March 02, 2013

Five Dreams and five Indias

The Hindu : NATIONAL TAMIL NADU : MADURAI TODAY Sri Aurobindo Society: Meeting on 'The yoga of Savitri reading,' 3 Lajapathi Roy Road, Chinna Chokkikulam, 4 p.m.

Auroville is a small ‘experimental’ township located near Pondicherry. This place has a blend of French and Indian cultures, established as it was by the French spiritualist Mirra Alfassa. Widely known as ‘The Mother’ Mirra was a disciple of Sri Aurobindo. Some of the popular attractions in Auroville are the gold-plated Matrimandir and Auroville Beach.
Auroville was built as a vision of human unity. The Mother said in her first public address concerning the location, “Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, politics and nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity”. The Government of India has endorsed the township, and UNESCO has also endorsed it inviting the member-states to participate in the development of the place. Today it has a population of just a few thousands who hail from nearly over 40 nationalities.

Missing Women - Mysticism Article on Speaking Tree - Swati Chopra on Mar 02, 2013 
Another powerful and enigmatic woman teacher was the Mother, who along with Sri Aurobindo, formed a unique spiritual collaboration. Her radical views on women were shared by Ameeta Mehra. 

The Overman Foundation has published the entire set of conversations with Sri Aurobindo that were recorded by Anilbaran Roy. These talks cover a wide spectrum of issues (symbols, occultism, karma, politics) and were originally published in the Sri Aurobindo Circle from 1977 to 1994.

A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs ... The present administration of Sri Aurobindo Ashram is not only a misfit in the current situation but a total anachronism. Everyone in the Ashram, including the ... The Cords that Bind the Ashramites ― Baikunth
When a community spends a few decades together, human relationships naturally form between the members of the community, and these ties and attachments prevent disciplinary or corrective action. The tendency of those who are at the helm of affairs is therefore mostly to protect and condone, because how can you take action on your immediate circle of relatives, colleagues and friends, or the wider circle of their colleagues, friends and relatives? These constricting ropes criss-cross the community rendering the administration ineffective or practically impossible.  In the ordinary life outside the Ashram, the joint family has been broken due to the assertion of individual interests. Sons and daughters separate from their parents, build new houses, establish new businesses and migrate to foreign countries in search of better prospects. In the relatively small world of the Ashram, lasting relationships are informally formed, friends’ circles remain active, colleagues meet up daily and there is a steady increase of acquaintances with an ever increasing inflow of people who simply want to take economic advantage of the Ashram. Thus the once spiritual family, consisting of devotees who came from all parts of India and the world to unite under the Mother’s banner, has now become a big clanking joint family, which obstinately stands in the way of progress and indirectly causes the downfall of the institution… There is also no retirement age in the Ashram which adds tenfold to its existing problems.
Govind Nishar - March 2, 2013 at 7:17 AM I am very happy to see that under the Mother's protective and nurturing Grace this effort already seems to be underway, and also to discern the shoots and saplings of the future that are already germinating in the fecund soil of this controversy. My faith is that this crisis will reveal itself to be not a destructive armageddon but a revelatory and transforming apocalypse for the Ashram.

These organizational habits—or “routines,” as Nelson and Winter called them—are enormously important, because without them, most companies would never get any work done… But among the most important benefits of routines is that they create truces between potentially warring groups or individuals within an organization. Most people are accustomed to treating companies as idyllic places where everyone is devoted to a common goal: making as much money as possible. In the real world, that’s not how things work at all.
Companies aren't big happy families where everyone plays together nicely. Rather, most workplaces are made up of fiefdoms where executives compete for power and credit, often in hidden skirmishes that make their own performances appear superior and their rivals’ seem worse. Divisions compete for resources and sabotage each other to steal glory. Bosses pit their subordinates against one another so that no one can mount a coup. Companies aren't families. They’re battlefields in a civil war. Most companies roll along relatively peacefully, year after year, because they have routines—habits—that create truces that allow everyone to set aside their rivalries long enough to get a day’s work done. Organizational habits offer a basic promise: If you follow the established patterns and abide by the truce, then rivalries won’t destroy the company, the profits will roll in, and, eventually, everyone will get rich… But even perfectly balanced truces can become dangerous if they aren’t designed just right. 

Function of the Gods: Sri Aurobindo found that the systematic symbolism of the Veda was extended to the legends related to the Gods and their dealings with ancient seers and that in all probability had a naturalistic origin.   If this was so, the original sense was supplemented by psychological symbolism…
They also realised that such a great task cannot be achieved by human effort only and the Gods must collaborate doing the actual work. Every time a human being does a task with some consciousness, he can feel the collaboration of the Divine Powers. Human journey towards perfection is often compared to climbing a mountain from peak to peak or to a journey in the uncharted waters of the ocean in a boat. With dedicated effort a stage will come where the person feels that all the work is done by the Gods themselves.  Adverse cosmic powers in nature are also common posing obstacles in the path of human seeker.
(Dr R.L. Kashyap is an Honarary Director & Trustee of SAKSI. He has to his credit 6 major books on the Veda and has undertaken a mission of writing a commentary on all the Veda mantras.) - C. Krishnamurthy ( 

As we exercise our mental powers and will to achieve vital success in the world, we not only have to face the resistances stemming from our physical and vital nature, and the response of others with whom we interact and the social organization within which we move, but we also have to face a universal or cosmic force of evolutionary intention and development. This force essentially maintains the basic principles or laws of the universal manifestation, whether we understand or recognize them or not. While we may experience this in our lives, and talk of it as “luck” or “fate” or “necessity”, we do not often focus on or pay attention to this force and its operation. Sri Aurobindo points out that the ancient Greeks had a great appreciation for this force and its operation on our lives and our destiny. 

The powerful imagery of the human transgressing limits and then being struck down by a force of cosmic justice has permeated our response to life’s setbacks through the ages. We need only look to the famous ancient Greek tale of Oedipus or the story of the house of Atreus, or even tales such as Hamlet or Macbeth by Shakespeare to recognise that we have imbibed these concepts and accepted them at some level of our consciousness as “the way the universe works.”
It is at this point that we generally assign a moral or ethical component to this universal action, but as Sri Aurobindo point out, the response is not strictly to moral failings but actually a response to any form of weakness, insufficiency, imperfection at whatever level it manifests. The human striving is to exceed our limits, to achieve success in life through expansion, extension and enjoyment. We push ourselves to and beyond the normal limits. To the extent we have truly understood and implemented the universal laws we achieve that success; but wherever we have any imperfection in our energy, the universe takes that into account in the response and in the result. The inter-relationship between all manifested beings and forces in the universal eco-sphere and bio-sphere is a very sensitive mechanism so our attempt to aggrandise ourselves in any way sets up waves of action that both push forward and create feedback and various forms of resistance.

Five-year Plans more important than FM's speech ET 2 MAR, 2013, Dipankar Gupta
As the short term is more exciting than anything longer, the budget speech features like a rock event, but the Five-year Plans go unsung… The short term casts its spell over the corporate world too. Investment managers use quarterly reports rather than long-term projections to lead the way. Shareholders don't care, but this is not how financial assets are best valued in functioning capital markets. As Alfred Rappaport wryly commented, it was as if companies were being lined up for a "Keynes Beauty Parade". 

I talk, you listen. You talk, I listen. Neither talks, both listen. Neither talks, neither listens: Silence

Mango as spiritual guide - Times Of India Jun 1, 2011 – Lama Doboom Tulku Jun 1, 2011
Acharya Nagarjuna is a great Indian philosopher. Many traditions regard him as a Tantric Acharya, in some other traditions he is regarded as an Ayurvedic expert and in yet others, even an Alchemist, but i am yet to come across a story of his being associated with horticulture…
Nagarjuna in his letter talks to the king about different categories of mangoes. They are special varieties whose appearances and degrees of ripening can be categorised as follows: 1) those not ripe but appear ripe; 2) those ripe but appear not ripe; 3) those unripe and appear unripe; and 4) those ripe and appear ripe. He was extrapolating this with reference to people we come across in our daily lives… Spiritual friends should not only be spiritually ripe but should also appear to be so. They must be morally clean, compassionate, have association with good people.  

Girish Karnad’s remarks leave philosopher’s family seething The Hindu, BANGALORE, March 2, 2013 BAGESHREE S
“In one of the last pieces Professor K.J. Shah published, he drew attention to the hollowness of the claims of Hindu nationalists by posing a set of questions. These were: 1. Is Hinduism a religion? 2. Is Hinduism a philosophy? 3. Is Hinduism more a religion or more a philosophy? 4. Is Hinduism a religion and a philosophy? 5. Who knows what is Hinduism?”
The last question, Prof. Sharma told The Hindu, “not only brings to centre-stage the question of legitimacy, or adhikaar, but also questions the very arbitrariness that constitutes the Hindu nationalist’s project to fashion themselves as the self-appointed guardians of the content, meaning and practice of Hinduism.”

For me, the world before the internet, the world prior to 1994 (god, I have students now that were born that year), was a world where I could only find books at crappy mall bookstores like Walden Books and B Daltons.  I had heard of Kant, Husserl, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and many others, but only could get some books by Sartre, Nietzsche, Camus, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Kafka, Russell, Whitehead (strangely), Spinoza, and a few others.  I had to scour the country side, driving for hours to find whatever I happened to come across:  an obscure translation of Kant’s first Critique with uncut pages, Santayana, Josiah Royce,  Unamuno, Gassett, Proust, and a host of others.  This was all in the early 90s.  I read whatever fell into my hands.  And when my grandmother gave me a copy of Heidegger’s Being and Time, Husserl’s Ideas (actually I stole it from the community college library, don’t tell), and the then official translation of Kant’s first Critique, I felt as if I’d received something tremendously valuable, like illuminated texts.  My highschool friends weren’t impressed.  It was also a world pervaded by loneliness and where conversations were entirely random. 

For Kant, perception of a particular form—the roundness, softness, and gentle scent of a petal, for example—harmonises with the faculties of the mind in such a way that the subject may judge the object to be beautiful. Heidegger, in turn, does not doubt that form plays a part. For him, beauty "consist[s] in form, but only because the forma once took its light from being and the being of beings". The principal difference lies in Heidegger's rejection of the role of a transcendental subject. Against Kant, he argues that beauty does not exist "relative to pleasure, ... as its object". Heidegger instead claims that beauty must be understood as something more than an aesthetic judgement of an object experienced by the subject—elusively suggesting that beauty draws ontologically from the "light" of being. 

1. Kant never reaches the Husserlian insight into the fact that the phenomenal sphere is broken up into intentional objects. Husserl makes a truly original assault on the empiricist dogma that objects are just bundles of qualities with no need to posit a naive substratum to hold them together. Husserl reverses the relation, so that objects come before their qualities, without those objects ever attaining an extra-phenomenal existence (Husserl really is an idealist, at the end of the day).
2. Kant tells us nothing about object-object interactions on the noumenal level. Indeed, he suggests that we can’t even know for sure if there is a plurality of noumena– unity and plurality are categories of the human understanding, after all. Insofar as we can talk about object-object interactions, it is only insofar as humans are the ones observing them.

In his second Gifford lecture, Latour rehearses David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Practicing the art of philosophical fiction, Latour re-constructs the history of philosophy (in much the same way that he helped reconstruct the Bergson-Einstein debate), wondering if Hume’s reflection on natural theology was really enough to stir the sage of Könisburg from his dogmatic dreaming, or if, in fact, he and all other Enlightened moderns are still sleeping, still spellbound by the pleonasm of natural religion, still stuck within the paradigm of design (by mechanistic de-animation or deistic over-animation), still paralyzed by the false split between science and religion, matter and spirit, fact and value, etc.
I haven’t read Hume’s dialogue since college, but Latour has made it seem like necessary re-reading. I’m particularly fascinated to expand Philo and Cleanthes’ discussion concerning the scope of analogical reasoning in cosmology. Is the universe more like an animal (a world-soul), or a plant (a giant vegetable)? Hume leaves the matter undecided, all the worse for the supposed speculative power of analogical reasoning. The Naturphilosophis left wondering whether his imaginal methods of conversing with nature, namely correspondance and analogy, have any basis in reality. Hume argues that they cannot be justified. Poetic metaphors cast too wide a net to catch the certainties sought by calculative mathesis. This is no refutation of the power of imaginal methods; it is only to say that, if analogical reason and speculative philosophy are to be productive of knowledge, they can only achieve this result through a cognitive magic still too occult for conscious reasoning to dispassionately reflect upon (see Hume’s Treatise, i. Sec. 7). The possibility of reasoning about the cosmos analogically in a scientific way depends upon the possibility of scientific genius. 

But in fact Indians live in at least five world historical time zones if we go by the social, economic, political and technological features of different parts of the country. This is why understanding India and governing it are so difficult…
The third time zone exists in the second- and third-tier towns of India. Life in these towns is perhaps like the major cities of India 50-60 years ago. The rhythm of life, the influence of the small local elite, the availability of consumer goods and modern home devices including communication and media devices, economic surpluses sufficient to allow people to travel within India quite extensively and to imagine the country as a nation to which they belong and which they can shape, the growing sense of individuality and agency that even ordinary people possess in relation to their communities and government - in short, something like modern citizenship exists here. In world historical terms, this is where urban life was in say the early to mid-19th century in Europe - even if the comparison is not exact because the Europe of that era did not have television and the cellphone.
The fourth time zone is in the first-tier towns and big metros of India… Time here is industrial time, nine to five. There is a restless, rootless freedom for many - and for the middle classes and the rich, there are many of the appurtenances of big city 21st century life.   

Basically, Smith writes about humans as social beings, learning how to behave (in the ‘great school of self-command’, starting in the school-yard) from those they live with or near (because other people in society act as a “mirror” on their conduct, which moulds to some extent their behaviours, their moral conduct and their sentiments).  Morality is not innate, nor derived from revealed religion.  Smith’s device was that of an “impartial spectator” that judges one’s conduct.  Society’s laws also influence, and among most people also constrain their behaviour. 
This is where later editions, especially the sixth, 1789, Smith reduced the number of his references to theological language, especially after his mother died in 1784. He became more secular without anchoring TMS in revealed religion (as in the 1st and early editions).
Wealth Of Nations reproduces verbatim sections from his “Lectures in Jurisprudence’ [1763] from students’ notes, and places this title in its historical context.  WN was not a textbook on economics; it is a critique on the prevailing mercantile political economy of Britain in its historical context and should be read as such.  Its economics is fairly basic by Econ 102 standards.
Most modern economists have not read WN and those few that try often give up because modern economics is taught without any historical context, or indeed any prevailing connection to how economies developed to get where they are today.  Modern economic theories are divorced from the real world, as they must be if they represent them in largely two dimensional maths, roughly where ‘hard’ science was in the 1870s.  Even attempts to found a theory of “general equilibrium” mathematically are so far divorced from the real world as to be of little value in practice, as in the Welfare theorem which may produce a society that is perfectly disgusting by most moral standards. 
Two or more carbon atoms behave the same on Earth as they do anywhere else in the Universe, but two or more humans might behave differently across the same street, or within the same family. Hence treating humans as if they behave the same or even behave predictably across time and space is likely to disappoint those who postulate the same rational behaviour for them all. That is why Smith said nothing about humans as subject to the postulate of common rationality: Homo economicus is a fable agreed upon by those blind to the world and history of humans around them.
Smith said humans have the power of reasoning, which is not the same as sharing a common universal Rationality.  Self-interest is far more complex than rationality.  Moreover humans can only achieve their self-interests in co-operation with other self-interested humans. In the course of seeking co-operation, the self-interests of individuals are mediated by what is acceptable to both of them and that process requires mutual persuasion – or, unhappily, in its absence it invites degrees of coercion (tyranny, strikes, wars).  The meaning of all self-interested inter-actions by real people within the context of moral sentiments is elaborated by Smith throughout TMS and illustrated in WN.

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