June 09, 2008

Coming to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother from an Islamic background

Experiences at the East-West Cultural Center
from The Stumbling Mystic by ned

Attending the AUM and meeting people at the East-West Cultural Center is probably the most socialization I’ve done in years. It’s getting to be a bit much for me, to be honest!

We watched a video about the late Sam Spanier, whose memorial was held in Matagiri in May (I had been unable to attend due to exams and no transportation). I had never met Sam, but I had heard about him. The video showed him as having been a very happy man, always laughing and enjoying life. Those who knew him say that Sam was a true child of the Mother.

I also gave a short talk yesterday at the EWCC regarding coming to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother from an Islamic background, and tossed up some ideas for a reconciliation between Islam and Hinduism (I brought up Ustadh Mahmoud Mohamed Taha’s somewhat heretical notion of the second message of Islam which I mentioned in a previous post, as well as Ibn al-Arabi and Rumi), and between India and Pakistan (I brought up the Pakistani historian Hamza Alavi’s excellent essay Pakistan and Islam: Ethnicity and Ideology, which I highly recommend).

I didn’t have time to bring up other things, which I wanted to, such as Frithjof Schuon’s brilliant essay Mahashakti from his book The Roots of the Human Condition, which includes a section on the role of the Shakti in Islam, as well as a book by M. Rafique from Lahore comparing Allama Muhammad Iqbal (the architect of the idea of Pakistan) and Sri Aurobindo (Iqbal, for all his errors, was actually trying to synthesize evolution with Islam in a panentheistic cosmology, inspired by Nietzsche, Bergson and Whitehead — there is certainly a dialogue to be had here).

But I’m feeling a little silly being asked to give talks, and so on. I just wanted to informally toss up some ideas about spirituality, South Asia and the future — ideas for further research — and it became a bit more formal than I would have liked. At this point, I certainly ain’t no expert or scholar on these topics, and don’t want to be taken particularly seriously.

Still, I liked meeting everyone here in LA. Dorian, Anie and Connie, who have been hosting me here at the EWCC have been exceptional, and Lakshman and Hansa Sehgal were very loving and warm.
The meditation hall here is wonderfully still. Time to sink into the thoughtful and mighty silence Sri Aurobindo describes, and forgive oneself for one’s inadequacies . . .

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