February 21, 2013

From Auroville to Esalen: Yoga of ideas, meetings, and presentation

The accompanying paintings are by Huta who did these directly under the guidance of the Mother. The recitation of the text is in Narad’s (Richard Eggenberger’s) voice. The creation of the video is by Tuhin Chowdhury. This is a beta-version and is being made as an offering to the Mother on her birthday, 21 February [...] Heal with her bliss the tired breast of earth from Savitri 

Shall pour the nectar of a sorrowless life
Around her from her lucid heart of love,
Heal with her bliss the tired breast of earth
And cast like a happy snare felicity.

Maybe the discussion's number it's wrong, but the point it's that Auroville is piling up much more meetings and presentation than facts and actions. It seems that the further we go in the development harder it gets to take decisions and act consequently. This may sound slightly negative but was the feeling expressed of some of the participants at the meeting. The frustration reflects the little progress Auroville has achieved recently. Maybe it's time to act?

Don’t worry if you don’t understand whats written on this page. Whether the Gods exist or not is of no relevance to the novice. As you develop deeper understanding of your inner movements, you will begin to understand everything else. Spiritual development is like an growing and ascending spiral, which starts from a bright point and gradually envelopes and illumines the surrounding areas.
In the beginning, one must focus on psychology (how should I live?) rather than ontology (what exists out there?). You have to read literature which motivates you to live better, which awakens introspection as well as the Atman within. If you have an affinity for Sri Aurobindo, start reading his works such as SavitriEssays on the GitaLife DivineSynthesis of Yoga or the Letters on Yoga. It may take a few readings to grasp his texts but keep trying because its worth it.

The problem is that this strategy seems to exchange one form of power and domination for another.  In the first instance, we’re in the thrall of dominant codes that typify our identities and reduce us to good consumers.  In the latter instance, however, we seem to become hypnotized by the text and thereby enslaved.  Like the cult follower that believes that the leader contains a mysterious amalga or objet a around which our desire comes to pulsate, the enigmatic and elusive text comes to capture our desire and enslave us.
I began by looking for a point of resistance to the dominant codes structuring communicative capitalism.  I turned to this thinker or that to find technologies of resistance at the level of the semiotic.  Yet now I find that I’m trapped in the enigma or the elusiveness of that theorist’s writing.  My goal begins to change.  Where before it was strategies of resistance, now it’s understanding the theorist.  Hours and years are now spent deciphering Lacan, Deleuze, Derrida, Adorno, Hegel, and so on.  “They must,” I reason, “know what they’re saying, they must have a secret behind all of this, and I only fail because I haven’t read enough, haven’t done enough work tracking down their references, haven’t followed their lines of thought carefully enough!” Paradoxically, then, such texts tend to produce university discourses.  The product of identification with a hypnotic text is a divided subject ($) that has become caught within the thrall of the master-figure (S1), becoming their servant by endlessly doing commentary on their work.  The old goal disappears– though to be sure, it’s still given lip service –and the new goal becomes a life devoted to understanding Heidegger, Hegel, Lacan, Deleuze, Derrida, and so on.  Of course, there’s no end to this project insofar as it belongs to the nature of objet a to slip away. 
Oh don’t get me wrong.  I’m not suggesting that any of these thinkers should be rejected on the grounds of style.  I’ve certainly gained much by becoming hypnotized by all the thinkers I’ve listed here.  I do, however, think that style can be a form of power– sometimes hypnotizing us like the cult leader, at other times functioning as a shibboleth for privileged communities –and that it’s not clear that conceptual work, clearly expressed, can’t be a more effective strategy against communicative capitalism.  Indeed, another danger that arises out of the enigmatic text is that it becomes mere noise for the broader society, having little to no effect outside the halls of the academies.  I will suggest– perhaps imprudently –that such texts seem to suggest a somewhat poor regard to readers.  To publish a text is to invite others to read.  Those who read give their time.  In a world saturated by information as ours is today, it seems somehow wrong to entrap others in your text when they wish to learn from you and give portions of their life over to you.

If there is one theme in The Hermetic Deleuze:  Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal that I think causes the most ambivalence for myself, and for contemporary philosophy, it is the possibility, today, of conceiving thought—any thought, whether hermetic or rationalist—as some kind of affirmation of life.  My overwhelming impression of much of contemporary continental and post-continental reflection is that it is conditioned by an almost paralyzing combination of dread, horror, and malaise over the ongoing ecological holocaust (and its twin, economic endgame) through which we are currently “living,” if one could even call it that.  The most difficult thing I continue to try to come to terms with, in my own life and work, is what it means to engage in thought and spiritual discipline as some kind of intensified relation to “nature” when “nature” has become something like absolute contingency, incarnate…
We might focus here by a return to Christian Kerslake’s question in response to my first response, to Dan Barber:  what is a specifically hermetic incarnationalism?   I agree with Christian that something like tantric sciences, focusing on the body, breath, chakras, and extremely local/animist divinities is somehow closer to Deleuze’s own thinking than perhaps any other spiritual tradition.  And yet Deleuze receives his spiritual sciences mediated through a line of Western estoericisms that both incorporate and struggle against Christian theology…
It is interesting that the great critics of Christianity Deleuze admired (and in many ways I count my allegiance to them)—Nietzsche, D.H. Lawrence, Artaud, Bataille—could not but admire the figure of Christ as Love… Most of hermetic mysticism and practice, including alchemy, theosophy, and the Western adoption of tantrism, yoga, and meditation, all seems to be carried out under the sign of Joachim de Fiore’s “Age of the Holy Spirit,” an era in which there is a mesmerizing, uncanny, and ultimately nondual relationship between humanity and divinity (In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze makes tantalizing reference to Fiore, as well as to Vico, in his attempt to explain the relation of the syntheses of time to historical repetition.  He is basically critical, but then as Kerslake has shown, later finds his way to an oblique affirmation of Toynbee’s universal history with its repetition of 22 essential archetypal phases, corresponding to the 22 major arcana of the Tarot).  This is a very different perspective, it seems to me, than the Feuerbachian-cum-death of God point of view that points to the total disenchantment of the world…
Here is an alchemical legend:  the issue (offspring) of Adam is the issue (product) of resurrection.  Hermeticism is the Western version of bodily esotericism.  Yes, Deleuze’s thought is in many ways closer to Tantrism.  I “force” the issue of Hermeticism strategically as a way of locating Western philosophy within a specific impasse between reason and spirit.  But that impasse “is” in some sense the problem of the body (or to use the older term, nature, or the one we are now learning to use, ecology).  That is what is really the limit of Descartes’s “ordeal”: the specific deliverances of what the body might be are forsaken in the name of what the body appears to be, to the mind.  It’s almost as if there is simply a mind-mind problem in Descartes, and as if he never reaches the level of the body—the subtle, alchemical body, the body of the chakras, kunadalini, and the mercurial body of Adam Kadmon.  The specific role that Hermes plays in alchemy is the role of the “mercurial” element, the moist, flowing element that “revives” matter from its slumber.  Mercury is the element of resurrection, and Hermes is a psychopomp… Why resurrection?   The problem of spirituality today is the problem of survival.  This is why, although I have been to Esalen and tasted its nearly supernatural bounties of health and healing, I can only peruse its catalogue and its denizens with a rueful eye.   

(title unknown) from enowning In-der-Blog-sein
The Anti-Modernist on the problem of objective philosophizing
“The theoretical conceals its own concealing, or rather, that it is wholly ignorant to the fact that it forces all of experience into categorical classifications through the creation of an impression that rigorous and detached observation of entities as present-to-hand is the only way to access truth.”

Want to but a tablet-cum-laptop By Mihir Patkar, TNN Feb 20, 2013,
The Lenovo Ideapad Yoga is quite innovative with its ability to flip back its screen by a full 360 degrees, letting you use it as a tablet. In this mode, its keyboard becomes the back plate of the tablet - and although disabled, it can be a bit distracting because you can still feel the play of the keys when you hold it like a slate. Also, the Yoga is quite heavy to be used as a truly portable tablet. Besides, it is extremely hard to read its reflective display in direct sunlight…
So for the money you would spend on the IdeaPad Yoga (86,000 approx) or the XPS 12 (93,000 approx), we would instead recommend you buy a good ultrabook for around 50,000 (such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U310, Dell Inspiron 14z or Samsung NP530U4C) and a highend tablet (Apple iPad, iPad Mini or Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1); these will give you more bang for your buck - at least for the moment.

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