimate Truth, a symbol of the awakening consciousness of man. Other interpretations concern tales from ancient Egypt, the Bible, and the Brothers Grimm.

October 27, 2006

Cultural chauvinism is not really about morality

In Quest Thursday, October 26, 2006 The International Enquirer I noted Mr. Neelakantan’s wry speculations on "why" some ancient temples were decorated with sexual motifs (See the comment section of my last post).
I also read comments on other forums pointing out that only a "small" percentage of all the temples in India have such motifs. Somehow, I’m left feeling that there seems to be more pressure on the Hindu community to justify the appearance of their temples -- than there is on senior academicians to not ask unintelligent questions.
Dr. Kealey’s question "How can a religion be so pornographic?" is an embarrassingly illiterate question undeserving of a literate answer.But his type of question has been asked before. And it has been answered before -- among others, by essayist Mulk Raj Anand and Sri Aurobindo, the passionate and lyrical visionary.
“To bring into the artistic look on an Indian temple Occidental memories or a comparison with the Greek Parthenon or Italian church … or even the great Gothic cathedrals of medieval France…is to intrude a fatally foreign or disturbing element or standard in the mind. But this consciously or else subconsciously is what almost every European mind does to a greater or lesser degree – and it is here a pernicious immixture, for it subjects the work of a vision that saw the immeasurable to the tests of an eye that dwells only on measure.” Sri Aurobindo, Essays on Indian Art and Architecture; A response to British drama critic William Archer’s book “India and the Future” (1917) ; excerpted from the anthology “The Foundations of Indian Culture”, Birth Centenary Edition (1972), Pondicherry
“To be sure, the mental imperialism of the West seems to have succeeded in corrupting and perverting the outlook of the conquered more than the physical empire, now luckily overthrown. It is necessary, therefore, to restate the fundamental postulates behind Hindu erotic art, so that the sexual principles which inform some of the most vital sculptures of Bhuvaneshwar, Konarak and Puri are made explicit, and the return is made towards an internal criticism, in terms of the intentions of the builders, rather than in terms of biased westerners, whether they are Christian missionaries or their conscious and unconscious disciples among the fanatical puritans in our midst." Mulk Raj Anand, “Kama Kala” 1963, Nagel Publishers, Geneva, Switzerland
I would not be surprised if the very same Kealey-an questions resurfaced 25, 50, or 100 years from now. Do narrowly judgmental perspectives spring from a puritanical Judaeo-Christian mindset, as many -- including the luminaries quoted above -- concluded? In my view, that’s only part of it. The way I see it, cultural chauvinism is not really about morality. It is about the serpent in the human psyche that feels its way around with the forked tongue of double standards.We know the words “Greek” and “Civilization” are held to be synonymous in the West, as evident from numerous worshipful made-for-TV documentaries. Well, let’s look at some deities from the Greek pantheon, shall we? Let’s begin with the grotesquely endowed Priapus, a protective fertility deity who supposedly threatens transgressors with sodomy. Here’s a link for you to check out:
The Greeks’ supreme deity, Zeus, or Jupiter, was given to committing adultery with members of both sexes. He is said to have lusted after and pursued a young maiden called Io while his jealous wife Hera did everything in her power to stop him. He fell in love with a beautiful young boy named Ganymede, who became an inseparable companion.The Greeks (not women, but men!) admired the ideal male form. Their Olympian athletes ran in the nude for the viewing pleasure of an all-male audience. As for the status of Greek women, just check this link to see what the great philosophers Plato and Aristotle had to say about women:
But are these the cultural attributes disproportionately played up to the extent that they eclipse our appreciation of Greek art, architecture, literature, drama, philosophy, scientific and mathematical inquiry? Are ancient Greeks described by conservative scholars as misogynistic sexual perverts? Hardly. Ancient Greece is termed the “crucible” of civilization, and the “fountainhead” of philosophy!
As I sat writing, I had this flashback to a scene from Blake Edwards’ hilarious farce “The Party” (1968) in which Peter Sellers plays a bumbling Indian actor. Sellers has an unforgettable line in the movie, when a furious Englishman shouts “Who do you think you are?” inches away from his face. And Sellers’s character spontaneously replies “Mr. So-and-So, we Indians don’t have to think about who we are, we know who we are.” Brilliant ... If only it were true! But then again, conviction brings its own dangers. Here is an observation by the great Greek intellectual, Epictetus, which all scholars ought to heed: “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” Posted by Chitra at 5:17 PM 0 comments

October 26, 2006

20th century world poetry

MaryLupin Joined: 03 Nov 2005 Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 3:11 pm
I suppose if I were to create a course like that I would not use a compilation text book but use selected authors. In the classes I teach I have to change readings every term otherwise I get rather bored rerunning the same material over and over. My initial list of authors to teach in a grad class would include:

Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963) (Turkey)
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) (Portugal)
Czelaw Milosz (1911-2004) (Lithuania)
Christopher Okigbo (1932-1967) (Nigeria)
Tawara Machi (1962- ) (Japan)
Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) (India)
Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1910-1984) (Pakistan)
Gottfried Benn (1886-1956) (Germany)

and then concentrate on a theme (say...what "responsibility" means) and trace it though the poetry or get the students to pre-read and come in with a list of 5 possible themes that they see throughout the selected works.

October 25, 2006

7 x 4 for 24 x 7

This is Sri Aurobindo's Sapta Chatusthaya (7 divisions of four). Presented in the Record of Yoga, this was taught to the students of the Ashram. It also is worked into the Synthesis of Yoga. When I put this up on my website it will have links to each bubble that will go into depth. posted by Pravritti @ 1:51 PM

As an Indian who writes in English

Amitav Ghosh New York Feb. 23, 2001
You make the important point that the Indian experience under colonialism was very different from that of the indigenous peoples of Australia and North America. You are absolutely right. To my mind the Indian experience spans a spectrum of analogies. At one end, it is perhaps best compared to the experience of Ashkenazi Jews in 18th and 19th century Europe; at the other extreme it is really not far different from that of the indigenous peoples of Australia and North America. For literate middle class people (such as ourselves) the Jewish-German comparison is full of illuminating lessons: the debates about assimilation for example; also the dawning awareness of the issue of self-hatred in groups that try to assimilate (in Felix Mendelssohn's parents we see a prefiguring of Aurobindo Ghosh's father pace Ashish Nandy's brilliant essay). Similarly many middle-class Indian debates about tradition/reform etc are clearly prefigured by German Jewish debates on the relationship between reformist theology and Hasidism. As an Indian who writes in English, I frequently find myself reflecting on what it must have meant for say, Benjamin or Celan to write in German, a language that was often inflected with a hatred for the traditions that they had been born into.
At the other end of the spectrum were the hundreds of thousands of Indians who lived through the population transfers that were set in motion by colonialism. I wonder if you have ever looked at the (very scant) material on the transportation of Indians to South East Asia? What these people endured is truly horrifying: the truth is that India was to the late 19th century what Africa was to the 18th - a huge pool of expendable labour.

October 24, 2006

Radhakrishnan and Sri Aurobindo

New Essays in the Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan - edited by S.S. Rama Rao Pappu. Delhi, Satguru, 1995, xiv, 624 p., ISBN 81-7030-461-X. Contents:
30. The mystery of creation in the thought of Radhakrishnan and Sri Aurobindo - Robert M. Kleinman.
31. The problem of evil in Radhakrishnan and Aurobindo - Kevin Sullivan.

Bourdieu often evoked Althusser

Louis Althusser's "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" Dr. Mary Klages, Associate Professor of English, University of Colorado, Boulder, November 6, 2001
Althusser's answer starts with the distinction between ideologies and ideology. IDEOLOGIES are specific, historical, and differing; we can talk about various ideologies, such as Christian ideology, democratic ideology, feminist ideology, Marxist ideology, etc. IDEOLOGY, however, is STRUCTURAL. Althusser says that ideology is a structure, and as such is "eternal," i.e. to be studied synchronically; this is why Althusser says (on p. 240) that ideology has no history. He derives this idea of ideology as a structure from the Marxist idea that ideology is part of the superstructure, but he links the structure of ideology to the idea of the unconscious, from Freud and from Lacan.
Because ideology is a structure, its contents will vary, you can fill it up with anything, but its form, like the structure of the unconscious, is always the same. And ideology works "unconsciously." Like language, ideology is a structure/system which we inhabit, which speaks us, but which gives us the illusion that we're in charge, that we freely chose to believe the things we believe, and that we can find lots of reasons why we believe those things. Althusser's first premise or thesis (p. 241a, in italics) is that "Ideology is a 'representation' of the Imaginary Relationship of Individuals to their Real conditions of existence." He begins his explanation of this pronouncement by looking at why people need this imaginary relation to real conditions of existence. Why not just understand the real?(p. 241b).
One way to get a handle on his work is to realize that Bourdieu was interested in explaining social stratification, and the hierarchy of social values, in contemporary capitalist societies. He wanted to study systems of domination in a way that held some room for social agency but without a notion of complete individual freedom. Bourdieu often evoked Althusser as an example of a theorist who had too mechanical a view of internalized domination, while Sartre represented the opposite extreme of a philosopher who posited free will. Bourdieu believed that we are all constrained by our internalized dispositions (our habitus), deriving from the milieu in which we are socialized, which influence our world view, values, expectations for the future, and tastes. These attributes are part of the symbolic or cultural capital of a social group.

Witticisms are in their least part philosophy

Duns Scotus (1265-1308) posited true philosophy is true religion. This is the wishful thinking of a pious man, and not the strong thinking of a philosopher. Duns Scotus wrestled with his religion like many philosophers trying to make religion fit philosophy. A man can be sure about his religious beliefs. A philosopher cannot be sure about anything....
It is astounding the credulity, the too easy acceptance of something as truth, science has mustered. Scientists lament the credulity of today's Creationists who hold that the Bible is literal truth. But thousands of years ago it was proved once and for all by the Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea (490BC-425BC), credulity in reason itself is unwarranted, even ridiculous....
It was said of Socrates (469-399 BC), a Greek philosopher, that his rhetoric was so skilled that to those who asked him a philosophical question, he would in return ask questions until their own answers would answer the question they originally asked of Socrates. Socrates’ method of dialectic analysis, his rhetoric, was very clever and philosophically quite astute, because it allowed Socrates to never utter a word that could be doubted, and, yet, his dialectic method satisfactorily answered many puzzling problems...
The philosopher Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) sought as his path to the truth a method of philosophy that would allow mathematical-like philosophical calculations. We can all be thankful Leibniz’s scheme cannot fit reality. Life would be pretty dull, and it would probably resemble your father’s old 1970 Pac Man video game. Mathematics is entirely based in false forms and false ideas, universals, numbers and functions that approximate the real world, but do not reflect the undeniable individuality of every thing in the real world...
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) sought a synthesis out of a priori knowledge, or first knowledge, which is, he supposed, able to provide philosophers with what he termed transcendental knowledge. Philosophy is difficult and slow work. Kant’s short cut is a wrong turn on the path to absolute truth. Kant by his transcendental knowledge intends to arrive at absolute truth, which by his very intent, is anti-philosophic. The very idea that a priori knowledge is infallible truth just isn't credible...
The great pessimist Schopenhauer glimpsed truth when he ascribed to music a kinship with philosophy, though it is surely better to hear it in the sound of the ocean lapping the shore, or, childrens' noises when they are playing. All the sounds of this world are superior to the words that clutter, obscure and too often obstruct our experience of the path towards truth. Schopenhauer is indeed a tragic figure in philosophy, that he in his great effort could not land upon a path towards truth he surely sensed was there in philosophy. We are indebted to him for his great sacrifice. Schopenhauer courageously bore his cross, when as close as he came was to debate himself, What is truth? He remained fixed there throughout facing in exactly the wrong direction, but so close...
Poor Nietzsche has left us with no such warning in his pertinent aphorist ramblings. Nietzsche is a magician of sorts, one with most every ability and trick of a great magician at his adept disposal. Nietzsche uses buckshot to aim at human nature, so of course he hits his target for us. It is Nietzsche who has done most to convince me, witticisms are in their least part philosophy, for witticisms are inherently oppressive, if thought provoking, a process that almost invariably results in error. Nietzsche's puns and his endless efforts to impress us with his odd culturedness, perhaps this was his preferred philosophical method to leave it to the unrequited reader to make our own philosophic discovery? Nietzsche is readible, if not for the most part cogent philosophy. The Second Part An Illustrated Philosophy Primer for Young Readers Precious Life - Empirical Thought.

October 23, 2006

Christianity is dwindling in the West

Unethical Craft of conversion-Francois Gautier Posted May 1, 2006 The Pioneer Date: April 26, 2002
I was born and brought-up a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is an Avatar of Love, and that now more than ever, specially after the 11th September terrorist attacks on America, we need his message of compassion, charity and kindness for one another.Many Christians have taught the world that the first precept of Christ is to look after the deprived and the needy: Missionaries, such as Father Ceyrac, a French Jesuit who has lived for more than 60 years in Chennai, have understood this principle, tending to the poorest sections of this society, while respecting their culture (Father Ceyrac, who speaks fluently Tamil and Sanskrit, often quotes from the Upanishads).
Unfortunately, there has crept in the purity of the early Christianity an exclusiveness, a feeling of sole proprietary right over God. This exclusiveness, this feeling amongst Christians, that "we are the only true religion, and all other gods are false gods", has had the most catastrophic and bloody consequences: Millions have been killed in the name of Christ, entire civilisations, such as the Atzecs and Incas, have been wiped-out, "to bring them the word of Jesus". Even Christians have savagely murdered each other, whether in France or England. One would have hoped that this intolerance, this fanatical and militant drive to convert, forcibly or otherwise, pagans to the "True" God, had ceased in this new millennium of "enlightenment". Unfortunately, it is not so. For nearly three centuries, India has been the target of a massive conversion drive.
It is even more so today, as Christianity is dwindling in the West: There are less and less people going to churches and very few youth willing to become priests and nuns, without speaking of the paedophilia scandals racking the American Church. The Vatican is thus looking for new converts in the Third World, particularly in India, where people have such an innate aspiration to spirituality. Indeed, the Pope has earmarked this new millennium as "The Evangelisation of Asia". And it is in the North-East that this evangelisation is meeting with the most success. #

A daily referendum

Ernest Renan From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ernest Renan (February 28, 1823October 12, 1892) was a French philosopher and writer. In his own lifetime, Renan was best known as the author of the hugely popular Vie de Jésus (Life of Jesus). The book's controversial assertions that the life of Jesus should be written like the life of any other man, and that the Bible could be subject to the same critical scrutiny as other historical documents sparked a flurry of debate, and enraged the Catholic Church.
Today, Renan is most famous for the definition of a nation given in his 1882 discourse Qu'est-ce qu'une nation? ("What is a Nation?"). Whereas German writers like Fichte had defined the nation by objective criteria such as a race or an "ethnic group" sharing common characteristics (language, etc.), Renan defined it by the desire of a people to live together, which he summed up in a famous phrase, "avoir fait de grandes choses ensemble, vouloir en faire encore" (having done great things together and wishing to do more). Writing in the midst of the dispute concerning the Alsace-Lorraine region, he declared that the existence of a nation was based on a "daily referendum."

October 22, 2006

Intellectually frustrating

NY Times, Sunday, October 22, 2006 IN SUNDAY'S BOOK REVIEW 'The God Delusion,' by Richard Dawkins Review by JIM HOLT Belief in God is not only a delusion, argues Richard Dawkins, but a "pernicious" one. Dawkins's case against religion follows an outline that goes back to Bertrand Russell's classic 1927 essay "Why I Am Not a Christian." First, discredit the traditional reasons for supposing that God exists. Second, produce an argument or two supporting the contrary hypothesis, that God does not exist. Third, cast doubt on the transcendent origins of religion by showing that it has a purely natural explanation. Finally, show that we can have happy and meaningful lives without worshiping a deity, and that religion, far from being a necessary prop for morality, actually produces more evil than good. Despite the many flashes of brilliance in this book, Dawkins's failure to appreciate just how hard philosophical questions about religion can be makes reading it an intellectually frustrating experience. Continue reading...First Chapter

Find a way to be, or think, or feel, or act

I have escaped and the small self is dead;
I am immortal, alone, ineffable;
I have gone out from the universe
I made,And have grown nameless and immeasurable.
I have become what before Time I was.
My heart is a centre of infinity
A momentless immensity pure and bare,
I stretch to an eternal everywhere.
--Sri Aurobindo
Now, broadly speaking, there are four kinds of men: pneumatic man, intellectual man, emotional or vital man, and the man of action. And there is an appropriate practice for each--or raja, jnana, bhakti, and karma yogas, which any full-service religion will offer. Each type of yoga, in its own way, tries to provide an appropriate means for experiencing eternity within time. To live “within” religion is to find a way to be, or think, or feel, or act within eternity.
Now, no one has been more shocked than I have about what happens when you begin “thinking” within religion, because to a certain extent, this blog is nothing more or less than that. Like so many people in the modern west, I started off in a place that pretty much equated religion and ignorance. But as it so happens, knowledge of religion is knowledge that is both fruitful and efficacious, not to say transformational. It is nothing at all like “book learning,” or mere mental knowledge. If we grasp religion only with the mind, it is not really "interior" knowledge to which we may validly lay claim.
With the type of thinking I am describing, one is vaulted, so to speak, into a different space, the space from which the primordial mystery perpetually arises. What I have discovered, to my everlasting surprise, is that once in this space, one finds that it actually has its own very real characteristics and attributes. I know this because every day I receive confirmation from fellow explorers who see and experience the same thing. It's as if we are all setting voyage into an unknown sea but all returning with vaguely similar--sometimes strikingly so--descriptions of the flora and fauna on the other side. I can only reemphasize that this is most mysterious indeed. posted by Gagdad Bob at 8:03 AM 32 comments One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin
Gagdad Bob said... Yes, everyone is a mixture of each, but each person generally has a dominant type. The only exception would be certain members of the lowest caste, who can do no better for themselves than to be obedient. I know it sounds harsh, but let's be honest, we all know they exist. Left to their own devices, they destroy their own lives. 12:41 PM

October 21, 2006

Savitri Era invites everyone

Politics need not remain alien
The Bush regime is often derided for identifying itself too openly
The intention of Nature
One of the philosophical innovations of Sri Aurobindo
From Kant to The Cantos
In the very first paragraph of The Life Divine
We won’t be silent
If young people are unwilling to go with the religion
Carry the words forward
Sri Aurobindo wrote in English and The Mother’s works
Savitri Erans must be politically savvy
It’s good that the political cleavage in India
Auroville, locus for a larger discourse
The Economic Times, today, carries a nice leader article
Discarded history
The Life Divine (CWSA Vol. 21 & 22) is in hand
Amchi Mother
Some years ago, the residents of Mumbai
Salvation via Hegel
It is a welcome sign that theoretical debates
Religion is basically mind-space, but also
Savitri Era is the sunlit path
“Is religion the new fashion?” was the debate CNN-IBN

Integral World Reading Room

There are many different views of integral, and all of them deserve a hearing.– Wilber

CHECK OUT : Over 150 other essays in our Reading Room >
MARK EDWARDSOn Being CriticalAn Alternative View on StatesThrough AQAL Eyes (I-VII)
ANDY SMITHSpectrum of Holons: Response to KofmanWhy It Matters: Monologues with WilberHolarchic Sense and Holarchic Nonsense
RAY HARRISChristianity: The Great LieThe Many Faces of IslamIntegral Political Economy
JEFF MEYERHOFFBald Ambition: A Critique of Wilber's TOESix Criticisms of Wilber's Integral TheoryDismissal vs. Debate: A Reply to Wilber
ALAN KAZLEVComparative Uses of "Integral"The Wilberian ParadigmAn Aurobindonian Vision
ROLAND BENEDIKTERPostmodern Spirituality: A Dialogue (I-V)PS, Part III, The Postmodern Mind & its FuturePS, Part V: Can Only A God Save Us?
ESSAYS TOP 50, week of October 15
Views of Human Nature
The Depth of the Exteriors, Part II
Spiritual Narcissism
The Wild West Wilber Report
Christianity: The Great Lie
Stages of Social Development
The Depth of the Exteriors, part III
The Myth of Islam as a Religion of Peace
Six Criticisms of Wilber's Integral Theory
Methodology and Philosophy
The Wilberian Paradigm: A Fourfold Critique
Perennialism, Postmodernism, Integralism
Towards a Larger Definition of the Integral
My Take on Wilber-5
Games Pandits Play (Reply to Wilber #1)
An Artistic View Of Mental Disturbance
On Ken Wilber's Integral Institute
The Many Faces of Islam
Holons, Heaps and Artifacts
The Integral Cycle of Knowledge
Dismissal vs. Debate: Reply to Wilber
Structuration theory and Technology
Poststructuralism and Postmodernism
Revisioning Individuation
Integral Mathematics: A 4Q Approach
A Brief History of Holons
Sorry, It's Just Over Your Head
An 'Intellectual Tragedy' (Reply to Wilber)
Holarchy, Section 1A: Holons
What's All This Fuss About Cartoons?
An Aurobindonian Vision
Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo
Is God in the Garbage? Appraisal of Adi Da
Postmodern Spirituality, Part I
An Open Letter to the Integral Community
Development in the One-Scale Model
Bald Ambition, Introduction
An Alternative View on States
A Critique of the Wilber-Kofman Model
Integral Sexuology
Holarchy, Section 1B: The Twenty Tenets
Contextualizing Ken: Review Bold Ambition
Shut-Ins: The Wilber Inner Circle
Spectrum of Holons: Response to Kofman
The Temenos System
On Being Critical
For the Record (Reply to Wilber #3)
Can Only A God Save Us? (PS, Part V)
Data and Methodologies of Integral Science
A One-Scale Model of Holarchy

Christianity is based on lies and error

There is a discipline in truth finding and truth telling. It is a contemplative path that cuts harshly through the mind's tendency toward fantasy. We are story tellers and we like to comfort ourselves with convenient and pleasant lies. In traumatic circumstances the mind will create an alternative reality, sometimes that alternative reality is so far from the truth that we call it madness. At its heart philosophy is the rigorous search for the truth. In the beginning this was also a spiritual quest. Wilber has adequately explained how spirituality was divorced from Western philosophy – a post Aristotelian false direction.
But what has all this got to do with Christianity? Well, precisely this: it turns out that when we get into the devilish detail about Christianity we find out that it's all lies – all of it, especially the bit about the Devil. I like this twist – when you examine the detail you find there is no devil in the detail– and no Christ, and possibly no Jesus. Everything is up for grabs.
This is important because Christianity, as an ideology based on lies and error, has been perhaps the single most important cause of developmental regress and arrest in the world - yes, the world, the whole planet. Christian missionaries have invaded every corner of the planet spreading a false doctrine. It has devastated many cultures and even today, Western powers pressure non-Western cultures to adopt laws based on Christian concepts, particularly in the area of morality. Christianity's attempt to control morality has had destructive effects, yet, paradoxically, because of its reliance on lies it ends up being a thoroughly immoral ideology - it consistently breaks the two ethical imperatives mentioned above.
Christian hegemony was an important factor in the decline of spiritual philosophy. By replacing philosophy with a theology based on lies the original teachings of several philosophical schools were distorted, allowing a later materialist reaction to arise. By taking God out of nature and out of man and placing Him in a remote heaven, Christianity created the dualism that allowed science to concentrate exclusively on nature and ignore God. If God was separate from His creation then he could be kept separate and out of mind.
Perhaps the most devastating consequence of Christian theology is its emphasis on faith. As I will argue below the early Christian ideologues struggled against competing ideas about Christ and the nature of God and the Cosmos. They could not argue from evidence because they had none, instead they argued from faith. Today orthodox Christians still defend their beliefs against an ever increasing amount of contrary evidence by arguing from faith. The American fundamentalist responds to the hard evidence contradicting a literal interpretation of the Bible by constructing a rationale based on faith alone – it is so because I believe it is so.
We might choose to ridicule such fundamentalist beliefs, however, it is not the specific belief that is the real problem. By raising an argument from faith to the same epistemological status as an argument from facts and reason, Christianity has opened the door for other beliefs to use the same excuse. Thus a whole range of bizarre and contradictory belief systems claim a 'right' to exist solely on the basis of a supposed 'right' to faith. This diminishes the power of what is true and merely creates a confusing array of false paths based on fantasies and lies – it plunges the world into gobbledygook.

October 20, 2006

Agni is the divine spark in man

Symbolic Significance of Vedic Gods The vedic deities are not only forces of nature, but also forces that exist in the physical body and help the individual in his spiritual progress to overcome certain impediments. Symbolic significance of the Vedic deities is discussed in detail by Sri Aurobindo in his book entitled, "The Secret of the Vedas." The views expressed here are based upon his interpretation.
According to Sri Aurobindo, one should not consider the vedic imagery as mere imagery. The gods, goddesses and the demons mentioned in the Vedas represent various cosmic powers. They play a significant role in the drama of creation not only in the external world but in the inner world of a human being. When a person is making spiritual progress it is imperative that he has to ensure the development of these godheads in him also so that the required spiritual perfection is attained at all levels. The gods have to be strengthened and the demons have to be slain in order to attain perfection at all levels- "in the wideness of the earth, our physical being and consciousness"
According to the key provided by Shri Aurobindo, the outer form of a Vedic ritual has an inner corresponding ritual. A ritual is a sacrifice, an attempt to fulfill the purpose of creation, to elevate the status of man to that of a godhead or a cosmic man.In such a ritual at the inner level, Agni is the divine spark in man, the inner soul. The ghee or the clarified butter that is offered to him is the mind. The sacrificial food or annam, consisting of grains, seeds etc, stands for the physical body which is but an altered state of annam or food only.
Once the divine spark (Agni) is invoked, he wakes up the latent energies or divine powers hidden in man, (the various gods and goddesses), to share the fruits of the sacrifice and assist the individual, (the performer of the sacrifice), in his spiritual awakening, transformation, purification and evolution.The symbolic significance of the Vedic gods is further explained from here on. Indra is the awakened mind or the illumined mind, who in the mythology appears as the lord of the heavens and exists in the body as the Lord of the senses, one who has attained control over his senses. Vrata the snake demon, whom he slays in order to release the waters for the people of earth, is the dark mentality, the mass of negative and ignorant consciousness which hides all the cows( the rays of Truth) in the caves of panis or sense-driven life. The Rudras and the Maruts are the positive forces which aid Indra in his fight against evil forces. The Ribhus are the seasons, which stand for the various stages or phases through which a person has to undergo the process of spiritual progress.
Once the senses are controlled and the mind is stabilized through slaying of all the dark powers, comes the awakening, the goddess of Usha, who brings along with her Ashwins into the world of inner consciousness. These Ashwins are the horses, the spiritual energies that enable the individual to make a swift progress towards enlightenment. After Ushas appear Aditi, the Primal Sun, the God of Light, first as Savitr, who represents the Divine grace essential for all spiritual success, and then as Mitra, who as the Divine love is considered as a friend of the illumined mind(Indra) and his associates (the other gods.After the Sun of Truth, appear Ritha (Truth in Action) and Ritachit (Truth consciousness. The various Goddesses also appear at this stage, Ila (Goddess of Truth vision), Saraswathi (Goddess of knowledge and wisdom), Sarama (the intuitive mind) and Dakshina (goddess of discernment and and ability).
The Vedic Yagna is therefore an act of supreme sacrifice, if performed well at the spiritual level would lead to enlightenment and salvation. Posted by KP.Konduru at 11:13 AM Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cosmic salvation through spiritual evolution

Sri Aurobindo born Aug. 15, 1872, Calcutta, Indiadied Dec. 5, 1950, Pondicherry. Original name Aurobindo Ghose, Aurobindo also spelled Aravinda seer, poet, and Indian nationalist who originated the philosophy of cosmic salvation through spiritual evolution. Aurobindo's education began in a Christian convent school in Darjeeling, and then, still a boy, he was sent to England for further schooling. He entered the University of Cambridge, where he became proficient in two
The history of Hinduism > The modern period (19th-20th century) > New religious movements > Aurobindo Ashram Another modern teacher whose doctrines have had some influence outside India was Sri Aurobindo, who began his career as a revolutionary. He later withdrew from politics and settled in Pondicherry, then a French possession. There he established an ashram, or asrama (a retreat), and achieved a high reputation as a sage. His followers saw him as the first incarnate manifestation…
Systematic exposition of mystical experience > Attempts of mystics to record the nature of their experiences The theory or interpretation of mysticism is not mysticism. Generally, there are two sides to the theory: philosophical and practical. There may be another: confessional and justificatory. Though some mystics have been content to record what happened, others have worked out manuals of praxis (techniques), or sadhana. As a rule, mystical method, experience, and exegesis…Encyclopædia Britannica

October 19, 2006

I have been preparing this uprising

By Makarand Paranjape Life Positive, August 1997
The importance of dharma in Indian life has been summed up well by Sri Aurobindo in his famous Uttarpara speech in 1909: "When it is said that India shall be great, it is the Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists. To magnify the religion means to magnify the country." When Aurobindo was in jail, the Divine actually spoke to him, giving him the following message: "Since long ago I have been preparing this uprising and now the time has come and it is I who will lead it to its fulfillment."
At the end of this historic speech, Aurobindo repeated his main contention: "I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it, it moves and with it, it grows. When Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines " Of course, it needs to be stressed that by Sanatan Dharma, Aurobindo meant the eternal, universal religion, not any particular sect or creed: "If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose."

October 18, 2006

Hiranyagarbha is cosmic Prana

Hiranyagarbha, otherwise known as Karya Brahman and Sambhuti, is cosmic mind. He is the sum total (Samashti) of all the minds. The individual mind is connected with the cosmic mind. Cosmic mind, Hiranyagarbha, superconscious mind, infinite mind, universal mind are synonymous terms. Different authors have used different terms. Do not be puzzled. Do not be confused. It is Sabda-bheda only. Hiranyagarbha is cosmic Prana also. He is the Sutratman (thread-like Self). He represents the electric, cosmic, power-house. The different Jivas represent the different, small bulbs. Electricity from the power-house flows through the insulated copper wires into the bulbs. Similarly, the power from Hiranyagarbha flows into the Jivas...
Intuition is spiritual Anubhava. Knowledge through functioning of Karana-Sarira is intuition. Sri Aurobindo calls it super-mind or supramental consciousness. There is direct perception of truth (Pratyaksha) or immediate knowledge through Samadhi. You know things by a flash. Professor Bergson preached about intuition in France to make the people understand that there is another higher source of knowledge than intellect. In intuition, there is no reasoning process at all. It is Pratyaksha. Intuition transcends reason, but does not contradict it. Intellect takes a man to the door of intuition and returns back. Intuition is Divyadrishti. It is Jnana-Chakshus. Spiritual flashes and glimpses of truth come through intuition. Inspiration, revelation, spiritual insight come through intuition.
Atma-Jnana is above intuition. It transcends the Karana-Sarira. It is the highest form of Knowledge. posted by blogger86 @ 9:45 AM

October 17, 2006

The realism of Sri Aurobindo

Here the double literary device at the beginning of this chapter, of Samjaya reporting the actual dialogue in verse 1 and again in verse 9, as if the curtain drops and rises twice before the actual dialogue - the central samvada proper which is to hold the stage - which begins properly in verse 11, has its own significance. It is in the light of this dramatic structure that we must interpret the meaning of verses 2 and 3 particularly; otherwise the second line here which refers to factors such as svarga (heaven) and kirti (social reputation) and anaryajushtam (unworthy of an Aryan, implying racial prestige) - generally repugnant to the teaching of the Gita as a whole, as definitely discerned in later chapters - become inexplicable. The imperative need for action in this critical situation considered here in actual historical terms belongs to the canvas rather than the painting. To identify it with the proper teaching of the Gita as many have done (see our remarks on the realism of Sri Aurobindo in the Introduction) is unpardonable. Bhagavad Gita Commentary Chapter 2 Tuesday, 04 April 2006

Sri Aurobindo has a lurking mistrust for pure knowledge

B. G. Tilak has devoted two laborious volumes to what he calls Gita Rahasya (The Secret of the Gita) in which he has much useful information to give. Translated from the Marathi original, the two volumes represent a monumental attempt wherein the author's earnestness and energy are evident on every page, not unmixed with much erudition. His attitude of a religious Hindu of an active temperament is unmistakable from what he has to say. From the vast body of his writing we extract the following for illustration: " In short it is perfectly clear that the proper preaching [of the Gita in this place would be “energism” (pravritti) and that, as all others are only supporting Energism, that is as they are all auxiliary, the purport of the Gita religion must also be to support Energism; that is to support Action." ...
Sri Aurobindo's Essays on the Gita, I and II series (Calcutta 1928) represent the point of view of a Hindu of modern times who has had the full benefit of an intellectual formation of the West as also a religious background which is deeply emotional and intuitive. Temperamentally uncompromising and absolutist in his ways, it is no wonder that he thought in very realistic and living terms regarding the Absolute, and there is no mistaking that Sri Aurobindo took the teaching of the Gita to heart with the utmost earnestness. Its sentiments and attitude found echo in his own heart and he was able therefore to penetrate more deeply into the spirit of the teaching of the Gita than most other critics, especially in those living or active aspects of the Absolute which agree with his own deeply mystical and actively patriotic temperament. Although Sri Aurobindo is as capable of appraising its teachings as any scholar or academic professor, he does not desire to do so, but prefers to take the attitude of a person who merely seeks, as he says, “Help and light” from it!
He is interested in what he calls its “essential and living message” which has to be “spiritual”. We know from the other writings of Sri Aurobindo what pattern of spiritual life or teaching is his. His profuse writings leave us in no doubt in regard to this. He often speaks of the supra-mental power which can descend to manifest itself in actual terms, and there is also the ascent of human beings to the divine status which is also possible and can transform men into superior or divine personalities. From our own remarks in this introduction and in the text of the commentary it is easy to see that we too take a similar position without however resorting to theological or dogmatic expressions like God or divinity. We have taken special pains to show that the Gita teaching is not theistic or deistic. Divested of this quasi-theological or mythological vesture the truths underlying the writings of Sri Aurobindo could support our own position to a large extent. Let us quote extracts from Sri Aurobindo to bring out both the agreement and the difference that we refer to...
The two quotations that we have selected to begin with are enough to convince anyone that, regardless of this modest statement; he does have very profound and subtle doctrines of a metaphysical order to derive from the teachings of the Gita. It is true he avoids giving his doctrines a dialectical, academic or scholarly form. This however is willfully and consciously done by him as we have stated. A close scrutiny of the implications of the two quotations we have selected will, however, convince the careful reader that they bear resemblance, though not directly, to dialectical modes of theorization at least to esoteric schools such as the Hermetics. While the kinship of his doctrines to the Tantra school of Bengal is not undiscernible, the roots of such theorization in the Indian soil are not readily traceable, especially because, as hinted at in the second quotation above, Sri Aurobindo has a lurking mistrust for anything that is of the nature of pure knowledge, which he refers to as the "narrower doctrine". These "narrower" doctrines however, we note on the other hand, tally with the standpoint of Sankara, the most respectable of Gita commentators.
However, we can discern implicit in Sri Aurobindo's standpoint, in spite of its tantric and esoteric form, the same dialectics that we are to explain in some of the sections of this Introduction, as forming the key to the enigmas and problems of the Gita.Sri Aurobindo’s own philosophy according to us has kinship with the realism of the Sanjaya section of the eleventh chapter of the Gita, and more pointedly to the last line of Chapter XVIII, 75, where Krishna's divine presence is referred to as nothing more or less than actual. An Avatar who helps the establishment of Dharma and Arjuna fulfilling his own Dharma refer, according to Sri Aurobindo, to the core of the subject- matter of the Gita, for he writes: " Dharma in the language of the Gita means the innate law of the being and its works and an action proceeding from and determined by the inner nature, svabhavaniyatam- karma . . the rest of the Gita is written to throw a fuller light on this immortal Dharma."
Having been an active politician, interested in the liberation of India from foreign rule, Sri Aurobindo retained, even after he became a Yogi of Pondicherry (as made very evident in his message of Independence Day in India, on August 15, 1947) those aspects of spiritual or contemplative life which refer to active realities. The Gita, at least in its peripherally placed teachings, does lend support to such an attitude. We have however, preferred to treat the Gita as a purer form of contemplative text based on dialectics.

October 14, 2006

A cauldron of subjective fantasies

As Sri Aurobindo noted, there is a realm of the psyche called the “vital mind,” so it is not at all uncommon to encounter a vital intellectual, just as it is not uncommon to encounter a noble and light-filled common laborer. It’s all about the light, not the intellectual content...
Father Rose points out that the fall into vitalism is at the heart of the reverse utopias of the left, which immamentize Christian hope and try to create a “vital heaven” on earth. For if higher truth is eclipsed as a result of “realism,” then leftism results from the flight from despair that such an erroneous and subhuman metaphysic entails...
As Father Rose points out, “there is no form of Vitalism that is not naturalistic,” which again goes to the many pseudo-religions that are an expression of vitalism. Here again, if you are remotely sensitive, you will notice this with regard to most “new age” spirituality, which is vital to the core, a cauldron of subjective fantasies, a “rootless eclecticism” of half-understood fragments, earth worship, narcissistic "realizationism," and sometimes frank satanism (even if unwitting). In reality, these pseudo-religions are “a cancer born of nihilism.” posted by Gagdad Bob at 7:47 AM 6 comments One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin Nihilism

Liberal nihilism

Before he became Father Seraphim Rose (1934-1981), Eugene Rose began work on a book that he never finished, entitled The Kingdom of Man and the Kingdom of God. He completed only one chapter, on what he called “stages of the nihilist dialectic,” tracing modern man’s fall into the abyss of liberal nihilism. Because in the end, that is what the culture war is really about: objective truth vs. nihilism.
Rose saw our descent as happening in four stages that he called 1) liberalism, 2) realism, 3) vitalism, and 4) destruction. The first of these, liberalism, is already a sort of “passive nihilism,” because it opens the door to everything that follows--it is a “breeding ground of the more advanced stages of nihilism.” Why is that? Partly because, under the guise of “tolerance,” liberalism slowly begins to distance itself from, and no longer take seriously, the very ideas and traditions that made liberalism possible. You see this for example, in the vast rhetorical gulf that exists between the great classical liberal thinkers who founded America and the petty, small-minded leftist liberals who rule today. posted by Gagdad Bob at 8:01 AM 40 comments One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

October 13, 2006

Saussure, Peirce, Lacan, Derrida, and Baudrillard

Whereas Saussure saw the signifier and the signified (however arbitrary their relationship) as being as inseparable as the two sides of a piece of paper, poststructuralists have rejected the stable and predictable relationship embedded in his model. The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan wrote of 'the incessant sliding of the signified under the signifier' (Lacan 1977, 154) - he argued that there could be no anchoring of particular signifiers to particular signifieds - although this in itself is hardly contentious in the context of psychoanalysis. Jacques Derrida refers also to the 'freeplay' of signifiers: they are not fixed to their signifieds but point beyond themselves to other signifiers in an 'indefinite referral of signifier to signified' (Derrida 1978, 25). He championed the 'deconstruction' of western semiotic systems, denying that there were any ultimate determinable meanings. Whilst for Saussure the meaning of signs derives from how they differ from each other, Derrida coined the term différance to allude also to the way in which meaning is endlessly deferred. There is no 'transcendent signified' (Derrida 1978, 278-280; Derrida 1976, 20).
These notions were anticipated by Peirce in his version of 'unlimited semiosis', although he emphasized that in practice this potentially endless process is inevitably cut short by the practical constraints of everyday life (Gallie 1952, 126). Unlike Peirce, postmodernist theories grant no access to any reality outside signification. For Derrida, 'il n'y a riens hors du texte' ('there is nothing outside the text') - although this assertion need not necessarily be taken 'literally' (Derrida 1976, 158, 163). For materialist marxists and realists, postmodernist idealism is intolerable: 'signs cannot be permitted to swallow up their referents in a never-ending chain of signification, in which one sign always points on to another, and the circle is never broken by the intrusion of that to which the sign refers' (Lovell 1983, 16). Some theorists note that an emphasis on the unavoidability of signification does not necessitate denying any external reality. David Sless comments that 'I am not suggesting that the only things in the universe are signs or texts, or that without signs nothing could exist. However, I am arguing that without signs nothing is conceivable' (Sless 1986, 156). We may note in passing that since the phrase 'the empty (or free-floating) signifier' has become something of an academic 'sound-bite' the term itself is ironically in danger of being an empty signifier...
Such a schematization bears some similarity to that of the postmodernist Jean Baudrillard. Baudrillard interprets many representations as a means of concealing the absence of reality; he calls such representations 'simulacra' (or copies without originals) (Baudrillard 1984). He sees a degenerative evolution in modes of representation in which signs are increasingly empty of meaning:
These would be the successive phases of the image:
It is the reflection of a basic reality.
It masks and perverts a basic reality.
It masks the absence of a basic reality.
It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum. (Baudrillard 1988, 170)
Baudrillard argues that when speech and writing were created, signs were invented to point to material or social reality, but the bond between signifier and signified became eroded. As advertising, propaganda and commodification set in, the sign began to hide 'basic reality'. In the postmodern age of 'hyper-reality' in which what are only illusions in the media of communication seem very real, signs hide the absence of reality and only pretend to mean something. For Baudrillard, simulacra - the signs which characterize late capitalism - come in three forms: counterfeit (imitation) - when there was still a direct link between signifiers and their signifieds; production (illusion) - when there was an indirect link between signifier and signified; and simulation (fake) - when signifiers came to stand in relation only to other signifiers and not in relation to any fixed external reality. It is hardly surprising that Douglas Kellner has criticized Baudrillard as a 'semiological idealist' who ignores the materiality of sign production (cited in Stam 2000, 306). Baudrillard's claim that the Gulf War never happened is certainly provocative (Baudrillard 1995). Semiotics for Beginners Daniel Chandler Contents Page Preface Introduction

Representation and its interpretation

So 1907, I almost hear you sigh. In that fateful year, Ferdinand de Saussure, the father of linguistics, announced to a throng of admirers that there are two sides to a linguistic sign: its signifier (representation) and its signified (interpretation). A string is a sign that, under the watchful eye of the control, acts as signifier when data and as signified when a program.
Saussure's intellectual progeny is a breed of scholars known as semioticians. Funny that linguists, of all people, would choose for themselves a name that rhymes with mortician. Funny or not, semiotics mavens will point out the imperfect symmetry between program and data. The latter is inviolate. Signifiers must be treated with the utmost reverence: they could be passwords, hip-hop rhymes, or newfound biblical commandments. Mess with them at your own peril.
Programs are different. The encoding of the signified is wholly conventional. Take the program “Print this”, for example. A francophonic control would have no problem with “Imprimer ceci ” or, for that matter, with the obsequious “O, control highly esteemed, may you, noblest of cuckoos, indulge my impudent wish to see this humble string printed out, before my cup runneth over and your battery runneth out.” The plethora of programming languages exposes how so many ways there are of signifying the same thing. (Just as the plethora of political speeches exposes how so many ways there are of signifying nothing.)

Sensing the comic, artistic, and scholarly potential of the duality between program and data, great minds went to work. Abbott and Costello's “Who's on First?” routine is built around the confusion between a baseball player's nickname (the signifier) and the pronoun “who” (the signified). Magritte's celebrated painting “Ceci n'est pas une pipe” (this is not a pipe) plays on the distinction between the picture of a pipe (the signifier) and a pipe one smokes (the signified). The great painter might as well have scribbled on a blank canvas: “Le signifiant n'est pas le signifié ” (the signifier is not the signified). But he didn't, and for that we're all grateful.
English scholars are not spared the slings and arrows of duality either. How more dual can it get than the question that keeps Elizabethan lit gurus awake at night: “Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare?” And pity the dually tormented soul that would dream up such wacky folderol: “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.” The Algorithm: Idiom of Modern Science by Bernard Chazelle

Subjectivity and responsibility

One of the main problematics of Confucianism concerns the meaning of social order and the meaning of human existence within that. Confucius himself had endeavored to revitalize the ancient social order instituted by Chou-li ( ) by rendering it meaningful in a transcendental way. In pre-Confucian China, Chou-li embraced both the ideal and actual aspects of religious, ethical and political life. Ideally speaking, it represented a cultural tradition, and even a comprehensive ideal of human life in general, as was the concept of Paideia for the ancient Greek people. But in the time of Confucius, Chou-li began to lose this deeper meaning while still keeping its actual and superficial meaning as a code of behavior, social and political institutions and religious ceremonies.
Confucius tried to revitalize Chou-li by translating its ideal meaning into the concept of Jen ( ), which represented the sensitive innerconnectedness between man's inner self with other men, with nature and even with Heaven. Jen manifests man's subjectivity and responsibility in and through moral awareness, and through the intersubjectivity supporting all social and ethical life. Thereby, Confucius provided a transcendental foundation for our interaction with nature, society and even with heaven. Then, from the concept of Jen, Confucius deduced the concept of Yi ( ), which represented for him moral norms, moral obligations, our consciousness of them and even the virtue of always acting according to them. And from the concept of Yi, Confucius deduced that of Li ( ) which represented the ideal meaning and actual codes of behavior, political institutions and religious ceremonies. Through this procedure of transcendental deduction, Confucianism reconstitutes and thereby revitalizes the ethical and social order and man's sense of meaningfulness within it. CHAPTER IX STRUCTURE, MEANING AND CRITIQUE VINCENT SHEN

Savitri Era is the right name

54 The disciple Tsze-lu said, “The duke of Wei [who had usurped the title of his father] has been waiting for you to assist in administering the government. What will you consider the first thing to be done?”
The Master replied, “What is necessary is to call things by their right names.”
“So, indeed!” said Tsze-lu [who had assisted the duke in administration for many years]. “You are wide of the mark. Why must the names of things be corrected?”
Confucius responded, “How uncultivated you are, Yu. A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve.
“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.
“When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and harmony will not flourish. When proprieties and harmony do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.
“Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires, is that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.” Selection and adaptation by Rex Pay Analects of Confucius

October 12, 2006

Completeness and consistency

How can a fundamental physical theory that is concerned with nothing but statistical correlations between property-indicating events be complete? To show that quantum mechanics is indeed a complete theory, one has to show that it in fact encompasses the property-indicating events. The PIQM does this by showing that the theoretical structure of the theory encompasses the macroworld, and that the macroworld in turn encompasses property-indicating events as unpredictable changes in the values of macroscopic positions. What is incomplete is not quantum mechanics but the spatiotemporal differentiation of the physical world.
Again, no value is possessed unless its possession is indicated — by another value. The PIQM steers clear of the threatening infinite regress by showing that, for all quantitative purposes (rather than merely FAPP), the values of macroscopic positions are self-existent.
Supervenience, manifestation
Erwin Schrödinger: quantum entanglement is the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics. John Archibald Wheeler: the central mystery of physics is the miraculous identity of particles of the same type. Richard Feynman: the double-slit experiment with electrons has in it the heart of quantum mechanics. Henry Stapp: Bell’s proof that the principle of locality is incompatible with quantum mechanics is the most profound discovery in science. According to the PIQM, all of these extraordinary features of quantum mechanics are subsumed and eclipsed by the supervenience of the microscopic on the macroscopic.
The properties of the microword exist only because, and only to the extent that, they are indicated by events in the macroworld. This flies in the face of the twenty-five centuries old atomistic paradigm. It is no longer appropriate to ask: what are the ultimate building blocks, and how do they interact and combine? If we accept Mohrhoff’s suggested identification of the Indian metaphysical concept of Brahman with the single ultimate constituent of the universe, the right question to ask instead is: how does Brahman manifest itself? The answer, in outline: by entering into spatial relations with itself, Brahman gives rise to both matter and space, inasmuch as space is the totality of existing spatial relations, whereas matter is the corresponding (apparent) multitude of relata — “apparent” because the relations are self-relations.
If we experience something the like of which we never experienced before, we are obliged to describe it in terms of familiar experiences. By the same token, what lies “behind” the manifested world can only be described in terms of the finished product — the manifested world. According to the PIQM, quantum mechanics affords us a glimpse “behind” the manifested world at formless particles and non-visualizable atoms, which, instead of being the world’s constituent parts or structures, are instrumental in its manifestation. But it allows us to describe what we “see” only in terms of inferences from macroevents and their quantum-mechanical correlations. Hence the supervenience of the microscopic on the macroscopic.
References and external links
U. Mohrhoff (2000), “What quantum mechanics is trying to tell us”, American Journal of Physics 68, 728–45; a.k.a.
The Pondicherry interpretation of quantum mechanics.
U. Mohrhoff (2001),
Objective probabilities, quantum counterfactuals, and the ABL rule: A response to R. E. Kastner“], American Journal of Physics 69, 864–73.
U. Mohrhoff (2002), [ “Making sense of a world of clicks”], Foundations of Physics 32, 1295–1311.
L. Marchildon (2004), [ “Remarks on Mohrhoff’s Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics”], Foundations of Physics 34, 59–73.
U. Mohrhoff (2004), [ “Do quantum states evolve? Apropos of Marchildon’s remarks”], Foundations of Physics 34, 75–97.
U. Mohrhoff (2004), [ “This elusive objective existence”], International Journal of Quantum Information 2, 201–20.
U. Mohrhoff (2005), [ “The Pondicherry interpretation of quantum mechanics: An overview”], PRAMANA—Journal of Physics 64, 171–85.
U. Mohrhoff (2006), [ “Is the end in sight for theoretical pseudophysics?”], in New Topics in Quantum Physics Research, edited by V. Krasnoholovets and F. Columbus (Nova Science Publishers).
U. Mohrhoff (2006), [ “Quantum mechanics explained”]. This article gives reasons why quantum mechanics should not be interpreted as anything but a generalized probability calculus.
This Quantum World (Mohrhoff’s website)

An infinite quality

Science, consciousness, and all that
Jonah Lehrer has posted a comment on V.S. Ramachandran’s recent thoughts on how science can solve the mystery consciousness. In it he points out the obvious:
Any explanation of our experience solely in terms of our neurons will never explain our experience…. To believe otherwise is to indulge in a simple category mistake… It is ironic, but true: the one reality science cannot reduce is the only reality we will ever know.
I am reminded of what Augustine said about time: as long as nobody asked, he knew what it was, but if someone asked, he didn’t. We all know what consciousness is — until someone asks. There are things that simply cannot be explained in terms of other things. The mystery of consciousness begins with the question: is it a thing, a property, or a relation? I vote for relation because when I say “I am conscious” I don’t mean that I am in possession of a thing or that I have a property but that I am aware of or perceive things. There are things that exist for me.
But somehow we cannot stop searching for “ultimate reality”, and two ultimate realities are definitely less intellectually satisfying than one. Emotionally it’s a different matter. As Ramakrishna said: I don’t want to be sugar, I want to taste it. Which brings me to the Indian metaphysical concept of ultimate reality, Brahman, which relates to the world in a threefold manner:
It is sat, the substances that constitutes the world.
It is chit, the self for which the world exists, or the consciousness that “contains” it.
It is ananda, subjectively speaking an infinite bliss and objectively speaking an infinite quality that throws itself into expressive movements and forms.
This leaves us with questions that are a lot more intelligent than questions arising from our childish conceptions of matter and/or God.
How does sat come to be, apparently, a multitude of particles?
By entering into spatial relations with itself! For space is nothing but the totality of existing spatial relations, whereas matter is nothing but the resulting apparent multitude of relata — apparent because the relations are self-relations.
How does chit come to be, apparently, a multitude of selves?
How does sat come to be, apparently, different from chit?
How does the world — a manifestation of ananda — come to be, apparently, a rather miserable place?
There are intelligent and (IMHO) very satisfying answers, but how are we going to find them if we never ask these questions?
In his follow-up post, Lehrer rightly questions the hybristic claim that science can solve any and every empirical problem. As I said in this post, science operates within an interpretative framework that formulates questions and interprets answers. When will the gung-ho materialists catch on to the fact that this framework is itself not testable?
Lehrer agrees with Dawkins that while science might never prove that a theistic God can’t exist, it can make Him seem woefully improbable. Thank God for small mercies! But isn’t it time we wake up to the possibility that other options exist besides the notion of a theistic God and a “scientific” materialism? (Needless to say, there is nothing scientific about the doctrine of materialism.)
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