August 30, 2008

Nietzsche thought that the better types would lose out in natural selection

3 comments: John Wilkins said... Thanks for the link, but your confidence is unwarranted. The last time I read Nietzsche, I was an undergraduate. 16 June, 2008 15:13

Michael Pleyer said... Although you may not know much about Nietzsche anymore (and neither do I, at least that's the impression I get when I'm listening toi the other bright people in my Nietzsche-Course.I'm sorry if I didn't get that across, but I was trying to express the fact that I don't have any real idea about the state of evolutionary theory in Darwin's time, and that you're surely a greater authority on the topic than me, for example regarding the question whether 19th Century Darwinism didn't take into account internal selection sufficiently, or whether Darwinians really claimed that the life of an organism was basically about a very conservative kind of self-preservation and nothing else 17 June, 2008 00:32

John Wilkins said... In that case, let me say that philosophers in general are a very bad guide to the state of biological evolution theory at the time Nietzsche was writing. Josiah Royce, for example, relies on Schopenhauer more than Darwin and mostly philosophy engaged Spencer or Huxley rather than Darwin or the Darwinians. It's a bit like Midgley engaging Ayer or Dawkins rather than, say, Lewontin or Maynard Smith.

From this page, and also this paper it is clear to me that Nietzsche simply didn't understand natural selection, because he thought that the better types were those that would lose out in selection. He was not alone at that time; many people had confused ideas about selection, and many philosophers still do (e.g., David Stove). This is largely because, I believe, the eugenic notion of selection is based on the common experience of selective breeding (which Darwin called "artificial selection") leading to fragile and sensitive types, such as thoroughbred horses. Nietzsche appears to think that the intellectual will lose out. On Darwin's view, if that were true, then too bad - the less intellectual types would simply be fitter.

Huxley's Evolution and Ethics also makes this point forcefully - we should not rely on evolution to give us the moral or ethical types, but by an act of will seek to manufacture the civilisation we most value. Maybe that is what Nietzsche was trying to say, in his own inimitable style.

I would also suggest you investigate the views of James Mark Baldwin and the Baldwin Effect which has had a long history as either anti-Darwinian or more recently something that, although "internal" is Darwinian after all. 17 June, 2008 05:05 Post a Comment Links to this post This ambiguity and uncertainty can also be found when it comes to ...

August 27, 2008

Van Vrekhem demonstrates how Hitler's ideology was in many cases a mirror image of Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary philosophy

As I have mentioned, Hitler & His God spends the first 522 pages discussing the Nazi phenomenon from every possible conventional angle, before making a sort of discontinuous leap, at which point it looks to the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo to make sense of it all. Why are people so fascinated by World War II in general and Hitler in particular? I think part of the reason is that it is a kind of numinous experience to contemplate that level of evil, which "surpasses" (I suppose "subpass" would be a better term) all our faculties. Remember, "numinous" does not necessarily have positive connotations, for it mainly signifies confrontation with an object that is strange, mysterious, and "other." An encounter with God is always numinous, but so too is a brush with Death.
For those of you who have lost a loved one, you are familiar with that experience of being ushered into an eery, numinous space. People are simultaneously attracted to, and repelled by, this space. It is why, for example, we enjoy horror movies. Much of the romantic movement was explicitly infatuated with Death, which I suppose is why so many of those poet-johnnies committed suicide. Will will know.
During the course of 522 pages, Van Vrekhem provides the testimony of any number of historians, who have conceded that, in the end, Hitler and Nazism simply exceed our ability to understand them. On the one hand, history is there to teach us "what happened." And yet, in this case, we can know exactly what happened "on the surface," and yet, don't truly understand it at all. I'm guessing that there are more books on Hitler and World War II than most any other subjects, and yet, what do we really know?
Van Vrekhem begins with the modest proposal that in attempting to wrap out minds around an "effect" of such magnitude, there must be a cause of equal magnitude. Looked at this way, then Hitler can't possibly be explained by such comparatively trivial causes as resentment over the Treaty of Versaille, or economic hardship, or even rabid nationalism. Any number of countries have been humiliated in war, but they don't start putting people in ovens to cope with their bruised feelings. So we are confronted with a mystery.
Yesterday I was attempting to use an experience-near example to talk about another mystery, that being the obvious discontinuity between even the greatest virtuoso and the true genius. Genius clearly transcends mere virtuosity, and can never be reduced to it. Rather, the musical genius partakes of and transmits a kind of palpable mystery, through which we may have the experience of entering a higher world that is shockingly different from the ordinary musical space. As a number of people pointed out, one can say the same of Van Gogh's paintings. If you are open to them, they truly are shocking, even breathtaking. Why is that? How can that be? In my opinion, it is because Van Gogh introduces us to the real world. His paintings are particularly vivid examples of how great art is not on the same plane as "reality," and surely not a lower dimensional representation of it. Rather, it is a higher dimensional representation, so to speak. Yes, Van Gogh was an artist, but he was also a seer, or perhaps you might say a "visual prophet," just as Beethoven was an "aural prophet," transmitting information about higher spaces with pure sound. Again, how can such a thing be possible? What kind of cosmos is this, anyway?
Back to Hitler. To begin at the end, Van Vrekhem demonstrates how Hitler's ideology was in many cases a mirror image of Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary philosophy. Again, I don't want to get sidetracked, but I don't think it would be particularly difficult for some enterprising theologian to recast Christianity in evolutionary terms. In fact, I am quite sure it's already been done, not just by Teilhard de Chardin, but, for example, by this guy, about whom I know nothing.
I don't intend any scurrilous attacks on Darwinism, but Van Vrekhem quotes one prominent Nazi who said that National Socialism is applied biology. Think about that for a moment. If someone is foolish enough to believe that biology reveals the truth of man, then exactly what prevents him from drawing the ultimate implications from this: that nothing is absolute and everything is permitted?
It doesn't bother me that simpleminded Darwinists such as Queeg exist. What I do mind is that they try to pretend they're something other than what they are, which is intellectual barbarians. Such offenses must come, but we don't need to participate in their absurd self-flattery to the effect that the lower one falls, the higher one is. These liztards all clamor to the bottom, proud to declare the truth of no-truth, the virtue of indecency, and the beauty of ugliness.
Again, the Lie is parasitic on Truth. That's just how it is. As a result, you might very well say, "the greater the Truth, the bigger the Lie." But conversely, you might also say, "the bigger the Lie, the greater the Truth it is attempting to deny and conceal." Feel free to take this as a metaphor, so long as you understand its higher truth: Satan is first and foremost a parasite on Truth, Light and Beauty. Second, little parasites are everywhere. Oh, and you can learn a lot about God from a demon like Hitler.
In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility. --Adolf Hitler to be continued....

August 26, 2008

Be respectful to the spiritual teacher

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--About Avatarhood
by RY Deshpande on Mon 25 Aug 2008 04:55 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

This is true. And the spiritual etiquettes demand that we are respectful to the spiritual teacher whom we have chosen out of our own free will. If we don’t agree with his ideas or his manners we are absolutely free to find someone else.

This has been traditionally so everywhere and all the time, in the east or the west, now or in ancient days. It is the relationship between the two, the Guru and the Disciple, the Preceptor and the Seeker of the spiritual Truth, and it is all that that really counts in matters spiritual; imposition of secular ideas on it is a misconception. ~ RYD Reply

August 25, 2008

In the long and difficult integral Yoga there must be an integral faith and an unshakable patience

But the passage is long and the labour arduous before we can look on him with eyes that see true...

There must, therefore, be stages and gradations in our approach to this perfection, as there are in the progress towards all other perfection on any plane of Nature. The vision of the full glory may come to us before, suddenly or slowly, once or often, but until the foundation is complete, it is a summary and concentrated, not a durable and all-enveloping experience, not a lasting presence. The amplitudes, the infinite contents of the Divine Revelation come afterwards and unroll gradually their power and their significance. Or, even, the steady vision can be there on the summits of our nature, but the perfect response of the lower members comes only by degrees. In all Yoga the first requisites are faith and patience. The ardours of the heart and the violences of the eager will that seek to take the kingdom of heaven by storm can have miserable reactions if they disdain to support their vehemence on these humbler and quieter auxiliaries. And in the long and difficult integral Yoga there must be an integral faith and an unshakable patience.

It is difficult to acquire or to practise this faith and steadfastness on the rough and narrow path of Yoga because of the impatience of both heart and mind and the eager but soon faltering will of our rajasic nature. The vital nature of man hungers always for the fruit of its labour and, if the fruit appears to be denied or long delayed, he loses faith in the ideal and in the guidance. For his mind judges always by the appearance of things, since that is the first ingrained habit of the intellectual reason in which he so inordinately trusts.

Nothing is easier for us than to accuse God in our hearts when we suffer long or stumble in the darkness or to abjure the ideal that we have set before us. For we say, “I have trusted to the Highest and I am betrayed into suffering and sin and error.” Or else, “I have staked my whole life on an idea which the stern facts of experience contradict and discourage. It would have been better to be as other men are who accept their limitations and walk on the firm ground of normal experience.” In such moments – and they are sometimes frequent and long – all the higher experience is forgotten and the heart concentrates itself in its own bitterness. It is in these dark passages that it is possible to fall for good or to turn back from the divine labour.

If one has walked long and steadily in the path, the faith of the heart will remain under the fiercest adverse pressure; even if it is concealed or apparently overborne, it will take the first opportunity to re-emerge. For something higher than either heart or intellect upholds it in spite of the worst stumblings and through the most prolonged failure. But even to the experienced Sadhaka such falterings or overcloudings bring a retardation of his progress and they are exceedingly dangerous to the novice. It is therefore necessary from the beginning to understand and accept the arduous difficulty of the path and to feel the need of a faith which to the intellect may seem blind, but yet is wiser than our reasoning intelligence.

For this faith is a support from above; it is the brilliant shadow thrown by a secret light that exceeds the intellect and its data; it is the heart of a hidden knowledge that is not at the mercy of immediate appearances. Our faith, persevering, will be justified in its works and will be lifted and transfigured at last into the self-revelation of a divine knowledge. Always we must adhere to the injunction of the Gita, “Yoga must be continually applied with a heart free from despondent sinking.” Always we must repeat to the doubting intellect the promise of the Master, “I will surely deliver thee from all sin and evil; do not grieve.” At the end, the flickerings of faith will cease; for we shall see his face and feel always the Divine Presence. Page – 232 Location: Home > E-Library > Works of Sri Aurobindo > English > Synthesis of Yoga Volume-20 > The Master Of The Work

a patient and persistent action on the lines laid down by this knowledge, the force of our personal effort – utsāha. Works of Sri Aurobindo > English > Synthesis of Yoga Volume-20 > The Four Aids

Cause for pause and reflection on the status of Integral Yoga in 2008

If one does not find cause for pause and reflection on the status of Integral Yoga in 2008, a Yoga that while Sri Aurobindo's lived claimed not to be a religion, yet has become wholly infiltrated by religion; a Yoga which claimed not to be political, yet has been appropriated by politicians, then this whole conversation is unimportant... by Rich on Fri 15 Aug 2008 09:07 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link [at 9:53 AM]

Unfortunately a closer inspection of this path, reveals it to be one not heading toward a new future, but rather one bound to the endless repetitions of the past... what remains are only dysfunctional Institutions which attempt to fan the flames of a sacred candle whose sacrificial smoke has already vanished in the heavens...

Although I find my inspiration in the texts of Sri Aurobindo and have derived inexplicable revelations from them, I do so in honoring the secular tradition I have grown up in - and which Sri Aurobindo endorsed as the best course for contemporary polity - by Rich on Sun 24 Aug 2008 10:13 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link [7:59 AM]

What about the assertion that Aurobindo was an avatar? I can’t say that the question interests me very much. Aurobindo never claimed the distinction for himself, and I don’t think anyone alive is in a position to say one way or the other. The Aurobindo that interests me is the one who turned from a life of hectic action to a life of contemplation, but was able, during his forty-year retirement, to write a shelf full of books on philosophy, political theory, and textual criticism, along with thousands of letters and, yes, that epic in iambic pentameter. People will continue to differ about the significance of his work, but its very mass is there for all to see. His life as a yogi and spiritual leader is more difficult to quantify, but it certainly will not be forgotten soon. -- Peter Heehs, Posted at the Columbia University Press in CUP Permanent Link

For me, these 30 volumes are no less part of his continuing occult action. What else he did in "his occult action" any of us may or may not be privy to. Our life is a growth of consciousness in which faith, intuition and experience play their part to expand its horizons. But those "more visible expressions" are the "more visible doors" leading to such growth of consciousness and for me they certainly represent part of the "direct action" which the Mother is talking about...

What Sri Aurobindo brings here is the vision and the power of a new faith based on a new experience - more powerfully integral than anything that has gone before, and able to order these earlier orientations, put them in place. What he also brings is a new method replacing the purely "rational." This is his disciplinary revision of human systems of knowledge-seeking...

My reading of Sri Aurobindo convinces me that he was consciously relating to these systems and engaging them through revisionary hermeneutics and that he was doing this not just to fuel "the happy pastimes" of future readers. by Debashish on Sun 10 Aug 2008 11:37 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity

I try to point out that Sri Aurobindo's written work bears the mark of an integrality which is not constructed and which orders the partial truths of the human search for meaning attempted in the past. Such a darshan is to me as much a decisive action direct from the Supreme. Trying to assert what is primary and what is secondary or worse, irrelevant, is a play of mental judgement which is not very interesting except to theologians. To acknowledge the incomprehensible and derive what insight we can in our growth towards its consciousness, is what matters. by Debashish on Wed 13 Aug 2008 07:15 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

I am not referring to everything written by him. In the article, the text for which this claim is made is that of his philosophical darshan - ie. The Life Divine. by Debashish on Fri 15 Aug 2008 06:59 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

August 24, 2008

So few have adequately and intelligently addressed the foundational issues of the postmodern philosophers

Book Review: Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church - James K.A. Smith

So why are these postmodern thinkers important?

They are important simply because they ask questions of Christianity, and it is our duty as being motivated by both love and truth to work at an answer. These questions are difficult, Smith says these problems should send us back (or is it forward?) to an orthodox understanding of Christianity, especially because Christianity today is so damaged by adopting basic modernist values (seen in classical apologetics or a rationalist approach to church services that abandons liturgy).

  • Derrida's emphasis on interpretation directs us not only to our present community of believers, but to the countless Christians who have interpreted the story of Scripture throughout the history of the church.
  • Lyotard points out how everyone has a story, and we can see how we are not to present a diced-up version of the Gospel in rational terms, but we are to proclaim the whole story of God's redemption.
  • Foucault shows us that when left to ourselves, even desiring our own freedom, we end up repressing each other and effacing ourselves.

It is surprising, then, that so few Christians have adequately and intelligently addressed some of the foundational issues of the postmodern philosophers. Already people are asking "What is next after postmodernism," and if we pay attention to Smith and other Christians addressing these issues, we will be able to answer this question.

Smith has done a great service in treating the complicated subject of postmodernism in such a way that neither waters down the meaning of these thinkers, nor requires an advanced degree to understand. Although it will be helpful to have some background in Derrida, Foucault, or Lyotard, if you are willing to labor with the book I think it will serve as a great introduction and primer on postmodernism as well as an appropriate Christian response. Daniel P. Posted by Daniel P. at 10:55 AM in Books

John, I'm not sure I understand your statement about how structuralism and postmodernism have significantly increased our understanding of linguistics - I might need a little more info on that one, and it sounds like a curiously modernist statement to me. When I read St. Augustine or St. Gregory of Nyssa (or any church father or classical philosopher, really), I find them saying the kinds of things that our postmodern philosophers are saying right now (not to mention in a more succinct and compelling manner).

For example, compare Plato's and Augustine's concern about images with Jean Baudrillard's. They are virtually the same. While we should really engage these thinkers (which for a Christian operating as such is really unavoidable), we need to know our own toolbox. I think this is the real strength of Smith's work as he levels an orthodox critique of postmodernism using some very old (and yet not rusty at all) tools.
Let me know if I'm missing your main point though - I might be.
- Daniel Posted by: Daniel June 26, 2008 at 11:44 PM

Some of the individuals behind the idea of social construction are invariably modernists, though, so it's unfair to equate it with postmodernism. James K.A. Smith includes Foucault out of necessity, not because the man belongs in a line-up of postmodernists. Foucault himself rejected the label and believed that some kind of reality existed, but did not believe that we had gotten at it (his sentiments do not sound that far of from N.T. Wright's on this subject). This is why the distinction between weak and strong social construction, in my opinion, seems like a charming but ultimately fruitless concept. It doesn't matter if we can get at reality or not if we can't understand it. Weak social construction seems just as dangerous as the strong, with the only element to be gained from the weak being a mind-relaxing idea of reality being out there.

I'm interested in this statement of yours, "I have no reason to believe..." to which a proponent of social construction would say "it's a construction that reality is predicated upon the operations of logic." Of course, you can respond as you did - both of the arguments are circular and ultimately self-defeating. You may argue that such an argument is all construction, while a constructionist could ask that you demonstrate the rationality or necessity of a commitment to a form of rationality or logic. In doing so you'd be begging the question, assuming the very thing you'd be trying to prove.

But I think this really strays too far from the subject at hand, which is that postmodernism does not really challenge the church to the extent that most people think it does, which was my point in reviewing James K.A. Smith's book. In fact, it might end up that the Bible could speak to postmodernists. Posted by: Daniel June 30, 2008 at 11:36 PM

Jill, it was more a sarcastic and rhetorical comment than anything. But I do think you've emphasized a very profound point about the subject that I didn't mention enough much in the original post - too many people talk about different groups of people, and in my experience it's the "postmodernists" that get this treatment more than most, as if they have to convert to something else before converting to Christianity. We are quick to look at people who believe very different things and we instinctively think they might need to embrace something else (perhaps a pro-life position) before they can embrace Jesus. But you've rightly pointed out that Jesus has to be embraced first before anything else falls into place. The Bible does speak to the concerns of the postmodern thinker, and I think we'd do best just to get out of its way. Posted by: Daniel July 02, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Rudolf Steiner’s mistake was to reduce knowledge of the soul to knowledge of spiritual beings

A New Science of Soul - The Essence of my Philosophy -by Peter Wilberg

Freud’s first mistake was to reduce the innate sensuality of the soul to its sexuality, understood as a set of instinctive, biologically and evolutionarily determined drives. At the same time he identified meaning with its expression in dream symbols or its representation in words – focusing on symbolic sexual meanings in particular. Identifying meaning as such with its symbols — with indirectly signified sense — it was only natural for him to regard as ‘unconscious’ the entire realm of directly sensed significance. Resonance with the wordlessly sensed and sensually experienced meaning of a patient’s words or dreams, gave way to methods of ‘intepretation’ in which the sensed significance of a word or symbol was reduced to its signified sense – the sense that could be made of it in words or through association with other symbols.

Both psychonalysis and spiritual science sought and claimed a type of scientific knowledge of the soul or psyche. Freud’s second mistake, further accentuated by Jung, was to reduce knowledge of the soul and its sensual qualities to knowledge of symbols. Yet meaning or sense is not essentially a property of symbols at all but rather intrinsic to sensual experiencing. It is something directly felt before it is given form in words or images.

Rudolf Steiner’s mistake was to reduce knowledge of the soul to knowledge of spiritual beings. Both mistakes are equally disastrous. For any true ‘knowledge’ of the soul must begin with the recognition that what we call soul is in essence itself a type of knowing. ‘Soul’ is itself a direct knowing awareness, entirely free of symbols and yet imbued, like music, with intrinsically meaningful sensual qualities. This knowing awareness is not the property of any beings, human or spiritual — for in essence it is an awareness of those unbounded potentialities of beings that are the source of all actual beings. The ancient term for inner knowing was gnosis.

My philosophy and psychology is gnostic in the deepest possible sense, for it understands soul as that knowing, sensual yet free of symbols, that is the source of all beings. No true knowledge of the spiritual world can arise as a type of science that is ‘entitative’ — that postulates as its starting point a set of actual pre-existing energies, things or beings. True knowledge begins with essential gnosis — the recognition that knowing precedes being, and is the source from which all beings and all realities arise. The soul is not what we know ‘about’ it, for it is itself a condensed knowing that constitutes the core of our own being. Our being is but the ever-changing way we express and embody that knowing.

Heidegger, Phenomenology and Indian Thought (Paperback) by Peter Wilberg (Author) THE NEW YOGA - TANTRA REBORN (THE SENSUALITY & SEXUALITY OF OUR IMMORTAL SOUL BODY) by Peter Wilberg (Paperback - Jun 1, 2007) Tantric Wisdom for Today's World - The New Yoga of Awareness by Peter Wilberg (Paperback - Sep 1, 2007) The Awareness Principle: A Radical New Philosophy of Life, Science & Religion by Peter Wilberg (Paperback - Aug 15, 2007) 7:02 AM See also

August 22, 2008

I don’t consider Georges van Vrekhem’s Beyond Man as hagiography at all

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--Adesh and History
by Vikas on Thu 21 Aug 2008 10:38 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

"Maybe the quest for truth takes a lot of patience, labor into matters invisible.." is well put. While we labor into the invisible, He too labors in us, the visible. Let alone the life of a supreme Yogi like Sri Aurobindo, it is even difficult for us to discern the workings of the Divine Diplomat in our own lives as "He comes unseen into our darker parts And, curtained by the darkness, does His work" often using "our fall a means for greater rise".

Reply Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--Adesh and History
by RY Deshpande on Thu 21 Aug 2008 06:40 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Please read again the following statement from Peter Heehs:

“It certainly is legitimate to cite Aurobindo’s own statements about this and other inner experiences. But personal reminiscences don’t count for much in scholarly biographies unless they are backed up by objective data and analysis. But what sort of objective data was I to look for? (Nobody knew what was going on in Aurobindo’s head.) If I wanted to discuss this inner event, did I have to switch (in mid stream) from the conventions of scholarly biography to the conventions of spiritual biography, that is, hagiography? Or could I get beyond the conventions of both genres?”

If something is not a scholarly biography, then does the spiritual biography automatically become hagiography? In my opinion it need not be so. As an example, I don’t consider Georges van Vrekhem’s Beyond Man as hagiography at all. And mark the phrase personal reminiscences don’t count for much in scholarly biographies unless they are backed up by objective data and analysis.

  • But what are these objective data?
  • Records in government files?
  • If there aren’t such objective data, then do we dismiss all spiritual experiences narrated in one way or the other, through letters, through poetry, during private conversations, for instance?
  • When the Mother says that Sri Aurobindo’s coming was a direct action from the Supreme, do we ask her, “but Madame, where are the data?”
  • Otherwise was she simply telling us stories and that we the gullibles were believing in them?

Ultimately it looks as though each one to his own liking, and so one need not really argue about these matters. ~ RYD

Reply Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--About Avatarhood
by RY Deshpande on Thu 21 Aug 2008 05:29 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

“Avatarhood is one of the knottiest of metaphysical questions.” True, and to us it will always remain so, a “great mystery of the Divine manifest in humanity”, as long as we will live only in our restricted domain of mind. But divine works, divyam karma, and divine birth, divyam janma are an occult-spiritual fact and they just cannot come in the purview of the inflexible and strict rational thinking. By positing it that way one might arrive at some truth of it, unravel a part of the mystery, but the true significance of the purpose and process of Avatarhood will always elude that faculty of ours. In any case one thing is certain, that the Avatar comes in order to take in a decisive way the evolution a step farther. Let’s read Sri Aurobindo in The Essays on the Gita:

“For to the modern mind Avatarhood is one of the most difficult to accept or to understand of all the ideas that are streaming in from the East upon the rationalised human consciousness. It is apt to take it at the best for a mere figure for some high manifestation of human power, character, genius, great work done for the world or in the world, and at the worst to regard it as a superstition,—to the heathen a foolishness and to the Greeks a stumbling-block. The materialist, necessarily, cannot even look at it, since he does not believe in God; to the rationalist or the Deist it is a folly and a thing of derision; to the thoroughgoing dualist who sees an unbridgeable gulf between the human and the divine nature, it sounds like a blasphemy. The rationalist objects that if God exists, he is extracosmic or supracosmic and does not intervene in the affairs of the world, but allows them to be governed by a fixed machinery of law,—he is, in fact, a sort of far-off constitutional monarch or spiritual King Log, at the best an indifferent inactive Spirit behind the activity of Nature, like some generalised or abstract witness Purusha of the Sankhyas; he is pure Spirit and cannot put on a body, infinite and cannot be finite as the human being is finite, the ever unborn creator and cannot be the creature born into the world,—these things are impossible even to his absolute omnipotence. To these objections the thoroughgoing dualist would add that God is in his person, his role and his nature different and separate from man; the perfect cannot put on human imperfection; the unborn personal God cannot be born as a human personality; the Ruler of the worlds cannot be limited in a nature-bound human action and in a perishable human body. These objections, so formidable at first sight to the reason, seem to have been present to the mind of the Teacher in the Gita when he says that although the Divine is unborn, imperishable in his self-existence, the Lord of all beings, yet he assumes birth by a supreme resort to the action of his Nature and by force of his self-Maya; that he whom the deluded despise because lodged in a human body, is verily in his supreme being the Lord of all; that he is in the action of the divine consciousness the creator of the fourfold Law and the doer of the works of the world and at the same time in the silence of the divine consciousness the impartial witness of the works of his own Nature,—for he is always, beyond both the silence and the action, the supreme Purushottama. And the Gita is able to meet all these oppositions and to reconcile all these contraries because it starts from the Vedantic view of existence, of God and the universe.”

So if the modern mind can open itself to such an all-comprehensive view of existence, of God and the universe, to the metaphysics of spirituality, based on spiritual experience and realisation, then there is a chance of it entering into the spirit of the Avatarhood also. ~ RYD

Reply Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--About Avatarhood
by Vikas on Thu 21 Aug 2008 06:28 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

I like the concluding paragragh "So if the modern mind....entering into the spirit of the Avatarhood also". Further if we accept the principle of spiritual evolution - an evolution of consciousness - just as we accept Darwinian evolution for the physical forms, then the concept of Avatarhood would be less abstruse. Reply

August 19, 2008

Sri Aurobindo did not become enlightened overnight

ned said...Nagarjuna, I can't reply to everything, as I'm working on another paper again (I'm still waiting for your reply via e-mail). By "naturalistic spirituality" I meant pantheism, or some sort of spirituality that denies the existence of higher planes of reality or states of consciousness, etc., and holds that this egoic human state is as good as it gets (lord help us, in that case! ;-) ). "The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World" by Owen Flanagan, is a good example of what I would be wanting to critique. 9:28 AM

About why Aurobindo, Christ, etc. seem to be vastly superior to us spiritually (if at all), well, in Aurobindo's case, by his own admission, he started off being as normal and human and ignorant as anyone else (you really should look at Peter Heehs' new biography "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo"). Sri Aurobindo did not become enlightened overnight, it was through a harsh struggle with life's troubles that he managed. He says this himself many times, that there is nothing special about what he did, that he undertook a rigorous discipline and that it wasn't an overnight miracle. He insists that anyone else can do it as well, but it requires a lot of practice, sincerity and intensity of seeking, and I think the latter two things is where most people fall apart. Most of us do not realize that our human attachments are weighing us down spiritually and it usually takes a lot of suffering before one starts to become conscious of this and starts aspiring for something more.

Nevertheless, to be honest, personally I am quite inclined to believe in reincarnation as an ontological necessity. Simply because, each person comes into this world with a certain amount of karmic attachments to the past, and different people seem to have different types of karma. We do not all start off on an equal footing -- this is a fact that cannot be denied. So if this one life is all we have, then most of us are quite screwed. ;-)

For Sri Aurobindo, reincarnation itself is an evolutionary process. He critiques popular accounts of reincarnation as being kind of nonsensical; he says the only purpose of the soul reincarnating is for its evolutionary development. When it reaches a certain level of development it merges into the Supreme and is no longer subject to the laws of karma, liberated from the contingencies of time and space.

You could see reincarnation as the intervention of the "vertical" in the realm of the "horizontal". To be honest, my major spiritual awakening on February 12, 2005, which I talk about on my blog, was pretty much a death-rebirth experience for me. It was like I was given a second life that night, and my life's trajectory has completely changed since then. Things that looked impossible before that "death" seem very possible now. So I think these deaths and rebirths are happening all the time, whether within the same body, or between one mind-body-soul complex and another one.

Sean Kelly, a professor at CIIS and a scholar at Esalen, has actually been working on a theory of "integral time", which tries to incorporate reincarnation and is actually quite fascinating, to my mind:,%20Integral%20Time,%20Vol.4%20No.1.pdf

The person who accumulates personal power becomes his own first victim, spiritually, and is prone to all sorts of psychological disorders, possibly even psychosis, which is what happened to Sartre and Nietzsche. The former went into depression and the latter into psychosis -- again, vital strength, but little soul-level guidance, somehow they missed out on the Grace.

Ditto with Foucault: in his works he describes power relations and abuses of power exquisitely on the mental plane, but had no idea about how to put theory into practice -- how *do* we put a stop to these abuses of the vital once and for all? Foucault spent the last few years of his life obsessed with sadomasochism and a search for "limit" experiences -- and a fascination with death.

To me it is obvious what this is: it is the vital seeking the Divine Ananda, but without an awareness of the soul, one has to resort to external means, crude means, trying to inflict oneself with severe sensations of pain and pleasure to sort of artificially create the experience of Ananda.

Seriously, working with the vital is a dangerous game, it's like playing with fire. All these spiritual gurus who wind up being abusive, it is the same story -- they have not conquered and transmuted the vital, and so they can't resist being abusive from time to time.

I guess I should thank Gagdad Bob, because the insights I've been getting about the vital lately have been directly inspired by the experience of revisiting his blog. ;-) And I've also realized there's tremendous vital arrogance and moral grandiosity in myself as well and it's high time I gave it proper attention from the level of the inner being.Okay I better stop now, I think I am crossing the line over into self-indulgence. (In fact I think I've left the line long behind now. ;-) ) 12:15 PM

August 17, 2008

Philosophy and vision of Sri Aurobindo for the younger generations

Education Sunday, August 17, 2008 IGNOU starts PhD programme on Sri Aurobindo
From correspondents in Delhi, India, 05:00 PM IST

Adding yet another feather to its cap, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has started a doctoral programme on Sri Aurobindo, an evolutionary philosopher, scholar and 'guru'.
The varsity said the doctoral programme along with diploma and masters degree would enrich the young generation with the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, his expertise and contribution to nation building.
IGNOU Vice Chancellor Professor V. N. Rajasekharan Pillai said the programmes would promote in-depth study and research into yogic vision.
Conducted jointly with Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research (SACAR), Puducherry, the doctoral programme will also have subjects like metaphysics, yoga, psychology, social and political thought, vision of spiritual poetry, literature and contemporary literary criticism.
Authorities said that with the programme on Sri Aurobindo, IGNOU has included philosophy in its curricula for the first time since its inception almost three decades ago.

'The initiative is a positive response to the need of dissemination of relevance of integrated philosophy and vision of Sri Aurobindo for the younger generations, who are seeking solutions to complex day to day problems," Pillai said.
Students pursuing PhD in this field will have a short stint (at least three weeks) at SACAR campus for direct contact with scholars already working in this field. The PhD programme will be completed in three years' time. (Staff Writer, © IANS) Home » Universities

August 16, 2008

The etymological transparency of Sanskrit, its semantic clarity and precision

Course on the Vedas by SCIY Editor Vladimir Yatsenko
by Debashish on Sat 09 Aug 2008 11:41 AM PDT Permanent Link

An Online Graduate Level Course on VEDIC STUDIES IN THE LIGHT OF SRI AUROBINDO Created and facilitated by Vladimir Yatsenko Beginning 3rd October, 2008 (duration: 14 weeks) is being offered through the International Centre of Integral Studies (ICIS), New Delhi

A sample lecture transcript was posted earlier to SCIY: The Vedic Vision and the Triple Transformation

Brief Overview This course is an introduction to the Vedic Mythology, Metaphysics and Psychology in the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It maps all major concepts of the Vedic paradigm and their interpretation in the Aurobindonian perspective. Besides the commentaries of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother the traditional commentaries of Yaska, Panini, Patanjanli, Bhartrihari, Shankara, Sayana and other modern scholars such as B.G.Tilak, Kapali Sastri and others are widely used.

Course Modules 1. The Structure and the general content of the Veda. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the Vedas and Vedic Rishis 2. The Vedic Vision in the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother 3. The Myth of Dawn 4. The Myth of Angirasa Rishis 5. The Myths of Creation. Nasadiya sukta. Purusha sukta 6. Hiranya Garbha. Heaven and Earth. Vishvakarman 7. Agni and the concept of the Sacrifice 8. Hymns to the Mystic Fire in the Book 5 of Rig Veda 9. The conception of Speech in the Vedas. The Hymn to Speech. The Svadhyaya, Jnana-yajna, Brahma-yajna. The four levels of the Word. The Sphota theory in the post-vedic literature: Patanjali and Bhartrihari. The etymological transparency of Sanskrit, its semantic clarity and precision (with many examples) 10. The five Myths of Immortality. The profound symbolism of the story of Savitri in the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

About the Facilitator Vladimir Yatsenko has a background in Sanskrit and Indo-Aryan Languages, Linguistics, the Vedas, the Upanishad, and the Gita. Vladimir lives and works in Auroville (international township for human unity), Tamil Nadu, India.

Course prerequisites: Undergraduate degree and coursework in Sanskrit, Indian Philosophy or Sri Aurobindo Studies or permission of the instructor

Course Fees: The fees for the course is US$ 390.

How to Enroll Email or Call up (91) 9810052545 (Anuradha) or (91) 9810515693 (Monica Gupta) for more information and details on applying

Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Keywords: Vedas Posted to: Main Page .. Vladimir Yatsento .. Hinduism SPIRITUALITY .. India INTEGRAL YOGA IY PHILOSOPHY AV in visitors' blogs

August 14, 2008

This aspect of avatarhood is actually not found in the Indian tradition and only appears in the Christian mythos

Re: Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity
by Debashish on Wed 13 Aug 2008 07:15 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

As I see it, the decisive action direct from the Supreme is the manifestation of the Supramental on earth. For this, the assignation with the Night, the bearing of the wounds that are slow to heal and the assertion (through identity) of divinity in the heart of the falsehood may be a part.

This aspect of avatarhood is actually not found in the Indian tradition and only appears in the Christian mythos. RY has brought out this possibility through his consideration of Sri Aurobindo's lines from Savitri and other poems and related these to a symbolic understanding of the Veda.

But equally an aspect of this manifestation is the legacy of the Word of integrality, the marvelous mantra which is not a representation but a self-presentation, swayambhu darshan. In my article, it is this aspect that I touch on. I try to point out that Sri Aurobindo's written work bears the mark of an integrality which is not constructed and which orders the partial truths of the human search for meaning attempted in the past. Such a darshan is to me as much a decisive action direct from the Supreme.

Trying to assert what is primary and what is secondary or worse, irrelevant, is a play of mental judgement which is not very interesting except to theologians. To acknowledge the incomprehensible and derive what insight we can in our growth towards its consciousness, is what matters. Reply

Sri Aurobindo has analyzed and laid bare for us the essentials of ancient scriptures

Philosophy IndiaPost
Beware of overdependence on scriptures Sunday, 08.10.2008, 11:55pm (GMT-7)

Sri Aurobindo has analyzed and laid bare for us the essentials of ancient scriptures. His commentaries on the Gita and the major Upanishads are marvelous interpretations for the modern mind. He calls the Upanishads "a large flood of spiritual revelation of a direct and profound character" and the Gita as "the greatest gospel of spiritual works ever yet given to the race".
And yet he has cautioned against overdependence on the scriptures for a direct perception of the Truth. In the chapter 'The Four Aids' of his great work, The Synthesis of Yoga, he describes the scriptures as the First Aid of his Integral Yoga.
After asserting the importance of the scriptures, he cautions, "No written Shastra, however great its authority or however large its spirit, can be more than a partial expression of the eternal Knowledge." He says the Sadhak will use " but never bind himself even by the greatest scripture".
The Sadhak's yoga, Sri Aurobindo says, "may be governed for a long time by one Scripture or by several successively, - if it is in the line of the great Hindu tradition, by the Gita for example, the Upanishads, the Veda.
Or it may be a good part of his development to include in its material a richly varied experience of the truths of many scriptures and make the future opulent with all that is best in the past. But in the end he must take his station, or better still, if he can, always and from the beginning he must live in his own soul beyond the written Truth, -- sabdabrahmativartate - beyond all that he has heard and all that he has yet to hear, --srotavyasya srutasya ca.
For he is not the Sadhaka of a book or of many books; he is a Sadhaka of the Infinite." Recalling the often heard injunction in India against any new Yogic teaching or the adoption of a new formula -- "It is not according to the Shastra" -- he says, "The written or traditional teaching expresses the knowledge and experiences of many centuries systemized, organized, made attainable to the beginner. Its importance and utility are therefore immense.
But a great freedom of variation and development is always practicable… The general knowledge on which the Yoga depends is fixed, but the order, the succession, the devices, the forms must be allowed to vary; for the needs and particular impulsions of the individual nature have to be satisfied even while the general truths remain firm and constant."
"Any integral and synthetic Yoga needs especially not to be bound by any written or traditional Shastra; for while it embraces the knowledge received from the past, it seeks to organize it anew for the present and the future. An absolute liberty of experience and of the restatement of knowledge in new terms and new combinations is the condition of its self-formation."
Sri Aurobindo points out, "Yoga has long diverged from life and the ancient systems which sought to embrace it, such as those of our Vedic forefathers. These are far away from us, expressed in terms which are no longer accessible, thrown into forms which are no longer applicable. Since then mankind has moved forward on the current of eternal Time and the same problem has to be approached from a new starting point."
Sri Aurobindo then goes on to describe Swami Vivekananda's novel and most felicitous vision. He says, "Vivekananda, pointing out that the unity of all religions must necessarily express itself by an increasing richness of variety in its forms, said once that the perfect state of that essential unity would come when each man had his own religion, when not bound by sect or traditional form he followed the free self adaptation of his nature in its relations with the Supreme.
"So also one may say that the perfection of the integral yoga will come when each man is able to follow his own path of Yoga, pursuing the development of his own nature in its upsurging towards that which transcends the nature.
For freedom is the final law and the last consummation." Sri Aurobindo is not against help in the form of general guidelines. "But these must take, as much as possible, forms of general truths, general statements of principle, the most powerful broad directions of effort and development rather than a fixed system which has to be followed as a routine."
All Shastra is the result of past experience and a help to a future experience. It is an aid and a partial guide. It puts up signposts, gives the names of the main roads and the already explored directions, so that the travelers may know whither and by what paths he is proceeding.

August 13, 2008

Closely argued "suprarational" prose and the lumnously visionary poetry of Sri Aurobindo illuminate my ignorance and release the certitude of my faith

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity by Debashish on Sun 10 Aug 2008 11:37 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

I need to clarify that I have not tried to justify or explain Sri Aurobindo - at least such was not my intention. To come to the issue of faith and the "more visible expressions" - ie. the writings, it may appear that I underplay the faith, but this is because I consider this aspect a given. A future-facing definition of man bases itself, of necessity, in faith, as Sri Krishna points out, in his own way, in the Gita - yo yacchsraddha sa eva sah - "you are indeed what your faith is." But today's world is full of gurus who claim to be avatars and I cannot accept them on faith unfortunately, in spite of all their miracles. For me, at the least, it is the closely argued "suprarational" prose and the lumnously visionary poetry of Sri Aurobindo which illuminate my ignorance and release the certitude of my faith. This was the context of my drawng attention to these "more visible expressions."

Did Sri Aurobindo come to write those 30 volumes of the Birth centanary? Well, did he not? Then, why did he write them? To waste his time? I have nowhere claimed this is all he came to do. For me, these 30 volumes are no less part of his continuing occult action. What else he did in "his occult action" any of us may or may not be privy to. Our life is a growth of consciousness in which faith, intuition and experience play their part to expand its horizons. But those "more visible expressions" are the "more visible doors" leading to such growth of consciousness and for me they certainly represent part of the "direct action" which the Mother is talking about.

To return to the question of "justifying" Sri Aurobindo by aligning him with one or another school of philosophy or darshan, my aim was rather the reverse - the history of thought, whether western of eastern, has represented man's approaches to the question of meaning. These approaches also translate themselves into "faiths" - often unacknowledged consciously, but nevertheless subtly orienting our lifeworlds and establishing our horizons. For example, the reason most modern human beings find it difficult to believe in the reality of anything immaterial or animistic is due to the ubiquitous faith of Materialism, whose power pervades the modern lifeworld.

What Sri Aurobindo brings here is the vision and the power of a new faith based on a new experience - more powerfully integral than anything that has gone before, and able to order these earlier orientations, put them in place. What he also brings is a new method replacing the purely "rational." This is his disciplinary revision of human systems of knowledge-seeking.

Was he trying consciously to revise these disciplines or is our attempt to make this connection "just our happy pastime"? This of course is a question, which I don't believe can be settled so easily by assertion to the contrary. My reading of Sri Aurobindo convinces me that he was consciously relating to these systems and engaging them through revisionary hermeneutics and that he was doing this not just to fuel "the happy pastimes" of future readers.

Finally, a word about avatarhood. I remember asking Sri Aurobindo's attendant Nirodbaran, whether he thought Sri Aurobindo was an avatar. He said he had tried in many ways to get Sri Auroboindo to confirm this proposition, but in vain. But, he went on to say, this question did not concern him anymore. In fact, he felt it was a question that ought not to concern anyone. For him, Sri Aurobindo surpassed the acme of human possibility and perfection and gave a goal to his aspiration. In the growth to this goal, it may be given to him to know what an avatar is and that Sri Aurobindo is an avatar. At that point, the question of avatarhood would make sense, but not now. These words of Nirod-da have stayed with me since then and have moulded my approach to Sri Aurobindo. Reply

August 08, 2008

Cannot we come together to translate other Vedic hymns in the light of Sri Aurobindo

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 5:36 PM

Sat, 12/22/2007 - 10:36pm — vladimir, Author: Nishtha (Siegfried Müller) Source: Hymns of Atharva Veda, Savitri Bhavan, Auroville (2007) Abstract: Hymn to Anumati, The Divine Grace (Atharva Veda VII.20); Original text with Transliteration, English and German Translationsand Notes based on the writings of Sri Aurobindo. Nishtha, February 2007

‘Nishtha’ is the Sanskrit name of Siegfried Müller. He was born in Germany in 1956 and has lived in Auroville since 1981. This booklet presents a first sample of the research which he has been pursuing for many years, and which has recently been adopted as a project for support by the Government of India (HRD Ministry)through SAIIER.

Nishtha was born into an ordinary farming family in rural Bavaria and did not receive a scholarly education. When he settled in Auroville he worked first as a gardener, and more recently as a music teacher. But he had been drawn to India by his soul’s call, which brought him to Sri Aurobindo, to Auroville, and to the Veda, which Sri Aurobindo has characterised as the root of all lndian spirituality. Deeply attracted to the Sanskrit language, in his studies Nishtha followed the clue given by Sri Aurobindo to the psychological symbolism of the world’s most ancient scriptures. This led him to attempt to translate, first into German and later into English, some of the Vedic hymns not translated or commented upon by Sri Aurobindo. In his renderings Nishtha has tried to bring out the profounder spiritual significance of the hymns, in a way that makes them accessible to contemporary readers.

In his studies and his work Nishtha has been very much helped and supported in recent years by Vladimir Iatsenko. Vladimir studied Sanskrit language and literature at the University of Leningrad (St.Petersburg) in Russia, and later at the Poona University and BORI in Pune. He has been a resident of Auroville since 1992 and a researcher and teacher in Sanskrit and the sacred literatures of India at Savitri Bhavan since 1999. Attachment Size Anumati.pdf 319.39 KB For assistance in using this site, please contact grace @ About UHU What is UHU AV Today article Allied Organisations Program development Activities & Resources Everything at a glance Audio Blogs Calendar Discussion forums Group directory Image galleries Library News & announcements Project/Activity Directory Quotes Topics of interest UHU site users Upcoming events Videos Self Study Integral Approach to Knowledge integral knowledge psychological philosophical linguistic sociological/ historical artistic/ cultural scientific HomeBiblio


So I want to appeal to my fellow spiritual aspirants who are touched by Hymns to the Mystic Fire or The Secret of the Veda: cannot we come together, in a humble but still valid way, in an attempt to translate other Vedic hymns in the light of the background vision and new vocabulary which Sri Aurobindo has left for us -- and thus even further test the applicability of his approach? -- Nishtha (Siegfried Müller) World Union, 2007

His practice of yoga allowed him to view his jailers, judge, and jury as divine actors rather than as enemies

Richard Carlson is a writer/musician and the president of Pacific Weather Inc, a firm which monitors meteorological information at airports throughout the United States. His interests include all matters related to Jazz, Poetry, Integral Yoga, Critical Theory, and Global Climate Change. He holds a Master of Arts degree from Antioch University and currently resides with family on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. His observations on post-Katrina New Orleans, entitled: Louis Armstrong International Airport, will be published as part of the Digital Future series by University of Toronto Press Fall 2008 HOME
Integral Ideology An Ideological Genealogy ofIntegral Theory and Practice
Richard Carlson

But even if one can trace certain ideas developed in recent Integral Theory to an ancestry in German Idealism and Darwinism. The first usage of the word integral as applied to the theories and practices under review here can be traced back to the work of Sri Aurobindo and Jean Gebser... Sri Aurobindo's integral yoga grafts itself to the Modernist idea of progressive evolution. Although Sri Aurobindo, who was also attempting to reconcile the cyclic view of Yugas in Indian mythology with Darwinian evolution, referred to progress as curiously circular not linear...

Although Sri Aurobindo, the founder of Integral Yoga formally eschewed couching his yoga in religion nevertheless, religious practices crept into the practices of its followers. It is in fact the transference of Hindu religious practices on to Integral Yoga which has facilitated a fascination of some of his followers with the fundamentalist rhetoric of todays militant Hindu nationalism (Hinduvta).
Some of his writings from the period in which he was a revolutionary leader of the Indian Independence movement have been been historically decontextualized and appropriated by various fractions of Hindu nationalist in support of their ethnically cleansed view of India. These writings usually referenced by Hinduvta authors, or even Leftist critics of the Hindu Right, are generally those of an early period in his work “between 1901 to 1913” (Heehs 2006 para 7) in which Sri Aurobindo discovered and immersed himself in the text and practices of Hinduism.
In many respects Hinduism for Sri Aurobindo was an indigenous resistance practice to the foreign occupation and value systems of the Raj. In his writings from this early period one finds the identification of the Hindu concept of sanatan dharma -eternal religion- with the self-determination of India itself. Although Sri Aurobindo, as one of the first leaders of the Indian Independence movement, had been put on trail for his life by the British for sedition, his practice of yoga allowed him to view his jailers, judge, and jury as divine actors rather than as enemies. His response to his prosecution was one of equanimity and peace rather than hated and distress. After release he advocated non-violent resistance to colonialist occupation, his yogic practice even reinforcing the secular values of the Enlightenment in which he was schooled at Cambridge.
If there are distinct themes in his socio-political writing, concerning the current epoch, one of the strongest is the call for Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. It can be said that in matters of Liberty, Sri Aurobindo was Jeffersonian, of Equality, he was Marxist, and although certainly not an ardent pacifist, in matters of Fraternity, the author of the Ideal of Human Unity, could even be called a Gandhian.
Sri Aurobindo advocated a secular democratic government which would allow the infinite diversity of the nations voices to be heard. After 1913 until his death in 1950 he renounced sectarian religious practice and no longer associated his yoga with Hinduism, claiming its practice transcended any conventional religion.
In fact a close reading of his major socio-political works such as The Human Cycle and The Ideal of Human Unity demonstrate his abhorrence of theocracy and fundamentalism. In some places he fervently exclaims that it is better to be an atheist than a fanatical follower of religion.
Sri Aurobindo's life was in many way heroic, his knowledge was both complex and encyclopedic. He viewed his own accomplishments as the result of the efforts of a man aspiring for transformation and transparency to the grace received from above. He did however, speak of his yogic consort Mirra Alfassa (the Mother) as an incarnation of the Divine in its form of Shakti. For her part the Mother referred to Sri Aurobindo as an Avatar (divine incarnation). While it can be said that they both did not actively seek worshipers and were kind to their followers, it can also be said that they did not reject the worship and deification of their devotees.
It is one thing to believe that in a universe in which consciousness is delineated by various graduations, that on some planes of consciousness, expressions of devotion through the articulation of feelings (bhakti) are entirely proper, it is quite another not to comprehend - especially when one otherwise advocates for secular polity and eschewing religious dogma - that some followers will become attached to the forms of worship and inevitably confuse levels of consciousness, as well as secular and sacred, subcultural and cultural, theocratic and democratic values.
While claiming to disassociate his yoga from Hinduism many of the practices of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram during his lifetime (and certainly today) in fact mimic traditional forms of Hinduism. These practices include performance of an audience with the Guru (darshan) and prostration at the feet of the Guru. Moreover, it appears that these practices were deliberately cultivated to satisfy the psychological needs of Indian followers by preserving their religious traditions, because in the words of the Mother : “it gave them the fullness they needed”. (Heehs 2008 p356). Even if uttered with the best of intention this statement is absolutely patronizing. The fact that the Mother was French makes matters somewhat more problematic. Couldn't Indian followers also adapt to a yoga that eschewed religious practice or were they too unsophisticated? In short, while the rituals cultivated in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram are indeed indigenous religious practices of India they seem out of place in a yoga which claims to renounce religion and sectarianism. Although a genealogy tracing Integral Yoga to today's Hindu nationalist politics can not be established, one can certainly find certain affinities with Hindu religious practices. It is this allegiance to Hinduism and the transference of its sectarian values system on to political discourse, that no doubt facilitates the embrace of some Integral Yogis of reactionary Hindu nationalism...

Wilber's method of colonializing cultural alterity is by its very nature hegemonic, and even predatory. He does this with a number of Eastern thinkers and mystics. As an instance this practice, I will provide an example of how he treats the Indian revolutionary and founder of Integral Yoga, Sri Aurobindo.
Sri Aurobindo came to prominence as one of the first leaders of the Indian independence movement that sought to overthrow the colonialist empire of Great Britain on the subcontinent. His first writings which came to public scrutiny were those advocating resistance to the colonialist rule of the Raj. Apart from these political writings he also wrote several major treatises on culture and social and political history, including The Foundations of Indian Culture, The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, War and Self Determination.
In his appropriation of Sri Aurobindo, Ken Wilber collapses the entirety of his work into a single quadrant (upper left) of his AQAL model, totally ignoring his cultural and socio-political texts or his life as a revolutionary leader of an independence struggle. Wilber's exclusive emphasis of Sri Aurobindo the yogi, fails to contextualize him also as an important cultural figure in India who has written extensively on society and history. Wilber overlooks the genealogy of Sri Aurobindo's works are rooted in the Indic Darshan discourses. Rarely, if ever does Wilber ever highlight Sri Aurobindo's meditations on the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita which background his writing and provide important interpretive keys which contextualize his voice against the history of the subcontinent.

August 07, 2008

Japa is a powerful means to establish the consciousness in the cells, says Mother

Christianity and its transformation
Mon, 11/26/2007 - 12:13pm — Martin Sobieroj
Christianity is the religion on earth which has the most followers. It is therefore important for The Mother to deal with it since it is a power which forms the life of billions of people. There have been many contacts with Christianity coming spontaneously to Her through visitors or experiences. Many people interested in Sri Aurobindo and The Mother come from a Christian background. It should therefore be of general interest to summarize Her utterances on Christianity in Her Agenda...

It is evident that the transformation of Christianity to become an instrument of the Truth of tomorrow is decreed above – this Mother clearly stated. But what can be the steps to take in that direction?
This question is of course more interesting to people inside the Church who want to bring the new Truth into their religion – what Mother found to be good. For people outside the Christian playfield it is rather an interesting exercise of imagination.
The basic mistake in Christianity would be its exclusivity regarding its God, its messiah, its being the only true saving faith. A broadening of the faith would therefore be helpful. Mother says by swallowing it will be enlarged – she tells the story of the asura who wanted to be as great as God. And the answer was, “I wish you would become greater than I, because then there will be no more Asura.” (3.7.63).
The invisible congregation of the Church must be changed by some occult force infusing a new spiritual meaning specially in those things which Mother said are the most binding on the believers: confession and communion. Confession might become some kind of self examination, breaking up the old crusts of the being and preparing its surrender to the healing and saving power of the Supreme. Communion might become the symbol of the supreme sacrifice of the Divine into matter and the matter’s answer to the Supreme in self-giving, a symbol of transformation.
Dogmatism must yield to the spirit’s freedom.
The chaldean Idea of God must be replaced by a knowledge of the identity of God and the Creation. Mother: The terrestrial evolution created with the human species a kind of higher intellectuality capable of passing through the overmental region, the region of the Gods, and reaching a higher principle directly – we can do without the Gods (26.9.62). The Divine is an absolute of perfection, eternal source of all that exists, whom we grow progressively conscious of, while being Him from all eternity (24.5.67).
The two things with which we can catch them are according to the Mother the Virgin and the inner Presence. The awareness of the existence of the Virgin should therefore be increased and possibly some kind of adoration to her established. It would be helpful to make the esoteric clerical interpretation of the Virgin as the Universal Nature more common and even enlarge it to some kind of recognition of a divine feminine principle. Perhaps the apparitions of Mary could be used in this sense – one of them told in Medjugorje, I am the mediatrix between man and God. This brings us already quite close to the Mother as the Consciousness and Force of the Supreme.
The inner Presence could be aimed at by an intense call to prayer and contemplation in the heart, behind which the psychic being resides. Perhaps connected with the strong emotion of love towards the Supreme who may manifest itself in Beauty.
Self giving to God would be an important feature of this sadhana. One professor of comparative religion, Spiegelberg, already called Sri Aurobindo the greatest Christian missionary in India because of his strong recommendation of unconditional surrender to the Supreme.
Since tomorrow’s Truth includes the divinisation of matter, intense prayer, japa, would be recommended. Japa is a powerful means to establish the consciousness in the cells, says Mother. The constant remembrance of the Presence in the heart should be therefore combined with a uninterrupted prayer even at the level of the body.
One drop of true divine Love in its perfection, and all shadows disappear (6.9.67). The moment for the manifestation of the essence of perfect Love is near (21.1.62).
The permanence Buddha sought in Nirvana is there, in Love (22.7.64).
We assume therefore that the transformation of Christianity might happen on this line:
· A strong attraction by a Divine personality of Beauty and Love (perhaps an apparition of the Virgin) will enchant the hearts of men.
· In men’s consciousness will arise the answer of aspiration, prayer and surrender.
· By intense prayer the bodily consciousness will awaken.
· In men’s heart an intense Love for the Supreme will develop.
· The psychic being awakens.
· Gradually the whole being will be prepared for the reception of the Divine Consciousness transforming mind, life and body.
A Voice ill-heard shall speak, the soul obey,
A Power into mind's inner chamber steal,
A charm and sweetness open life's closed doors
And beauty conquer the resisting world,
The Truth-Light capture Nature by surprise,
A stealth of God compel the heart to bliss
And earth grow unexpectedly divine.
In Matter shall be lit the spirit's glow,
In body and body kindled the sacred birth;
Night shall awake to the anthem of the stars,
The days become a happy pilgrim march,
Our will a force of the Eternal's power,
And thought the rays of a spiritual sun.
A few shall see what none yet understands;
God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep;
For man shall not know the coming till its hour
And belief shall be not till the work is done.
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