July 10, 2009

Problems of contemporary man in the light of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy

MSM 2008 THEME: MEDICINE, MENTAL HEALTH, SCIENCE, RELIGION AND WELL BEING Year : 2009 Volume : 7 Issue : 1 Page : 110-127
Humanity at the Crossroads: Does Sri Aurobindo offer an alternative?
Shakuntala A Singh1, Ajai R Singh2 (1 Dept. of Philosophy, Joshi-Bedekar College, Thane; Deputy Editor, Mens Sana Monographs, India 2 M.D. Psychiatrist. Editor, Mens Sana Monographs, India)

I.1. To say that Sri Aurobindo is not easy to comprehend would be a huge understatement, if nothing else. While that can dissuade a number of people from going any further, it can motivate a number of others to study him that much more closely. Let us hope that some of us fall in the latter category.

I.2. Moreover, Sri Aurobindo has written prolifically and has expressed himself on a vast array of topics. This makes it all the more important to study his teachings, while also making him more liable to the barbs of critics itching to point out loopholes; and there are quite a few of these around: we mean critics with this attitude, not loopholes. Let us also hope that at least some of us do not belong to that category.

I.3. Humanity today is indeed passing through numerous crises, and yet surviving. While we all, no doubt, wish to continue to evolve through all this survival (hopefully even reaching the supramental state promised by the great seer of Pondicherry), our concerns here are a little more pedestrian. We propose to look into some of the problems of contemporary man as an individual, a member of society, a citizen of his country, as a component of this world and of nature itself. Come to think of it, these concerns are not all that pedestrian after all.

I.4. Some concepts like Science, Nature, Matter, Mental Being, Mana-purusa, Prana-purusa and Citta-purusa, Nation-ego and Nation-soul, True and False Subjectivism, World-state and World-union, and the Religion of Humanism will be the focus of this paper. Why not the rest, you may ask. Well, not that the others are not important. But we believe these particular concepts deserve our focus here. Especially so today, as humanity finds itself at the crossroads, and searches, rather gingerly, for some tentative answers, which may hopefully translate into permanent solutions. [...]

IV.2. The challenge that Sri Aurobindo throws to orthodox or organized religion is but appropriate: That man must be sacred to man, regardless of all distinctions. A religion that uplifts man on the spiritual plane, that helps acknowledge and bind the essential humanity across ideological/cultural/geographical boundaries, without spreading hatred or superiority/exclusivity amongst its followers, that alone can be a true religion.

Moreover, in sustaining and perpetuating the outer symbols and structures of religion, man may forget to resurrect the inner spiritual symbols and structures, which alone can sustain true religiosity. Such symbols, when honestly searched for, will only lead to respect for all humans and even all living forms. It will also forge mutual respect and understanding of the diverse religions of the world and help generate a quest to underscore the essential spiritual unity which underlies these diverse religious strands.

Also, any religion which neglects the advancement of man's spiritual quest so as to sustain its dogmas and rituals and to command blind obedience will, in the final analysis, turn out to be promoting a false God. Sri Aurobindo's accent on the religion of humanity is to make organized religion beware of the dangers of fossilization and make us aware once again of the fundamental tenet of humanism that: Man is the measure of all things. [27]

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