November 15, 2007

The utility of the Asuras for Brahman’s purpose

My Asuric Tendencies from The Stumbling Mystic by ned ...the newly published book Integral Psychology: Yoga, Growth, and Opening the Heart, by Brant Cortright, who is also a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
This is a book written in a wonderfully clear and mentally accessible way, and is based on the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Cortright explains that Sri Aurobindo makes a crucial distinction between the aspiration of the psychic being, and the ego-desire of the vital being. Aspiration is what opens us up to the Infinite, whereas desire is what resists or blocks the expansion or opening of the heart. Yet, desire also has its purpose in evolution. It is often desire that, in seeking its own satisfaction and failing to find it, that opens us up to the Divine. The rajasic passions can cut through the tamas (inertia) in the physical consciousness and open up a window into the Godhead. Hence Sri Aurobindo’s statement: “Desire is the helper, desire is the bar.”
At the relative level, neither perfect satisfaction nor perfect renunciation of desire is possible. So this is the miserable state in which humanity finds itself — neither being able to give up desire totally, nor being able to satisfy it totally at this level. The solution is to transcend desire and enter a state of consciousness in which desire is subsumed by the self-giving of the psychic being. At this level we are immersed in the Infinite where all abundance resides and nothing is scarce. Our capacity for love is no longer perverted by our animal need for survival. Thus desire quite literally vanishes. Sri Aurobindo sums it up thus:
Only by perfect renunciation of desire or by perfect satisfaction of desire can the utter embrace of God be experienced; for in both ways the essential precondition is effected, — desire perishes.
Paradoxically the way to deal with and transmute desire is to put it in the context of the Divine. To be totally vulnerable with the Divine, without shame, to say, in the words of the Mother, “My Lord, my Lord, it is like this, it is like this.” I view my desires as tributaries that ultimately flow into the same Ocean of vastness. With this approach I am able to offer up my desires as a sacrifice. It is not I who can change myself or transmute my desires personally. The Divine himself will work out the sadhana in us and transform us. However, this is only going to happen with our willing consent. Those are the rules of the game; it’s all about a truly terrifying freedom, trust, and intimacy in the end.

2 comments:

  1. Robert E. Wilkinson - robtw@sprynet.comNovember 16, 2007

    I have written a number of postings lately on the lack of integrality in what is published as the main focus of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga. We see the same well intentioned people twisting the meaning of Sri Aurobindo’s words to support their view that the Infinite Brahman is the solution to all relative problems. In so doing they unknowingly perpetuate the view of an irreconcilable polarity between the Spiritual and Material worlds. This latest posting by Ned is a good example of what I mean and with respect, I would like to use her comments to shed some light on the underlying fallacy of her argument. Ned writes:

    “At the relative level, neither perfect satisfaction nor perfect renunciation of desire is possible. So this is the miserable state in which humanity finds itself — neither being able to give up desire totally, nor being able to satisfy it totally at this level. The solution is to transcend desire and enter a state of consciousness in which desire is subsumed by the self-giving of the psychic being. At this level we are immersed in the Infinite where all abundance resides and nothing is scarce. Our capacity for love is no longer perverted by our animal need for survival. Thus desire quite literally vanishes. Sri Aurobindo sums it up thus: Only by perfect renunciation of desire or by perfect satisfaction of desire can the utter embrace of God be experienced; for in both ways the essential precondition is effected, — desire perishes.”


    Ned’s position is very clear; humanity as it presently exists lives in a miserable state of relativity the solution to which is a Transcendence of the relative and an immersion of oneself in the Infinite Consciousness where all abundance resides and nothing is scarce. How pray tell is this any different from the Transcendent spiritual philosophies of the past six thousand years? In what way can this urge to Transcendence INTEGRATE the multiple planes of our being from the Spiritual down to the Cellular consciousness? How, for example, can this strategy successfully integrate Being and the Becoming, Eternity and Time and the multitude of polarizations that these Old and Partial Transcendent philosophies have fostered? To cast Sri Aurobindo’s work in this light is to dissociate the Transcendent from the Cosmic and the Individual and in so doing, discard the Supermind’s vehicle of descent.

    Anyone familiar with Sri Aurobindo’s, the Mother’s and Thea’s work understands that it represents a radical departure from the Old Transcendent Spiritual philosophies . In fact, the whole notion of a Life Divine is based upon a UNION of the planes of consciousness from the Spiritual to the Physical. The Mother, once wrote, “…The whole earth and everything it contains is a kind of concentration, a condensation of something which exists in other worlds invisible to the material eye. Each thing manifest here has its principle, idea or essence somewhere in the subtler regions." Sri Aurobindo expanded the Mother’s statement of a Physical and Ideal earth and foresaw the possibility of uniting the two as the basis of an entirely new human experience:

    “The Supramental Yoga foresees the possibility of a material union with the Divine. It is the union of the “Earth” of the Veda with the divine Principle, an earth which is said to be above our earth, that is to say, the physical being and consciousness of which the world and the body are only images.” Sri Aurobindo, 12/31/1915 Letters to the Mother, Collected Works, Vol. 1, pp 308.

    The evolutionary Yoga that they developed and bequeathed to the world is not about TRANSCENDENCE, it is based upon the possibility of a material union of these two earths and their intervening planes in such a way that nothing that we can observe in the Physical will be Seen as separate from its Source again.

    The people who perpetuate the myth that the Supramental Yoga is about Transcendence are the very ones who have entombed this epochal work in a dogma that excludes an understanding of the cosmic mysteries written into the Mother’s original Temple plan. They are the same ones who have vilified Thea and rejected her revelations on Supramental Time and an Indocentric Cosmology. True to the old Patriarchal form, the two FEMININE members of the line and the bridge they have created for Supermind to descend into physical have been rejected as a heresy to their mentalized notion of an Aurobindonian Dogma. This is what is meant by the quote from Savitri:

    “In Matter shall be lit the spirit's glow,
    In body and body kindled the sacred birth;
    Night shall awake to the anthem of the stars,
    The days become a happy pilgrim march,
    Our will a force of the Eternal's power,
    And thought the rays of a spiritual sun.
    A few shall see what none yet understands;
    God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep;
    For man shall not know the coming till its hour
    And belief shall be not till the work is done.”

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  2. I really wish people would write to me and engage with me in dialogue before jumping to conclusions about what I think. In reality I have no objections to Robert has said above; it is just a different way of mentally formulating what I was saying. I fully acknowledge that the Supramental Yoga is different from the old transcendental yogas -- that is its greatest strength.

    As far as turning Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's work into mentalized dogma, I personally strive very hard not to do that, and my blog is mostly just a bunch of personal reflections. I've got no need to gather an audience, preach to anyone, or make any claims to personal power, and anyone who had bothered to read the blog thoroughly would know that. I'm no guru, just an ordinary human being who has had a couple of psychic openings.

    I'm really tired of the blogosphere. I was just Googling something and found this comment by accident, because generally I don't even bother about these things anymore. People get into pointless mental-vital arguments, which is exactly the level at which our asuric tendencies operate. Learning how to touch someone else's soul? Why bother, when you can argue and point fingers endlessly?

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