January 23, 2013

Braudel, Broadie, Bede Griffiths and the transformation of the body

Alexander Brodie. 2012. “Agreeable Connexions: Scottish Enlightenment links with France”. Edinburgh: John Donald, Birlinn Ltd.
This is a most agreeable book for scholars and those interested in the Scottish Enlightenment from which so much of the modern world evolved… Broadie’s thesis is that what became known as the Scottish Enlightenment has its roots in a long history of connections between Scottish intellectuals from the medieval period onwards, primarily with their French opposite numbers, despite their different theological traditions, particularly after the Reformation (largely inspired from Luther’s Germany).  Enlightened thinkers thought for themselves; unenlightened thinkers were tied to the unchanging thoughts of past, mainly theological, authorities. Where there is argument and debate without political repression, or at least passivity, Enlightenment may follow.  Brodie’s account of this background is enlightening itself…
In summary, I consider Alexander Broadie has established his thesis that the centuries long links between France and Scotland were foundational in what became the Scottish Enlightenment in the unpromising circumstances of each country, one dominated by an all embracing rigid Calvinism and the other by a monolithic Catholic Church, yet feeding each other intellectually in the prelude of the transformation of one world to another.  

Why OOO? from Larval Subjects Nov 13, 2012
First there was my encounter with DeLanda’s Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy and A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, both of which brought non-signifying differences and material processes to the fore and led me to read Deleuze in a very different way.  I was spitting mad and simultaneously fascinated when I encountered these books.  Was he really arguing that ocean currents and wind patterns (non-diacritical, a-signifying differences) played a key role in where European and American cities developed?  Preposterous!  But he got me reading the historian Braudel and his dry as dirt yet magnificent Capitalism and Civilization. 
And in the background of all this was the material history of Ferdinand Braudel in the three volumes of Capitalism and Civilization. Braudel’s three volumes have been my nightly bedtime reading for the last few months. Let Harman have his Gibbon, I’ll take my Braudel. If reading Braudel has been such a transformative experience, then this is because he draws attention away from familiar territory revolving around signs, ideologies, texts, norms, and concepts, investigating instead infrastructures throughout history such as the presence or absence of roads, the epidemiology of diseases, diets, trade routes, clothing, forms of energy, etc., etc., etc.. You leave these works with an entirely new set of glasses, seeing the world and why the world is the way it is in an entirely different light. Suddenly things you were focused on in your social and political thought seem to become less important as a consequence of the rather minor role they play in social organization, while a whole host of other urgent questions come to the fore. 

While it is the first formulation of human motivation, the force of desire, attraction towards what is pleasant and avoidance of what is unpleasant, is not the sole...

at Hall of Harmony, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India. ... So Sri Aurobindo says that perhaps they will find God outside life but will not find the Divine in ...

Inspirational & Religious 2013: Savitri and The Yoga of the Cells Sri Aurobindo (Author), The Mother (Author), RY Deshpande (Editor)
The body was not ready to hold the charge of luminous immortality in it. It had remained an unbaked vessel, atapta tanu. The cells of the body had not awakened yet to the reality that is seated deep within them. The problem of the inconscient nature had yet to be tackled.
Sri Aurobindo’s concern was chiefly this. It was a twofold effort, of invoking and bringing down the dynamism of the supreme Truth on the earthly plane, and preparing the unregenerate inconscient material nature to receive it for its unhampered action. The spiritual and occult-yogic tapasya carried out together by him and the Mother saw that this was done. That opened up new doors, bright doors of the physical, for the entry of the Infinite's dimensions in the earth-possibilities. Presently it has made its manifestation an accomplished fact, here in the physical’s subtle. 

So too, Griffiths tries to subsume Sri Aurobindo in Christianity:
      ‘To me it is important because I think that the transformation of the body is an essential element in Christian doctrine. The physical transformation which took place in Mary was seen as related to the physical transformation of the body of Christ in the resurrection, and this again as foreshadowing the physical transformation of man and the universe. This is where I find Aurobindo’s insistence on the transformation of matter and the body so significant’. (p.44)
      ‘I cannot resist the conviction that Jesus did exactly what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were attempting to do’. (p.72)
      ‘The resurrection of Christ is a physical event, which has effected all humanity and the whole creation. If this is not the same as the belief of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother it is extraordinarily close to their idea of the Supramental manifestation’. (p.86)
     Amal Kiran, in a note of tender mercies, replies: ‘What a diminution of his (Sri Aurobindo’s) colossal stature, his Herculean labour, to understand him as having come just to confirm Christianity and to establish a person more firmly in it! If he and the Mother have nothing really momentously new to give us, since everything was there in the Christian vision, all of us who are striving to live up to their teaching and example are misguided fools who could do much better to get baptized and join hands with the priests and nuns of Pondicherry’. (p.93)
     And in a stronger vein he argues: ‘Lastly, after postulating an evolution over millions of years following in man’s progressive spiritual history through the aspiring mind towards a Supramental which is still in the future, is it logical or reasonable or consistent to affirm that all evolution was summed up to thousand years ago in one man who did not exemplify an evolutionary transformation in his life-time but is alleged to have acquired a divinized body after his death?’ (p.61)

The tree is an 82-year-old Peltophorum pterocarpum that stands next to Sri Aurobindo's Samadi, which was named 'Service Tree' by the Mother. Through the ..

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