December 29, 2007

The innermost being is more causally efficacious than the unconscious

Causal Efficacy: Mind Over Matter Posted on Dec 28th, 2007 by Eric
The level of Mind alone is just not enough to do the job. The levels of Soul and Spirit, however, are capable of acting as powerful attractor fields that overcome the problems and illusions of the lower levels, and they do this by virtue of being the Reality of what is, to which there is no actual opposite.
Sri Aurobindo, who witnessed the beginnings of psychoanalysis (and was, in fact, a contemporary of Freud's), advised his students to first become intimate with the innermost being (i.e., Soul) before attempting to tackle the unconscious impulses. In his view, the innermost being was more causally efficacious than the unconscious, and was thus needed to be contacted in order to prevent the mind from being overwhelmed by the unconscious. All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2007 Eric Thompson Access: Public Add Comment Print Send views (6) Tagged with: great chain of being, integral theory, psychology, evolution, biology, physics, scientific dogma, Aurobindo, the unconscious, science of consciousness, attention, neuroscience, holarchy, cognitive behavior therapy

December 24, 2007

It took Sri Aurobindo, Dayanand Saraswati and others to bring back some dignity to the Vedas

My own encounter with the Vedas began with a book, by Sri Aurobindo, called the Secret of the Vedas. Until then I had read many important texts but not the Vedas. Like most modern Indians I paid polite lip service to them. They are the fount from which everything comes, so we revere them in theory but ignore them in practise. I picked up Aurobindo’s book out of sheer curiosity.
Most of the translations of the Vedas came from the Indologists, who tended to be too literal in their confusion. They were academics, or they were missionaries, who could not relate to the poetry at all. The Vedas were like nothing in their experience before. They dismissed the verses as babblings of a primitive mind, created by simple tribals who did little but pray to powers of nature for cows, wealth and children.
It took Sri Aurobindo, Dayanand Saraswati and others to bring back some dignity to the Vedas. Aurobindo was himself a sage and a poet, which gave him an edge in understanding such sublime poetry. He pointed out that the verses were not literal, the flexibility of Sanskrit admitted many meanings and poetic metaphors abounded.
The translators might translate a hymn as ‘may we have many cows,’ making it seems that the sole interest was to get rich. But the word for cow, ‘go’, also means light, so the real meaning might be ‘may we be filled with light,’ giving a whole different complexion to the hymn. The primitive babblings and ritualistic nonsense suddenly morph into sublime poetry.
The Rig Veda is the oldest book and the most important. The date of its composition varies wildly, from ten thousand years ago to six thousand. The ancient sages prescribed such a strict metric system for the verses, that so many centuries later, we still have every syllable intact, unchanged just as they gave it. Brahmins over the ages have chanted it with mnemonic precision and perfection. Other, much younger texts have been garbled with time, but not one syllable of the Vedas.
Many of the meanings, however, are lost. The dictionaries, the lexicons, the compilations of words came centuries later, and some of the ancient shades of meaning have slipped like smoke into the centuries.
The Vedas are poetry and all poetry is abnormally condensed. Some Vedic verses were written as riddles, or enigmas, and forgotten over the passage of thousands of years. When the key word meanings were lost the Veda ended up as ritual. Many think it is meaningless, Indologists and others think it is rubbish, and a few, like Aurobindo, think it is poetry at a height never reached before or after.
I do not think academics can ever understand the Vedas. Their approach is too erudite, too critical. You cannot approach the Vedas with a grammar book in hand, and all the tools of dissection handy. You need to go to them as a child, open eyed in delight watching a sunrise, or a poet awed, numbed, by beauty too great for words. You go into the verses to lose yourself and be carried to a world far beyond any you could reach on your own. Drop your preconceptions and bathe in the experience.
It has been at least six thousand years since the Rig Veda and we still have no other text that can light a candle to it. The sages of the Veda spoke from a depth no one else has plunged. They spoke from the heart in a way poets struggle to emulate all their lives. The Vedas were considered ‘shruti’ which means heard, revealed, inspired, like a lightning bolt from heaven. Poetry from realms almost beyond all understanding.

December 21, 2007

Deep questions about how our world works and who we are

This is the season for year-end lists of books in which the mainstream review media steer literate culture away from deep questions about how our world works and who we are and toward celebrations of narcissism, celebrity gossip, and literary cliques. What I wrote in 1991 in "The Emerging Third Culture", still pertains today:

A 1950s education in Freud, Marx, and modernism is not a sufficient qualification for a thinking person in the 1990s. Indeed, the traditional American intellectuals are, in a sense, increasingly reactionary, and quite often proudly (and perversely) ignorant of many of the truly significant intellectual accomplishments of our time. Their culture, which dismisses science, is often nonempirical. It uses its own jargon and washes its own laundry. It is chiefly characterized by comment on comments, the swelling spiral of commentary eventually reaching the point where the real world gets lost.

Given the well-documented challenges and issues we are facing as a nation, as a culture, how can it be that there are no science books (and hardly any books on ideas) on the New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year list; no science category in the Economist Books of the Year 2007; only Oliver Sacks in the New Yorker's list of Books From Our Pages? ...
Sorry! from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen
By the way I regard Obama as the most intellectual candidate; having been a law professor is part of that. Of course that needn't make him the best candidate; Woodrow Wilson was an intellectual but a disaster as President. There is no doubt that Ron Paul is very widely read and is an admirable defender of individual liberty. I've also met him and I believe his IQ is high. But if you think that he is intellectual, ask yourself what standards of evidence and procedural rationality he applied when he wrote this. Sorry people, but I have to call 'em as I see 'em. As I said in my previous post, I'm still happy with the idea of protest votes for Paul.
And by the way, as long as I'm courting controversy, here's a study on how much early environment shapes the brain and IQ.

December 20, 2007

A century back at Surat

January 28 -February 12
Write "Prince of Edur" (a play). Live at Calcutta with his wife. sister and two party men at 48 Gray Street /now Sri Aurobindo Sarani/.

Deportation of two main agitators of the party. Inhibition of the meetings for four days.

June 02
First issue of Bande Mataram.

June 05
Warning of editor Bande Mataram from the Government.

June 14
Trip to Khulna for a foundation of National School.

June 30 -October 13
Publications of Persens the Deliverer at Bande Mataram.

July 30
Perquisition at Bande Mataram office

August 02
Forsake his post of rector of the National College.

August 15
A warrant on Sri Aurobindo as a redactor of Bande Mataram.
Sri Aurobindo
August 23
A Speech for students of Bengal National College.
Sri Aurobindo
September 23
Sri Aurobindo was held not guilty on case against Bande Mataram. Sri Aurobindo acquired distinction.
Sri Aurobindo
Lived at house at Chukoo Khunsanse's Lane.

October 24
Trip to Deoghar.

December 07-09
Bengal Regional Conference at Midnapore. Sri Aurobindo addressed to a meeting as leader of Nationalists. It is a peak of discordance wit Moderates. Extremists left this conference and at 8 December hold the meeting chaired by Sri Aurobindo. It was the first time when they got together as a separate party.

December 14
The first public speech at Beadon Square, Calcutta.

December 21
The trip to Surat (most moderate city) for a session of Indian National Congress through Khipagpore (fires, crowds, speeches). Trip without pomp - there were few who knew him by sight.

December 22
Meeting at Nagpore.

Surat. 2 meetings chaired by Sri Aurobindo.
Sri Aurobindo
Leaders of Natianalists
December 26
The first day of Session.
At Surat
December 27
Incident (by instructions of Sri Aurobindo who tried not allow Moderates' success) and wrecking of the Session.

December 28
Moderates signed up Convention. Sri Aurobindo direct not join to it. Meeting of Nationalists. Beginning of tightened repressions against them.

December 31
From Surat to Baroda.
SITE OF SRI AUROBINDO & THE MOTHER AUROBINDO.RU Home Page Biographical materials Some dates of Sri Aurobindo's life

December 17, 2007

Our biases stem strongly from our nationality, our language, and our cultural background

At the margin, that is.
Information in the modern world is virtually free, and well-defined tasks can be outsourced very cheaply, if need be. Don't specialize in those.
Bias is everywhere, and overcoming bias yields great gains. Empirically, our biases stem strongly from our nationality, our language, and our cultural background. (It is, by the way, remarkable how much libertarianism is an Anglo-American phenomenon.)
To overcome those biases we should travel, spend some time living in other countries, and learn other languages. In other words, the more knowledge is held in the minds of other people, the more competent we wish to be in assessing who is right and who is wrong, and that requires exposure to lots of different points of view.
Judgment, judgment, judgment. That's the scarce asset which most people underinvest in, and which yields especially high returns. It can't be outsourced very well either.
Marketing is becoming all-important as well. That also requires judgment and the ability to see things from other people's points of view. Again, live abroad and learn other languages.
At the very least, date foreign women (or men).
It is in contrast a common presumption that learning other languages, for English speakers, is becoming obsolete, if only because so many other people speak English. I would think this raises rather than lowers the return to learning other languages. Last fall, while visiting at Middlebury economics, I voiced these opinions and encountered little agreement.

December 12, 2007

Dress rehearsal at Midnapore in December 1907

In the meantime, as if it was meant to be a dress rehearsal of the coming Congress session, the Nationalists and Moderates of Bengal clashed at Midnapore where the District Conference was held from 7 to 9 December 1907. The imprisonment of some of his principal co-workers in Bengal, the exile or disappearance underground of some others, and the publicity that the Bande Mataram case had given to his work, all compelled him [Sri Aurobindo] openly to lead the Nationalists at Midnapore.

Surendranath, who led the moderates, was unable to persuade Sri Aurobindo to agree to a resiling towards the moderate position. In the open session, there was a “vehement clash” between the two parties, and the Moderate leaders called in the police to restore order. After the clash, the Nationalists held a separate conference with Sri Aurobindo as President, and thereby gave a lead to Bengal and a warning to the stage-managers of the Surat Congress. The Lokamanya was overjoyed and asked Sri Aurobindo to bring as many Nationalist delegates as possible to Surat so that their cause might not suffer by poor representation.

December 10, 2007

Sri Aurobindo's critique on Kapila and the Sankhya philosophy — the law of enumeration and generalisation — is thought provoking

Kuldip Dhiman's Philosophy and Psychology Blog
This blog is about philosophy, psychology, arts, and literature
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Revolutionary-Turned-Yogi by Kuldip Dhiman
The Penguin Sri Aurobindo Reader edited by Makarand Paranjape.
Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages 373. Rs 295.
Had Sri Aurobindo boarded the ill-fated steamer that sank on its way to India from England in 1893, Dr Krishna Dhan Ghose would have lost his dear son, and India a great revolutionary, poet, philosopher, yogi and saint. It is rather ironical that the opposite happened. Dr Krishna Dhan Ghose could not take the news of the supposed death of his son, and before he could be told that Sri Aurobindo was not on the steamer, he died of a heart attack. He was denied the pleasure of seeing his son flower into one of the great thinkers of modern India.

Most of us remember Sri Aurobindo from his latter photographs that portray him as a fragile, harmless, saintly figure. Many will be surprised to learn that the man who devoted most of his life to Vedanta in his Pondicherry ashram, was once a firebrand revolutionary intent on winning freedom for his motherland. "The Penguin Aurobindo Reader", a collection of original essays, reflections and poems written over a period of five decades or so, offers the reader an opportunity to get an insight into the multifaceted personality of Sri Aurobindo.

Although the introduction by the editor, Makarand Paranjape, draws a vivid picture of the life and works of Sri Aurobindo quite well, it is the writings of the great man himself that bring out the real Aurobindo for us in flesh and blood. When the Congress Moderates were trying to negotiate some sort of autonomy from the British, Sri Aurobindo believed in purna swaraj — total freedom and nothing less than that — because
"to be content with the relations of master and dependant or superior and subordinate, would be a mean and pitiful aspiration unworthy of manhood; to strive for anything less than strong and glorious freedom would be to insult the greatness of our past and the magnificent possibilities of our future".
And Sri Aurobindo did not disapprove of armed struggle if the situation demanded it. Aggression, in his view, is unjust only when unprovoked, and violence is unrighteous when used without thought or for unrighteous ends. It is foolish to apply the philosophy of ahimsa to all situations. Besides violence has its place in society, the
"sword of the warrior is as necessary to the fulfilment of justice and righteousness as the holiness of the saint. Ramdas is not complete without Shivaji."
The British jailed Sri Aurobindo for revolutionary activities. They imprisoned his body, but unwittingly set his soul free, for it was during his year-long jail term that he had visvarupa darshan or the experience of the cosmic consciousness, and from then on he was a totally different man. He tells us how God protected him from the unscrupulous prison staff of the Alipore jail:
"He [God] made me realise the central truth of the Hindu religion. He turned the hearts of my jailers to me and they spoke to the Englishman in charge of the jail. . . . I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high walls that I was imprisoned; no, it was Vasudeva who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell, but it was not the tree, I knew it was Vasudeva, it was Sri Krishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me His shade."
No doubt, Aurobindo cannot be taken lightly, but at times he does sound like a man suffering from delusions or megalomania.

Whether God really took over his life or not, Aurobindo's commentaries on the Vedas, Upanishads, and the Gita make interesting reading. His interpretation is insightful and original. But though he was seriously into Indian philosophy and tradition, he believed that in order to catch up with the rest of the world, we must not shy away from western ideas because it is a
"psychological necessity of the situation. Not only when a lesser meets a greater culture, but when a culture which has fallen into a state of comparative inactivity, sleep, contraction, is faced with, still more when it receives the direct shock of, a waking .... it is impelled by the very instinct of life to take over these ideas and forms, to annex, to enrich itself, even to imitate and reproduce, and in one way or in another take large account and advantage of these new forces and opportunities."
But if this imitation is slavish and mechanical, then it amounts to subordination and servitude.

It is interesting to compare Sri Aurobindo's commentaries with that of C. Rajagopalachari, Mahesh Yogi, Bhagwan Rajneesh, Chinmayananda et al. Aurobindo's critique on Kapila and the Sankhya philosophy — the law of enumeration and generalisation — is thought provoking.

In another chapter he talks about self-realisation through yoga. The first realisation through yoga is nitya nityanam — the One Eternal in many transient. The second realisation is the one consciousness in many consciousnesses, and the third, "the most important of all to our race — that the transcendent self in individual man is as complete because identically the same as the transcendent self in the universe; for the transcendent is indivisible and the sense of separate individuality is only one of the fundamental seemings on which the manifestation of phenomenal existence perpetually depends.
In this way the Absolute which would otherwise be beyond knowledge, becomes knowable; and the man who knows his whole self knows the whole universe. This stupendous truth is enshrined to us in the two famous formulae of Vedanta, "so ham, He and I, and aham brahmosmi, I am Brahman, the Eternal."

How does yoga make you one with the creator? First of all, anyone practising yoga has to make the sankalpa of atmasamarpana. That is, surrender yourself with all your heart and all your strength into God's hands without making any conditions, without asking for anything, not even for siddhi in yoga. As a yogi you must ask for nothing at all except that in you and through you God's will may be directly performed. The next stage is to stand aside and watch the working of the divine power in you. The final stage of yoga is to perceive all things as God.

For the ultimate realisation, a yogi could choose one of the two paths available to him. He could either withdraw from the universe, or he could take part in the creation and perfect it. By following the first method, the objective is achieved by asceticism, and by following the second the objective is achieved by tapasya. Hence
"the first receives us when we lose God in existence, the second is attained when we fulfil existence in God. Let ours be the path of perfection, not of abandonment; let our aim be victory in the battle, not the escape from all conflict".
Another interesting aspect of the Aurobindo thought is that man is not final but
"a transitional being. Beyond him awaits formation [of] the diviner race, the superman".
As man progresses spiritually and becomes one with the creator, he becomes a superman. But unlike the familiar concept of superman in our minds, Aurobindo's superman is not someone who has extraordinary strength, knowledge, power, intelligence, saintliness. According to him superman
"is something beyond mental man and his limits, a greater consciousness than the highest consciousness proper to human nature...."
The evolution of man is not yet complete because out of the seven-fold scale of consciousness he has realised only three powers, mind, life, and matter. Because man is endowed with a brain that is supposed to be superior to all other known creatures, he believes that mind is the creator of the universe. This is a great fallacy because
"even for knowledge mind is not the only or the greatest possible instrument, the one aspirant and discoverer. Mind is a clumsy interlude between nature's vast and precise subconscient action and the vaster infallible superconscient action of the Godhead. . . . There is nothing mind can do that cannot be better done in the mind's immobility and thought-free stillness".
There might be a temptation to compare Aurobindo's superman with that of Friedrich Nietzsche, but this would be totally out of context and unfair to Nietzsche because, thanks to his overzealous sister Elisabeth Forster and misguided scholars, he is a much misunderstood man.

Makarand Paranjape, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, and the publishers need to be lauded for their efforts. It is not easy to edit a book of this sort, but why have they forgotten to add an Index? The section "A New Global Agenda" should have been clustered with Aurobindo's political writings; it looks out of place among his philosophical work. Courtesy: The Tribune Posted by Kuldip Dhiman at 8:13 AM

December 09, 2007

Ancient philosophy begins with the Vedas

The Vedas are the four ancient Indian collections of hymns and ritual formulae of the Samhitā period (c. 2000–1100 BCE), works known as the Rig Veda, the Atharva Veda, the Sāma Veda, and the Yajur Veda. The word veda means “knowledge,” and the Veda, as a collective noun, has come to mean not only the four Vedas themselves, but the commentaries on them. Asian Mythology ...
The Vedas are arguably the oldest surviving scriptures that are still used. Most Indologists agree that an oral tradition existed long before they were written down by the second century BC. The oldest surviving manuscripts are dated in the 11th century BC. Radhakrishnan and Moore sum up the prevailing academic view by saying: "The Vedic Period is dimmed by obscurity, but it may be placed approximately between 2500 and 600 B.C."[4]
As used by these authors, the term "Vedic Period" includes the long period of gradual pre-literary cultural developments which eventually gave rise to written texts. Gavin Flood refers to the "more sober chronology" of 1500 to 1200 BC proposed by Max Müller for the earliest portions of the texts.[5]... In modern times, Vedic studies are crucial in the understanding of Indo-European linguistics, as well as ancient Indian history... Wikipedia article "Vedas". Read more
Indian philosophy begins with the Vedas where questions related to laws of nature, the origin of the universe and the place of man in it are asked. In the famous Rigvedic Hymn of Creation the poet says: "Whence all creation had its origin, he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not, he, who surveys it all from highest heaven, he knows--or maybe even he does not know."
In the Vedic view, creation is ascribed to the self-consciousness of the primeval being (Purusha). This leads to the inquiry into the one being that underlies the diversity of empirical phenomena and the origin of all things. Cosmic order is termed rta and causal law by karma. Nature (prakriti) is taken to have three qualities (sattva, rajas, and tamas). Vedas Upanishads Hindu philosophy Main article: Indian philosophy ...

While there are ancient relations between the Indian Vedas and the Iranian Avesta, the two main families of the Indo-Iranian philosophical traditions were characterized by fundamental differences in their implications for the human being's position in society and their view on the role of man in the universe. The first charter of human rights by Cyrus the Great is widely seen as a reflection of the questions and thoughts expressed by Zarathustra and developed in Zoroastrian schools of thought. Main article: Iranian philosophy ...
Western philosophy Presocratic philosophers:
Milesian School: Thales (624-546 BC) Anaximander (610-546 BC) Anaximenes (585-525 BC)
Pythagoreans: Pythagoras (582-507 BC) Alcmaeon of Croton Archytas (428-347 BC)
Heraclitus (535-475 BC) ... Ancient philosophy From Wikipedia

Integral Movement page on Wikipedia seems to be shaping up quite well

I have to admit, the Integral Movement page on Wikipedia seems to be shaping up quite well. I was quite concerned about the resistance of Wikipedia to even progressive ideas like Integralism (even though it is exoteric), and saw this resistance as an example of the old consciousness against the new. Well, it is, but the new consciousness can still establish itself in the current status quo; indeed it is absolutely essential that it does so, if change and transformation is to occur.
So I've been merging material from redirect pages, and with footnotes it is looking more scholarly. So even though these conservatives annoy me, i have to admit that I do agree with them that in terms of current popular knowledge (and that is what Wikipedia represents, the status of popular Western secular knowledge as it is at present, all from a geekish perspective) one can't justify a whole string of Integral articles. But a single one, well written, on the Integral Movement, is a good idea.
So if anyone reading this wants to chip in and add to the page, please do so!
Especially important are footnotes and citations, so it is best to add stuff that can be referred to in print or in scholarly online articles.

I accept any truths discovered by science, including natural selection, but I place those facts in a much wider metaphysical context

While I am greatly indebted to the "traditionalists" -- especially Schuon -- one thing I wish they would specify is exactly when they think the so-called "golden age" of mankind occurred. Sometimes they seem to imply that it was Atlantis -- i.e., a highly advanced civilization that ended catastrophically but which was the source of later ones such as Egypt.
This strikes me as an evasion, since there is no actual evidence that Atlantis existed. It's possible -- for example, the persistent rumors in all of the world's mythologies of a catastrophic flood that wiped out civilization. Look how long it took to to just find a single Coon in the Great Flood of 2007. Perhaps we have no physical evidence of Atlantis because it's under the ocean, just like Donovan said it was. And who could question the judgment of Donovan? [...]
The traditionalists are also profoundly anti-Darwinian, and in this regard -- despite the great wisdom embodied in tradition -- I believe they go too far. In my case, I would not call myself "anti-Darwinian," just "un-Darwinian." In other words, I accept any truths discovered by science, including natural selection, but I place those facts in a much wider metaphysical context that can never be explained by the empirical facts of science. To put it another way, the facts of science are only intelligible within a metaphysical framework that cannot be derived from science. In this regard, the water-tight logic of Raccoon emeritus Kurt Gödel can never be surpassed by humans.
And perhaps not coincidentally, the traditionalists are also profoundly anti-psychoanalytic. In this regard I suppose I can cut them some slack, as they all seem to share the same ignorance of modern psychoanalysis as does academia. They seem to assume that psychoanalysis began and ended with Freud, which is analogous to rejecting modern physics on the basis of Newton's ignorance of quantum physics. So the traditionalists rail against Freud -- for example, his determinism (because it erodes free will) and his hostility to religion -- even though there are almost no purely Freudian psychoanalysts anymore.
And in any event, I don't think it's particularly intellectually admirable to deal with anomalies in one's world view by simply rejecting them a priori, a strategy which is ironically shared by both fundamentalism and scientism. I cannot believe that this is what the Creator wants of us -- to bury our heads in the sand whenever we encounter a fact that seems to contradict revelation, and then turn this intellectual vice into a virtue by claiming that we are more "faithful" than the person who believes in evolution or psychoanalysis. I mean, I would actually have more respect for these people if they had the courage of their convictions and stop taking antibiotics.
Yesterday Nomo cited the well-known passage by Paul, which I will reproduce in the contemporary English translation:
"Where are the wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength."
Prior to the modern fundamentalist deviation, this was never interpreted by Christian Orthodoxy to mean that we should reject worldly knowledge, only that worldly knowledge should not be conflated with ultimate knowledge or salvation. Just yesterday I was reading about this in the new biography of the great Catholic historian Christopher Dawson. I don't pretend to be an expert in these intra-familial Christian theological squabbles, but it was his position that this error crept into Christianity with Luther, which, ironically, paved the way for both an anti-intellectual Christianity and militant secularism -- two mirrors of the same phenomenon, which ultimately comes down to failure to sanctify or "Christianize" the world. For Luther

"rejected the complexity of Christendom... and attempted to de-intellectualize the Catholic continuity with the classical. 'He took St. Paul without his Hellenism, and St. Augustine without his Platonism,' Dawson wrote. By attacking the natural laws and creating the Manichean dualism of Law and Gospel, Luther attempted to destroy the human need for mystery and 'prepared the way for the secularization of the world...' "

This false dualism argued that "man is fallen to such an extent that he can know nothing outside the truth of scripture." But "if the world tells us nothing of value, the past, equally, sheds no new light on the situation of humanity and becomes worthless."

I certainly sympathize with Dawson's view. One reason why so many people get the "Jesus willies" and therefore reject their own precious spiritual and intellectual heritage is because their only exposure to Christianity is in its anti-intellectual fundamentalist version, which I myself find impossible to take seriously. As Dawson wrote, the intellectual synthesis of Christianity and classical thought "was not a contradiction but the crown and completion of continuous effort to achieve an integration of the religious doctrine of the Christian Church with the intellectual tradition of ancient culture." On this view, the "wisdom of the Greeks" is not opposed to Christianity. Rather, the Christian synthesis was the completion, perfection, or sanctification of these other vital intellectual streams -- which is an ongoing project, since history doesn't just arbitrarily stop historing.
This is a much more expansive view of reality whereby, for example, the great wisdom of Plato and the neo-Platonists is not rejected but integrated, say, in the deeply mystical works of Denys the Areopagite (see here as well for a fine introduction to the synthesis of Christian and Greek thought). By the same token, with this time-honored intellectual approach, a Christian needn't necessarily reject the wisdom of, say, Vedanta or Taoism, for ultimately, the appearance of Jesus in the Hellenized Roman world is not essential but accidental. What if he had appeared in the Indian subcontinent? Then the task of early Christians would have been to place Christ within the context of Vedanta -- to demonstrate how he represented, say, the "perfection" or "completion" of the Upanishads, so to speak.
Indeed, what if Jesus were here today -- an absurd hypothetical, since he is. Then the task would be to integrate Christianity with current knowledge. Which I, as a Coon, believe is the whole point: to integrate wisdom and knowledge and thereby sanctify the intellect.
I don't know how I ended up down this byway. I had intended to discuss premodern childrearing practices, and how they resulted in such widespread historical craziness. Oh well.... next week. I'm sure this is enough to start a rumble in the Coonosphere. Go at it!

Sri Aurobindo wrote a thoughtful and sympathetic critique of Theosophy

Why do I feel that the Traditionalist critique of the New Age is very much the pot calling the kettle black? The perennialist approach seems to be: if your spiritual experiences are not exactly in line with some so-called homogeneous Tradition, then they are from the devil or the Antichrist. Seriously, when I read their criticisms of the New Age I get the feeling that they have paranoid personality disorders. The New Age is irrational at worst, but it’s basically harmless...
Why exactly are Schuon, Guenon, etc., so opposed to Theosophy? It seems the central idea — of common metaphysical themes running through the world’s religions — is the same in both Traditionalism and Theosophy...
I got interested in Traditionalism because I was looking at the evolution of gender, and the Traditionalist perspective, because it sees the universe as static, sees man and woman as forever irreconcilable. I’ve also noticed a fairly consistent pattern that theologies that perceive an irreconcilable duality between Creator and creation, or matter/Nature as irredeemable, also always see man and woman as two totally opposite polarities. Interestingly Harry Oldmeadow’s book The Betrayal of Tradition has a chapter on the subject.
It’s just that perennialism is easily deconstructed anyway. I mean the whole notion of a totally homogeneous “Tradition” is imaginary. For instance, when it comes to gender it’s easy to find archaeological evidence of a “third sex” being recognized in ancient India.
Schuon is definitely my favorite too, though. Second to him, Huston Smith — and he’s a very nice guy. And Nasr is a brilliant writer but his Islamic biases can be really annoying, e.g. he openly defends the verse in the Quran that condones wife-beating, and says that hitting one’s wife is allowed in order to maintain the sanctity of the family and society. So yeah, I agree with you that most Traditionalists are just more sophisticated fundamentalists, though I do get a very good vibe from Schuon.
Addendum: Sri Aurobindo wrote a thoughtful and sympathetic critique of Theosophy that was not marred by Traditionalist bias entitled The Claims of Theosophy. It’s definitely worth a read!

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's profound and still unsurpassed Integral or Supramental Yoga

Yesterday and this morning I was been reading a book about ibn Arabi (he is too complicated to read straight, unless you want to devote years studying him), and been noticing amazing parallels with Sri Aurobindo, just as there are between Plotinus and Sri Aurobindo. Not that i know enough to write in detail, it will be rather as just basic pointers, Hopefully in the future others can make more detailed comparisons (just as comparisons made between SA and Teilhard, and Whitehead and SA too). I've read one essay comparing Plotinus and Sri Aurobindo but didnt find it very inspiring.
Significantly, none of the other esotericists has the understanding of the Supramental Transformation of matter, that seems to be Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's great contribution. Isaac Luria seems to be the only one, and even he (or rather his followers!) describe things very vaguely
But yeah, when reading Plotinus, Proclus, ibn Arabi, Kashmir Shaivism.... it is such amazing stuff, so profound and uplifting, it makes me wonder why I even bothered with the Integral Movement and people like Wilber. Not meaning to put the guy down; like i said in another blog post i am now more interested in cooperation rather than criticism; but compared to the summits of esoteric and mystical thought, it is so dull, so dry, so limiting
And then i had the answer. Sure Ibn Arabi and Plotinus and the rest have far vaster and profounder insights, but they are so far above the average humanity that no real connection can be made. And this is Wilber's contribution, and others in the New Paradigm, New Consciousness, and New Age movement, to present a dumbed down and materialistic version, to serve as a bridge or link. It's like emanation too; there is the original source, then the various layers or rings or spheres around it which convey the Light in a diminished manner, but which is still necessary for the niourishment and sustenance of lower (in the sense of material, phenomenal, manifest) beings. Okay I'm playing fast and loose with the metaphor, but yeah, the idea is that people like Wilber and Cohen, the New Paradigmers, etc serve an important purpose, and in pave the way for a more complete understanding, even if this more complete understanding is far above their insights.
This raises the possibility of a truely integral society or culture, not just the Wilberina/Upper Tier Integral which is still exoteric, but an esoteric Integarl based on isnighst of esotericism and of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's profound and still unsurpassed Integral or Supramental Yoga. it is not that the people in this society will have attained that level (when that happens it is the Divinisation of the World), but they are "informed by" (to use the Wilberian phrase) Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings (and esotericism in general), in the same way that people in the Mainstream Integral Movement are informed by ideas proposed by Wilber and Beck.
How long will this take to come about? Well we are talking about post-(IM Movement) Integral, and the Integral Movement itself is not properly developed (maybe in 10 years it will be). So I don't know. But if there is a process of spiritual ascent and a collective movement to Divinisation, then this may consitite a transitional stage (all this will have to go in my book as well :-)

December 08, 2007

Man's immediate certainty that there are real objects, which produce passive sensations, rests on faith

Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi
The point of departure for Jacobi's thought is the antinomy, or seeming contradiction, between realism and idealism. Baruch Spinoza was a dogmatic realist who drew out the logical consequences of the traditional definition of substance as that which is the cause of itself. According to this view, there could be only one substance, an infinite eternal being of which the world of nature is only a partial but determinate modification. The meaning of Spinoza's pantheism, or the identification of God with nature, was a subject of other disputes throughout the 19th century. Jacobi sided with those who thought that Spinoza was, in fact, an atheist who had reduced God to a logical, mathematical, and mechanistic concept of nature. Other writers and philosophers such as Johann Georg Hamann, Johann Gottfried von Herder, Lessing, and Mendelssohn held that Spinoza was the first religious thinker to seriously develop the philosophic dimensions of the concept of an infinite being. Largely through Jacobi's instigation the major figures of the Enlightenment produced an extensive literature of books, inquiries, and couterinquiries about Spinoza.
Jacobi saw in Spinoza the elimination of real subjectivity and in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant an opposite "nihilism of objects." Kant was the first to raise the critical question of how subjective consciousness arrives at a knowledge of things, and he concluded that ultimately we can know of things "only what we have placed in them." Thus for Kant, human experience is simply the appearance of the way things seem and are thought about according to the subjective conditions of the mind. Objects as things-in-themselves are unknowable.
The point of these criticisms was to show that if reason begins with objects it is unable to account for subjectivity and a subjective perspective annihilates objectivity. The conclusion which Jacobi drew was that the enterprise of human reason itself rests on faith. Man's immediate certainty that there are real objects, which produce passive sensations, rests on faith. And if the concept of objective nature depends on faith, then man's feelings and intuitions of freedom, moral principles, and religious certainties need not defer to rational skepticism.
Jacobi's philosophy is essentially unsystematic. A fundamental view which underlies all his thinking is brought to bear in succession upon those systematic doctrines which appear to stand most sharply in contradiction to it, and any positive philosophic results are given only occasionally. The leading idea of the whole is that of the complete separation between understanding and apprehension of real fact. For Jacobi understanding, or the logical faculty, is purely formal or elaborative, and its results never transcend the given material supplied to it. From the basis of immediate experience or perception thought proceeds by comparison and abstraction, establishing connections among facts, but remaining in its nature mediate and finite. Wikipedia article "Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi". Read more

Blank verse has attained in the hand of Sri Aurobindo its fulness, harmony and perfection

Sri Aurobindos' Savitri (an Adventure of Consciousness) Asoka K. Ganguli
Previous Contents Next CHAPTER TWO SAVITRI as an Epic An epic, particularly the primitive or primary epic, deals with a story from the heroic age concerning some great war or exploits of the hero. An objective story is the dominant feature of this epic. Ancient epics belong to this category.
The literary or secondary epics do not have a strong and pure story element. Dante’s The Divine Comedy has neither a mythological nor a historical story. It is allegorical in nature. In Milton’s Paradise Lost, too, a strong and pure story element is missing. It seems that as the epic moves away from expressing the outer life, the objective story element has been dwindling. From Milton to Sri Aurobindo, a span of about three centuries, and the epic tradition has completely revolutionised. A total reversal of the epic method now enters into English poetry; from objectivity of the past the epic writing moves to pure subjectivism in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri. To quote the poet himself:
“Savitri is the record of a seeing, of an experience which is not of the common kind and is often far from what the general human mind sees and experiences. You must not expect appreciation or understanding from the general public or even from many at the first touch; as I have pointed out, there must be a new extension of consciousness and aesthesis to appreciate a new kind of mystic poetry”.2...
Every great poet is in essence a mystic. To be a mystic poet does not depend on his religious faith or attitude, nor on his intellectual argument for God or against it. Even the unreligious and the atheists like Lucretius may in their inspired moments leap up to express a sense of the mysterious Unknown...Sri Aurobindo broadly classifies mystical planes as occult, psychic and spiritual. The occult speech is not instinct with the Divine; it has the impress of a Celtic mystery that is at once weird and magically supernatural, as in the poetry of Coleridge and Yeats. This poetic speech transmits ‘baffling buried heavens of Beauty’. The psychic speech of the mystical poetry has
“a deeply delicate radiance moving the heart to some far sweetness or suffusing it with an exquisite ecstasy of God’s love”.10...
Savitri as a mystical poem brings readers in touch and closeness with the presence of the Divine by a consciousness directly aware of the supreme Spirit. Here is no conceptual notion; the poet lets
“spiritual facts seen in dimensions other than our universe take shape in poetry, and the poetry springs from those dimensions, throbbing with the strange tangibilities there...”15
All the visions and vibrations of the consciousness pervading those worlds are transmitted by the poet with entire poetic faithfulness. That is why the shapes and scenes are so incalculable, so bewildering. Only ‘a receptive hush’ in our being and nature can make us understand ‘the strangely worded and strangely rhythmed lines’.
Speaking of mystical poem and the mystic poet’s role, Sri Aurobindo explains,
“The door that has been shut to all but a few may open; the kingdom of the Spirit may be established not only in man’s inner being but in his life and his works. Poetry also may have its share in that revolution and become part of the spiritual empire”.16
“seeks to enlarge the field of poetic creation and find for the inner spiritual life of man and his now occult or mystical knowledge and experience of the whole hidden range of his and the world’s being, not a corner and a limited expression... but a wide space and as manifold and integral an expression of the boundless and innumerable riches that lie hidden and unexplored as if kept apart under the direct gaze of the Infinite.”16...
Savitri is
“a mystic and symbolic poem although cast into a different form and raised to a different pitch”34
Mystic poetry is like unmasking the Divine, unveiling the great Mystery or part of it. Not to unveil part of the Mystery, but integral and total unmasking of the Divine is his yogic aim and the epic gives expression to that. To achieve this Sri Aurobindo climbs realm after higher realm of consciousness into the highest Truth-Consciousness...
A splendid achievement of Sri Aurobindo in his poetic writings and specially in Savitri is the perfect unification and harmonisation of Overhead vision with the Overhead word-rhythm. Take the example where the poet by concrete vision and magnificent rhythmic movement of poetic speech describes Aswapati’s climb to high ‘mystical altitudes’...
The Overhead creation of Sri Aurobindo and his Overmind aesthesis herald a new age of poetry and poetics. To appreciate and enjoy this poetry, a threefold method of reading approach is to be adopted. For Overhead poetry can never be appreciated or enjoyed by the normal mind consciousness; there is need ‘ to develop our aesthetic sense to a pitch subtler than in our normal response to poetry’.
Secondly, there must be a stilling of our mind and vital so that the poet’s overhead vision may not get coloured; to receive the truth of the poet’s vision, a still receptivity of the reader’s mind, ‘a sort of receptive self-opening and calling – down condition’ is required. Thirdly, as the Overhead poetry has its own rhythm of poetic expression, so in ‘the in-drawn stillness’ the reader has to listen to the new rhythm. In other words Savitri has to be read aloud as one chants mantras; the vibrations of the word sound enter the reader’s inner being and create a true mantric effect. Savitri is from beyond the level of human mind and trying to understand it by the mind will baffle our effort or, as Sethna says, we get no more than a ‘run of disconnected flashes’ or still worse ‘a jostle of grandiose abstractions’.
One important characteristic of the Overmind poetry is its perfection and harmony of all its elements.
“There is the perfection of the language and there is the perfection of the word-music and the rhythm, beauty of speech and beauty of sound, but there is also the quality of the thing said which counts for something. If we consider only word and sound and what in themselves they evoke, we arrive at the application of the theory of art for art’s sake to poetry.”52
Not only all these have to be perfect in themselves but they have to live together in perfect harmony in the poem. This naturally applies to the poetic medium too, in the case of Savitri to its blank verse. In this sense it may be said that blank verse has attained in the hand of Sri Aurobindo its fulness, harmony and perfection...TOP

December 02, 2007

How infinitesimals of a material character like the gene and the chromosome can carry in them psychological elements

A Mind, a Will seems to have imagined and organised the universe, but it has veiled itself behind its creation; its first erection has been this screen of an inconscient Energy and a material form of substance, at once a disguise of its presence and a plastic creative basis on which it could work as an artisan uses for his production of forms and patterns a dumb and obedient material. All these things we see around us are then the thoughts of an extra-cosmic Divinity, a Being with an omnipotent and omniscient Mind and Will, who is responsible for the mathematical law of the physical universe, for its artistry of beauty, for its strange play of samenesses and variations, of concordances and discords, of combining and intermingling opposites, for the drama of consciousness struggling to exist and seeking to affirm itself in an inconscient universal order. The fact that this Divinity is invisible to us, undiscoverable by our mind and senses, offers no difficulty, since self-evidence or direct sign of an extra-cosmic Creator could not be expected in a cosmos which is void of his presence: the patent signals everywhere of the works of an Intelligence, of law, design, formula, adaptation of means to end, constant and inexhaustible invention, fantasy even but restrained by an ordering Reason might be considered sufficient proof of this origin of things. Or if this Creator is not entirely supracosmic, but is also immanent in his works, even then there need be no other sign of him,—except indeed to some consciousness evolving in this inconscient world, but only when its evolution reached a point at which it could become aware of the indwelling Presence. The intervention of this evolving consciousness would not be a difficulty, since there would be no contradiction of the basic nature of things in its appearance; an omnipotent Mind could easily infuse something of itself into its creatures. One difficulty remains; it is the arbitrary nature of the creation, the incomprehensibility of its purpose, the crude meaninglessness of its law of unnecessary ignorance, strife and suffering, its ending without denouement or issue.
  • A play? But why this stamp of so many undivine elements and characters in the play of One whose nature must be supposed to be divine?

To the suggestion that what we see worked out in the world is the thoughts of God, the retort can be made that God could well have had better thoughts and the best thought of all would have been to refrain from the creation of an unhappy and unintelligible universe. All theistic explanations of existence starting from an extra-cosmic Deity stumble over this difficulty and can only evade it; it would disappear only if the Creator were, even though exceeding the creation, yet immanent in it, himself in some sort both the player and the play, an Infinite casting infinite possibilities into the set form of an evolutionary cosmic order.

On that hypothesis, there must be behind the action of the material Energy a secret involved Consciousness, cosmic, infinite, building up through the action of that frontal Energy its means of an evolutionary manifestation, a creation out of itself in the boundless finite of the material universe. The apparent inconscience of the material Energy would be an indispensable condition for the structure of the material world-substance in which this Consciousness intends to involve itself so that it may grow by evolution out of its apparent opposite; for without some such device a complete involution would be impossible. If there is such a creation by the Infinite out of itself, it must be the manifestation, in a material disguise, of truths or powers of its own being: the forms or vehicles of these truths or powers would be the basic general or fundamental determinates we see in Nature; the particular determinates, which otherwise are unaccountable variations that have emerged from the vague general stuff in which they originate, would be the appropriate forms or vehicles of the possibilities that the truths or powers residing in these fundamentals bore within them. The principle of free variation of possibilities natural to an infinite Consciousness would be the explanation of the aspect of inconscient Chance of which we are aware in the workings of Nature,—inconscient only in appearance and so appearing because of the complete involution in Matter, because of the veil with which the secret Consciousness has disguised its presence. The principle of truths, real powers of the Infinite imperatively fulfilling themselves would be the explanation of the opposite aspect of a mechanical Necessity which we see in Nature,—mechanical in appearance only and so appearing because of the same veil of Inconscience. It would then be perfectly intelligible why the Inconscient does its works with a constant principle of mathematical architecture, of design, of effective arrangement of numbers, of adaptation of means to ends, of inexhaustible device and invention, one might almost say, a constant experimental skill and an automatism of purpose. The appearance of consciousness out of an apparent Inconscience would also be no longer inexplicable.
All the unexplained processes of Nature would find their meaning and their place if this hypothesis proved to be tenable. Energy seems to create substance, but, in reality, as existence is inherent in Consciousness-Force, so also substance would be inherent in Energy,—the Energy a manifestation of the Force, substance a manifestation of the secret Existence. But as it is a spiritual substance, it would not be apprehended by the material sense until it is given by Energy the forms of Matter seizable by that sense. One begins to understand also how arrangement of design, quantity and number can be a base for the manifestation of quality and property; for design, quantity and number are powers of existence-substance, quality and property are powers of the consciousness and its force that reside in the existence; they can then be made manifest and operative by a rhythm and process of substance. The growth of the tree out of the seed would be accounted for, like all other similar phenomena, by the indwelling presence of what we have called the Real-Idea; the Infinite's self-perception of the significant form, the living body of its power of existence that has to emerge from its own self-compression in energy-substance, would be carried internally in the form of the seed, carried in the occult consciousness involved in that form, and would naturally evolve out of it. There would be no difficulty either in understanding on this principle how infinitesimals of a material character like the gene and the chromosome can carry in them psychological elements to be transmitted to the physical form that has to emerge from the human seed; it would be at bottom on the same principle in the objectivity of Matter as that which we find in our subjective experience,—for we see that the subconscient physical carries in it a mental psychological content, impressions of past events, habits, fixed mental and vital formations, fixed forms of character, and sends them up by an occult process to the waking consciousness, thus originating or influencing many activities of our nature.
On the same basis there would be no difficulty in understanding why the physiological functionings of the body help to determine the mind's psychological actions: for the body is not mere unconscious Matter: it is a structure of a secretly conscious Energy that has taken form in it. Itself occultly conscious, it is, at the same time, the vehicle of expression of an overt Consciousness that has emerged and is self-aware in our physical energy-substance. The body's functionings are a necessary machinery or instrumentation for the movements of this mental Inhabitant; it is only by setting the corporeal instrument in motion that the Conscious Being emerging, evolving in it can transmit its mind formations, will formations and turn them into a physical manifestation of itself in Matter. The capacity, the processes of the instrument must to a certain extent reshape the mind formations in their transition from mental shape into physical expression; its workings are necessary and must exercise their influence before that expression can become actual. The bodily instrument may even in some directions dominate its user; it may too by a force of habit suggest or create involuntary reactions of the consciousness inhabiting it before the working Mind and Will can control or interfere. All this is possible because the body has a “subconscient” consciousness of its own which counts in our total self-expression; even, if we look at this outer instrumentation only, we can conclude that body determines mind, but this is only a minor truth and the major Truth is that mind determines body. In this view a still deeper Truth becomes conceivable; a spiritual entity ensouling the substance that veils it is the original determinant of both mind and body.
On the other side, in the opposite order of process,—that by which the mind can transmit its ideas and commands to the body, can train it to be an instrument for new action, can even so impress it with its habitual demands or orders that the physical instinct carries them out automatically even when the mind is no longer consciously willing them, those also more unusual but well attested by which to an extraordinary and hardly limitable extent the mind can learn to determine the reactions of the body even to the overriding of its normal law or conditions of action,—these and other otherwise unaccountable aspects of the relation between these two elements of our being become easily understandable: for it is the secret consciousness in the living matter that receives from its greater companion; it is this in the body that in its own involved and occult fashion perceives or feels the demand on it and obeys the emerged or evolved consciousness which presides over the body.
Finally, the conception of a divine Mind and Will creating the cosmos becomes justifiable, while at the same time the perplexing elements in it which our reasoning mentality refuses to ascribe to an arbitrary fiat of the Creator, find their explanation as inevitable phenomena of a Consciousness emerging with difficulty out of its opposite—but with the mission to override these contrary phenomena and manifest by a slow and difficult evolution its greater reality and true nature.
But an approach from the material end of Existence cannot give us any certitude of validity for this hypothesis or for that matter for any other explanation of Nature and her procedure: the veil cast by the original Inconscience is too thick for the Mind to pierce and it is behind this veil that is hidden the secret origination of what is manifested; there are seated the truths and powers underlying the phenomena and processes that appear to us in the material front of Nature. To know with greater certitude we must follow the curve of evolving consciousness until it arrives at a height and largeness of self-enlightenment in which the primal secret is self-discovered; for presumably it must evolve, must eventually bring out what was held from the beginning by the occult original Consciousness in things of which it is a gradual manifestation. In Life it would be clearly hopeless to seek for the truth; for Life begins with a formulation in which consciousness is still submental and therefore to us as mental beings appears as inconscient or at most subconscious, and our own investigation into this stage of life studying it from outside cannot be more fruitful of the secret truth than our examination of Matter. Even when mind develops in life, its first functional aspect is a mentality involved in action, in vital and physical needs and preoccupations, in impulses, desires, sensations, emotions, unable to stand back from these things and observe and know them. In the human mind there is the first hope of understanding, discovery, a free comprehension; here we might seem to be coming to the possibility of self-knowledge and world-knowledge. But in fact our mind can at first only observe facts and processes and for the rest it has to make deductions and inferences, to construct hypotheses, to reason, to speculate.
In order to discover the secret of Consciousness it would have to know itself and determine the reality of its own being and process; but as in animal life the emerging Consciousness is involved in vital action and movement, so in the human being mind-consciousness is involved in its own whirl of thoughts, an activity in which it is carried on without rest and in which its very reasonings and speculations are determined in their tendency, trend, conditions by its own temperament, mental turn, past formation and line of energy, inclination, preference, an inborn natural selection,—we do not freely determine our thinking according to the truth of things, it is determined for us by our nature. We can indeed stand back with a certain detachment and observe the workings of the mental Energy in us; but it is still only its process that we see and not any original source of our mental determinations: we can build theories and hypotheses of the process of Mind, but a veil is still there over the inner secret of ourselves, our consciousness, our total nature.
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December 01, 2007

Auroville was meant to be a spiritual commune. Mother abolished private property, personal profit, and inheritance

I think secular leftists in India would be surprised to find Sri Aurobindo being rather sympathetic to communism in principle, as is evident in his work. What he objected to were the mechanical authoritarian schemes conceived of by the Europeans to implement communism. He saw, and history has proven, that communism and anarchism can only come to fruition when human nature itself changes...
There is even a book on the subject, namely, Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx: Integral Sociology and Dialectical Sociology. Another reading of Marx in the light of Sri Aurobindo is The Fallacy of Karl Marx: A Critical Appraisal of Marxism in the Light of Sri Aurobindo’s Social Philosophy. Moreover, as I understand it, Auroville was meant to be a spiritual commune. Mother abolished private property, personal profit, and inheritance. I don’t know to what extent these rules are still followed in Auroville, but I know that this was the approach the Mother took. (See Beyond Capitalism and Socialism? from the Auroville site for more details.)
Freedom, equality and brotherhood are the goals of socialist philosophy. The problem is that neither freedom, nor equality or brotherhood, are to be found in the physical body in its present state. Freedom, equality and brotherhood are characteristics of the soul, and it is in the soul and its flowering alone that true and lasting communism can prevail. And that, I think, was Sri Aurobindo’s message. In any event, the whole right/left political division is another trick of the binary mind to keep the soul hidden from us. I really can’t wait to visit India and feel the pulse and experience it for myself. The year 2009 seems too far away.