November 01, 2007

Sri Aurobindo’s Cosmology

Increasingly I feel that the process thought of Alfred North Whitehead is complementary to the spiritual philosophy of Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo was observing the world from an occult perspective, which we can call “top-down”, whereas Whitehead worked his way “bottom-up” from mathematics and modern science. But both arrived at a panentheistic cosmology that allowed for a process-oriented, dynamic, evolving universe. Whitehead is really the missing link as far as bridging the worlds of science and the occult go. For me in particular, because I came to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother through a heart-level awakening, and without any kind of intellectual groundwork or mental reasoning involved, there are a lot of mental gaps that I need to fill up, and I find that Whitehead is the key here.
So imagine my happiness when I discovered that Dr. Eric Weiss of the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) has put up his entire PhD thesis online, a thesis that explicitly tries to work out a synthesis of Sri Aurobindo and Whitehead. (Another person who I’ve mentioned before as having compared Sri Aurobindo and Whitehead was Professor Satya Prakash Singh, but he did not attempt a synthesis as Dr. Weiss has done.) The title of this thesis is “The Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds: Sri Aurobindo’s Cosmology, Modern Science, and the Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead”...
So I am now eagerly working my way through this document. What we need now is more work like this — more documents that are able to put scientific discoveries into the meaningful context of such a system of interlocking subtle worlds. There are no empirical or rational proofs for the existence of the subtle worlds (only existential and experiential ones), but works like those of Dr. Weiss do an admirable job of showing that nothing within empirical science actually contradicts the existence of supraphysical worlds and realities.

1 comment:

  1. What none seem to understand is that Sri Aurobindo’s, the Mother’s and Thea’s work is complete in itself. It does not require Whitehead or Wilbur to give it light. It is LIGHT. These comparisons pale in their understanding of the total reality and contribute nothing to an understanding of meaning and purpose in the Supramental Creation. Eric Weiss, while very interesting, failed to deal with the very heart of Sri Aurobindo’s cosmology – TIME.

    In his commentaries on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of India's oldest and most profound metaphysical texts, the philosopher-sage, Sri Aurobindo discusses the occult imagery associated with this fundamental principle:

    " ... The [image of the] horse is a physical figure representing like an algebraical symbol, an unknown quantity of force and speed. (Time is its breath, the year is its body, the seasons its limbs, the months and the fortnights its joints, the days and nights its feet.) From the imagery it is evident that this force, this speed, is something universal. Time in its period is the Self of the Horse Sacrificial, so not Matter but Time, is the body of this force of the material universe... Space then, is the flesh constituting materially this body of Time which the sage attributes to his Horse of the worlds, by movement in Space its periods are shaped and determined. Hence the real power, the fundamental greatness of the Horse is not the material world, not the magnitudes of Space, but the magnitudes of Time... for Time is that mysterious condition of universal mind which alone makes the ordering of the universe in Space possible."
    Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads; 'The Great Aranyaka', Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, 1971

    "All things exist already in [the Brahman], but all are not here manifest. They are already there in Being but not in Time." Sri Aurobindo; The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

    In the last chapter of the Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo began to develop his thesis of a Supramental Time under the title “Toward the Supramental Time Vision.” It was never completed. In the years following his withdrawal this unfinished work was picked up and taken to completion by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea) who has dealt with this issue of Supramental Time and revealed its mysteries. Time is the Key to the Supramental realization and, as Sri Aurobindo states in the aforementioned quote, it is the only means of observing the organization of Supermind for the Earth.