July 31, 2008

We are a bunch of fragmented bits and parts at war with one another

ned said... 1:03 PM Well, it's kind of impossible to answer these questions briefly (from my pov). And you're right -- it can't be described in words, it has to be experienced directly.

According to Sri Aurobindo, before the evolution, there was an involution. The Absolute Reality decided to limit itself and descended into ignorance, aiming to find itself again through the evolution in a multitude of forms. To be lost and find oneself over, and over and over again -- this is the joy of existence for Sri Aurobindo, which he terms "Delight". It is the Divine making love to itself in infinite forms. He writes:

What, you ask, was the beginning of it all?
And it is this Existence that multiplied itself.
For sheer delight of being
And plunged into numberless trillions of forms
So that it might

For Aurobindo, the transcendent Divine has limited himself in this manifestation. There is a transcendent Divine which is free of all these limitations, but there is another aspect of the Divine which limits itself and loses itself in the ignorance of the manifestation. The goal of evolution (for Aurobindo) is for the Divine to realize himself again out of all of these limitations and in this multitude of forms.

Each of us is a limited physical instrument -- matter being inherently limited and divided -- but we also embody (in the Aurobindoan understanding) a direct spark or articulation of the Divine, which is what he calls the "psychic being". This is an evolutionary aspect of our being, which has the potential to realize the transcendent Divine (the transpersonal Self, if you will) and bring it down here, into the material world, to transform it (the goal of the integral yoga). The key to this yoga is to bring that inner evolutionary being, the soul or psychic being, to the fore of one's being and bring all other parts of oneself in line with it (what Aurobindo calls "psychicisation"). We are a bunch of fragmented bits and parts at war with one another -- psychicisation tries to integrate our many fragmented parts and personalities into a harmonious whole.

The short version is that there's no "logical" answer to all these questions. We are the One and the Many, at the same time, and this is something that can only be grasped through spiritual experience, and not described by the intellect.

As far as whether our evil is also the Divine goes, according to Aurobindo, yes, everything, including the worst aspects of human behavior like World War II, are Divine. However, remember that the transcendent Divine has limited himself in the manifested world. Because the Divine Good is limited, so its apparent opposite, or evil, comes into existence. For Aurobindo, although evil is a phenomenological reality, it is a distortion of the Divine Will, created by the self-limitation of the Divine. In other words, evil is falsehood, it's a distortion, and the task of an integral transformation would be to transmute both our limited good and our evil to a higher, transcendent Good, which is the Divine.

Even postmodernism is now pointing this out with its deconstruction of our labels. Evil exists because human good is so limited. Insanity exists because human sanity is so limited. Disability exists because human ability is so limited. And so on. All these things are *relative* to the Absolute, the Divine.

This is why self-righteousness is the worst enemy on the spiritual path. We may demonize others as more evil than ourselves, but it's very hypocritical because we are all flawed in numerous ways. This is the situation which I believe Christianity describes (a bit too violently, according to Aurobindo) as original sin: the best of us constantly fall short of our ideals, and the worst of us are constantly engaging in self-destructive behaviors. As Aurobindo puts it:

"This is how God in His love teaches the child soul and the weakling, taking them step by step and withholding the vision of His ultimate and yet unattainable mountain-tops.

And have we not all some weakness? Are we not all in His sight but as little children?"

Personally I think postmodernists are saying what the mystics have been saying for thousands of years: the human mind is inherently perspectival and can never grasp the whole of reality. So the question is, how to arrive at a transcendent, aperspectival perception of Truth?

Mystics would say, by transcending the limited ego-mind which creates divisions and dualities, learning to develop a diviner vision of Reality, in other words seeing everything as the transcendent Divine sees it, free of distortions. The postmodernists stop at a sort of relativistic nihilism. But there is an opportunity to go beyond the human mind altogether, according to the mystics, and overcome its limitations.

In my understanding, the whole thing is like a great cosmic game, and each of has to conquer and master ourselves in order for the Divine to manifest in its full purity down here in the material world. For me, it's all connected, and just as all of our egoisms add up to create the misery of the human condition, all legitimate self-sacrifice creates reverberations that spread and harmonise all these apparent dualities and divisions, and pave the way for a more "divine life on earth".

Ok, enough for now. ;-) A summary of Aurobindo's philosophy on my blog:

Nagarjuna said... 12:40 PM Naked Reflections

I understand this to be the basic Vedantist and, more broadly, Hindu perspective, but what I've struggled to understand is why a perfect divinity would be happier or more fulfilled playing hide-and-seek with Itself than it would be NOT doing this. And what I'm also unsure of is whether people like Aurobindo believe(d) that this perspective is literally true or whether it's some kind of metaphor, and if it is a metaphor, what is it a metaphor for? ...

Thank you for this very concise explanation of Aurobindo's and, I presume, your understanding of evil. I need to reflect more on this.


July 31 Quote of the Day from Science, Culture and Integral Yoga™ by ronjon
All ocean lived within a wandering drop,
A time-made body housed the Illimitable,
To live this Mystery out our souls came here.

~ Sri Aurobindo

July 30, 2008

Sri Aurobindo’s writings abound in allusions which, if understood, immeasurably enhance our appreciation and comprehension

Sri Aurobindo’s writings abound in allusions, and Savitri is no exception. indeed Sri Aurobindo has made lavish use of this poetic tool to enrich the suggestiveness of his word-music and images. We find echoes of the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita and Puranas – but also of Greek and roman mythology, of the Bible, and of lines or phrases from English literature, and from Virgil, Dante, Homer and other great poets. As we read the poem in the course of our other activities, we constantly come across allusions which, if understood, immeasurably enhance our appreciation and comprehension. recognising and elucidating these allusions is an on-going process. A few instances have been shared in the pages of this journal. Vladimir has created a database where such references can be recorded and adequate explanations collected.

Vladimir himself has contributed a lot of material to this project, based on the Vedic research being done by himself and by our German friend Nishtha. Vladimir is often invited to contribute to seminars and conferences with his knowledge of the Vedas, and some of his articles have appeared here in Invocation. There are more to come. In April we brought out a first taste of Nishtha’s work in the form of a pamphlet entitled ‘Anumati : Hymn to the Divine Grace’, which comprises the original text of Arthava Veda Vii.20 in Devanagari, with a transliteration, translations into English and German, and Nishtha’s notes. Inovcation 27. pdf

We are "self-exiled" - we have come down deliberately, voluntarily

According to the Mother, Savitri is:
1) The daily record of the spiritual experiences of the individual who has written.
2) A complete system of yoga which can serve as a guide for those who want to follow the integral sadhana.
3) The yoga of the Earth in its ascension towards the Divine.
4) The experiences of the Divine Mother in her effort to adapt herself to the body she has taken and the ignorance and the falsity of the earth upon which she has incarnated. MCW 13:24 Invocation 01 .pdf

"A god come down and greater by the fall"
Based on the talk by Professor Arabinda Basu at Savitri Bhavan
August 9, 1998 Invocation 01 .pdf

Sri Aurobindo also says that "We live self-exiled from our heavenlier home." [p.262] The normal idea is that man has fallen because he has disobeyed God’s command. Or in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism we find the idea that one has karma from previous lives, and has come down to exhaust that karma. Judaism doesn’t insist so much on the idea of the original sin, but Christianity does. And because of this original sin of pride, hubris, disobedience towards God, we have fallen.

But here there is no such idea at all: We are "self-exiled" - we have come down deliberately, voluntarily. There must be some purpose in this, for nobody would by choice come down to a life which, as Sri Aurobindo says, is condemned to an imperfect body and mind, living in the inconscient with all the indignities of the physical life.

Yes, there is indignity, there is dishonour, there is a lack of bliss, even of pleasure: we are all born into a world of division and discord, ambition and frustration, failure and futility; of Knowledge ringed by ignorance, and pleasure by pain. This is our life. How can it be greater than the existence that we had before we fell? We will find the answer in the poem itself.

Can God be incomplete? The Upanishad tells us that he is full there and here, and that if we subtract fullness from that fullness, what remains is still full. So God in himself is complete, full, fulfilled. And yet Sri Aurobindo dares to say: "A god come down and greater by the fall". We shall see that this is because God has a definite purpose in descending into matter.

This means that in the light of what Sri Aurobindo says, the ancient Indian concept of Maya appears to be an incomplete knowledge. Taking his terms from Indian spiritual thought Sri Aurobindo says that we can look at creation from three points of view: as Prakriti, Maya and Lila. Prakriti, in the Sankhya philosophy, refers to inconscient Nature, a creative power without any trace of consciousness in it at all.

There is Purusha, or pure consciousness, which is static, and there is Prakriti who is unconscious but dynamic. You can see the world as the evolution of Prakriti - which it is, to a very great extent. Then there is the concept of Maya, which says that the world isn’t really there - it only seems to be there. According to this philosophy, Brahman is purely static, it has no creative power, no quality, no feature, no nothing as Americans would say. So the world is Maya, the world doesn’t exist, it only seems to exist. This too is a truth of a certain plane of experience - even for those who are trying to practice Integral Yoga.

Sri Aurobindo says that every integral yogin must go through this experience sooner or later. At some time in your sadhana, you must know that the world is nothing, absolutely nothing. Only when you know that the world is nothing at all, can you be utterly and completely free of attachment...

Don’t leave Nature in the lurch: make it divine - because Nature is concealed divinity.

We would expect a fall to be debasing, but the poet says: "No fall debased the godhead of her steps". [p.128] Where is our share in this? In a brilliant line, Sri Aurobindo says: "In her gold liberty of divinity all had a share." As we take to Savitri as a refuge, we will share in her golden-coloured splendour. "No fall debased the godhead of her steps" - the godhead has come down to what is fallen, but it is not itself fallen. It always keeps its nature of spirituality and divinity, and yet it has assumed, deliberately, all the limitations of the material physical life...

In God there is no creation. Sri Aurobindo tells us over and over again that in God there is no progression. But then where is progression, where is evolution, where is movement? Where God has limited himself.

As you know, philosophically speaking, this world is a result of God limiting himself. If the Absolute remained Absolute always, there would be no relative. If God did not give up his unity, there would be no Many. If the Divine did not renounce his divinity there would be no humanity. So this is the holocaust of the soul, the Supreme Soul, a self-sacrifice that is made for the sake of a result and a fruit. And that fruit is the world becoming a new world, the creation assuming a novelty, a freshness, a spiritual fulfilment...

In all your instruments, your powers and abilities, in all of them God’s power lurks. But it is hidden, it needs to be brought out, manifested, expressed. In one sense we can say that evolution is really the emergence of the hidden powers of the Divine in man. There is the evolution of the soul, but there is also, parallel to it, the evolution of nature, and nature means all the physical, vital, mental powers and abilities or potentialities. Invocation 01 .pdf

July 29, 2008

Strategic vision of organizational development based on the aims and principles of yoga

Journal of Human Values, Vol. 9, No. 1, 65-73 (2003)DOI: 10.1177/097168580300900106© 2003 SAGE Publications
The Meeting of Business and Spirituality: Its Evolutionary Significance M.S. Srinivasan
Sri Aurobindo Institute of Integral Management, Sri Aurobindo Society, Research Section, Badu Office, Pondicherry 605 002

Spirituality is now a much talked about subject. All over the world, after a long reign of heavy and soul- stifling materialism, people are seeking for a higher meaning in work and life, beyond the mundane and material aims. So religion and spirituality are coming back with the message of hope and peace. Business, which is a leading institution of our age and employs a large chunk of humanity, cannot escape from this new worldwide trend. Thus, the meeting of business and spirituality is already happening. This article examines the evolutionary significance of this meeting in the light of Sri Aurobindo's spiritual vision.

Organizational Development: A Yogic Vision M.S. Srinivasan

The term ‘organizational development’ is defined in management textbooks as a ‘collection of planned change interventions built on democratic–humanistic values that seek to improve organizational effectiveness and well–being’. But we use the term in a simpler and broader sense as the evolution and development of an organization towards its highest potential. In this article we present the broad outlines of a strategic vision of organizational development based on the aims and principles of yoga. The word ‘yoga’ has now become well known all over the world. But the popular conceptions of yoga conjure up images of a hatha–yogi standing upside down or a hermit in the Himalayas.

The deeper psychological and pragmatic significance of yoga is not fully understood. ‘Yoga,’ says Sri Aurobindo, ‘is nothing but practical psychology’ (Sri Aurobindo 1972b: 39). It contributes to the psychological and spiritual development of the human organism. Yoga is the scientific, psychological process or discipline by which the inner development of the human being is triggered and can be accelerated.

Organizational Development: A Yogic Vision -- Srinivasan 11 (2 ... Journal of Human Values, Vol. 11, No. 2, 149-160 (2005) DOI: 10.1177/097168580501100207© 2005 SAGE Publications

Aesthetics and innate capabilities of mass media and the deeper purpose

About SAIMC Vision Advisory Board Faculty FAQ's Admissions History Infrastructure Governing Body Teaching Methodology Campus Mentors Visiting faculty

Sri Aurobindo Institute of Mass Communication (SAIMC), a unit of Sri Aurobindo Society, Pudducherry. Sri Aurobindo Society (SAS) conducts research in the fields of social thought, human values, cultural traditions, education, psychology, health, management, arts, economics and so on. The objective is to catch the deeper sense and essence of these fields of human endeavour in order to transform the very collective life of humankind into an expression of a higher Truth and Consciousness.

SAIMC is a centre for creative learning in mass communication that lays emphasis on a holistic, individual growth for a deeper understanding of creative expressions in mass media. It is a non-profit institution providing quality education and training for a career in mass communications. Simultaneously SAIMC continuously conducts research on bringing in a higher order of consciousness and value in the media industry by imparting the skills based in the principles of Integral education as propounded by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

SAIMC is situated in the sprawling green campus of the Delhi Branch of Sri Aurobindo Society. Located in the heart of South Delhi, the campus is a green oasis with well-manicured gardens lined with trees and seasonally changing colours of flowerbeds. It is a retreat conducive for intellectual stimulation that promotes growth.

The campus at SAIMC is visual delight; it stands out like an island in the metropolitan city like Delhi. Spread over 2.45 acres of land with over 65 percent open and green area, the SAIMC campus boasts of space unimaginable in South Delhi, the bustling hub of the capital. Located on New Mehrauli Road right next to NCERT, the campus is very well connected with the rest of the city by public transport. The aesthetically designed campus is home to a variety of flora and trees. A well manicured garden and the delightful chirping of birds makes the campus a retreat from the chaos all around for intellectual stimulation.

Sri Aurobindo Institute of Mass Communication (SAIMC) aspires to bring in positive changes in the way future media professionals and artists look at the realm of mass communication and artistic expressions. It is guided by the belief that the future of mankind lies in living life in spiritual awareness, the outward progress has to be matched equally with the journey within. Hopefully, it will help bring a heightened sense of living and awareness.

As the media has a great role to play in building the individual, community, national and global value and identity; it is the raised awareness of the media professionals that will help mankind step subtly in the future. SAIMC wants to provide a space for learning for aspiring media professionals where one can understand the aesthetics and innate capabilities of mass media and understand themselves vis-à-vis the deeper purpose of their own profession. At the same time, sound technical knowledge also has to be acquired to ensure that outer growth for the career advancement is backed by a inner spiritual journey. This will help them get a true purpose and aesthetic appreciation of life.

Governing Body
Shri Pradeep Narang - Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry
Shri Vijay Poddar - Member Executive- Administrative & Finance Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry
Shri Ranjit Puri - Chairperson, Sri Aurobindo Society, Delhi Branch
Ms. Meera Juneja - Hony. Secretary, Sri Aurobindo Society, Delhi Branch
Shri J.P. Saria - Businessman and Social Worker
Shri Srinivasarao Mulugu - Director, Auromira Consultant
Shri S.P. Mittal - Advocate, Delhi High Court
Ms. Daljeet Wadhwa - Director, Sri Aurobindo Institute of Mass Communication

Mr. Shankhajeet De (Deputy Director, Academics) takes keen interest in interpreting the ideals of Integral Education in media education and also teaches scriptwriting and production in the Film Production Department at SAIMC. Sri Aurobindo Institute of Mass Communication (A Unit of Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry) Sri Aurobindo Society, New Mehrauli Road, Adhchini, New Delhi - 110 017 Phone: 91-011-26561986/ 2652 9022 (Extn: 33, 35) Fax: 91-011- 2656 5470 Email:

July 28, 2008

I feel sad of the fact that I am a Bengali

Debabrata Ghosh said... 11:52 AM, July 28, 2008

What BJP says or thinks about Syamaprasad is less important to me. I only know that the Bengalis have forgotten Syamaprasad - a man for whose efforts this clan is still able to live in a state - West Bengal.

I must say - that it is this clan who criticised Sri Aurobindo most in his days in Pondicherry. Every noble and pious Bengalis (including Tagore, Vivekananda etc) were villified and insulted by this clan. So in the language and spirit of the mother of Syamaprasad I have been submitting my sad feeling to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and feel sad of the fact that I am a Bengali.

Forgive me - if I am emotional. But the Indian in me has been containing this sadness from my childhood. [1 comment: 12:06 PM Monday, July 07, 2008 Tarun Vijay, a RSS point-man, quotes The Mother] 8:52 AM

July 27, 2008

Sri Aurobindo, the illumined and inspired seer-poet, has raised poetry to the level of mantra

Tributes To Sri Aurobindo

"Brahman defies description, mind and speech return baffled from it. Likewise Sri Aurobindo defies description, no adjective, no epithet, no appellation seems to be adequate. So universal is his genius, so many-faceted his personality, so varied his life and career that mind and speech are overwhelmed and fall silent when confronted by him, a being with peer, -- scholar, journalist, educationist, politician, statesman, revolutionary leader, nation-builder, poet, philosopher, lover of humanity, lover of God, Yogi, Guru and Master.

Sri Aurobindo the illumined and inspired seer-poet has raised poetry to the level of mantra and transformed English into a devabhasa, a language of the gods.

Arabinda Basu Sri Aurobindo Professor of Philosophy, Banaras University; Director, Sri Aurobindo Research Academy and Professor of Philosophy Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education, Pondicherry


The Dynamic Absolute: A preface to Sri Aurobindo's Integral AdvaitaDilip Kumar Roy

In his introduction to the book Dr. Arabinda Basu, a well known scholar and the Director, Sri Aurobindo Research Academy, Pondicherry writes:

"The Dynamic Absolute is a fair and accurate exposition of Sri Aurobindo's vision of Brahman and the consequent view of the world including his original conception of the destiny of man and mankind....students and teachers of philosophy will find this book a good and reliable introduction to the integral Adwaita of the mystic philosopher".

ashram visitors darshan selected works research music publications image gallery

July 25, 2008

Sri Aurobindo, Poet and Guide

Heehs: The lives of Sri Aurobindo
Heehs, Peter: The lives of Sri Aurobindo / Peter Heehs. - New York : Columbia University Press, 2008. - xiv, 496 S. : Ill.ISBN 978-0-231-14098-0 / 0-231-14098-3 (Cloth)US$ 45,00 / £ 26,50ISBN 978-0-231-51184-1 / 0-231-51184-1 (Electronic edition)Beschreibung TrackBack (0)

Since his death in 1950, Sri Aurobindo Ghose has been known primarily as a yogi and a philosopher of spiritual evolution who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in peace and literature. But the years Aurobindo spent in yogic retirement were preceded by nearly four decades of rich public and intellectual work. Biographers usually focus solely on Aurobindo's life as a politician or sage, but he was also a scholar, a revolutionary, a poet, a philosopher, a social and cultural theorist, and the inspiration for an experiment in communal living.

Peter Heehs, one of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, is the first to relate all the aspects of Aurobindo's life in its entirety. Consulting rare primary sources, Heehs describes the leader's role in the freedom movement and in the framing of modern Indian spirituality. He examines the thinker's literary, cultural, and sociological writings and the Sanskrit, Bengali, English, and French literature that influenced them, and he finds the foundations of Aurobindo's yoga practice in his diaries and unpublished letters. Heehs's biography is a sensitive, honest portrait of a life that also provides surprising insights into twentieth-century Indian history. [Verlagsinformation] Inhalt List of Illustrations Preface Acknowledgments Note on Proper Names

PART ONE: SON 1. Early Years in India: Bengal, 1872-1879

PART TWO: SCHOLAR 2. Growing up English: England, 1879-1893 3. Encountering India: Baroda, 1893-1910

PART THREE: REVOLUTIONARY 4. Into the Fray: Calcutta, 1906-1908 5. In Jail and After: Bengal, 1908-1910

PART FOUR: YOGI AND PHILOSOPHER 6. A Laboratory Experiment: Pondicherry, 1910-1915 7. The Major Works: Pondicherry, 1914-1920

PART FIVE: GUIDE 8. The Ascent to Supermind: Pondicherry, 1915-1926 9. An Active Retirement: Pondicherry, 1927-1950

Epilogue Notes Bibliography Index

Autor PETER HEEHS was born and educated in the United States but has lived in India since 1971. One of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, he is currently a member of the editorial board of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, and has published many books and articles. [14.01.2006] Aurobindo: Nationalism, religion, and beyond

July 19, 2008

There is a problem with Sri Aurobindo’s metaphysical use of the notion of exclusive concentration

Stephen H. Phillips
Department of Philosophy
University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712

In my exposition of Aurobindo’s worldview, there are doubtless
several loose ends; there are loose ends in Aurobindo’s own exposition of
it. There are also a few conceptual tensions. Some of you have probably
noticed that there is a problem with Aurobindo’s metaphysical use of the
notion of exclusive concentration. On the one hand, the very creation and
maintenance of anything finite appears to require exclusive concentration
and a consonant ignorance, but, on the other, the ‘‘divine life’’ Aurobindo
envisages as the evolutionary telos is to involve a disappearance of
ignorance, an awakening, at least with many, to a spiritual knowledge.
Aurobindo would appear to want to have his cake of necessary ignorance
and to eat it too in our overcoming ignorance. If Brahman’s exclusive
concentration in creating this world brings with it necessarily a bottom
side of ignorance, then the evolutionary telos cannot be just the
overcoming of this ignorance. For Brahman would, in relaxing the
exclusive concentration of its cit or cit-sakti, bring about the
disappearance of our world. The evolutionary telos would be nothing
more than the pralaya, cosmic dissolution, of popular thought. A mere
return of Brahman to its infinite and native state would not explain the
evils of our existence, nor is such a view endorsed by Aurobindo. But the
other horn of the dilemma is also uninviting, in that if Brahman does not
relax its exclusive concentration, mystical experience would appear
impossible, at least the sort of mystical experience that Aurobindo
understands as integral to ‘‘divine life.’’ And if Brahman to know itself
through a human medium does not need to relax the exclusive
concentration that supposedly supports finite things, then shouldn’t we be
born enlightened? Or if a human being’s arriving at brahma-vidya
involves, from the metaphysical point of view, such a relaxing of
exclusive concentration only with regard to that human being and not the
universe, not a pralaya, still it would seem that for that human being there
would have to be dissolution into the Infinite and no further functioning in
this life, at least not during the occurrence of the awareness of Brahman.
It seems we have come to the intractable paradoxes of jivan-mukti,
paradoxes that Aurobindo’s use of the yogic notion of eka-grata -in a fresh
conception of Brahman do not resolve.

Above all, what Aurobindo is trying to establish is, first, that matter
could not have remained inconscient. That Brahman has not remained
inconscient our existences prove since we are conscious material beings.
But Aurobindo tries to show that matter could not possibly have remained
inconscient. And his chief reason is that matter is Brahman, the
supremely conscious, who is capable of assuming an ignorance but who
cannot entirely repudiate essential characteristics, and consciousness is
one of these. Further, Aurobindo wants to show that matter’s necessarily
becoming conscious hooks up not only with biological evolution to this
point but with future evolution in the direction of a divine life where many
will have a mystical and direct awareness of Brahman. In practicing yoga
and becoming aware of Brahman, a person would thus become attuned to
the fundamental cosmic drive of Brahman to self-knowledge within
material forms, what Aurobindo calls the evolutionary nisus. One’s own
would mirror, or line up with, the exclusive concentration of
cit-sakti in matter, and help to bring Brahman’s work to fulfillment.
The most serious problem with these ideas seems to be that of the
logic of the concept of exclusive concentration. It would seem that as
metaphysically employed is a two-edged sword. If it helps
Aurobindo explain how it is possible for Brahman to become matter,
assuming a necessary ignorance, it hinders his articulation of the
evolutionary and divine telos as involving overcoming ignorance in direct
Brahman-awareness. And if it is possible for us to be materially
embodied and at the same time directly Brahman-aware, it becomes
difficult to understand why any ignorance is required. Aurobindo has
nevertheless made a remarkable effort in thinking in such broad strokes
about Brahman and material evolution. It is not easy to produce a grand
metaphysical theory, and probably were more attention paid to
Aurobindo’s effort the difficulty I have uncovered could be patched up,
the view proving resilient in the hands of future Vedantins.

Many Aurovilians have also been inspired by Eckhart Tolle's books

Book release: 'Eckhart Tolle & Sri Aurobindo'
Aurodhan Art Gallery, PDY ::: 6:30 PM

The Staff and Directors of Stone Hill Foundation Publishing Pvt. Ltd and Aurodhan, Pondicherry
invite you to the release of
Eckhart Tolle & Sri Aurobindo TWO PERSPECTIVES ON ENLIGHTENMENT by Dr. A.S. Dalalon Monday, July 21, at 6.30 Aurodhan Art Gallery, 33 Rue François Martin Kuruchikuppam, Pondicherry 605012 Refreshments will be served.
posted by Announcement

Launch of book by Dr. A.S.Dalal
Verite Hall ::: 5:00 PM
A BOOK LAUNCH for the release of "Eckhart Tolle and Sri Aurobindo" by Dr. A.S. Dalal
Sunday, 20th July, 5.00 pm at Verite Hall

Dr. Dalal, whose compilations such as "Growing Within", "Living Within", "The Psychic Being" have been a guide for many of us, and whose book "A Greater Psychology" puts Ken Wilber's Integral Psychology in perspective with its source, has found Eckhart Tolle deeply inspiring. He has written a book which could be seen as a landmark in spiritual literature, as he deftly, deeply and personally describes the commonalities, the contrasts, and the inspiration he has gained from both Eckhart's and Aurobindo's teachings.

Instead of pitting one against the other, he sees and presents the bridges between the two, which can also be a bridge onward and upward. As many Aurovilians have also been inspired by Eckhart Tolle's books, this Book Launch could be an opportunity to get together and create an atmosphere in which we can share with each other our thoughts and experiences on the path.
We hope that Dr. Dalal will be well enough to attend, and although he will not be able to give a speech or answer many questions, we can make use of his presence to meet together and talk in an attitude of shared aspiration.

posted by AVnet

Talk by Ameeta Mehra
Savitri Bhavan ::: 5:30 PM

Smt. Ameeta Mehra
is a member of the Governing Board of our Auroville Foundation
and Founder of the Gnostic Centre in New Delhi,
a long-time follower of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
and Friend of Auroville.
She has kindly agreed to speak on
“What Savitri means to me”
On Thursday July 24th, 5.30 – 6.30 pm
Everyone is welcome
posted by AVnet

Sophisticated Westerners need to get over their inferiority complex

On Participating Joyfully in the Sorrows of the World: Isn't it Great to Love This Much?
from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob (Author of One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind & Spirit)

I suppose the question is, how do we truly reconcile Eastern and Western approaches without artificially reducing Christianity to Vedanta? Perhaps sophisticated Westerners need to get over their inferiority complex, and say that it is incumbent upon the Eastern religions to get a clue and to reconcile themselves with the Judeo-Christian values of America. Can it be done? Oh, I think so.

It is surely no coincidence that Sri Aurobindo was educated in the Christian West from a very early age. He eventually graduated with honors from Cambridge, and it was only then, at the age of 21 or so, that he returned to India. At the time, he knew nothing about Indian philosophy, and only later developed his own version of it, still rooted in tradition but adding some clearly Western concepts.

Quoting from the wiki article, it states that

"One of Sri Aurobindo's main philosophical achievements was to introduce the concept of evolution into Vedantic thought.... Aurobindo rejected the materialistic tendencies of both Darwinism and Samkhya, and proposed an evolution of spirit along with that of matter, and that the evolution of matter was a result of the former."

But perhaps most importantly,

"Sri Aurobindo rejected a major conception of Indian philosophy that says that the World is Maya (illusion) and that living as a renunciate was the only way out. He says that it is possible, not only to transcend human nature but also to transform it and to live in the world as a free and evolved human being with a new consciousness and a new nature which could spontaneously perceive the truth of things, and proceed in all matters on the basis of inner oneness, love and light" (emphasis mine).

Bingo! The Way of the Raccoon, whatever your religion. Elsewhere Aurobindo wrote that such an approach necessarily altered "our whole normal view of things; even in preserving all the aims of human life, it will give them a different sense and direction."

Isn't it great to love so much?

"The first victory is to create an individuality. And then later, the second victory is to give this individuality to the Divine. And the third victory is that the Divine changes your individuality into a divine being. There are three stages:

  • the first is to become an individual;
  • the second is to consecrate the individual, that he may surrender entirely to the Divine and be identified with Him;
  • and the third is that the Divine takes possession of this individual and changes him into a being in His own image, that is, he too becomes divine." -- The Mother

July 17, 2008

Schelling, earning Hegel’s hearty approval, once proclaimed freedom to be the alpha and omega of all philosophy

Draft Review of Hammer’s ‘German Idealism: Contemporary Perspectives’ from Grundlegung by Tom July 17, 2008
Comments, whether stylistic or substantive, very welcome!
Espen Hammer (ed.): German Idealism: Contemporary Perspectives, London, Routledge, 2007, pp. 339. £18.99 pbk. ISBN 0-415-37305-0.

The German idealists have recently attracted increased attention, especially amongst Anglo-American philosophers. This renewed interest has not been confined to historians of philosophy but includes those involved in current debates on topics like freedom, naturalism and agency. In part, this is due to new readings, influential in the last two decades, which have sought to dismiss the traditional image of the movement as a series of baroque systems riddled with metaphysical monstrosities. Such readings have emphasised the essential modernity of the German idealists, both in their methods and philosophical ambitions. Their respectability has been further enhanced in light of their influence upon figures familiar in Anglophone philosophy, such as Putnam, Habermas, Brandom and McDowell. This new climate is reflected in this solid collection of fourteen articles (all but one previously unpublished) by many of the leading researchers in the field. The authors acknowledge these recent scholarly developments throughout, however they often disagree over which have been progressive.

As one might expect, Kant and Hegel are the major focus. Fichte also features reasonably prominently throughout and commands an essay by Jay Bernstein examining the often overlooked role for human embodiment in the theory of mutual recognition which underlies his account of rights and agency. Unsurprisingly, Schelling, along with other significant post-Kantian idealists like Reinhold, receives comparatively less attention. There are some deviations from the well-trodden path from Kant via Fichte to Hegel though, as we shall see.

Schelling, earning Hegel’s hearty approval, once proclaimed freedom to be the alpha and omega of all philosophy. This claim foreshadows a core theme of the book and captures the spirit of Terry Pinkard and Robert Pippin’s approaches to German idealism. They both seek to develop Kantian ideas about autonomy, the importance of which they locate not in any overt metaphysical thesis but in a conception of agents as sources of normativity: beings accountable to laws only because they in some sense author them. Pinkard’s paper examines this idea in the context of political liberalism, arguing that it presupposes a particular form of life and set of institutions to sustain it. As Pinkard says, “I can be an independent liberal agent only by virtue of a determinate set of structured dependencies.” (p.216) The purportedly Hegelian picture that results sees this sort of autonomous agent as a socio-historically achieved being that emerges from a structure of agents mutually recognising each other.

Pippin’s contribution, which examines Robert Brandom’s interpretation of Hegel, picks up many of the same themes. He approves of the thrust of the interpretation, particularly its attempt to embed a broadly Kantian story about autonomy as the source of normativity within a wider account of social recognition. However, he thinks Brandom does not go far enough. For example, he claims that the account of Hegel is stymied by an excessive formalism inherited from Brandom’s own project. Brandom has a rich vocabulary for describing what happens when agents make claims and challenge the authority of socially instituted norms, but in a deeply un-Hegelian fashion he divorces this from a further issue about which he has little to say: how the agents would and should appraise the legitimacy of these claims and resolve such challenges. (Unfortunately, Brandom’s reply to the original article is not included here.)

Doubts about this whole line of interpretation are raised by Stephen Houlgate and Sebastian Gardner, who criticise its non-metaphysical tenor, as well as Bob Stern and Fred Rush, who question its focus upon Kantian autonomy. Houlgate also assesses Brandom’s reading of Hegel, and he concentrates on his account of concepts. Brandom’s Hegel maintains that the content of concepts is solely determined by a socio-historical process of negotiation between agents. For Houlgate, this overlooks the role that Hegel gives to the logical categories underlying judgements. The content of these categories has its source in both being, understood as the spatio-temporal natural world, and norms of rationality internal to thought.

Therefore, he thinks that Hegel’s pragmatism about concepts is only partial and must be understood within a larger frame that is both rationalist and metaphysical. Gardner buttresses these claims by arguing that the turn away from speculative metaphysical interpretations of the German idealists does not fare well even on non-textual grounds. This is because the middle-way that it proposes between hard naturalism and metaphysical idealism is unstable, conceding too much to the hard naturalist to retain the distinctive advantages of an idealist position.

Towards a planetary knowledge society based on matrifocal values and cultural creativity

The Knowledge Society: A Breakthrough Toward Genuine Sustainability
Book launch: Café Le Morgan, Tuesday, July 22nd, 5:00 pm

The Knowledge Society: A Breakthrough Toward Genuine Sustainability’, the latest book by Dr Marc Luyckx Ghisi, Vice Chair of Auroville’s International Advisory Council, will be launched at Café Le Morgan, on Tuesday, July 22 at 5:00 pm. The book carries a foreword by Sam Pitroda, Chairman, Knowledge Commission of India, and preface by Vittirio Prodi, Member of the European Parliament.

The Knowledge Society is a superb synthesis of today’s burning issues of globalization, the transition to post-industrial futures, the growth of post-carbon “green” economies worldwide, changing paradigms in science, economics, and management—all enfolded in a deep cultural analysis of changing ethical, religious, and spiritual values. Marc Luyckx Ghisi’s deeply personal style illuminates his heroic synthesis. He shows how our endangered human family can redesign our various civilizations toward more peaceful, just, and sustainable futures for all life on earth.

The Knowledge Society provides dramatic insights into how the world will change in the next five decades. With his concept of a transmodern society, Marc Luyckx Ghisi opens a perspective to the powerful trends away from the industrial society with its pyramidal and patriarchal structures towards a planetary knowledge society based on matrifocal values and cultural creativity. posted by AVnet Main Website AurovilleRadio

July 11, 2008

Having studied poetry so thoroughly, it was a natural step for Sri Aurobindo to compose his own poems

Just as the World Wars changed the “aesthetic atmosphere” perhaps some other event or a development in the human consciousness will bring about the other change of which Sri Aurobindo speaks so that his mystical works as well as Savitri will find recognition and appreciation from the general reader. But fortunately we who know him don’t have to wait for such a day. Sunayana Panda’s blog Sri Aurobindo’s Collected Poems

Sri Aurobindo considered himself to be firstly a poet, but ironically this aspect of his life remains the least known. Of all his poetic creations the most widely read is Savitri, but since that falls in the category of mantric utterance and not mere poetical composition I will leave it out of this discussion. I will only take up the volume Collected Poems and try to understand why it remains relatively unknown, even among his disciples.

Poetry is truly a complete expression of beauty because it combines many different kinds of beauty: the beauty of sounds, of images, of thought, of emotions and of expression. And yet, unfortunately, for most people in India the word “poetry” conjures up only images of their school life. Those images often have in the background the voice of an unkind teacher or the stress of having to struggle with incomprehensible or archaic words. Most people think that one bids goodbye to poetry when one steps out of the student life. This may be why poems don’t usually form a part of our general reading...

We have to keep in mind when we turn the pages of the Collected Poems that we are looking at the work of someone who started writing at the end of the 19th century, and that too in England. If we overlook his background we will miss the most important point. Sri Aurobindo was brought up in England from his early childhood. He not only went to St. Paul’s, one of the best schools in England, but also studied at King’s College, Cambridge. Therefore, his early poetry cannot strictly be considered as the work of an Indian. He grew up the way an English boy would have grown up, and for him English was the normal language of communication. At Cambridge he studied Classical Greek and Latin, both prose and poetry, and was trained to translate those texts into English and vice versa. He was accustomed to a very high form of expression - in prose as well as in poetry - before he returned to India. That was what entirely occupied him during the last years of his stay in England.

English poetry was a natural part of his education and therefore helped to form his mental make-up. In the late 19th century, a school like St. Paul’s taught Greek and Latin from the lowest level of classes, and the entire focus was on literature. Although mathematics was a subject, science did not figure in the curriculum. Education for the upper classes in England was structured around acquiring general culture, and this is why poetry was given a place of great importance at school level and was also commonly studied at colleges. It was an age when science, commerce and technology were generally considered to be inferior to literature. Having studied poetry so thoroughly, it was a natural step for Sri Aurobindo to compose his own poems.

Another point to remember when we read his poetry is that his style belongs to an age when poetry had quite another definition from what it has today. The poetry of the late-Victorian age had its own ideals and its own pace. This style disappeared from the scene of world literature after the two World Wars. What happened to poetry is more or less what happened to art in general. The First World War brought about a certain breakdown of sensibilities, and by the end of the Second World War the entire mindscape of the world had changed. In the field of art there was a deliberate move away from realism and from the way artists had expressed themselves earlier; the stress was on the individual and not on the collective.

Poems in our modern world are like the paintings of our times. They are abstract and stay away from anything that confines the flow of expression. Neither poets nor artists aim primarily for beauty in their creations. The main point is an idea, a feeling, an impression. In the same manner that an artist no longer needs to acquire a refined skill after long years of training - in fact he need not even know how to draw - the poet too has no qualms about not knowing how to align words with stressed and unstressed syllables or not understanding metre and rhyme.

Sri Aurobindo did not write poetry to pass time on a Sunday afternoon. His works are the creations of a master poet who expects his readers to know the background of what he is saying. This again becomes a common stumbling block. Even if a person had the inclination to read a sonnet or a long narrative poem, he would still find it hard to understand not only the vocabulary but also the allusions and references to Greek or Indian mythology, which often form a backdrop to Sri Aurobindo’s poems. These literary and cultural references were once common knowledge to the educated person but do not generally form part of the intellectual development of modern man. In other words, one needs a certain amount of preparation about the context before one can take pleasure in reading some of the poems. And that preparation must also include a familiarity with his yoga in order to grasp the meaning of many of his later poems, including most of the sonnets.

The most fascinating thing about these poems is that they were written not only in different places but also during the various phases of a life that changed dramatically through the decades. His earliest poems are dated 1890-1892. This corresponds to Sri Aurobindo’s Cambridge years when he was leading the life of a student, seeking knowledge and preparing for examinations. The next phase of his poetical creation is set in Baroda when he was teaching at the college and could devote some time to poetry. Some of the poems were written in the middle of the revolutionary movement in Calcutta; one poem was even written in Alipore jail. The rest were composed in Pondicherry from his yogic heights and while he was engaged in an intense inner activity. In fact, Sri Aurobindo started writing poetry when he was a young boy and continued to do so until the last year of his life.

The early poems are touched with the influence of the poets he read and admired, but he soon developed his own unmistakable style. One can open Collected Poems and have the sensation of being in a secret garden; there is so much to discover silently. The early poems are rich in imagery and emotion and can be enjoyed for their visual delight. The sonnets, particularly the later ones, are almost all surprisingly written in the first person singular. The word “I” comes back again and again. Yes, these deeply personal lines are written by the author of the supremely impersonal The Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga.

The most attractive pieces, within easy grasp of the reader, are the narrative poems such as “Chitrangada”, “Uloupie”, “Love and Death” and “Urvasie”. The incomplete epic poem “Ilion” can be enjoyed, even if one isn’t familiar with the story of the Trojan war, for the sheer beauty of the lines, even taken a few at a time. The same can be said about “Ahana”, in that individual lines can be enjoyed for their own beauty if read a few at a time, even if the meaning of the whole is difficult to grasp.

We could continue to look for less evident reasons to justify why so enjoyable a book has remained so little known. As is often the case when we are seeking something sincerely, we are always guided to the answer... Our knowledge of Sri Aurobindo the philosopher may remain incomplete without our knowledge of Sri Aurobindo the poet
Sri Aurobindo’s Collected Poems from

We can open the Collected Poems and take delight in the many-coloured emotions, in full bloom here, of one whose high thoughts we usually have to grapple with. Perhaps knowing his feelings through his poetry may help us to understand his thoughts better. Perhaps our knowledge of Sri Aurobindo the philosopher may remain incomplete without our knowledge of Sri Aurobindo the poet. ‘Love & Death’ 4:42 PM

The Hindu will say that the feminine is the active principle (the Shakti), while the Sufi will see the static, passive Absolute as feminine

Gender, Traditionalism and Occultism
from The Stumbling Mystic by ned
In a previous post, I commented, “… secularists … see sex as an objective biological fact and gender as an arbitrary and often superficial social construction. Traditionalist metaphysics seems to go in the opposite direction: gender is a universal property of the creation as a whole, and is found in every created thing. Gender exists in the terrestrial world because it’s a materialisation of gender as it exists in the universe as a whole. Let me say that the integral understanding that I am seeking through Sri Aurobindo and the Mother seems to indicate that both views hold important truths.”

I’m re-thinking this a little bit right now. First of all, as I mentioned in the aforementioned post, the traditionalist idea doesn’t hold up empirically. There are many species that are ungendered, and many that display transgenderism/transsexualism and homosexuality, which contradicts the idea that everything is gendered in the physical manifestation. In this same post, I quote the Mother pointing out that even in occult realms, all beings are not gendered — many are androgynous or sexless.

But apart from this, none of the spiritual traditions really agree on which cosmic principle to call “masculine” and which to call “feminine”. They all say different things and contradict each other. Put simply, if you put a Sufi, a Hindu and a Christian into one room, they will not agree on which cosmic principle is masculine and which is feminine. For instance, the Hindu will say that the feminine is the active principle (the Shakti), while the Sufi will see the static, passive Absolute as feminine, and so on. So from a purely common sense point of view, the traditionalist, medieval theory of gender makes no sense to me, even though I accept the existence of supraphysical planes of existence and occult principles.

As a result, I was quite relieved to see the following passage from the Mother in a discussion on the meanings of the Vedantic terms Purusha (which literally means “man” and refers to a witness consciousness) and Prakriti (which is a feminine term referring to Nature) [...] There are cosmic principles, occult processes, and so on, but when we experience and try to grasp them, we inevitably project our biological and cultural conditioning onto them and thus water them down into a language that we humans can understand. There is always a “mythos” of the day through which we interpret our experiences. So our formulations of all these processes are several steps removed from what they actually are.

In short, the more I learn about spirituality and occultism, the more the traditionalist idea that the male human is the incarnation of a particular cosmic principle and the female human is the incarnation of another one seems to be a huge oversimplification (and a fairly anthropocentric and irrational one at that). This medieval theory of gender certain doesn’t hold up in the light of scientific studies on gender, but even from a purely common sense understanding of occultism it makes no sense. How exactly Prakriti (Nature) arranges things, what the occult processes involved behind the physical manifestation are, and so on, are valid questions that occultists can try to answer, but the idea that there is something “feminine” about Prakriti or “masculine” about Purusha, seems to me to be nothing more than a projection of our lower biological nature onto higher occult realities, as the Mother points out above, which loses its meaning once one is established in higher planes of consciousness. There are cosmic and occult principles but from higher states of spiritual attainment it makes very little sense to classify them as masculine or feminine.

It’s been said that medieval mystics were more intuitive and less rational than modern and postmodern humans are. This allowed them easier access to higher realities, but it also meant that their mental or rational formulations of those realities were quite mythical. What I’m suggesting is that a truly scientific occultism — and again I refer to Sri Aurobindo’s Record of Yoga as having set the bar in this area — will have to wait until we are truly ready for suprarational mysticism. I see plenty of infrarational elements in medieval mysticism, which is why many secular people reject it because it contains formulations that don’t make sense in the light of modern-day findings.

For me, the turning point occurred in 1995, when I became a disciple of Sri Aurobindo

The Shine of Your Japan, the Sparkle in Your China
from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob [*Title playgiarized from Bodhisattva by Steely Dan]

There are certain deep similarities between Buddhism and Christianity, in addition to the differences. For example, both stand in relation to much older revelations. In the case of Christianity, it is obviously an offshoot of Judaism, while Buddhism was an outgrowth of Hinduism. Moreover, both represent a "universalizing" of the traditions from which they sprang. Just as Judaism has a "tribal" and cultural component, so too does Hinduism.

You rarely see a Westerner calling himself "Hindu," because in a certain sense one can't really be Hindu unless one is from India. Plus, Hinduism has a lot of the ritualistic or "mythological" trappings from which Westerners are usually trying to escape when they embrace Buddhism, which seems to them to be more concrete, experiential and even "scientific." It seems that many Westerners turn toward Buddhism because they see it as a kind of religion purged of superstition. Looking back on it, this is undoubtedly what motivated my interest in it many years ago. But as I have mentioned before, I didn't make any real progress with it.

In my case -- just as implied in Magnus' comment -- I didn't really get anywhere until I gave up "self power" for "other power." Now I rely solely upon grace, although I naturally still do everything in my power to pretend that I am worthy of it. In a way, the slack-path of the Raccoon is very much analogous to "the lazy man's way to riches," being that there are two ways to become wealthy.

  • The first is to go about getting what you want;
  • the second is to cultivate gratitude for what one has. It should go without saying that there are no poor Raccoons.

For me, the turning point occurred in 1995, when I became a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, a path which begins and ends with the practice of aspiration, rejection, and surrender. From this stance it was very easy to transition to a more Christian viewpoint, being that it pretty much involves the identical verticalisthenic exercise:

  • aspiration toward the higher,
  • rejection of that which is contrary to God, and
  • surrender to the grace -- which of course has its "severe" and "merciful" and aspects, i.e., purification (both by fire and water) and consolation.

In one sense, God loves us "unconditionally," but in another sense, quite the opposite -- which is our salvation, just as is a father who has expectations of his child. This is a generalization, of course, but mother love tends to be more unconditional, while father love has strings attached -- thank God, I might add, since I can already see in my three year-old that the fine line between civilization and barbarity is rooted in his fear of my being disappointed in him. Wisdom begins with fear of Dad. As above, so below...

This is what happens to a mind -- and culture -- with no father principle. There are never any consequences, and therefore, no standards and no emotional or spiritual growth. This is what is meant by God's "severity," which is clearly a mode of compassion. But new-age idiots tend to be utterly blind to this, which is why they reject Christianity as "judgmental," "narrow-minded," or "patriarchal." Again, just as Christianity (from its standpoint) transcends (or fulfills) the Mosaic law, Buddhism transcends the Vedas (or, it could be argued that it returns Vedanta to its first principles in their most abstract essence, i.e., that the world is illusion, that Brahman alone is real, and that Atman and Brahman are not-two)...

Using the symbols from my book, you could say that Buddha represents (↑), while Jesus is the quintessence of (↓)... To cite an obvious example, one of the earliest formulations of Christianity is that God became man so that man might become God (so to speak). This is sort of what I was driving at with the circular structure of my book, which ultimately signifies the downward arrow of God meeting with the upward arrow of man, in an eternally spiroidal circle of creation transcending itself in Oneness. And in Mahayana Buddhism there is the Bodhisattva principle, through which you might say that a (↑) comes back down for our benefit and becomes a (↓), and will remain so until every last (•) becomes (0).

The feminine divine is central to paganism including the Gnosticism

The four Canonical Gospels are simply a mythical 'history' of Jesus and his ministry constructed from sources that existed for at least a century before his birth (assuming he existed). The recently discovered tablet is simply another piece in the puzzle...Judeo-Christian theology simply cannot deal with pluralism, and is in fact hostile to it. Present day Western scholars are not hostile, but cannot grasp it...

Unfortunately there is no tradition of independent Biblical scholarship in India because Indian churces and seminaries, and even non-Christian thinkers, are still trapped in a colonial mindset. They seem to think that they must unquestioningly accept everything that comes from the West... This is not conducive to independent let alone iconoclastic scholarship that is now needed.

So it is probably up to Indian non-Christian scholars to study Gnostic texts and interpret them. Someone like Sri Aurobindo would have been ideal. But with rare exceptions (like the late Ram Swarup) Indian scholars shy away from any critical study of Judeo-Christian sources, possibly out fear of offending the religious feelings of others. This attitude is anti-intellectual but also a fact of life.

Orthodox Christianity in a way was an imposition of Jewish theological framework on the pluralistic Gnostic-Pagan beliefs of the Roman Empire. We have a relatively good idea of this Jewish component, thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls including the tablet you mention. A casuality of this was the destruction of the feminine divine— for ONE GOD cannot be female in the ferociously masculine Abrahamic creeds. See what they did to poor Mary Magdalene and even to Sophia (Hindu Sarasvati or possibly Savitri).

But the feminine divine is central to paganism including the Gnosticism. Even St. Paul was a Gnostic though his messages has been twisted out of shape in the New Testament, and several of the letters attributed to him are not authentic. (Elaine Pagels got it right on this point. She has written a book on Paul's Gnosticism.)

I appeal to Indian scholars to study Gnostic texts and compare them with Indian viewpoints with an open mind. This is the need of the hour. The recently discovered tablet is easy meat— an interesting tit-bit. N.S. Rajaram July 6, 2008

Ancient Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection

July 09, 2008

Sri Aurobindo invites us to examine experiences of imagination, or specifically imagined events

Fido the Yak Chiasmus, peregrinations, ruminations, dilemmas
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Alcove: Memory of the Future

A memory of taking the blue bowl down from the kidaka. A secret object enclosed in a pouch will have been placed behind the bowl. Or in the bowl. It will come back to me, but it won't all come back to me. In the center of the room a bowl of oranges. Come sit. We may be on Lamu, or we may be on Unguja. We may be in Malindi. My thoughts return to the mountains, as always.

Sean M. Kelly (not to be confused with the Sean Kelly of Seeing Things), in an essay (pdf) for the latest Integral Review, quotes part of a passage from Sri Aurobindo's The Synthesis of Yoga concerning a capacity for having a memory of the future. Kelly's quotation leaves off just before Aurobindo says,

"But this capacity works at first sporadically and uncertainly and not in an organised manner" (Part 4, Chapter 26).

This sentence of Aurobindo's vitally qualifies the idea of a memory of the future. It invites us to examine experiences of imagination, or specifically imagined events (and thus also our understanding of time) in such a way as to not obliterate the vicissitude or otherwise completely level out experience–it should be clear that here I am not pursuing a perfection of consciousness but rather attempting to gain some insight on a phenomenon of experience.

  • How would a memory of the future be experienced?
  • Would we say that the future is remembered, or might it be memorized? What can't we commit to memory?
  • What is the relation between memory and thought?
  • If it seems that the cogito remembers, that it exists temporally, is it also apparent that memory thinks?
  • What is the relation between memory and imagination?
  • If we view a relation to the future through memory as paradoxical or nonsensical does it follow that we are viewing memory as something other than a mode of the imagination? Must there be in memory an unquestioned relation to the past?
  • I ask again, what is passage?
  • If we reject memories of the future on the grounds that memory must concern the past, are we in danger of being baffled by passage?
  • Are transcendental consciousness and the passage of time ideas equally about passage? (It is not my place to deny extension to consciousness, and I have not yet assigned any such meanings to interiority.)

We may be lead to believe that the dream takes place in the loneliest of lonelinesses. If we stay true to the path of the dream, however, the loneliest of lonelinesses is shown to be a place reserved for the appearance of demons who offer demonic choices as to how we are to respond to their riddles–demons only ever offer demonic choices. They are after all not sphinges but demons. Let's ask whether the oneiric temporality properly takes place, or whether it represents a passage out of place. Have I just presented you with a demonic choice? To answer dreaming with dreaming. The residue of a contour.

What would oneiric translucency say to us about passage? I follow the aporetic ways of anamnesis; aporetically is how I begin to see through to the meaning of passage.

A trailing off into the dew. It's still like being inside the brool. The bedroom window. Waking up from a heart attack into a heart attack. Adrenaline. They dragged the lion off for questioning, the police. They broke his throat. Two or three blows and he went silent, limp. They dragged him away while we lay dreaming. For anamnesis.

When I hand you an orange the surprise of your laughter has been no less dreamy for having been remembered as a surprise. To live with our vicissitudes means to allow for surprise.

  • Does memory concern those things which may be repressed, things which may be disallowed?
  • What would make surprise irrepressible? That surprise would be irrepression itself?

Labels: , , , , , , , , The Whole Enchilada.... posted by Fido the Yak at 2:59 PM. 0 comments

July 07, 2008

Judging from Savitri, Sri Aurobindo was a man who had some experience of romantic love to
date 7 July 2008 08:40 subject Sri Aurobindo, Stephen Phillips book, Heehs biography

Seth Farber, Ph.D. New York

Dear Tusar,

Several months ago I fortuitously discovered Stephen Phillip’s provocative book on Aurobindo on your fascinating website which I also discovered fortuitously some months before then. At the time I was writing and thus did not have time to read SP’s book carefully. But I made a mental note to return. I did so last week but lo and behold it has disappeared! I do not have access to a university library and the SP’s book is hard to come by. (I cannot afford the $250 for which it is selling on Amazon!) Is it possible you could make it accessible again? This time I will print it out.

I have been reading Sri Aurobindo off and on since 1980 and have been strongly influenced and inspired and en-couraged by his perspective. I did read carefully one chapter by Phillips–his argument against Aurobindo’s theodicy and eschatology.

SP argued that the independence of perspective of the Divine compared to the human implied by Aurobindo’s claim–based on the Vedas-- that the Divine was free to not manifest the universe was inconsistent with Aurobindo’s argument for the inevitability of the divine life on earth. While SP’s argument is persuasive, I think the problem is easily solved-- merely by positing that Brahman–the Absolute-- is NOT “free” not to manifest the universe.

I think pace Phillips that Aurobindo is inconsistent on this issue, but is probably too often (but not always!) inclined to follow the Vedic precedent of asserting divine “freedom” from manifestation, from humanity. What is freedom? The Eastern Christian author Phillip Sherrard solved this problem nicely I think. God is not compelled to create by anything external to Him/Her self – nothing of course is external to God. Therefore He IS free. But God IS compelled by his inner nature as love to manifest the universe. In the act of creation necessity and freedom coincide. To argue otherwise is to misunderstand the nature of freedom as love.

By making this move, I believe Phillip’s critique of Aurobindo is refuted and Aurobindo’s argument for the inevitability of the divine life on earth is salvaged. Theodicy is salvaged: the Divine is not and cannot be indifferent to the human condition. Do you think I am on solid ground here? Have I misinterpreted Aurobindo in any way? Or do you have an alternative argument against Phillips? This is not an academic question obviously as humanity has seemed to reached the crossroads where we face annihilation, doom, or salvation–eternal joy. And eschatology is the only answer to the problem of “the riddle of the world.” And therefore in it lies our hope–and the impetus for our spiritual endeavors.

I am obviously not a professional philosopher but I have a keen interest in metaphysics and eschatology–in salvation. I am a renegade psychologist in the tradition of the radical psychiatrist R D Laing, as you can see from my website.

Have you reviewed Heehs book yet? I just read it with keen interest. What a excellent book. I have a few quibbles. First he overlooks Savitri which has autobiographical as well as philosophical significance. Obviously judging from Savitri, Aurobindo was a man who had some experience of romantic love – as well as the tragedy of death. One must conclude that this tragedy impinged upon his own life.

  • Can one also not conclude that Aurobindo had “fallen in love” with Mira Richard?
  • How else can the kind of union Aurobindo asserted he had established with the Mother be attained?

And we know that relationship had a profundity greater than mere sexual love and affection about which Aurobindo was dismissive. Aurobindo’s response to Paul Richard which Heehs reports (for the first time, I think) that if the Mother wanted he would marry her (!!!) is indeed provocative. Strange that Heehs leaves it dangling–it is hardly consistent with the usual relationship between guru and disciple–although Heehs' no comment seems to imply (with Aurobindo) that it is. Quite remarkable. Don't you think?

In the light of these omissions it is not surprising, albeit disappointing, that Heehs also omits a discussion of the idea of physical immortality that is connected, I submit, into the idea of romantic love. In the kingdom of death love is doomed. Is this not the meaning of Savitri for modern man/woman? Have you read Vladimir Solovyov whose ideas seem to parallel Savitri?

Aurobindo was correct: an biography of him had to remain strangely incomplete because so much about this enigmatic figure remained below the surface – as even Heehs’ excavations have confirmed. I look forward to any thoughts you may have on my musings above.

Thanks for your website. I hope it is possible and not difficult for you to reestablish the link to SP’s book. Namaste. Regards, Seth

July 06, 2008

There is not an entire absence of penetration from above into our mental limits

Intuition is in its very nature a projection of the characteristic action of these higher grades into the mind of Ignorance. It is true that in human mind its action is largely hidden by the interventions of our normal intelligence; a pure intuition is a rare occurrence in our mental activity: for what we call by the name is usually

a point of direct knowledge which is immediately caught and coated over with mental stuff, so that it serves only as an invisible or a very tiny nucleus of a crystallisation which is in its mass intellectual or otherwise mental in character;

or else the flash of intuition is quickly replaced or intercepted, before it has a chance of manifesting itself, by a rapid imitative mental movement, insight or quick perception or some swift-leaping process of thought which owes its appearance to the stimulus of the coming intuition but obstructs its entry or covers it with a substituted mental suggestion true or erroneous but in either case not the authentic intuitive movement. Nevertheless, the fact of this intervention from above, the fact that behind all our original thinking or authentic perception of things there is a veiled, a half-veiled or a swift unveiled intuitive element is enough to establish a connection between mind and what is above it; it opens a passage of communication and of entry into the superior spirit-ranges. There is also the reaching out of mind to exceed the personal ego limitation, to see things in a certain impersonality and universality.

Impersonality is the first character of cosmic self; universality, non-limitation by the single or limiting point of view, is the character of cosmic perception and knowledge: this tendency is therefore a widening, however rudimentary, of these restricted mind areas towards cosmicity, towards a quality which is the very character of the higher mental planes,—towards that superconscient cosmic Mind which, we have suggested, must in the nature of things be the original mind-action of which ours is only a derivative and inferior process.

Again, there is not an entire absence of penetration from above into our mental limits. The phenomena of genius are really the result of such a penetration,—veiled, no doubt, because the light of the superior consciousness not only acts within narrow limits, usually in a special field, without any regulated separate organisation of its characteristic energies, often indeed quite fitfully, erratically and with a supernormal or abnormal irresponsible governance, but also in entering the mind it subdues and adapts itself to mind substance so that it is only a modified or diminished dynamis that reaches us, not all the original divine luminosity of what might be called the overhead consciousness beyond us. Still the phenomena of inspiration, of revelatory vision or of intuitive perception and intuitive discernment, surpassing our less illumined or less powerful normal mind-action, are there and their origin is unmistakable.

Finally, there is the vast and multitudinous field of mystic and spiritual experience, and here the gates already lie wide open to the possibility of extending our consciousness beyond its present limits,—unless, indeed, by an obscurantism that refuses to inquire or an attachment to our boundaries of mental normality we shut them or turn away from the vistas they open before us. But in our present investigation we cannot afford to neglect the possibilities which these domains of mankind's endeavour bring near to us, or the added knowledge of oneself and of the veiled Reality which is their gift to human mind, the greater light which arms them with the right to act upon us and is the innate power of their existence.

There are two successive movements of consciousness, difficult but well within our capacity, by which we can have access to the superior gradations of our conscious existence. Page-275 Location: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > English > The Life Divine Volume-18 > Supermind, Mind And The Overmind Maya