Humanity has essentially gotten to the point where it is on the edge of the abyss and is facing a stark choice of its future and to a very great degree, even its potential survival. We have explored, developed and unleashed enormous forces at the material level, to the point of having the power to manipulate the building blocks of the material world through nuclear research, and the building blocks of life through genetic research and manipulation. We have brought the whole world together with a clash of cultures, ideas, motivations and religious sentiments, with the enormous tension and conflict that arises through that meeting process. We have gained enormous powers to manipulate the mind, emotions and desires and have used these powers to accentuate and drive ever greater desire and hunger for “more”. We exploit the world’s resources with abandon and fail to address the impact, the “unintended consequences” of our actions.
All of the new powers we have developed have not been matched by the development of new higher ideals and a greater guiding light for the application of these popwers. We thus find ourselves struggling, suffering and on the very brink of destruction, confused, living in a world whose complexity far exceeds the ability of the human mind to understand or harmonise.
What is needed, the choice before us, is whether we will use the pressure of these contradictions, the pressure of our very ability to survive, to find our spiritual destiny, our evolutionary direction in the development of universality and harmony, and in the development of new powers of spiritual consciousness which alone can resolve the contradictions we face and harness the forces we have unleashed, and put them to work for a greater goal, or whether we will fall victim to our own partial, limited success on the material and vital planes… We have reached the limitations of the power of mental organisation to grapple with the complexity of the forces in the world.
This Week Tamil Nadu: Heehs in the line of fire, again - Gopu Mohan : Fri Jul 13 2012, 03:57 hrs Indian Express
When his visa was finally renewed, US-born historian Peter Heehs might have thought that the controversy around his biography on Sri Aurobindo was a closed chapter. As it turns out, it is not. A group of MPs cutting across party lines has written to the trustees in charge of the Aurobindo ashram, in the process reopening the whole controversy surrounding The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, a book critically acclaimed yet derided by Aurobindo’s devotees. The letter, signed jointly by 68 MPs, has asked the trustees for an explanation why they did not take any action against Heehs for what he wrote. The case against Heehs is that his work shows Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa — Mother to members of the ashram — in bad light.
Yeserday's General Meeting to discuss collective values and priorities has showed that need to communicate and find common solutions is more than obvious. Although we might have different opinions and ideas how to proceed, is also clear that collective spirit of community is there, at least amongst those who participated. And as we may differ on some points, to most members of community the leading thread - idea, set forth by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo is clear, along with the higher inner state of consciousness in progress
The evolutionary process of Nature provides humanity the opportunity, but not the guarantee, of providing the foundation for the next evolutionary stage to develop. Historically we note the systematic development of increasing powers of consciousness. There is a general correllation with an increasing power and complexity of consciousness through this development, with the first stages generally corresponding to the basic physical and vital needs and considerations, with further development focused on the mental and emotional powers including ethics, morality, aesthetics, religion and spirituality and science.
There is however an apparent roadblock that could represent an opportunity for humanity to miss the opportunity to lead the further evolutionary development. The rise of materialism and focus on the use of science to develop physical comfort and media for distraction and entertainment has created a society that has essentially gone back to a focus on the physical and vital needs and fulfillment of desire. Should humanity fail to overcome the temptation to simply create a society of physical creature comforts and vital satisfaction, without encouraging, supporting and developing the higher ranges of consciousness, then we would become another “dead end” of evolution, a species that becomes more or less “static” in the increasing development of consciousness, an evolutionary “failure”.
Nature will not abandon its further development. It is simply that another form or species will have to develop to take over for the failed initiative of humanity.
Sri Aurobindo describes the necessary impetus: “…it is the inner spiritual necessity, the push from what is there yet unrealised within him that maintains in him, once he has attained to mind, the evolutionary stress, the spiritual nisus.”
If we reject this effort, then humanity will lose its pre-eminence in the current evolutionary developmental cycle.
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was a social evolutionist without question but he was never crudely social Darwinist. He was a liberal utilitarian first who traded heavily in evolutionary theory in order to explain how our liberal utilitarian sense of justice emerges.
Though a utilitarian, Spencer took distributive justice no less seriously than Mill. For him as for Mill, liberty and justice were equivalent. Whereas Mill equated fundamental justice with his liberty principle, Spencer equated justice with equal liberty, which holds that the “liberty of each, limited by the like liberty of all, is the rule in conformity with which society must be organized” (Spencer, 1970: 79). Moreover, for Spencer as for Mill, liberty was sacrosanct, insuring that his utilitarianism was equally a bona fide form of liberalism. For both, respect for liberty also just happened to work out for the utilitarian best all things considered. Indefeasible liberty, properly formulated, and utility were therefore fully compossible…
Spencer's liberal utilitarianism also has much to recommend for it simply for its much undervalued importance in the development of modern liberalism. If Mill and Sidgwick are critical to making sense of our liberal canon, then Spencer is no less critical. If both are crucial for coming to terms with Rawls particularly, and consequently with post-Rawlsianism generally, as I strongly believe both are, then Spencer surely deserves better from recent intellectual history. Intellectual history is one of the many important narratives we tell and retell ourselves. What a shame when we succumb to scholarly laziness in constructing these narratives just because such laziness both facilitates meeting the pedagogical challenges of teaching the liberal tradition and answering our need for a coherent philosophical identity.