August 30, 2008

Nietzsche thought that the better types would lose out in natural selection

3 comments: John Wilkins said... Thanks for the link, but your confidence is unwarranted. The last time I read Nietzsche, I was an undergraduate. 16 June, 2008 15:13

Michael Pleyer said... Although you may not know much about Nietzsche anymore (and neither do I, at least that's the impression I get when I'm listening toi the other bright people in my Nietzsche-Course.I'm sorry if I didn't get that across, but I was trying to express the fact that I don't have any real idea about the state of evolutionary theory in Darwin's time, and that you're surely a greater authority on the topic than me, for example regarding the question whether 19th Century Darwinism didn't take into account internal selection sufficiently, or whether Darwinians really claimed that the life of an organism was basically about a very conservative kind of self-preservation and nothing else 17 June, 2008 00:32

John Wilkins said... In that case, let me say that philosophers in general are a very bad guide to the state of biological evolution theory at the time Nietzsche was writing. Josiah Royce, for example, relies on Schopenhauer more than Darwin and mostly philosophy engaged Spencer or Huxley rather than Darwin or the Darwinians. It's a bit like Midgley engaging Ayer or Dawkins rather than, say, Lewontin or Maynard Smith.

From this page, and also this paper it is clear to me that Nietzsche simply didn't understand natural selection, because he thought that the better types were those that would lose out in selection. He was not alone at that time; many people had confused ideas about selection, and many philosophers still do (e.g., David Stove). This is largely because, I believe, the eugenic notion of selection is based on the common experience of selective breeding (which Darwin called "artificial selection") leading to fragile and sensitive types, such as thoroughbred horses. Nietzsche appears to think that the intellectual will lose out. On Darwin's view, if that were true, then too bad - the less intellectual types would simply be fitter.

Huxley's Evolution and Ethics also makes this point forcefully - we should not rely on evolution to give us the moral or ethical types, but by an act of will seek to manufacture the civilisation we most value. Maybe that is what Nietzsche was trying to say, in his own inimitable style.

I would also suggest you investigate the views of James Mark Baldwin and the Baldwin Effect which has had a long history as either anti-Darwinian or more recently something that, although "internal" is Darwinian after all. 17 June, 2008 05:05 Post a Comment Links to this post This ambiguity and uncertainty can also be found when it comes to ...

August 28, 2008

Has Sri Aurobindo Ashram outlived its value as a spiritual institution?

Dr. Prema Nandakumar
Sabda Newsletter, August 2000 2:52 AM

Jugal Kishore Mukherjee’s Visada Yoga (Yoga of sorrow) literally gave birth to an intense heart-searching, and the result is a testament of faith in the future destiny of mankind as one of abiding Ananda consciousness. Jugalda is not willing to wound but he is not afraid to strike at the penury that often devastates the human heart. There is a poverty of the heart when it is rendered weak in sincerity, love, faith. Jugalda is quite conversant with the reasons that often create convulsions within a spiritual community which seeks to master material nature. Necessarily, as with the Tantric disciplines in the past, this way gets clouded due to the powers of Rajas and Tamas that hold sway over the material world. The danger of slipping into mere religiosity is very real and hence Jugalda’s self-questionings:

  • “Do many Ashramites still aspire after and make an effort for the acquisition of spiritual consciousness?
  • And if yes, who guide and illumine the sadhaks in their spiritual endeavour?
  • Can one contact the Presence of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo as a really living reality here?
  • Why are there at times serious conflicts in the Ashram?
  • Has the Ashram outlived its value as a spiritual institution?
  • Is there any fear of its transforming itself with the passage of time into a thriving cultural community, forgetting the pristine character given it by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo?”

Has Sri Aurobindo Ashram A Future?
Sri Aurobindo Ashram: Its Role, Responsibility and Future Destiny (By Jugal Kishore Mukherjee; Published by Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry)


Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity: Integral Yoga--a Religion?
by RY Deshpande on Sat 30 Aug 2008 09:09 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Surely Integral Yoga is not for them who measure out life with, to adapt Eliot, coffee spoons. The Modernist paints the picture of man’s frustration with a remarkable power of observation and understanding, but born not of deeper feelings but of the dry urban rationalism...

There are alarmists who speak of the danger of the Ashram slipping into conventional religiosity, wondering if there is at all genuine aspiration for spiritual life and life of higher consciousness.

  • Has the Ashram outlived its purpose?
  • At the best, will it just turn into a cultural centre?

These are pretty disturbing issues and need ponderous considerations. But the answer is simple.

There are Shastras and Scriptures. But

"no written Shastra, however great its authority or however large its spirit, can be more than a partial expression of the eternal Knowledge."

Indeed the seeker of the spiritual truth is not a student of a particular book. He is the student of the Infinite. The general outlines are there and each one has to discover his own methodology in line with is innate nature, his swabhāva. There is the infinite variation and development and no two seekers will be identical. The total liberty of experience is the sine quo non of the Integral Yoga, no taboo, no fetish, no impositions—but always self-discovery.

“Follow your own path”—that’s the only injunction of the Integral Yoga, the path shown to you by your soul and by your spirit. The rest is help for which express gratitude. And what a help it is! ~ RYD Reply

August 27, 2008

If we go by the Biography, then it will amount to saying that Sri Aurobindo failed to do the work he came to do

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity: Integral Yoga--a Religion?
by RY Deshpande on Tue 26 Aug 2008 06:00 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Mark the significant passage in the above:

“It was not as if a handful of disciples were receiving blessings from their Supreme Master and the Mother in one little comer of the earth; the significance of the occasion was far greater than that. It was certain that a Higher Consciousness had descended on earth.”

Perhaps this is quite beyond the perspective of a scholarly professional historian.

In Sri Aurobindo: A Brief Biography by Peter Heehs we’ve only a quick sketchy mention of it which does not really convey the scope and depth of the occurrence. On the basis of his studies of Sri Aurobindo’s Record of Yoga he suggests that this Siddhi or realization flowed from the yogic formulations made by him in it, as the Chatushtayas. Could be. But much had happened afterwards, particularly after the second and final arrival of the Mother. Her supplication to Krishna is one remarkable element in it. The Mother’s occult-psychic as well as dynamic executive aspect contributing to Sri Aurobindo’s spirituality and its realizations need be understood and highlighted. This is particularly so when the work of physical transformation had to be undertaken. The Biography states:

“Much of Sri Aurobindo’s later practice of yoga was directed towards the effectuation of the physical transformation. He considered ‘this part of the endeavour’ to be ‘the most difficult and doubtful’, and he did not look forward to full success in his lifetime. But he believed that whatever he accomplished would help in the eventual establishment of a divine life on earth, in a body, and not only in an unsubstantial heaven or nirvana.”

Would not the idea or the thought of a divine life in an immaterial heaven or nirvana sound like a contradiction to which Sri Aurobindo was unconsciously lending himself? In any case, practically nothing of it is given to us by it. And so how can we maintain that Sri Aurobindo was “doubtful”?

About this “doubtful” and Sri Aurobindo “did not look forward to full success”, let me reproduce Amal. He has a footnote, in pencil, in his copy of Sri Aurobindo: A Brief Biography which later he presented to me. It says:

“Some old statements may justify this view, but later statements point in the opposite direction. His aim was total supramentalisation and he wrote to me: ‘If it is not done in me, it cannot be done in others.’ This implies a strong avowal ‘the full success in his lifetime’.”

If we go by the Biography, then it will amount to saying that Sri Aurobindo failed to do the work he came to do. That’s a serious matter. In contrast to this it is so felicitous to read what Georges van Vrekhem has written about this event:

“…from that moment onwards Sri Aurobindo’s adhara contained two great beings, he himself and Lord Krishna. It also means that Lord Krishna was embodied on Earth from 24 November 1926 to 5 December 1950—and no one knew of it.”

Least the historian, it seems. ~ RYD Reply

Van Vrekhem demonstrates how Hitler's ideology was in many cases a mirror image of Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary philosophy

As I have mentioned, Hitler & His God spends the first 522 pages discussing the Nazi phenomenon from every possible conventional angle, before making a sort of discontinuous leap, at which point it looks to the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo to make sense of it all. Why are people so fascinated by World War II in general and Hitler in particular? I think part of the reason is that it is a kind of numinous experience to contemplate that level of evil, which "surpasses" (I suppose "subpass" would be a better term) all our faculties. Remember, "numinous" does not necessarily have positive connotations, for it mainly signifies confrontation with an object that is strange, mysterious, and "other." An encounter with God is always numinous, but so too is a brush with Death.
For those of you who have lost a loved one, you are familiar with that experience of being ushered into an eery, numinous space. People are simultaneously attracted to, and repelled by, this space. It is why, for example, we enjoy horror movies. Much of the romantic movement was explicitly infatuated with Death, which I suppose is why so many of those poet-johnnies committed suicide. Will will know.
During the course of 522 pages, Van Vrekhem provides the testimony of any number of historians, who have conceded that, in the end, Hitler and Nazism simply exceed our ability to understand them. On the one hand, history is there to teach us "what happened." And yet, in this case, we can know exactly what happened "on the surface," and yet, don't truly understand it at all. I'm guessing that there are more books on Hitler and World War II than most any other subjects, and yet, what do we really know?
Van Vrekhem begins with the modest proposal that in attempting to wrap out minds around an "effect" of such magnitude, there must be a cause of equal magnitude. Looked at this way, then Hitler can't possibly be explained by such comparatively trivial causes as resentment over the Treaty of Versaille, or economic hardship, or even rabid nationalism. Any number of countries have been humiliated in war, but they don't start putting people in ovens to cope with their bruised feelings. So we are confronted with a mystery.
Yesterday I was attempting to use an experience-near example to talk about another mystery, that being the obvious discontinuity between even the greatest virtuoso and the true genius. Genius clearly transcends mere virtuosity, and can never be reduced to it. Rather, the musical genius partakes of and transmits a kind of palpable mystery, through which we may have the experience of entering a higher world that is shockingly different from the ordinary musical space. As a number of people pointed out, one can say the same of Van Gogh's paintings. If you are open to them, they truly are shocking, even breathtaking. Why is that? How can that be? In my opinion, it is because Van Gogh introduces us to the real world. His paintings are particularly vivid examples of how great art is not on the same plane as "reality," and surely not a lower dimensional representation of it. Rather, it is a higher dimensional representation, so to speak. Yes, Van Gogh was an artist, but he was also a seer, or perhaps you might say a "visual prophet," just as Beethoven was an "aural prophet," transmitting information about higher spaces with pure sound. Again, how can such a thing be possible? What kind of cosmos is this, anyway?
Back to Hitler. To begin at the end, Van Vrekhem demonstrates how Hitler's ideology was in many cases a mirror image of Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary philosophy. Again, I don't want to get sidetracked, but I don't think it would be particularly difficult for some enterprising theologian to recast Christianity in evolutionary terms. In fact, I am quite sure it's already been done, not just by Teilhard de Chardin, but, for example, by this guy, about whom I know nothing.
I don't intend any scurrilous attacks on Darwinism, but Van Vrekhem quotes one prominent Nazi who said that National Socialism is applied biology. Think about that for a moment. If someone is foolish enough to believe that biology reveals the truth of man, then exactly what prevents him from drawing the ultimate implications from this: that nothing is absolute and everything is permitted?
It doesn't bother me that simpleminded Darwinists such as Queeg exist. What I do mind is that they try to pretend they're something other than what they are, which is intellectual barbarians. Such offenses must come, but we don't need to participate in their absurd self-flattery to the effect that the lower one falls, the higher one is. These liztards all clamor to the bottom, proud to declare the truth of no-truth, the virtue of indecency, and the beauty of ugliness.
Again, the Lie is parasitic on Truth. That's just how it is. As a result, you might very well say, "the greater the Truth, the bigger the Lie." But conversely, you might also say, "the bigger the Lie, the greater the Truth it is attempting to deny and conceal." Feel free to take this as a metaphor, so long as you understand its higher truth: Satan is first and foremost a parasite on Truth, Light and Beauty. Second, little parasites are everywhere. Oh, and you can learn a lot about God from a demon like Hitler.
In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility. --Adolf Hitler to be continued....

August 26, 2008

Be respectful to the spiritual teacher

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--About Avatarhood
by RY Deshpande on Mon 25 Aug 2008 04:55 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

This is true. And the spiritual etiquettes demand that we are respectful to the spiritual teacher whom we have chosen out of our own free will. If we don’t agree with his ideas or his manners we are absolutely free to find someone else.

This has been traditionally so everywhere and all the time, in the east or the west, now or in ancient days. It is the relationship between the two, the Guru and the Disciple, the Preceptor and the Seeker of the spiritual Truth, and it is all that that really counts in matters spiritual; imposition of secular ideas on it is a misconception. ~ RYD Reply

August 25, 2008

In the long and difficult integral Yoga there must be an integral faith and an unshakable patience

But the passage is long and the labour arduous before we can look on him with eyes that see true...

There must, therefore, be stages and gradations in our approach to this perfection, as there are in the progress towards all other perfection on any plane of Nature. The vision of the full glory may come to us before, suddenly or slowly, once or often, but until the foundation is complete, it is a summary and concentrated, not a durable and all-enveloping experience, not a lasting presence. The amplitudes, the infinite contents of the Divine Revelation come afterwards and unroll gradually their power and their significance. Or, even, the steady vision can be there on the summits of our nature, but the perfect response of the lower members comes only by degrees. In all Yoga the first requisites are faith and patience. The ardours of the heart and the violences of the eager will that seek to take the kingdom of heaven by storm can have miserable reactions if they disdain to support their vehemence on these humbler and quieter auxiliaries. And in the long and difficult integral Yoga there must be an integral faith and an unshakable patience.

It is difficult to acquire or to practise this faith and steadfastness on the rough and narrow path of Yoga because of the impatience of both heart and mind and the eager but soon faltering will of our rajasic nature. The vital nature of man hungers always for the fruit of its labour and, if the fruit appears to be denied or long delayed, he loses faith in the ideal and in the guidance. For his mind judges always by the appearance of things, since that is the first ingrained habit of the intellectual reason in which he so inordinately trusts.

Nothing is easier for us than to accuse God in our hearts when we suffer long or stumble in the darkness or to abjure the ideal that we have set before us. For we say, “I have trusted to the Highest and I am betrayed into suffering and sin and error.” Or else, “I have staked my whole life on an idea which the stern facts of experience contradict and discourage. It would have been better to be as other men are who accept their limitations and walk on the firm ground of normal experience.” In such moments – and they are sometimes frequent and long – all the higher experience is forgotten and the heart concentrates itself in its own bitterness. It is in these dark passages that it is possible to fall for good or to turn back from the divine labour.

If one has walked long and steadily in the path, the faith of the heart will remain under the fiercest adverse pressure; even if it is concealed or apparently overborne, it will take the first opportunity to re-emerge. For something higher than either heart or intellect upholds it in spite of the worst stumblings and through the most prolonged failure. But even to the experienced Sadhaka such falterings or overcloudings bring a retardation of his progress and they are exceedingly dangerous to the novice. It is therefore necessary from the beginning to understand and accept the arduous difficulty of the path and to feel the need of a faith which to the intellect may seem blind, but yet is wiser than our reasoning intelligence.

For this faith is a support from above; it is the brilliant shadow thrown by a secret light that exceeds the intellect and its data; it is the heart of a hidden knowledge that is not at the mercy of immediate appearances. Our faith, persevering, will be justified in its works and will be lifted and transfigured at last into the self-revelation of a divine knowledge. Always we must adhere to the injunction of the Gita, “Yoga must be continually applied with a heart free from despondent sinking.” Always we must repeat to the doubting intellect the promise of the Master, “I will surely deliver thee from all sin and evil; do not grieve.” At the end, the flickerings of faith will cease; for we shall see his face and feel always the Divine Presence. Page – 232 Location: Home > E-Library > Works of Sri Aurobindo > English > Synthesis of Yoga Volume-20 > The Master Of The Work

a patient and persistent action on the lines laid down by this knowledge, the force of our personal effort – utsāha. Works of Sri Aurobindo > English > Synthesis of Yoga Volume-20 > The Four Aids

Cause for pause and reflection on the status of Integral Yoga in 2008

If one does not find cause for pause and reflection on the status of Integral Yoga in 2008, a Yoga that while Sri Aurobindo's lived claimed not to be a religion, yet has become wholly infiltrated by religion; a Yoga which claimed not to be political, yet has been appropriated by politicians, then this whole conversation is unimportant... by Rich on Fri 15 Aug 2008 09:07 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link [at 9:53 AM]

Unfortunately a closer inspection of this path, reveals it to be one not heading toward a new future, but rather one bound to the endless repetitions of the past... what remains are only dysfunctional Institutions which attempt to fan the flames of a sacred candle whose sacrificial smoke has already vanished in the heavens...

Although I find my inspiration in the texts of Sri Aurobindo and have derived inexplicable revelations from them, I do so in honoring the secular tradition I have grown up in - and which Sri Aurobindo endorsed as the best course for contemporary polity - by Rich on Sun 24 Aug 2008 10:13 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link [7:59 AM]

What about the assertion that Aurobindo was an avatar? I can’t say that the question interests me very much. Aurobindo never claimed the distinction for himself, and I don’t think anyone alive is in a position to say one way or the other. The Aurobindo that interests me is the one who turned from a life of hectic action to a life of contemplation, but was able, during his forty-year retirement, to write a shelf full of books on philosophy, political theory, and textual criticism, along with thousands of letters and, yes, that epic in iambic pentameter. People will continue to differ about the significance of his work, but its very mass is there for all to see. His life as a yogi and spiritual leader is more difficult to quantify, but it certainly will not be forgotten soon. -- Peter Heehs, Posted at the Columbia University Press in CUP Permanent Link

For me, these 30 volumes are no less part of his continuing occult action. What else he did in "his occult action" any of us may or may not be privy to. Our life is a growth of consciousness in which faith, intuition and experience play their part to expand its horizons. But those "more visible expressions" are the "more visible doors" leading to such growth of consciousness and for me they certainly represent part of the "direct action" which the Mother is talking about...

What Sri Aurobindo brings here is the vision and the power of a new faith based on a new experience - more powerfully integral than anything that has gone before, and able to order these earlier orientations, put them in place. What he also brings is a new method replacing the purely "rational." This is his disciplinary revision of human systems of knowledge-seeking...

My reading of Sri Aurobindo convinces me that he was consciously relating to these systems and engaging them through revisionary hermeneutics and that he was doing this not just to fuel "the happy pastimes" of future readers. by Debashish on Sun 10 Aug 2008 11:37 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity

I try to point out that Sri Aurobindo's written work bears the mark of an integrality which is not constructed and which orders the partial truths of the human search for meaning attempted in the past. Such a darshan is to me as much a decisive action direct from the Supreme. Trying to assert what is primary and what is secondary or worse, irrelevant, is a play of mental judgement which is not very interesting except to theologians. To acknowledge the incomprehensible and derive what insight we can in our growth towards its consciousness, is what matters. by Debashish on Wed 13 Aug 2008 07:15 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

I am not referring to everything written by him. In the article, the text for which this claim is made is that of his philosophical darshan - ie. The Life Divine. by Debashish on Fri 15 Aug 2008 06:59 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

August 24, 2008

So few have adequately and intelligently addressed the foundational issues of the postmodern philosophers

Book Review: Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church - James K.A. Smith

So why are these postmodern thinkers important?

They are important simply because they ask questions of Christianity, and it is our duty as being motivated by both love and truth to work at an answer. These questions are difficult, Smith says these problems should send us back (or is it forward?) to an orthodox understanding of Christianity, especially because Christianity today is so damaged by adopting basic modernist values (seen in classical apologetics or a rationalist approach to church services that abandons liturgy).

  • Derrida's emphasis on interpretation directs us not only to our present community of believers, but to the countless Christians who have interpreted the story of Scripture throughout the history of the church.
  • Lyotard points out how everyone has a story, and we can see how we are not to present a diced-up version of the Gospel in rational terms, but we are to proclaim the whole story of God's redemption.
  • Foucault shows us that when left to ourselves, even desiring our own freedom, we end up repressing each other and effacing ourselves.

It is surprising, then, that so few Christians have adequately and intelligently addressed some of the foundational issues of the postmodern philosophers. Already people are asking "What is next after postmodernism," and if we pay attention to Smith and other Christians addressing these issues, we will be able to answer this question.

Smith has done a great service in treating the complicated subject of postmodernism in such a way that neither waters down the meaning of these thinkers, nor requires an advanced degree to understand. Although it will be helpful to have some background in Derrida, Foucault, or Lyotard, if you are willing to labor with the book I think it will serve as a great introduction and primer on postmodernism as well as an appropriate Christian response. Daniel P. Posted by Daniel P. at 10:55 AM in Books

John, I'm not sure I understand your statement about how structuralism and postmodernism have significantly increased our understanding of linguistics - I might need a little more info on that one, and it sounds like a curiously modernist statement to me. When I read St. Augustine or St. Gregory of Nyssa (or any church father or classical philosopher, really), I find them saying the kinds of things that our postmodern philosophers are saying right now (not to mention in a more succinct and compelling manner).

For example, compare Plato's and Augustine's concern about images with Jean Baudrillard's. They are virtually the same. While we should really engage these thinkers (which for a Christian operating as such is really unavoidable), we need to know our own toolbox. I think this is the real strength of Smith's work as he levels an orthodox critique of postmodernism using some very old (and yet not rusty at all) tools.
Let me know if I'm missing your main point though - I might be.
- Daniel Posted by: Daniel June 26, 2008 at 11:44 PM

Some of the individuals behind the idea of social construction are invariably modernists, though, so it's unfair to equate it with postmodernism. James K.A. Smith includes Foucault out of necessity, not because the man belongs in a line-up of postmodernists. Foucault himself rejected the label and believed that some kind of reality existed, but did not believe that we had gotten at it (his sentiments do not sound that far of from N.T. Wright's on this subject). This is why the distinction between weak and strong social construction, in my opinion, seems like a charming but ultimately fruitless concept. It doesn't matter if we can get at reality or not if we can't understand it. Weak social construction seems just as dangerous as the strong, with the only element to be gained from the weak being a mind-relaxing idea of reality being out there.

I'm interested in this statement of yours, "I have no reason to believe..." to which a proponent of social construction would say "it's a construction that reality is predicated upon the operations of logic." Of course, you can respond as you did - both of the arguments are circular and ultimately self-defeating. You may argue that such an argument is all construction, while a constructionist could ask that you demonstrate the rationality or necessity of a commitment to a form of rationality or logic. In doing so you'd be begging the question, assuming the very thing you'd be trying to prove.

But I think this really strays too far from the subject at hand, which is that postmodernism does not really challenge the church to the extent that most people think it does, which was my point in reviewing James K.A. Smith's book. In fact, it might end up that the Bible could speak to postmodernists. Posted by: Daniel June 30, 2008 at 11:36 PM

Jill, it was more a sarcastic and rhetorical comment than anything. But I do think you've emphasized a very profound point about the subject that I didn't mention enough much in the original post - too many people talk about different groups of people, and in my experience it's the "postmodernists" that get this treatment more than most, as if they have to convert to something else before converting to Christianity. We are quick to look at people who believe very different things and we instinctively think they might need to embrace something else (perhaps a pro-life position) before they can embrace Jesus. But you've rightly pointed out that Jesus has to be embraced first before anything else falls into place. The Bible does speak to the concerns of the postmodern thinker, and I think we'd do best just to get out of its way. Posted by: Daniel July 02, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Rudolf Steiner’s mistake was to reduce knowledge of the soul to knowledge of spiritual beings

A New Science of Soul - The Essence of my Philosophy -by Peter Wilberg

Freud’s first mistake was to reduce the innate sensuality of the soul to its sexuality, understood as a set of instinctive, biologically and evolutionarily determined drives. At the same time he identified meaning with its expression in dream symbols or its representation in words – focusing on symbolic sexual meanings in particular. Identifying meaning as such with its symbols — with indirectly signified sense — it was only natural for him to regard as ‘unconscious’ the entire realm of directly sensed significance. Resonance with the wordlessly sensed and sensually experienced meaning of a patient’s words or dreams, gave way to methods of ‘intepretation’ in which the sensed significance of a word or symbol was reduced to its signified sense – the sense that could be made of it in words or through association with other symbols.

Both psychonalysis and spiritual science sought and claimed a type of scientific knowledge of the soul or psyche. Freud’s second mistake, further accentuated by Jung, was to reduce knowledge of the soul and its sensual qualities to knowledge of symbols. Yet meaning or sense is not essentially a property of symbols at all but rather intrinsic to sensual experiencing. It is something directly felt before it is given form in words or images.

Rudolf Steiner’s mistake was to reduce knowledge of the soul to knowledge of spiritual beings. Both mistakes are equally disastrous. For any true ‘knowledge’ of the soul must begin with the recognition that what we call soul is in essence itself a type of knowing. ‘Soul’ is itself a direct knowing awareness, entirely free of symbols and yet imbued, like music, with intrinsically meaningful sensual qualities. This knowing awareness is not the property of any beings, human or spiritual — for in essence it is an awareness of those unbounded potentialities of beings that are the source of all actual beings. The ancient term for inner knowing was gnosis.

My philosophy and psychology is gnostic in the deepest possible sense, for it understands soul as that knowing, sensual yet free of symbols, that is the source of all beings. No true knowledge of the spiritual world can arise as a type of science that is ‘entitative’ — that postulates as its starting point a set of actual pre-existing energies, things or beings. True knowledge begins with essential gnosis — the recognition that knowing precedes being, and is the source from which all beings and all realities arise. The soul is not what we know ‘about’ it, for it is itself a condensed knowing that constitutes the core of our own being. Our being is but the ever-changing way we express and embody that knowing.

Heidegger, Phenomenology and Indian Thought (Paperback) by Peter Wilberg (Author) THE NEW YOGA - TANTRA REBORN (THE SENSUALITY & SEXUALITY OF OUR IMMORTAL SOUL BODY) by Peter Wilberg (Paperback - Jun 1, 2007) Tantric Wisdom for Today's World - The New Yoga of Awareness by Peter Wilberg (Paperback - Sep 1, 2007) The Awareness Principle: A Radical New Philosophy of Life, Science & Religion by Peter Wilberg (Paperback - Aug 15, 2007) 7:02 AM See also

August 22, 2008

Sri Aurobindo Foundation For Integral Management, Puducherry

"The conditions under which men live upon earth are the result of their state of consciousness; to seek to change the conditions without changing the consciousness is a vain chimera." The Mother

the need approach activities location & facilities publications/avs research projects

At the international level the world is faced with many problems involving trade, security and defence, regional conflicts, growing terrorism, disparity between the interests of the highly developed countries and the others.
In India there is a great deficit in the national budget, an oversized bureaucracy, increasing violence and deterioration of law and order, problems of education, illiteracy and juvenile delinquency, conflicts between states, castes, creeds, and religions groups, a loss of significance in daily lives and a great drop in moral and ethical values. It would be hard to affirm that India is contributing significantly to the prosperity of mankind and to the development of the world.
Many solutions have been tried - political, social, economic and religious. But nothing seems to have worked. Most of them have been based on western models. The solution that India has to find for herself has to be founded on her own peculiar genius and ethos.
Obviously we have to work in several directions as the problem is complex. But one field which is going to play an important role in the future is the field of Management, because our sucess will depend a great deal on the ability of the managers to perform.
Several hundreds of books are written every year on the principles and practices of management. Many more are written on reasons for success or failures of corporations around the world. Hundreds of seminars and workshops are held in every nook and corner of the globe debating management issues. There exist a large number of management schools educating young people on the basic principles of management. Thousands of companies spend billions of dollars on holding management workshops for different levels of managers within their organisations.
All these books and seminars are founded on various principles and observations. Most of these emanate from the United States of America. Most of the case studies too are about American corporations. In India, our curriculae in management schools has followed primarily the American structure. Our students are expected to absorb the American principles and practices and apply them to a totally different set of problems and cultural backgrounds.
Japan too faced this problem and tried to develop an indigenous model. It was dramatically successful in the first few decades after the war. But recently the system has come under tremendous strain mainly because the Japanese corporations continued to be predominantly western in their approach.
In India there is now an increasing awareness and effort by a few business corporations, management scholars and consultants to discover and create our very own principles based on the Indian ethos and rooted in Indian history, mythology and spirituality. This will enable our young managers to bring meaningful solutions to India's problems. For our solutions have to be in sync with the psyche of the Indian people and meet with their needs and aspirations.
And then perhaps India will also be able to make a meaningful contribution to management issues and problems arising all over the world.

Never before has man lived in such a state of perpetual stress, of immediate success threatened by imminent failure. This is because there has been an immense outer growth without a commensurate inner development. We are confronted with an evolutionary crisis between what man is and what he can be. And the key to the problem is to be found within man himself. This has been the approach of India down the ages.
The art and science of modern Management is a delicate balancing of the unpredictable, volatile and living human element with the mechanised precision of technology. Modern industrial and commercial organisations have attained a high level of mastery in managing the technological component of organisations. But it is in dealing with and harnessing the human element that the modern manager finds the greatest difficulty. Innumerable theories, systems and strategies for managing "human resources" in organisations are offered, tried, tested, experimented and practised with various degrees of success, but none of them seems to have solved the problem of "human resources development" with any decisive completeness.
It is in this field of "man-management" that Indian spiritual philosophy and psychology can provide the modern manager with a deep, penetrating and holistic insight into the human dimensions of an organisation. This does not mean that the spiritual approach has nothing to offer in other aspects of management. There are many valuable insights of spiritual sciences, which can provide a new and alternative system of transforming attitudes and values in the management of non-human inputs also like materials, capital, energy, technology and in the management of time.
For, a modern industrial-commercial organisation is a miniature world in itself and represents, in a small scale, all the different problems, potentialities and facets of the contemporary human society, the dynamics of social relations, play of human psychology, clash of politics, government controls, creativity of human consciousness, dilemmas of human development, lure and power of money and position, problems of environmental preservation and energy conservation, and the difficulties of managing the breathtaking pace of environmental changes and technological progress. The solutions to these problems and the full manifestation of the potentialities depend to a great extent on the quality of management. This implies that any breakthrough in the theory and practice of management is bound to have repercussions for the progress and well-being of the entire human community.

Sri Aurobindo Foundation For Integral Management will come up in successive phases. In the first phase it will concentrate on seminars and workshops for senior managers and executives. The idea is that if the leaders can grasp and practise the fundamental principles, they will be able to inspire their organisations to higher levels of achievement.
In the later phase the workshops can be expanded to include other levels of management and programmes of longer duration.
Sri Aurobindo Foundation For Integral Management will draw upon the best of western management skills and technology, but look at the various issues from an Indian stand-point and with deeper values. It will emphasise that unless an individual learns to manage himself, he cannot manage others or the environment. It will thus seek to help the managers to develop and express fully their inner potential.
The Centre will therefore enlarge the scope of management workshops to include various activities which will enrich the participant and equip him to deal effectively with situations of stress and strain. For instance the managers will be exposed to Indian culture, music, meditation and Indian spiritual thought. They will learn simple yogasanas and breathing exercises, learn more about diet and proper sleep and how to enhance their health and fitness at all levels, including an exposure to alternative disciplines of medicine, which have minimum side-effects and can yet help in dealing with day to day ailments.
Sri Aurobindo Foundation For Integral Management is a centre for both research and training for managers and executives.

Sri Aurobindo Foundation For Integral Management will be situated near the sea-shore about 6km. from Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu. The architecture, the landscaping and the entire environment will be conductive to creating peace of mind for maximum creativity and assimilation.
The complex will have a main Conference Hall, fully equipped with the latest facilities and audio-visual equipment including carousel projectors, TVs/VCRs/LCDs/Film Projectors etc. The hall will be able to seat 300 persons at a time with possibilities of dividing the hall into work areas for 30 to 50 persons. There will also be smaller rooms for break-out sessions.
A special emphasis will be laid on a healthy life-style. There will be 70 fully furnished residential rooms for the participants and the faculty, a fitness centre with a modern gym, a canteen serving wholesome food, a library and a meditation hall. There will also be an audiotorium to stage cultural and musical programmes.

home about sas sas activities onlife, online calendar sas & you feedback about site sitemap the ashram centre of education auroville pondicherry
15th august the mother sri aurobindo

I don’t consider Georges van Vrekhem’s Beyond Man as hagiography at all

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--Adesh and History
by Vikas on Thu 21 Aug 2008 10:38 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

"Maybe the quest for truth takes a lot of patience, labor into matters invisible.." is well put. While we labor into the invisible, He too labors in us, the visible. Let alone the life of a supreme Yogi like Sri Aurobindo, it is even difficult for us to discern the workings of the Divine Diplomat in our own lives as "He comes unseen into our darker parts And, curtained by the darkness, does His work" often using "our fall a means for greater rise".

Reply Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--Adesh and History
by RY Deshpande on Thu 21 Aug 2008 06:40 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Please read again the following statement from Peter Heehs:

“It certainly is legitimate to cite Aurobindo’s own statements about this and other inner experiences. But personal reminiscences don’t count for much in scholarly biographies unless they are backed up by objective data and analysis. But what sort of objective data was I to look for? (Nobody knew what was going on in Aurobindo’s head.) If I wanted to discuss this inner event, did I have to switch (in mid stream) from the conventions of scholarly biography to the conventions of spiritual biography, that is, hagiography? Or could I get beyond the conventions of both genres?”

If something is not a scholarly biography, then does the spiritual biography automatically become hagiography? In my opinion it need not be so. As an example, I don’t consider Georges van Vrekhem’s Beyond Man as hagiography at all. And mark the phrase personal reminiscences don’t count for much in scholarly biographies unless they are backed up by objective data and analysis.

  • But what are these objective data?
  • Records in government files?
  • If there aren’t such objective data, then do we dismiss all spiritual experiences narrated in one way or the other, through letters, through poetry, during private conversations, for instance?
  • When the Mother says that Sri Aurobindo’s coming was a direct action from the Supreme, do we ask her, “but Madame, where are the data?”
  • Otherwise was she simply telling us stories and that we the gullibles were believing in them?

Ultimately it looks as though each one to his own liking, and so one need not really argue about these matters. ~ RYD

Reply Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--About Avatarhood
by RY Deshpande on Thu 21 Aug 2008 05:29 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

“Avatarhood is one of the knottiest of metaphysical questions.” True, and to us it will always remain so, a “great mystery of the Divine manifest in humanity”, as long as we will live only in our restricted domain of mind. But divine works, divyam karma, and divine birth, divyam janma are an occult-spiritual fact and they just cannot come in the purview of the inflexible and strict rational thinking. By positing it that way one might arrive at some truth of it, unravel a part of the mystery, but the true significance of the purpose and process of Avatarhood will always elude that faculty of ours. In any case one thing is certain, that the Avatar comes in order to take in a decisive way the evolution a step farther. Let’s read Sri Aurobindo in The Essays on the Gita:

“For to the modern mind Avatarhood is one of the most difficult to accept or to understand of all the ideas that are streaming in from the East upon the rationalised human consciousness. It is apt to take it at the best for a mere figure for some high manifestation of human power, character, genius, great work done for the world or in the world, and at the worst to regard it as a superstition,—to the heathen a foolishness and to the Greeks a stumbling-block. The materialist, necessarily, cannot even look at it, since he does not believe in God; to the rationalist or the Deist it is a folly and a thing of derision; to the thoroughgoing dualist who sees an unbridgeable gulf between the human and the divine nature, it sounds like a blasphemy. The rationalist objects that if God exists, he is extracosmic or supracosmic and does not intervene in the affairs of the world, but allows them to be governed by a fixed machinery of law,—he is, in fact, a sort of far-off constitutional monarch or spiritual King Log, at the best an indifferent inactive Spirit behind the activity of Nature, like some generalised or abstract witness Purusha of the Sankhyas; he is pure Spirit and cannot put on a body, infinite and cannot be finite as the human being is finite, the ever unborn creator and cannot be the creature born into the world,—these things are impossible even to his absolute omnipotence. To these objections the thoroughgoing dualist would add that God is in his person, his role and his nature different and separate from man; the perfect cannot put on human imperfection; the unborn personal God cannot be born as a human personality; the Ruler of the worlds cannot be limited in a nature-bound human action and in a perishable human body. These objections, so formidable at first sight to the reason, seem to have been present to the mind of the Teacher in the Gita when he says that although the Divine is unborn, imperishable in his self-existence, the Lord of all beings, yet he assumes birth by a supreme resort to the action of his Nature and by force of his self-Maya; that he whom the deluded despise because lodged in a human body, is verily in his supreme being the Lord of all; that he is in the action of the divine consciousness the creator of the fourfold Law and the doer of the works of the world and at the same time in the silence of the divine consciousness the impartial witness of the works of his own Nature,—for he is always, beyond both the silence and the action, the supreme Purushottama. And the Gita is able to meet all these oppositions and to reconcile all these contraries because it starts from the Vedantic view of existence, of God and the universe.”

So if the modern mind can open itself to such an all-comprehensive view of existence, of God and the universe, to the metaphysics of spirituality, based on spiritual experience and realisation, then there is a chance of it entering into the spirit of the Avatarhood also. ~ RYD

Reply Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--About Avatarhood
by Vikas on Thu 21 Aug 2008 06:28 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

I like the concluding paragragh "So if the modern mind....entering into the spirit of the Avatarhood also". Further if we accept the principle of spiritual evolution - an evolution of consciousness - just as we accept Darwinian evolution for the physical forms, then the concept of Avatarhood would be less abstruse. Reply

August 20, 2008

Paradigms of Psychological Knowledge: A Historical & Cross-Cultural Perspective

You are here ICIS ForumsSite news ► Courses beginning October 2008
Courses beginning October 2008 by Anuradha Agrawal - Saturday, 19 July 2008, 11:37 PM

Two New Courses are being launched beginning 3rd October, 2008. Enrollments are on now. Please contact for information and/or enrollment.
Paradigms of Psychological Knowledge: A Historical & Cross-Cultural Perspective (Suneet Varma, PhD)
Introduction to Vedas in the Light of Sri Aurobindo (Vladimir Yatsenko)

Course in Progress by Anuradha Agrawal - Monday, 5 May 2008, 01:34 AM

The pilot course of ICIS - 'The Integral Way of Sri Aurobindo' was launched on 9th April. Yesterday (i.e. 4th May) we had the first Skype Conference over the internet wherein the students and the facilitators discussed issues related to the content, the format, and the pace of the course.
The general feedback was positive as the course was found to be helpful in supporting one's practice of Integral Yoga, through clarification of concepts, as well as a certain pressure to read and reflect (due to the weekly format for lectures and submissions). The potential of Moodle as an educational platform allowing immediacy of feedback, interaction, transparency, too was appreciated.
Issues of concern were related to the inability at times to keep up to the weekly submission deadlines, due to pressure of work, family commitments, travel, ill-health, etc. For the time being it was decided that though the lectures will follow the weekly format, the deadlines for submissions for each assignment/quiz would be kept open for 3 weeks.
Students also asked for more discussion, more interaction over the forums. The feedback given by the facilitator on individual assignments/submissions through Moodle, was found to be helpful. Posting on site of certain questions and interchanges with a specific student, for all to view, was also found to be helpful. It was decided that even the responses to reflective questions would be uploaded on the site for other students (without disclosing the respondent's identity), post-deadline, once the grading and evaluation process was complete.
The glitches in the Grading system were discussed (phrasing of the Objective multiple-choice questions should make it clear if one or more answers are expected; the grade for the reflective questions should relate to only the 3 best answers as required, rather than deducting marks for other choices not answered).
There was some discussion on recommended readings (leading the students to read the original text and other works before responding to the questions), finding the books online, end-of-course monograph.
The facilitator stated that 2 more online conferences will be scheduled in the near future. (The conference lasted for 80 minutes.)

But it seems Peter Heehs has really nothing to do with Sri Aurobindo as an Avatar, the incarnate Divine

That is religion, of whatever brand it be—but there’s also a lesson for the spiritual practitioner. If there’s a call for the spiritual life, the response lies in going by the triple formula of aspiration-rejection-surrender:... If this is not followed then, it’s immaterial whether you do this or you do that. You may call it Integral Yoga, you may call it Religion, you may call it Spirituality, and what not; but it will not satisfy the soul’s deepest urge seeking the Divine within you, and everywhere. If our concern is this single objective then, all talk about rationality, blind faith—seeing faith is an extremely rare commodity—pale into insignificance. We go to a spiritually accomplished person to seek his help in this regard and endeavour to follow it if we are centrally alert to its methodology, sincere to our own deepest urge. If I’m in the Ashram, for instance, I must always remember the purpose for which I’m here—the rest becomes inconsequential. And the beauty is, this is true in every walk of life. If I can follow my path,—and that path can be by whatever faculty in me is most open, most developed,—what else is required? That path can be by the opening of the mind or the emotional being or the perfection in the physical work or the acts of nobility,—to put in the technical parlance as Jnana Yoga-Raja Yoga-Bhakti Yoga-Karma Yoga. All are equally superior and going by any one of them will the Guide or the Divine give whatever is necessary for the fulfillment of the soul’s deepest urge. In that situation all comparisons become meaningless. The supreme truth is: “There are two powers that alone can effect in their conjunction the great and difficult thing which is the aim of our endeavor,—a fixed and unfailing aspiration that calls from below and—a supreme Grace from above that answers.” That is all that matters. ~ RYD Reply
Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--Adesh and History
by RY Deshpande on Tue 19 Aug 2008 10:00 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

In my earlier comment dated 13 August 2008 in the above, I’d introduced Peter Heehs’s The Lives of Sri Aurobindo published recently by the Columbia University Press. Apropos of the author’s own introduction to the book, here is my brief response.

The first important question to be answered in this regard is: Can matters spiritual come under scrutiny of the research methodologies of history? Much of our way of looking at biographies of the spiritual persons will depend upon the answer to it. But that is precisely what a professional historian would like to maintain in order to ‘rationalise’ even the biography of a Yogi, one whose life is never “on the surface for men to see”, that the life of a spiritual person should come under the close inquiry and examination of tight historical scholarship. And then, granting that there is a possibility of Avatarhood or divine Incarnation upon earth, we have the baffling question of writing an accurate biography of such a one, a stupendous question. There is one particular kind of a mind which considers itself too righteous and all that which does not come under its zealous cutting purview is, to it, trivial, inconsequential, worthless, credulous, bagatelle, and that which must be disregarded unceremoniously. Nothing much can be done about it, as far as this “squat godhead artisan” mind is concerned, and perhaps nothing need also be done about it. Very often these prickling irksome ‘intellectuals’ who lack perception come and go, making not more than a moment’s impact,—that is, one could just ignore them. The deeper truth is the quiet work that continues to be done—in spite of them. Yet at times it might become interesting, and perhaps sufficiently rewarding also, if with it one could see the deeper truth behind things.

Let us take an example of Peter Heehs scripting an event in the early life of Sri Aurobindo in which matters spiritual have been knotted with the issues that appeal to the audacious western mind going by its quick rational faculty. Not that it is there everywhere so, even as we witness not unoften vastly observant, insightful and intuitive writers seeing things with some other vision, some other responsiveness opening in them.

Georges van Vrekhem’s Beyond Man and Satprem’s The Adventure of Consciousness are very remarkable in that respect. Thus:

“… if we start quite simply, without preconceptions… armed with an open truth and a total confidence in the integral possibilities of man, we shall perhaps have a chance to arrive at an integral knowledge and so at an integral life. Seen from the point of view of an evolution of the consciousness, reincarnation ceases to be the futile round… With a clarity typical of the West, Sri Aurobindo rids us of this spiritual romancing, as the Mother calls it, into which so many serious learnings have degenerated since the Age of the Mysteries…”

But it seems Peter Heehs has really nothing to do with Sri Aurobindo as an Avatar, the incarnate Divine. He writes:

“There is general agreement among students of religion that Aurobindo was a remarkable mystic, but few are willing to swallow the claim of some of his followers that he was an avatar, like Krishna, Chaitanya or Christ.”

This is notwithstanding the repeated statements of the Mother, that he was a direct action straight from the Supreme, that “his was a spirit that stooped from larger spheres into our province of ephemeral sight, carrying with him the strength of the original Permanence”. What else is an Avatar then? When this is forgotten and, more unpardonably, set aside, we land ourselves into clumsiness of history.

In his Aspects of Sri Aurobindo, Amal Kiran points it out with his characteristic journalistic incisiveness, clarity and forthrightness. The incidence is of Sri Aurobindo receiving a divine command, ādeśa, to go to Pondicherry. Amal writes:

“In the issue of Sri Aurobindo: Archives and Research for December 1987 the Archives Notes are partly aimed at settling certain queries raised by statements of the writer [Peter Heehs] two years earlier in the same periodical. His new statements too have come in for criticism. It may be that his true drift has failed to be caught, but the cause of the failure, if any, must lie at his own door. For, whatever his intentions, a persistent trend in his way of putting things has led to an impression of inaccuracy and of hazing the real posture of some extraordinary events. … We are now concerned only with one particular theme of his, which call for serious reconsideration: ‘What role did the man named Parthasarathy Iyengar play in Sri Aurobindo’s connection with Pondicherry?’ Parthasarathy was the secretary for the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company which the Iyengar family was financially supporting for patriotic reasons. During his tour in Northern India in that capacity he met Sri Aurobindo in Calcutta and discussed the nationalist and cultural activities in which both the parties were engaged. … Sri Aurobindo’s meeting with Pathasarathy is confirmed by his own diary note of Tuesday 20 July 1909, which was meant to remind him of the appointment.”

Some time later when Sri Aurobindo was in Chandernagore, he received an unmistakable inner order, ādeśa, instructing him to go to Pondicherry. The political situation in India was such that, the British rulers of the time were hell-bent upon arresting Sri Aurobindo and deporting him to the far away and dreaded Andamans, the Black Waters. Sri Aurobindo immediately sent a letter, through his young colleague Suresh Chakravarti, to Parthasarathy at Pondicherry, requesting him to make arrangements for his stay. This brings into focus their earlier meeting in Calcutta, on 20 July 1909.

Peter Heehs’s note in the Archives says the following:

“We have seen that Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry at the suggestion of no one, but the obedience to a divine command [ādeśa]. But by speaking to Sri Aurobindo about Pondicherry, Parthasarathy may have played an instrumental role in his coming.”

He further maintains that, as a professional historian, his acceptance of the ādeśa as the cause of Sri Aurobindo’s coming to Pondicherry does not oblige him “to suspend all considerations of the political and other circumstances surrounding his departure” from British India. In order to strengthen his interpretation, he bolsters his view from Sri Aurobindo’s writings that the divine Force does not act independently of cosmic forces.

“I think it at least plausible that the ādeśa that directed Sri Aurobindo to go to Pondicherry operated within a nexus of forces that included the attempts of the British to have him arrested, and the recently established contact between him and the revolutionaries of Pondicherry.”

But there are the divine pragmatics also.

The ādeśa or the divine command is always “clear and irresistible”, an imperative and not going by it could be disastrous, which perhaps had happened prior to his arrest in the famous Alipore Bomb Case, on 5 May 1908. But our historian writes:

“I have no difficulty in accepting that Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry as a result of an ādeśa and at the same time accepting that there were political factors behind his departure.”

But the undeniable fact is, Sri Aurobindo did come to Pondicherry under the clear and compelling injunctions of the ādeśa, and that’s all; that’s the occult aspect which one may accept or just discount depending upon one’s own predilections,—but in these matters the deeper truth is always the occult. Political or other operational factors surely get arranged in the sequel of this higher working, and it is not the other way round. In actual fact, if Sri Aurobindo was a Yogi, and a Yogi par excellence at that, then in his case such occult factors cannot be disregarded. If the minds of professional historians fail to recognize these occult imperatives, then so much the worse for the professional history.

To recapitulate: Visit of Parthasarathy Iyengar to Sri Aurobindo on 20 July 1909 in Calcutta, Sri Aurobindo’s receiving the ādeśa to go to Chandernagore in early February 1910, his receiving another ādeśa towards the end of March 1910 to go to Pondicherry, and prior to that Sri Aurobindo’s sending a letter through Suresh Chakravarti to Parthasarathy Iyengar in Pondicherry to make arrangements for his stay there are facts of history. But their relationships, correlations, interpretations can be varying. Peter Heehs has his own interpretation which is not necessarily binding on others. It is obvious that with regard to spiritual persons a faculty other than the cut-and-dry professional history must come into play, another discernment, another elevating intuition in touch with the higher truth.

The impression one gets from Peter Heehs’s interpretation is that, in the case of Sri Aurobindo’s coming to Pondicherry, political factors were so overriding, so powerful that they even caused the arrival of the ādeśa itself, that they prompted the ādeśa-giver himself to issue out those instructions. Such is then the authority of political factors! Such will be the topsy-turvy miracle wrought by the purists of history. And there are plenty of people to buy it. If this is true then, it would amount to saying that political factors were kind of solely or primarily responsible or instrumental in initiating Sri Aurobindo into his avataric work, the unfoldment of his life governed by external factors rather than by the compelling truth-force of his being itself, of his soul and his spirit in oneness with the One, his identity with the Divine. Who shapes whom?—that’s the question; the nexus of forces here forcing the divine issue or the divine issue working out the nexus of forces?

Sri Aurobindo says that he had to obey it, the command from Sri Krishna. In that case we will be told that he did not exercise his own mind but subjected himself to somebody else who was in turn driven by the political factors operating here. That’s what the historian’s interpretation would plainly amount to. But let us leave it at that and go by our own perceptions of things in the strength and purity of the cognition in contact with the higher truth and not by the mental ideas and formulations when it comes to authentic spiritual matters. Sri Aurobindo went to Pondicherry on “the afflatus of a divine injunction”—and to speak of Parthasarathy being “instrumental” is a misconception. Let’s ignore it.

Instead of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo let’s read The Adventure of Consciousness. After the ādeśa “Go to Pondicherry” Sri Aurobindo recollected his meeting with Parthsarathy and set himself to make the necessary arrangements for his stay there. Parthasarathy formed a “link between the ādeśa at Chandernagore and Sri Aurobindo’s finding a suitable residence in Pondicherry among solicitous friends.” Sri Aurobindo was now working in the data and parameters of this world and that’s the only practical aspect behind the epoch-making command, the divine ādeśa; the rest is connected with his work as the incarnate Divine.

“He heard the Voice, suddenly, which spoke directly three words: Go to Chandernagore. Ten minutes later Sri Aurobindo took the first boat down the Ganges and was gone. This was the end of his political life, the end of the integral yoga,” writes Satprem, “and the beginning of the supramental yoga… He found the Secret at Chandernagore in 1910 and worked on it for forty years; he gave up his life for this. The Mother continues. Sri Aurobindo never told us the circumstances of his discovery; he was extraordinarily silent about himself, not through reserve, but simply because the “I” did not exist. ‘One felt,’ reports his host at Chandernagore with the naïve surprise, ‘one felt when he spoke as if somebody else was speaking through him… He appeared to be absorbed even when he was eating; he used to meditate with open eyes.’ … At the moment Sri Aurobindo began his ascension towards the overmind, his consciousness descended, simultaneously, into what is conventionally called hell… This was the starting point of Sri Aurobindo’s discovery.” This was the secret found by him at Chandernagore.

Possibly such is the meaning of the divine ādeśa totally beyond our comprehension. If that is the case, trust then no historian. One has to simply go by one’s own inner perception—and there is always the bright opportunity, the full joyous scope, of this perception becoming wide and conscient and acceptable. In it is the true spiritual progress. That is what Sri Aurobindo had come to give to us, to the aspiring soul in its full divine possibilities. Let us prepare ourselves to receive it, let us grow in it, let us progress in it. ~ RYD Reply

August 19, 2008

Spiritual philosophy, yoga, social and political evolution, futurology, poetry and literature, Indian culture and spiritual scriptures

We start from the idea that humanity is moving to a great change of its life which will even lead to a new life of the race, – in all countries where men think, there is now in various forms that idea and that hope, – and our aim has been to search for the spiritual, religious and other truth which can enlighten and guide the race in this movement and endeavour.
Sri Aurobindo

We invite all universities, colleges, and institutions of higher education throughout the world to collaborate in offering learners across the globe courses in the study of Sri Aurobindo's integral thought. We invite interested learners, including those attending other universities and centres of learning, to partake in the courses we are offering at Sri Aurobindo Darshan: The University of Tomorrow. CLICK HERE TO READ SACAR NEWSLETTER

Our Endeavour
Sri Aurobindo Darshan: The University of Tomorrow is a project of Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research (SACAR) offering online and distance learning (correspondence) higher education programmes and courses dedicated to the ideals and vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in such areas as spiritual philosophy, yoga, social and political evolution, futurology, poetry and literature, Indian culture and spiritual scriptures. Here, learners from all over the world can devote themselves to the knowledge of the truth of tomorrow, following Certificate, Master's and Doctoral level programmes of study. The University seeks to consecrate itself to the discovery and practice of the fundamental principles of a new society that embodies and expresses a new consciousness. It has drawn together scholars throughout the world to facilitate its classes and to guide learners and scholars in their study, research, and creative work related to these ideals.

Our doctoral programme is designed to assist the learner in developing a broad and deep understanding of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophical thought and spiritual practice. Each Ph.D student is assigned a guide who is selected depending on the learner’s area of study.
The doctoral programme has several distinct phases that the learner is required to complete to the satisfaction and approval of the guide and doctoral committee. While the bulk of the mentoring for the programme is done online, learners are also required to attend two personal contact periods at SACAR.

Sri Aurobindo did not become enlightened overnight

ned said...Nagarjuna, I can't reply to everything, as I'm working on another paper again (I'm still waiting for your reply via e-mail). By "naturalistic spirituality" I meant pantheism, or some sort of spirituality that denies the existence of higher planes of reality or states of consciousness, etc., and holds that this egoic human state is as good as it gets (lord help us, in that case! ;-) ). "The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World" by Owen Flanagan, is a good example of what I would be wanting to critique. 9:28 AM

About why Aurobindo, Christ, etc. seem to be vastly superior to us spiritually (if at all), well, in Aurobindo's case, by his own admission, he started off being as normal and human and ignorant as anyone else (you really should look at Peter Heehs' new biography "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo"). Sri Aurobindo did not become enlightened overnight, it was through a harsh struggle with life's troubles that he managed. He says this himself many times, that there is nothing special about what he did, that he undertook a rigorous discipline and that it wasn't an overnight miracle. He insists that anyone else can do it as well, but it requires a lot of practice, sincerity and intensity of seeking, and I think the latter two things is where most people fall apart. Most of us do not realize that our human attachments are weighing us down spiritually and it usually takes a lot of suffering before one starts to become conscious of this and starts aspiring for something more.

Nevertheless, to be honest, personally I am quite inclined to believe in reincarnation as an ontological necessity. Simply because, each person comes into this world with a certain amount of karmic attachments to the past, and different people seem to have different types of karma. We do not all start off on an equal footing -- this is a fact that cannot be denied. So if this one life is all we have, then most of us are quite screwed. ;-)

For Sri Aurobindo, reincarnation itself is an evolutionary process. He critiques popular accounts of reincarnation as being kind of nonsensical; he says the only purpose of the soul reincarnating is for its evolutionary development. When it reaches a certain level of development it merges into the Supreme and is no longer subject to the laws of karma, liberated from the contingencies of time and space.

You could see reincarnation as the intervention of the "vertical" in the realm of the "horizontal". To be honest, my major spiritual awakening on February 12, 2005, which I talk about on my blog, was pretty much a death-rebirth experience for me. It was like I was given a second life that night, and my life's trajectory has completely changed since then. Things that looked impossible before that "death" seem very possible now. So I think these deaths and rebirths are happening all the time, whether within the same body, or between one mind-body-soul complex and another one.

Sean Kelly, a professor at CIIS and a scholar at Esalen, has actually been working on a theory of "integral time", which tries to incorporate reincarnation and is actually quite fascinating, to my mind:,%20Integral%20Time,%20Vol.4%20No.1.pdf

The person who accumulates personal power becomes his own first victim, spiritually, and is prone to all sorts of psychological disorders, possibly even psychosis, which is what happened to Sartre and Nietzsche. The former went into depression and the latter into psychosis -- again, vital strength, but little soul-level guidance, somehow they missed out on the Grace.

Ditto with Foucault: in his works he describes power relations and abuses of power exquisitely on the mental plane, but had no idea about how to put theory into practice -- how *do* we put a stop to these abuses of the vital once and for all? Foucault spent the last few years of his life obsessed with sadomasochism and a search for "limit" experiences -- and a fascination with death.

To me it is obvious what this is: it is the vital seeking the Divine Ananda, but without an awareness of the soul, one has to resort to external means, crude means, trying to inflict oneself with severe sensations of pain and pleasure to sort of artificially create the experience of Ananda.

Seriously, working with the vital is a dangerous game, it's like playing with fire. All these spiritual gurus who wind up being abusive, it is the same story -- they have not conquered and transmuted the vital, and so they can't resist being abusive from time to time.

I guess I should thank Gagdad Bob, because the insights I've been getting about the vital lately have been directly inspired by the experience of revisiting his blog. ;-) And I've also realized there's tremendous vital arrogance and moral grandiosity in myself as well and it's high time I gave it proper attention from the level of the inner being.Okay I better stop now, I think I am crossing the line over into self-indulgence. (In fact I think I've left the line long behind now. ;-) ) 12:15 PM