October 05, 2006

Integral universalism

Auroville: Spirituality, Community, and Multiculturalism in South India
Spring 2005 (3 units), Auroville, India, January 5-19 Instructors: Jorge N. Ferrer, Ph.D. and Mariana Caplan, Ph.D. Emails: , Spirituality in Higher Education Newsletter-April 2005 ● Volume 2, Issue 2 ● Page 11 California Institute of Integral Studies
Against the rich living tapestry of the universal township of Auroville, this course will provide an opportunity for deep inquiry into the nature of integral spirituality. The first week of the course consists of a guided introduction to Auroville and Pondicherry, followed by a 3-day field trip to Tiruvannamalai (including visits to Ramana Maharshi’s Ashram and Arunachala Temple) in order to expose students to traditional village Indian life and to the larger bioregional, cultural, and spiritual context of Auroville. The second week will involve a deeper immersion in Auroville, as well as structured collective inquiry into selected topics central to both integral spirituality and the Auroville experiment.
Topical areas of study will include: the East-West encounter, the relationship between spirituality and religion, integral spiritual practice, spiritual authority, community and spiritual transformation, and as well as other possible themes emerging from students’ own interests and the Auroville experience. In the spirit of dialogue and inquiry, each topic will be explored during each morning through a dynamic combination of lectures, readings, discussions, and process, including possible guest presentations from Aurovillians. Afternoons will generally be free in order for students to carry out field research and/or pursue their particular interests. Some evenings may be dedicated to further lectures or other optional activities according to social and cultural events occurring in Auroville or Pondicherry...
The course engages students in didactic and experiential learning using a combination of three methodological approaches: transdisciplinary, integral, and organic.
The transdisciplinary approach will draw upon scholarship in East-West cross-cultural hermeneutics, sociology of religion and religious studies, Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s works, contemporary transpersonal and integral psychology, as well as community living and participatory field work at Auroville, demonstrating how creative scholarship extends across the boundaries of distinct disciplines and activities.
The integral approach will engage students in a multidimensional inquiry in which they will be invited to not only intellectually reflect upon selected questions and issues, but also listen to the voice and wisdom of their somatic, vital, emotional, intuitive, and spiritual worlds.
The organic approach underlying the course will encourage learners to develop an evolving question regarding their own relationship to integral spirituality that will naturally change and mature as a result of the various experiences and topical areas of study engaged in the course...
The East-West Encounter
Sri Aurobindo’s vision is frequently portrayed as a philosophical synthesis of East and West, and, although welcoming people from all cultures, Auroville is mostly today an East-West community formed by Euro-Americans and Indians. Can integral spirituality be seen as a fruit of the East-West encounter? In this module, we will briefly explore the history of the East-West encounter, with special attention to its religious and spiritual dimensions. We will then look at Sri Aurobindo’s relationship to East and West, as well as the nature of his integral universalism and understanding of other religious traditions.
• Clarke, J. J., "East-West Encounter in the Twentieth Century."
• Moore, Charles, "Sri Aurobindo on East and West."
• Aykara, Thomas, "Sri Aurobindo. An Encounter Between East and West."
• Minor, Robert N., "Sri Aurobindo’s Integral View of Other Religions."
• Cousins, Ewert, "The Convergence of Cultures and Religions in Light of the Evolution of Consciousness."
The Relationship Between Religion and Spirituality
Like an increasing number of individuals in the postmodern West, most Aurovillians understand themselves as "spiritual, but not religious." What does it mean to be "spiritual, but not religious" at Auroville and the Western world at large? Can integral spirituality be considered a new religion? In what sense are Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s spiritual system and integral yoga "not religious"? Can the referents of the terms "religion" and "spirituality" be coherently separated or are they inextricably interconnected? In this module, we will examine the history of the term "spirituality", Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s views on religion and spirituality, Auroville’s current relationship to religion, and recent scholarly efforts trying to shed light upon this contemporary dilemma...

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