March 17, 2012

Intelligence is an impartial seeker of the truth

Every great philosopher proposes a frame, a new window through which to encounter the world… We no less frame selections of the world than we are seized by selections of the world. 

The book is dedicated to Richard Hartz who completed the Herculean task of making the diaries of Sri Aurobindo available for the first time and who served as an important guide to the text for Banerji. It is Banerji’s genius however, to have offered an interpretation of the text that both renews Sri Aurobindo’s relevance for 21st century intellectual culture and also provides the follower of Aurobindo’s yoga with an exegesis of the Record of Yoga that enables them to comprehend this extremely important text. POSTHUMAN DESTINIES

How does one know what he has abandoned? SA used different terminologies and different formulations in different texts; this doesn’t necessarily mean he abandoned one for the other. 

Finally, the siddhis and anandas spoken of in the Record are not addressed anywhere else but can clearly be seen in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s own functioning. Comment on The Seven Quartets of Becoming by Debashish Banerji by debbanerji from Comments for Posthuman Destinies by debbanerji

debbanerji Posted March 15, 2012 at 1:16 am | Permalink
I may add that in my opinion, in the physical absence of the Mother, the danger of distortion by the vital emotional being that Sri Aurobindo wrote about in the chapter on the Intuitive Mind is very much increased, so that the demand for the shuddhi of the prana and the importance of the emergence of the mental pursha as a purifying agent, is greater today. Without these, we are seeing the repeated and insistent mouthing of the need for psychic emergence accompanied by fanatical narrowness and disturbed emotionalism.
debbanerji Posted March 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink
Of course, this is the guru tradition of India and it was undoubtedly a tremendous advantage to have the physical presence and action of the Mother, but I think it was reduced to a formula by the devotees and reified into a habitus, that “helped cultivate an atmosphere that over time has facilitated the development of fanatical extremism in certain followers.”

debbanerji Posted March 15, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink
What he taught to disciples after 1930 seems to me to be a fomulation which he found most suitable to its practice for those disciples given the prevailing conditions of the ashram, not necessarily a formulation he privileged over others which he saw or practised himself…
According to Sri Aurobindo, terminology and structire are never absolute, they are devised to follow process. Changes of emphasis in practice would demand a change in terminology and structure. Practices, on their part, would change depending on milieu and circumstance, not necessarily due to new understandings…
The yoga the Mother made available arose from the direct access to the psychic being which her physical presence and occult action made possible. However, even this needed the sadhak to distinguish between an active and a passive surrender and open to the detailed work (which I believe is what is given in the Record) whose possibilities the Mother’s action would open up. The Record equally relies on the Mother’s (the Divine Shakti) and the Ishwara’s power and presence, only here the physical component of the shakti avatar is missing.  

debbanerji Posted March 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink
Sri Aurobindo privileges the purification of the buddhi and the emergence of the mental purusha in the Synthesis (not only in Part IV), calling man primarily “a mental being” and saying that the evolution of nature has prepared in man an intelligence (buddhi) which is an impartial seeker of the truth and saying that it is easier to build a quiet mind (silence in the inner mind) or even to still the mind for the emergence of the mental purusha and rise to the planes above the mind. For this reason also, he calls for the Shakti to be invoked from above the mind, to descend and purify the lower parts of the being. A quiet mind or silent mind also facilitates this descent of the Shakti. With the Mother’s presence in the ashram, this necessity is replaced by the Mother’s physical action (though this also aids in the descent of Shakti from above)…
I do think he felt the psychic change to be difficult before the Mother came. The Indian tradition has developed schools of bhakti yoga to aid in the purification of the emotional being and Sri Aurobindo gives us his own integral version of this in the Yoga of Divine Love; but the kind of access to the psychic being provided by these traditional schools are generally partial at best. All I’m saying is that the access to the psychic being was made much easier by the physical presence of the Mother;

Kepler Posted March 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Permalink
Baring that, it would seem at least as plausible to me that the meeting of the oceans of spiritual consciousness that were Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in the flesh resulted in some genuinely new yogic possibilities and orientations, and some of the terminology subsequently developed (e.g. psychic being) reflected that. In this view the reason he didn’t use the same language and give the same stress to the psychic earlier was not that he thought it was too difficult and dangerous, but that it wasn’t as fully known or experienced (or experienceable) in quite the same way earlier. There are a number of places where Sri Aurobindo refers to earlier stages of his sadhana and the writings corresponding to those periods, as having been superseded in various ways by later developments in his sadhana. (Given that sadhana is all about ever-increasing consciousness and experience, this doesn’t really seem surprising.)
Nothing wrong with making a bold claim, but if the primary support of yours is that some of the people violently upset by PH’s book also talk a lot about the psychic being, thus the pursuit of the psychic opening must have become dangerous, I guess I’m still looking for some additional justification.

debbanerji Posted March 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Permalink
At one place, he writes about the development of the “yogic consciousness” as a prerequisite to the emergence of the true soul. The yogic consciousness is the purified inner being under the control of the mental purusha. [Yoga of Works, Supermind and the Yoga of Works: Synthesis, CWSA: 281-82]. In this light, one may think of four transformations, not three. A part of the Record could be thought of as relating to the development of a yogic consciousness.

I don’t think you can take texts from very different periods and assume he is talking about exactly all the same things and only choosing a different word here and there. Thus there’s reason to give more importance to his later expressions over much earlier ones.

March 02, 2012

Rupturing self-referential circles

Ancient Indian Wisdom and Contemporary Challenges
Kireet Joshi
The hope built up by the Reason that humanity can be so rationally governed that liberty, equality and fraternity can be actualized in the life of humanity has now been demonstrably proved to be unrealisable, since rationality is unable to provide equality, even at the minimum level, without strangulating freedom, and fraternity does not find even an elbow room when Reason goes on constructing, mechanising and dehumanising edifices. And yet it is not possible to remain reconciled with the failures of the powers of Reason and to forget the dreams of freedom, unity and brotherhood. The soul of humanity cries out to look for the means by which the ideals of progress can be actualised as urgently as possible…
We may hasten to add that while the importance of the ancient wisdom of India is to be underlined, we should not be blind to the need of exploring other systems of wisdom and even new knowledge. Ancient Indian wisdom has always counselled us to rise higher and higher and to be always more and more luminous, unfettered by the past and any dogmas or preconceived beliefs. In India, we speak of the Aryan spirit, and the Aryan spirit is not something narrow or communal or racial, but the spirit of the free man that wants to labour and work with wisdom and with one supreme motive of loka sangrah, the motive of preserving and creating solidarity and unity of the people. (Reproduced from the author’s book entitled Indian Identity and Cultural Continuity, 2011, pp. 35-49, with the kind permission of The Mother’s Institute of Research, New Delhi) Sraddha February 2012 Sri Aurobindo Centre for Research in Social Sciences, Kolkata

Peter Heehs - Shades of Orientalism: Paradoxes & Problems in Indian Historiography Peter Heehs  [published in History and Theory 42 (May 2003), pp.169-195 © Wesleyan University 2003 ISSN: 0018-2656] 
Such scholars stress Aurobindo’s nationalistic premises but miss the broader thrust of his arguments… The approach of the nationalists was a product of their age, and much of it is obsolete. Their essentializing of the Indian soul, for instance, is unjustifiable on historical or anthropological grounds, and politically dangerous. On the other hand, the dissolution of all cultural distinctiveness in the name of political stability, which Said seems sometimes to propose,[109] would also be bad social science and would not provide a solution to our political problems.
Writers like Chatterji, Tagore and Aurobindo laid stress on India’s distinctiveness because it seemed threatened by absorption into a universalized Europe. But they were also internationalists who knew and respected Europe and worked for intercultural understanding.[110] Their defenders and detractors lay stress on their essentialism, but they themselves went beyond it, contesting the validity of Eurocentrism without promoting an equally imperfect Indocentrism. Pondicherry, India 11:14 AM

"Sri Aurobindo on Hinduism" by Peter Heehs -- reviewed by Raman Reddy 12 Aug 2010 – The following paragraph is from a booklet by Peter Heehs entitled Sri Aurobindo on Hinduism and published by the Sri Aurobindo Society, ...

What is postcolonial predicament? Ranabir Samaddar, EPW
One of the reasons behind this return to antiquity in the metropolitan world today is possibly due to an ahistorical notion of critique, produced from within the realm of theory, that delinks knowledge from social practices and makes critique an element in the self-referential cycle of ideas and discourses, be they philosophical, literary, or scientific. This was the reason why Marx broke with this idea of critique, argued that we must begin critique by arms, expounded the famous theses eleven, in particular the 11th thesis (1845), wrote the critique of political economy, and grounded critique in modern empirical reality to show the inexhaustible nature of the reality that a formal discipline cannot subsume. Knowledge, as distinct from theory, which now appears rechristened as critique, on the other hand, progresses in a continuously developing frame of ideas and material practices, perched on the borderlines of these two domains. The question of limits, plasticity, etc, is linked to this borderline existence. Therefore it is not enough to assimilate humanities with critique or criticism unless we know what we are critiquing and the limits we are reflecting thereby, the limits produced by the outside – the reality – that we have to invoke in order to produce a critique. Through all these we have before us emerging two worlds or styles of knowledge: In one, the self-referential nature of producing knowledge is supreme, in the other the production of data is supreme leaving no time for self-referential exercises in terms of genealogy of knowledge, perhaps to its own good…
In our time Foucault became the American Foucault through translation inasmuch as Tagore became the mystic Oriental in Europe, and Karl Marx became the academic Marx in the Anglo-American universities. This is because in this site called translation there is no engagement with the world and the milieu these figures represent or represented. If there were some, it was only engagement with discourses. There are all kinds of translation programmes (perhaps the most under-researched ones by translation theorists are the Foreign Language Publishing Houses in erstwhile socialist countries such as the Soviet Union, possibly the largest), not only translation between languages but between mediums also. Therefore there cannot be any general theory of translation, save the fact that it is part of the logistics of the global production of knowledge.