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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Integral theory leads us logically to atheism

October 29th, 2006 (posted by ray harris) I think that integral theory leads us logically to atheism. A nondual ultimate reality is both nothing and everything. A creator God automatically leads us to dualism. So I often wonder why some Integralists seem to go soft on ‘theism’. Dawkins argues that there is an unexamined cultural norm to treat religious delusion with kid gloves. And yet I would argue this has very serious consequences. The reason the US has moved from a position where the founding fathers were either atheists or deists to where politicians cannot win office unless they declare they believe in God is precisely because religion has been accorded a ‘criticism-free’ status along with its ‘tax-free’ status. This has given it almost free reign to propagate nonsense. And when ‘nonsense’ based only on faith is allowed to trump reason then what we get is a devolution. We are supposed to move from the mythic to the rational and then to the integral. Integral should not be tolerating to move backwards from rational to mythical. This entry was posted on Sunday, October 29th, 2006 at 5:03 pm and is filed under Ray's Integral Blog, Integral Spirituality. 7 Responses to “The God delusion”
Andy Smith Says: October 29th, 2006 at 5:48 pm There are actually three parties in play here: science; mainstream western religions; and what can loosely be called New Agers. Each has their hardcore adherents, who are implacably opposed to the hardcore adherents of the other two. But each also has its more moderate adherents, who try to reach out to the moderates in the other two.
Hard core sympathizers with science, like Dawkins and Dennett, do not, as you point out, have much to say about Buddhism, which despite its ancient roots could be considered part of New Age in its broadest sense (as incorporated by integral theory). They spend most of their time attacking Western religion, because it’s quite easy to do so, and because, yes, it is extraordinarily influential in America. But I think Gould’s claim that science and religion operate in separate spheres makes a lot of sense with regard to integral theory. As Wilber points out, science is not an appropriate tool to use to seek certain forms of knowledge, a point that Dawkins et al. seem totally oblivious to. Really, the old adage, you don’t play the game, you don’t make the rules applies here. Since these scientific atheists are unwilling to make the effort to try meditation, they can have nothing to say about the reality of higher states of consciousness.

Kazlev's confessions

alan kazlev Says: November 14th, 2006 at 2:21 pm I havent studdied Derrida, so I cannot comment.
November 25th, 2006 (posted by alan kazlev) I’ve recently become very interested in Sri Ramana Maharshi... alan kazlev Says: November 27th, 2006 at 3:05 pm I haven’t really studied Ramakrishna at any length and once I have assimilated the insights and revelation of Sri Ramana I definitely should.
In TLDI 1-iv, I confess I treated Vrinte's comparative thesis on Sri Aurobindo and Ken Wilber very poorly, and I would like to apologise here to Dr Vrinte for the wrong done. The Integral/Holistic Paradigm: A Larger Definition. Integral Esotericism - Part Three Alan Kazlev 3-i

Creative freedom in the age of anxiety and dread

Re: The processed world of Marshall Mcluhan by Arthur Kroker by Debashish on Thu 30 Nov 2006 12:23 AM PST Profile Permanent Link Quite an interpretation of the McLuhanian text. Kroker ends with:
McLuhan was fated to be trapped in the deterministic world of technology, indeed to become one of the intellectual servomechanisms of the machine-world, because his Catholicism failed to provide him with an adequate cultural theory by which to escape the hegemony of the abstract media systems that he had sought to explore. .... His discourse could provide a brilliant understanding of the inner functioning of the technological media; but no illumination concerning how "creative freedom" might be won through in the "age of anxiety, and dread."
Does Kroker provide the "illumination concerning how creative freedom might be won through in the age of anxiety and dread"? Can we draw that "illumination" from IY? DB

Joseph Vrinte's book constitutes a ground-breaking academic comparison

The Integral/Holistic Paradigm: A Larger Definition. Integral Esotericism - Part Three Alan Kazlev 3-i. Why we need an Integral/Holistic Metaparadigm
In Towards a Larger Definition of the Integral 1-v the problem of defining "Integral" in the spiritual-philosophical sense of the word was mentioned. As readers of these essays would probably already be aware, currently in the general New Consciousness and New Age movement(s) there are a number of totally incompatible definitions of "Integral".
3-iv. Comparison of different Integral systems of thought: Sri Aurobindo and other teachings
Although a purely intellectual practice, the comparison of different Integrative/Holistic/Integral teachings and systems of thought is of some usefulness in showing the development of different common themes. The Indian academic Sisir Kumar Maitra, whose books and essays first popularised the teachings of Sri Aurobindo among philosophical circles both in India and abroad, argued, in contrast to other students of Sri Aurobindo, that western philosophical thought is essential if one is to understand the voluminous writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother[13], and provided comparisons of Sri Aurobindo and Bergson, Goethe, Nicolai Hartmann, Hegel, Plato, Plotinus, Spengler, and Whitehead.
Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin make an interesting pair, since in terms of general evolutionary cosmology they are very similar. For example Sri Aurobindo's stages of matter, life, and mind are very like the the sequence of geosphere, biosphere, and noosphere described by Russian geochemist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky and French Jesiut paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and his future state of Supramental Transformation has intriguing parallels with Teilhard's "Omega Point". A number of authors have pointed out the striking similarities between the two visionary thinkers[14].
Some of the themes taught by the faculty of the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies might also be applicable here. Mention might be made also of Robert McDermott who has studied both Rudolph Steiner and Sri Aurobindo; while Joseph Vrinte, a Dutch psychologist, student of Sri Aurobindo, and author of several books on integral and transpersonal psychology, has written several books comparing Sri Aurobindo's integral yoga psychology with Abraham Maslow's Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology, as well as with Ken Wilber's Integral theory.[15]
In TLDI 1-iv, I confess I treated Vrinte's comparative thesis on Sri Aurobindo and Ken Wilber very poorly, and I would like to apologise here to Dr Vrinte for the wrong done. For while indeed the intellectual perspective cannot convey the spiritual revelation or transmission beyond the purely mental, that does not mean that the mental approach should be summarily dismissed. In the larger, integrative, perspective, all approaches and methodologies have validity and should be honoured. Dr Vrinte's book constitutes a ground-breaking academic comparison between Sri Aurobindo and Wilber that is certainly worthy of addition to the Integral Corpus. It is not a mystical and revelatory work to be sure, and hence it belongs to the "exoteric" rather than the "esoteric" sphere, but that doesn't make it any the less valuable to those who wish to pursue this path of study.
Interestingly, even arguing only from the intellectual perspective, Vrinte considers Wilber's opus Sex, Ecology, Spirituality to be a second tier work; in comparison to Sri Aurobindo's thoroughly "3rd tier" writings (such as The Life Divine etc)[16] He also observes that Wilber when discussing his integral practice makes no mention of Aurobindonian spiritual methods: "aspiration for and faith in the divine, self-opening, equality and Grace or the paths of karma and bhakti"[17]. This is in keeping with my own critique of Wilber as overly intellectual and lacking in the heart-centered aspect. (see e.g. TLDI 2-vii, and this essay sect. 4-vi)
However few students or followers of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo's teachings are interested in the sort of comparative study Vrinte makes, perhaps due to the highly abstract intellectual nature of this methodology, which does not sit well with contemplative spiritual praxis. This would presumably be the reason why Vrinte's opus did not receive much of a reception among Aurobindonians (which is not to say it was ignored[18]) although strangely the work of the equally if not more intellectual S. K. Maitra is very highly regarded.
And because Vrinte comes out in favour of Sri Aurobindo as the greater philosopher, Wilber's followers have shown very little, or absolutely no interest, whatsoever[19], the only exception being Frank Visser, who in any case is now a Wilber critic. Thus what should have been an important comparative work is relegated to a few library shelves, ignored by the devotees of the two great integral teachers it compares.

Ending with Sri Aurobindo and The Mother

The Integral/Holistic Paradigm: A Larger Definition, Integral Esotericism - Part Three Alan Kazlev 3-i. Why we need an Integral/Holistic Metaparadigm
In Towards a Larger Definition of the Integral 1-v the problem of defining "Integral" in the spiritual-philosophical sense of the word was mentioned. As readers of these essays would probably already be aware, currently in the general New Consciousness and New Age movement(s) there are a number of totally incompatible definitions of "Integral"...
In recent years Wilber has become more "post-modernist"[3] and anti-metaphysical in orientation; this latter development is referred to as Wilber-V, in contrast to his more popular and more easily accessible preceding stage of Wilber-IV. Most people who are fans of Wilber seem to relate to him very much at his Wilber-IV level, as a spiritual philosopher; and thus they tend to misinterpret the current more secular and even more intellectually Wilber-V phase.
From the very start Wilber's understanding was, and still remains a very theoretical and quasi-academic approach. In fact his work - especially Wilber-IV and V - is the theoretical approach par excellence; probably the largest intellectual synthesis ever, a vast but flawed[4] monolith. In terms of the definitions given in sect 3-ii it is integral only in the first, theoretical, category; although there is some practical application of the Wilber-IV (AQAL) stage, in business and management, perhaps due to management consultant Don Beck's influence (see sect. 6-v). Unfortunately Wilber's recent ("Earpy" and following) antics have seriously damaged claims to Moral or Spiritual Integralism in either himself or his organisation, the latter because of the way it sycophantically went along with him, although there has been some individual dissatisfaction.
By post-Wilberian I mean those individuals who, formerly associated in some way with Wilber or his Integral Institute organisation, and/or fans of his work, have broken away from him due to limitations of his philosophy and/or concerns over his personality and the nature of his organisation. This is a very broad and rather amorphous category, which includes everyone from former followers turned critics such as Wilber-scholar and author Frank Visser, to those who have developed their own versions of intellectual Integral theory such as Andrew P. Smith and Eliot Benjamin, to completely non-Wilberian developments such as the socio-political commentaries of Ray Harris, the Integral Art of Matthew Dallman, and Michel Bauwens' reports on the emerging Peer to Peer participatory networked society. Many post-Wilberians of the theoretical bent however retain a rather academic and exoteric approach. As do the Wilberians, they use the term "Integral" to define their philosophy and methodology. Perhaps the most important post-Wilberian forums at the time of writing is Visser's Integral World website (formerly mostly pro-Wilber, now critical of him[5]) and the recently established (in June 2006) Open Integral blog. It is indicative of the strong role that the internet is playing in the development of the global noosphere and evolution of the collective consciousness that the Wilberians and post-Wilberians have their primary focus online.
I would not consider strong critics like David Lane, Geoff Falk or Jeff Meyerhoff to be post-Wilberians, because, although familiar with Wilber's work, none of them actually were Wilberians to begin with. For a similar reason, I would not consider myself post-Wilberian, my interest in developments in the Wilberian and post-Wilberian field and my definition of my own work as "integral" notwithstanding.
Apart from post-Wilberians and critics, Wilber and his Integral Institute's other big rival is the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies[6]. Memetically (sensu Dawkins and Transhumanism, not Beck and Wilber) the PCC program stands in pretty much a David and Goliath relationship with the Wilberian juggernaut. But the faculty here, and for that matter at the CIIS as a whole, certainly qualifies as presenting the Integral on the theoretical level, with elements of pragmatic (ecological philosophy, eco-feminism etc) , moral (consider the participatory philosophy of Tarnas and Ferrer), and some spiritual, but nothing systematic. They can also be included within the general New Paradigm movement.
It might be suggested that the more respectable aspects of New Age sensu lato[7], which is the same as the New Paradigm movement that began in the early 1980s with the books of Fritjof Capra and Marilyn Ferguson[8] is weak on theory (mostly a simplistic holistic approach) and spirituality (non-integral Eastern spirituality is preferred), but strong on practice and morality (healing society and healing the Earth). Visionary "New Age' teachers (regardless of whether or not they would use that term) such as David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson represent important contemporary voices in the wider (non-Wilberian/post-Wilberian) Integral/Holistic movement.
David Spangler is one of the founders of the New Age, and one of the early formative members of the Findhorn community. A whole generation of spirituals and esotericists, including myself, were influenced by his early seminal writings such as Revelation: Birth of a New Age, and Laws of Manifestation. Subsequently, disillusioned with New Age commercialism and glamour[9], Spangler has distanced himself from his early work, and is now involved in the very practical "Incarnational Spirituality" of the Lorian Association. Very much in keeping with the theme of physical or bodily transformation (sect 7-vii), Incarnational Spirituality rejects the conventional otherworldly emphasis solely with the transpersonal and transcendent, and looks at ways in which our everyday existence can be experienced as spiritual or sacred.
Spangler's associate and fellow-traveler William Irwin Thompson, whose influences include Marshall McLuhan, Jean Gebser, Sri Aurobindo, and Alfred North Whitehead, is a social philosopher, cultural critic, poet, and cultural historian who adopts a unique eclectic, highly creative and synthesising interpretation of both ancient mythology, contemporary esotericism, and politics and society today. He is critical of Wilber's excessively masculinist approach and "obsessive textbook mappings". In 1972, Thompson founded the Lindisfarne Association, a New Age retreat, think tank, and group of scientists, poets, and religious scholars who met in order to discuss and to participate in the emerging planetary consciousness, inspired by Jean Gebser's idea of an integral stage of consciousness, and Teilhard de Chardin's concept of the noosphere.
Unified Science (Edward Haskell et al) presents the basis for an Integral Morality in terms of a "coaction compass" or "coaction cardioid" (fig 7), by which the nine possible interactions between two entities can be shown graphically as a cybernetic diagram. I bought the book (Full Circle[10]) second-hand more than a quarter of a century ago and the simple diagram that is at the heart of this work has exerted a huge influence on me ever since. Like Wilber's AQAL diagram, it constitutes a sort of metaphysical map of physical reality; a glyph to be meditated upon. But whereas AQAL constitutes a static mandala, the coaction compass is a dynamic, evolutionary mandala. Written and then going out of print long before "Integral" became a buzz word, Full Circle and the Unified Science system is "integral" in both the Theoretical (although not in as much detail as Wilber), Practical (with implications in society, politics, and education) and especially Moral dimensions. Unfortunately the initiative has been defunct for many years, and in any case their work is currently looking quite dated, especially in view of developments of modern science. But I believe that no truly universal integral theory can afford to ignore the important insights and implications of this simple diagram.
Theosophy and its off-shoots (included under contemporary Western esotericism - see sect 2-v) are very much integral, theory-wise (constituting attempts at universal explanations of spiritual and occult knowledge), with more esotericism and less (or no) academic emphasis in comparison to Wilber. They also have a strong integral moral orientation, but (from my superficial observations) little in the way of either practical social or spiritual transformation. There are also some intriguing parallels between Wilber and H. P. Blavatsky (the founder of the Theosophical movement and hence much of contemporary Western esotericism) and their respective organisations, and in a later essay will suggest that they are part of the same larger Integral/Holistic evolution of ideas; Blavatsky being the original esoteric initiative, and Wilber the contemporary materialistic-exoteric initiative.
Anthroposophy, the movement established by Rudolf Steiner after he broke with Theosophy, is not only much more theoretically integral (integrative) than Theosophy (Steiner was a true universalist, who, it seems from his lectures, could talk about physics, agriculture, biology, history, art, literature, psychology, education, politics, philosophy, religion, and a thousand other diverse topics with ease, even though his explanations of some of them, such as the history of the Earth or Hindu or Buddhist concepts of liberation, were nothing but absurd), but also has practical applications in Education (Waldorf schools), Agriculture (Biodynamics), Dance, Art, and even Town Planning[11] Add to that the high moral principles of a better harmony with the Earth[12] . The spiritual element is there as well, but there does not seem to be much of systematic development; although reference is made to thinking "michaelically" and achieving a balance between the luciferic (otherworldiness) and ahrimanic (too much materialism) polarities (equivalent to the "System B" and "System A" of Stan Gooch's socio- and psychological correspondences - sect. 4-iii).
Integral Yoga and the integral philosophy and spiritual path as taught by The Mother and Sri Aurobindo includes both highly developed esoteric and spiritual theory, even if it lacks the secular attention to details that the Wilberians and post-Wilberians are concerned with, the practical aspect in all fields of life (including the establishment of a universal city, Auroville), the moral initiative for the Supramental transformation, and a yoga that takes up and transforms all faculties of the being, not just one. Thus, beginning with Wilber's purely mental perspective (especially his AQAL diagram - sect 4-ii), and ending with Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, and including everything in between, we can arrive at a universal integral/holistic metaparadigm.

Integral turf war

The Integral/Holistic Paradigm: A Larger Definition. Integral Esotericism - Part Three Alan Kazlev INTEGRALWORLD READING ROOM
Apart from post-Wilberians and critics, Wilber and his Integral Institute's other big rival is the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies[6].

[6] On the bad feeling between the two, see "Do Critics Misrepresent My Position? - A Test Case from a Recent Academic Journal" http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/misc/critics_03.cfm/ ; "Response to Ken Wilber" - Robert McDermott's reply to Wilber http://www.integralworld.net/mcdermott.html ; "Response to McDermott" - http://www.integralworld.net/mcdermott2.html - Wilber's reply to McDermott ; "Critics Do. Critics Don't - A Response to Ken Wilber" http://deepspirit.com/sys-tmpl/replytowilbercontd3/ - de Quincey's counter-reply to Wilber.

This whole situation seems to have come about because Wilber chose to attack a number of eco-philosopher and eco-feminist scholars on the CIIS faculty in his book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (note the choice of title).

See also Michel Bauwens recollections: "I was also privy, since I was in regular email contact back then, to Wilber's private denunciations of institutes like the California Institute of Integral Studies and the Naropa Institute, schools that I had monitored, visited, and have many highly qualitative teachers and researchers. It's not that he said that they were imperfect, no, they were 'cesspools' and one would have to stay at all cost away from them. This aggressiveness I personally found disturbing. I started to notice how easily Ken praised works that favorably use his work, he did it with my own magazine Wave, which he highly praised in a note even though he could not possibly read the Dutch-language it was written in, while being so aggressive with those who disagree." "The Cult of Ken Wilber" http://www.kheper.net/topics/Wilber/Cult_of_Ken_Wilber.html The similarity with Wilber's more recent attack on Visser's Integral World website and on Visser in person (see "What We Are, That We See: Response to Some Recent Criticism in a Wild West Fashion" http://www.kenwilber.com/blog/show/46 and "Take the Visser Site as Alternatives to KW, But Never as the Views of KW" http://www.kenwilber.com/blog/show/86 ) is uncanny.

Death of gods is simply taken for granted

Atheists Agonistes By RICHARD A. SHWEDER The New York Times Published: November 27, 2006
Among the cosmopolites who live in secular enclaves, religion is automatically associated with darkness, superstition, irrationality and an antique or pre-modern cast of mind. It has long been assumed that religion is opposed to science, reason and human progress; and the death of gods is simply taken for granted as a deeply ingrained Darwinian article of faith.
Why, then, are the enlightened so conspicuously up in arms these days, reiterating every possible argument against the existence of God? Why are they indulging in books — Daniel Dennett’s “Breaking the Spell,” Sam Harris’s “Letter to a Christian Nation,” and Richard Dawkins’s “God Delusion” — in which authors lampoon religion or rail against the devout under the banner of a crusading atheism? Books dictated or co-written by God sell quite well among the 2.1 billion self-declared Christians and 1.3 billion self-declared Muslims of the world. What explains the current interest among secularists in absolutely, positively establishing that the author is a fraud?
The most obvious answer is that the armies of disbelief have been provoked. Articulate secularists may be merely reacting to the many recent incitements from religious zealots at home and abroad, as fanatics and infidels have their ways of keeping each other in business. A deeper and far more unsettling answer, however, is that the popularity of the current counterattack on religion cloaks a renewed and intense anxiety within secular society that it is not the story of religion but rather the story of the Enlightenment that may be more illusory than real.
The Enlightenment story has its own version of Genesis, and the themes are well known: The world woke up from the slumber of the “dark ages,” finally got in touch with the truth and became good about 300 years ago in Northern and Western Europe. As people opened their eyes, religion (equated with ignorance and superstition) gave way to science (equated with fact and reason). Parochialism and tribal allegiances gave way to ecumenism, cosmopolitanism and individualism. Top-down command systems gave way to the separation of church from state, of politics from science. The story provides a blueprint for how to remake and better the world in the image and interests of the West’s secular elites.
Unfortunately, as a theory of history, that story has had a predictive utility of approximately zero. At the turn of the millennium it was pretty hard not to notice that the 20th century was probably the worst one yet, and that the big causes of all the death and destruction had rather little to do with religion. Much to everyone’s surprise, that great dance on the Berlin Wall back in 1989 turned out not to be the apotheosis of the Enlightenment. Science has not replaced religion; group loyalties have intensified, not eroded. The collapse of the cold war’s balance of power has not resulted in the end of collective faiths or a rush to democracy and individualism. In Iraq, the “West is best” default (and its discourse about universal human rights) has provided a foundation for chaos.
Even some children within the enclave are retreating from the Enlightenment in their quest for a spiritual revival; one discovers perfectly rational and devout Jews or Hindus in one’s own family, or living down the block. If religion is a delusion, it is a delusion with a future, which it may be hazardous for us to deny. A shared conception of the soul, the sacred and transcendental values may be a prerequisite for any viable society.
John Locke, who was almost everyone’s favorite political philosopher at the time of the founding of our nation, was a very tolerant man. In his 1689 “Letter Concerning Toleration,” he advocated a policy of live and let live for believers in many faiths, even heretics. But he drew the line at atheists. He wrote: “Lastly, those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of God. Promises, covenants and oaths, which are the bonds of human societies, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all.”
Instead of waging intellectual battles over the existence of god(s), those of us who live in secular society might profit by being slower to judge others and by trying very hard to understand how it is possible for John Locke and our many atheist friends to continue to gaze at each other in such a state of mutual misunderstanding.
Richard A. Shweder is a professor of comparative human development at the University of Chicago and a co-editor of “Engaging Cultural Differences.” More Articles in Opinion » Related Articles
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Delight is the First Cause

First Cause: Delight is Sri Aurobindo's term for ananda, and plays a large part in his cosmology and spiritual teaching. Delight is the reason for creation, by which The Absolute extends its Delight of Being into multiplicity, losing itself in the inconscience and then through Delight rediscovering Itself through individuals realizing their Divine nature and proceeding to spiritual realization.
In other words, the universe was created so that the Delight of the Infinite Spirit can manifest in all the forms of creation. When we discover our higher nature, the soul and spirit, we experience the delight for which we came into being and of which we are a part. It can also be said in a different way according to David Cameron Gikandi. "In the absence of that which is not, that which is, is not." Let it sink into you, think about it. Man how profound is the meaning. Posted by Monk at 9:59 AM Wednesday, November 29, 2006

All subjects belong to the subtle mind and thinking

Sri Aurobindo says neither the sun nor the earth move. It is only changes in our consciousness that give the appearance of movement. No man can become a thinker of any significance without entering the subtle thought. All subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, history, literature, economics, etc. in their higher reaches belong to the subtle mind and thinking.
Physical people are incapable of subtlety. For a scientific idea or any idea to reach them, it must be converted by technology into a product or converted by custom into a social usage. Otherwise, the physical man is alien to it. That is the rationale of worship. To him, worship, rituals, ceremonies are real, not philosophy, theory or Idea.
As it is essential to think in subtle thoughts to become a thinker, it is essential to enter the causal plane to fully realise Supermind ~ Consciousness. The physical mind sees the sun going around the earth; the subtle mind understands the earth going around the sun; Consciousness an the causal level sees no movement.
To appreciate the idea of Heraclitus subtle thought is called for. War is abhorrent to the physical mind. In the subtle mind, war reveals as a process that hastens human progress. The killings, sufferings, devastations of the physical mind are not so to the subtle thought which understands them as a necessary beneficial process of swift movement. Posted by Yasmine at 11:09 PM

The problem of man in his total being and the meaning of his existence on the earth

But as I have said, ultimately these two paths and these two revelations are complementary, and non-exclusive. And while Sri Aurobindo did instruct his devotees to follow the path of devotion centered on The Mother (as they were having difficulty with the pure path of gnosis and ascent to Supermind), his opus Synthesis of Yoga follows the Gita in integrating all three yogas and margas - Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana, These are reconciled in the fourth, the Integral or Purna (full or complete) Yoga.
There is another thing worth mentioning. According to Sri Aurobindo, his yoga ends where all the other yogas begin. I never truly realised what this meant until now. Anyway here's a relevant passage from the Life Divine (here I tried to break the quote from LD into thematic threads).
Experiencing both the revelation of Sri Aurobindo and that of Sri Ramana in a non-contradictory way, feeling the two blending, realising the two Teachers as great Enlighteneed masters and avatars, a true Integral and Integrative Spirituality, is nothing new. In an email, Rick Lipschutz provides an invaluable historical anecdote and quotation:
Sri Kapali Sastry (1886-1953), a noted Sanskritist of the twentieth century, born Tantric and a noted Vedic scholar, was a disciple of Sri Ramana before becoming a disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and following their sadhana. Sri Kapali composed among many other works the Siddhanjana, a commentary on the first ashtaka of the Rig-Veda where he differs considerably from Sayana and provides a solid scholarly underpinning for Sri Aurobindo's interpretation of the Veda. Yet even after becoming an ashramite Sastry continued to produce commentaries of considerable interpretative merit on Sri Ramana's teachings. Kapali's student, the prolific and peripatetic M.P. Pandit, writes, in a diary containing spoken observations of his longtime mentor published on p.238 in Volume III of the 12-volume collected works of T.V. Kapali Sastri (available from Sri Aurobindo Ashram):
"Sri Maharshi's path and the path of Sri Aurobindo differ in this way. In the former, apparently, it is you who are to work out your sadhana. In the latter, you count for little; you cannot do anything much; it is they [Sri Aurobindo and The Mother] to whom you have to surrender yourself completely who can and will work out the sadhana.
"But we must also note that when the Maharshi says, 'It is you who have to look within yourself and work out your sadhana,' he puts in the needed influence, anugraha, to help you proceed and do the sadhana.
"Similarly, here, when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother say, 'Surrender everything of you to the Divine and be free,' they put in you the necessary force which enables you to carry out your indispensable individual effort for surrendering all that you have and are.
"In the Maharshi's teaching, as indeed in all yogas of ancient India, the problem to be solved is the problem of the individual. In Sri Aurobindo's teaching, it is the problem of man in his total being and the meaning of his existence on the earth that is sought to be discovered and worked out. The problems are different and so are the solutions. 17-11-48."
For more on subject, see my posting on Open Integral on the need to go beyond literal interpretations to the inner esoteric understanding and revelation. It is on that level that the teachings of Ramana and Sri Aurobindo are seen and appreciated as non-contradictory. posted by m alan kazlev at 3:56 PM

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A concert that strove to find its base in a unity

Sri Aurobindo on organization Nov 28, '06 1:12 PM Sri Aurobindo on organization
The European mind gives first place to the principle of growth by struggle; it is by struggle that arrives at some kind of concert. But this concert is itself hardly more than an organization for growth by competition, aggression and farther battle. It is a peace that is constantly breaking, even within itself, into a fresh problem of principals, ideas, interests, races, classes. It is an organization unstable at it base and in its center because it is founded on half truths that deteriorate into whole false hood; but it is still or has been till now strong in constant achievements and able to grow powerfully and demolish and assimilate.

Indian culture proceeded on the principles of a concert that strove to find its base in a unity and reached out again towards some greater oneness. Its aim was a lasting organization that would minimise or even eliminate the principle of struggle.

But it ended by achieving peace and stable arrangement through omission, division and immobility of status, it drew magic circle of safety and shut itself up in it for good. In the end it lost its force of aggression, weakened its power of assimilation and decayed within its barriers. A static and limited concert, not always enlarging itself, not plastic becomes in our human state of imperfection a prison or a sleeping-chamber.

Concert can not be anything but imperfect and temporary in its form and can only preserve its liveliness and fulfill its ultimate aim if it constantly adapts, expands, progresses. Its lesser unities must widen towards a broader and more comprehensive and above all a more real and spiritual oneness. In the larger statement of our culture and civilization that we have now to achieve, a greater outward expression of spiritual and psychological oneness, but with a diversity, which the mechanical method of Europe does not tolerate, will surely be one leading motive. A concert, a unity with the rest of mankind, in which we shall maintain our spiritual and our outer independence will be another line of our attempt. prasadchikshe

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Plunge into the night

So when you ask how many levels there are in the cosmos, it depends to a certain extent on how you look at it and how much acid you have taken. At the very least, human beings are condemned to span two great dimensions -- the exterior and the interior, an objective pole and a subjective pole, the “great outdoors” and the even greater within. The more general category of existence simply presents itself on the one hand as ponderable matter, and on the other as a pondering subject. These are not opposites that can ever be resolved, but complementarities that give rise to perpetual ambiguity in the space in between.
Now in Rom 8:22, Paul says that "the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs," and that "we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." In other words, not only is creation itself a process of birth, but the locus of that birth process is within our very bodies.
Sri Aurobindo speaks of existence as “God’s covenant with night.” In his poem Savitri, he writes,
And laid on the Spirit the burden of the flesh,
That Godhead's seed might flower in mindless Space
If existence represents God’s “plunge into the night,” as being descends from level to level, then spiritual development reverses this cosmogonic process, so that human beings, in their vertical aspect, potentially span all levels of creation, from top to bottom. posted by Gagdad Bob at 11/28/2006 08:33:00 AM One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

Live forever or die trying

Curious George said...
A marvelous and sweeping post that indeed can only be an introduction to a vast subject.You made a passing reference to "levels below the material" that "should not detain us right now."However, I should indeed like to be detained right now--I would like to apprehend the whole spectrum from the highest to the absolute lowest at least once.Can you help out here? 11/27/2006 09:59:03 AM
cosanostradamus said...
The Grammar Police detected no typos.Clearly the "brain-dead" phase has passed. The logjam has blown out, the river is freely flowing again. Let's jump in our kayaks and hit the rapids! Heads up, class IV ahead!I love the 'involution' concept, which directly contradicts so much of the up-and-out nonsense that passes for spirituality these days. It clarifies a major purpose of our being here - to materialize the spiritual gift we've been given into the fabric of our daily lives. When Paul says, "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure..." he is admonishing us to sweat at bringing the ineffable right down to street level. If we don't do the work of bringing the light down into our clay pots, I don't think we deserve much attention from the Maker. That's not to say we can earn "salvation" on our own either, any more than a janitor could create nuclear fusion. But it does demand that once we recognize we have been switched on, it's our job to keep the power bill paid up. Think we could talk Devo into a remake? - Are we not men? We are Invo! 11/27/2006 11:09:13 AM
will said...
Anonymous - the "mentality of the West" and its aggression re a one world religion is a thing apart from esoteric Christianity, as Sri Aurobindo obviously understood. 11/27/2006 01:06:46 PM
Gagdad Bob said...
Oops. Sorry, deleted him rather than getting sidetracked. Suffice it to say that the troll proves Aurobindo's point. 11/27/2006 01:17:08 PM
will said...
I'm not sure if the physical body in the material world as it is presently constituted can ever fully accomodate the influx of Spirit, not without some difficulty. The process of transforming the body is literally "unnatural" - it's an "upward" pull in a gravitationally "downward" pull world. I'm speculating here, but perhaps a "meet in the middle" process could take place, one in which the basic fabric of the universe, or at least our small section of it, itself undergoes a transformation. Our transformed physical bodies would then more readily accomodate to a new material reality - or if not transformed, would exist as fish out of water, sort of as those with transforming bodies do now. Of course, a transforming material reality would involve considerable disturbance, just as a transforming physical body does. You know, disturbances like climate changes, quakes, tsunamis, etc. 11/27/2006 01:20:43 PM
Gagdad Bob said...
Will--A couple of parallel passages. Paul says,"For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now... even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body."
And from Savitri: And laid on the Spirit the burden of the flesh, That Godhead's seed might flower in mindless Space or Mortality bear's ill the eternal's touch...It meets the sons of God with death and pain*****So you may be right, but I say: live forever or die trying. 11/27/2006 02:05:17 PM
Lisa said...
What if there is some kind of say "virus" that prepares bodies to receive and incorporate a higher vibration, where bodies without the "virus" burn out too fast and die? Could explain mysterious kundalini-like illnesses... 11/27/2006 02:19:27 PM
Anonymous said...
NoMo here -- My previous comments on the quotes from Paul and Sri Aurobindo having been deleted by GB (I think I've been trollified), I would just suggest that we all take great care quoting the Bible. Many have gone far astray by losing context. Remember, a text without its context can be a pretext. 11/27/2006 02:36:18 PM
Joan of Argghh! said...
I'm just hoping that my spiritual body can fit into a size 8 toga. Otherwise, what's the point?:)But seriously, folks. There are times when the world can't contain the joy or sorrow that one soul can feel. I'd like to think that our celestial transformation will confirm that sense that there is so much--- more. More to feel, to expereience, to know.Perhaps even the angels have their sorrows and regrets and the mind would boggle at how great a space such an emotion could occupy. But, then, the breadth of celestial peace and joy would certainly explain the beauty of a glorious sunrise. Not meaning to antropomorphize the weather, but the Bible says, "the Heavens do declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day after day it speaks, and night after night it imparts knowledge." Why should our bodies do any less here or hereafter? 11/27/2006 02:46:47 PM
Ben usn (ret) said...
My apologies to my fellow Bobbleheads expecting Benster's catch of the day...O--k Naval biostory.Unfortunately, MSNTV (aka webtv), is problematic, to say the least (ie unreliable, and doesn't work as advertised).I have lost 2 installments to cyberhell, and 3 yesterday.That's one reason why I'm usually pithy, because even my vaunted patience has a limit. However, I do have a plan, and if it works (hey, I saw it on a cartoon once, so in theory it should, or was that a dream?) then I'll work extra hard to bring you the quality (or at least the quantity) programming you expect. Thank you for your patience. 11/27/2006 03:33:56 PM
Anonymous said...
DESIDERATAGO PLACIDLY AMID THE NOISE & HASTE, & REMEMBER WHAT peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull & ignorant; they too have their story. *** Avoid loud & aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself. 11/27/2006 08:38:35 PM

It is deatable whether his work can be called Vedantic at all

Re: The Post-human, Evolution and the Avatar by Debashish on Sat 25 Nov 2006 12:56 PM PST Profile Permanent Link And where has Sri Aurobindo (or the Mother) said that his work is dependent on the Vedanta? His interpreting the Veda, the Vedanta and the Gita does not make his work dependent on these. Where possible, he has also coined a new language. The Life Divine does not mention avatar or the sacrifice of the Purusha (as far as I know). If other works do, we must take it that these concepts are handy to express what is important to his experience and would have taken many more volumes of words otherwise.
Again, the essence of “incarnation” as understood in Christianity does not find any representation in the Indic idea of avatarhood. But Sri Aurobindo sees some truth in the idea and brings it out in Savitri. It is deatable whether his work can be called Vedantic at all (particularly if one was to take the Mother’s formulation of it).

Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana and Zen, Ken

goethean Says: November 27th, 2006 at 10:48 am For some time, I have seen Wilber’s theory as an attempt to synthesize Ramana and Zen on the one hand with Aurobindo on the other. Of course, readers can differ on whether or not his synthesis is successful. Since Aurobindo sees his own theory as coming from advaita, this tension (between absolute unity and earthly reality) is already in Aurobindo.
Personally, I have been thinking about Ramakrishna as the origin of most of 20th century Indian thought. (remember that Vivekananda appeared to Aurobindo in Alipore jail. also, look up ‘Ramakrishna’ in Aurobindo’s 3 vo. letters on yoga. I will quote the pertinent passage here when I can.)
Ramakrishna’s main accomplishment was to synthesize vedanta with tantra. Ramakrishna scholarship is full of deep problems, most obviously the division between the Ramakrishna Mission’s puritan expurgated reading of RK and Jeffrey Kripal’s perhaps excessively sexualized reading of him. but I am convinced that Aurobindo’s unique genius owes something, and perhaps quite a bit, to the 19th century illiterate Bengali genius.
goethean Says: November 27th, 2006 at 3:23 pm It’s actually more complicated than that. Kripal says that Ramakrishna gave vedantic, non-sexual teachings to his monastic students, including Vivekananda, who were teenage boys, and more tantric teachings to his married “householder” students. The Ramakrishna Mission, which descends from the monstic disciples, thus perpetuates the vedantic aspect of RK’s teachings which is what was taught to their predecessors. Kripal has tried to resurrect the tantric RK.
This, of course, horrified the Ramakrishna Mission and many Bengalis (Indian sexual mores being rather Victorian) who don’t want RK seen as a pervert despite the fact that there is some indication in the Bengali text that RK had some non-normative sexual desires. I’m convinced that RK’s tantra has been suppressed, especially in translation, since the beginning.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The music of our life and being

How Do You Play Music On a Slab of Meat? (Excuse any typos -- no time to spell check today.) Now, regarding physical symptoms that are commonly encountered along the spiritual path. It seems that most everyone experiences them at one time or another. It’s just a matter of intensity. For example, tears are very common when one touches the spiritual plane, and tears are obviously a physical symptom. I’m guessing that for most people who have had “born again” experiences, it was obviously much deeper than a mere “change of mind,” like choosing to purchase one car over another. Rather, the whole point is that the experience is “earth shattering,” like an energy that penetrates through various sheaths of the being.
But then the energy withdraws again. Or it gets stuck. Or it is rejected and ignored altogether. Or something within the being systematically resists and repels it. Now, even for skeptics out there, it shouldn’t be too difficult to conceptualize the idea of spiritual energy. Just think of it as analogous to mental energy, only on a higher plane. The universe, as we know, is constituted of energy that is merely transformed in various ways. But most any religious metaphysics would affirm that the nature of the primordial energy constituting the physical universe is actually spiritual, not material.
Technically this is explained by the concept of “involution” as opposed to evolution. One of the reasons natural selection is so incoherent in terms of being an ultimate (as opposed to partial) explanation of evolution is that one cannot derive the greater from the lesser: the gap between dead matter and the most insignificant living thing is literally infinite, as is the gap between animal consciousness and consciousness that may know truth -- including the truth of its own evolution. For evolution is a fact. The argument is over how it occurs, not that it occurs. In the past, I have used the baseball analogy to discuss bad philosophies which start at second base without any explanation within their philosophy of how they have gotten to first. For example, the first supposition of natural selection is not “random genetic mutations will occasionally be selected by the environment, thus accounting for all evolutionary change and ‘progress.'” Rather, the first assumption of natural selection is that minds exist, and that these minds may encode truth with a thing called language, which may in turn cause “understanding” in another.
In other words, the first principle of natural selection is that the export and import of words can rearrange a mind (whatever that is) and bring it into conformity with "truth." But does natural selection explain the existence of truth, and how truth “sets one free” from illusion? Hardly. Again, that is a tacit presupposition borrowed entirely from Judeo-Christian metaphysics, not something that natural selection could ever explain. Or, if natural selection could explain it, there would be no reason to believe it, since it would reduce truth to genetics -- an absurdity, of course, but not beneath the small minds for whom tiny things always appear large.Against the idea of evolution must be placed the parallel idea of involution, which, to a certain extent, is “evolution in reverse.” That is, the evolutionary “recovery” of spirit is preceded by a spiritual “involvement” in matter. Thus, we do not begin with matter and try to explain how it somehow came alive and began knowing its own truth. Rather, we begin at the true beginning -- the eternal beginning -- in which the ray of involution descends through various planes to the furthest reaches of the cosmos.
In this view, matter may be thought of as “the end of the line,” or the nether region of the cosmos (although there are additional “lower” immaterial levels that needn’t detain us here). Evolution will involve the liberation of spirit from matter and the progressive reascent back to the One. Now you may object to this metaphysics, but it is the only one that makes total sense of our experience, and it can only be refuted by your own arbitrary prejudice. It is not in any way counter to science. Rather, not only does science fit easily into this metaphysic, but it eliminates all of the absurdity and incoherence from the philosophy of scientism. No longer must we pass over various mysteries and enigmas in silence, such as the demonstrable progress of evolution, the acquisition of speech, the ability to know truth and beauty, and the ability to “grow” in an unlimited way, both mentally and spiritually.
Now, with regard to spiritual practice, Sri Aurobindo discussed what he called the necessity of the “triple transformation,” that is, mental, vital (emotional) and physical. In the coming days I hope to show how compatible this is with Christianity, as some of you undoubtedly already realize. For example, when St. Paul says, “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” he is clearly talking about the transformation of the mental, something most any spiritual practitioner has experienced. And the reason you have experienced it is that, of the three transformations, this is the “easiest,” since the mental substance is already quite light and malleable. You might say that it is very receptive to influences of all kinds from both above and below -- which, by the way, is one of the reasons why so many people believe so much nonsense.
Much more tricky is the transformation of the vital. We know it is tricky, because this is the realm that psychotherapy must generally contend with. Clearly, it is a “step down” from the mental, otherwise psychotherapy would consist simply of education: “oh, you believe that? That’s stupid. Just believe this instead.” Doesn’t work that way. For one thing, the vital is not oriented to truth in the way the mind is. Show an uncorrupted mind the truth and he will believe it. Not so the vital, which is much more incorrigible, and functions almost like a gravitational force to pull the mind down with it. In fact, for many people, their mind -- such as it is -- serves merely as a vehicle to rationalize the interests of the vital. (I see that this post is going to have to serve as an introduction to a large topic, so that I can simply sketch out the overall plan. Each of these paragraphs could easily be expanded into the chapter of a book -- or an entire book -- so let me first finish the sketch, and we’ll fill in more details in subsequent posts.)
One of the most clear and concise books on this is The Adventure of Consciousness, by Satprem. In it, he devotes a chapter to “Quieting the Vital,” which he describes as “the source of both great difficulty and great power; a source of difficulty because it tends to jam all the communications coming from outside or above, frantically opposing our efforts to silence the mind, bogging the consciousness down at its own level of petty occupations and interests; a source of power because it is the outcropping of the great force of life in us.” Most of us have some idea of what it means to (at least partially) transform the vital, for by no means should spirituality involve a repression of the emotions. There are many bad spiritual movements that attempt to do this, which amounts to repression of the vital. But the trick is to transform the vital so that, like the mind, it is receptive to the higher truth that is coming down. Again, while this may sound unfamiliar to some, it shouldn’t. We all know the difference between coarse and subtle emotions. It is subtle emotion that may cause you, for example, to inexplicably cry upon reading a particular passage of scripture.
On the other end of the spectrum, what for me is always so immediately striking -- jarring, really -- is the coarse emotionality that radiates from a place like dailykos or huffingtonpost. The untransformed vital is palpable. Moving next to the physical, this is even more intransigent and resistant to change than the vital. Many physical symptoms emanate from the vital, but those which emanate form the physical are of a different nature. As hinted at above, there is much in Christianity that indicates great concern with transformation -- or transfiguration -- of the physical, the most resistant part of nature to the divine truth. This latter transformation is the most difficult of all.
Sri Aurobindo describes it thus: “A time comes when after a long preparation of the mind and vital being, it becomes necessary to open also the physical nature. But when that happens very often the vital exaltation which can be very great when the experience is on its own plane, falls away and the obscure obstructive physical and gross material consciousness appears in its unrelieved inertia.” In another letter he writes, “All in the physical is persistent, obstinate, with a massive force of negation and inertia -- if it were not so, sadhana [spiritual practice] would be extremely cursory.” Part of the problem is that the physical is more universal than particular. This is why the spiritual master who takes on the task of transforming the physical does something from which all human beings benefit.
In fact, you might think of it as analogous, in its own way, to a great genius who makes a scientific discovery that benefits all of mankind. Let’s take the example of, oh, Jesus. Matthew 17 tells us that he took a few disciples to a mountain top and showed them what a transformed physical looks like: “and he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light.” And then a voice said “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” I should say. If transforming the physical is the last barrier to spiritual perfection, He should be pleased. (I'm guessing that if Jesus had resisted this process, he would have shattered into bits. Either that, or had the Father of all headaches.)
Coming at it from another angle, Sri Aurobindo writes, “At present the notation of the body and the physical consciousness has a very large determining power on the music made by the human harp of God; the notes we get from the spirit... from the greater life behind our physical life cannot come in freely, cannot develop their high, powerful and proper strain. This condition must be reversed; the body and physical consciousness must develop the habit of admitting and shaping themselves to these higher strains and not they, but the nobler parts of the nature must determine the music of our life and being.” Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when discordant notes result from our trying to play music on a piece of concrete. posted by Gagdad Bob at 11/27/2006 08:23:00 AM Monday, November 27, 2006 One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Demystifying diversity

TAXONOMY: The diversity observed in the human nature has always intrigued the thinkers. Writers of fictions and playwrights owe their popularity to this variety of human characters. Psychologists, from time to time, have attempted to categorise the human beings in a few manageable slots. These have certain veracity as well as utility, but their universal applicability becomes suspect.
In a realm as complex as the human psyche, any speculation is fraught with serious hazards. Nevertheless, prototypes, as foreseen in various mythologies, have been accepted as authoritative. In fact, nobody can quarrel with the creative imaginations of the mythologies, as they stand; especially, in an age when hermeneutics has acquired so much of respectability. But any absolutist or foundationalist posture may always be questioned.
So, allowing such contentious questions to simmer awhile, it would be advantageous to probe the issue of human types on the basis of current data coterminous with ancient cues. While the apparent divisions of humanity on racial, linguistic, nationalistic or such other yardsticks have to be borne in mind, on the one hand; the ultimate unity and universality of the humanity needs to be explained, on the other.
And this poses a formidable challenge. Genetic variations notwithstanding, equality has persisted to be a fascinating ideal from times immemorial. Besides, equality has been assumed as an underlying fact in consonance with the idea of common origin and common destiny of the human beings. However, it is worth the while to surmount the impasse obtained through such a scenario.
A look at the present day vocations might be of help. The modern urban society tempered by technology has thrown open complex and highly specialised professions the needs and nuances of which are widely dissimilar. Although, there is no reason to believe that people get to work in accordance with their aptitude, it is commonly observed that they develop a certain degree of competence as well as expertise in their respective professions. Because of the fact that their personal prestige and contentment also gets linked to their work, over a period of time; it is not unoften that a synchronicity of the behavioural with the professional is easily assumed.
Right man at the right place; being the most riddle-some affair for the management person, it is not surprising why he relies, more and more, upon ethnography and psychology. That each person is unique and his potentialities are different from others, is taken, almost, as an indisputable fact. In addition, the equations of age, gender, subaltern etc. remain perpetually tilted.
Coming down to a very practical level, the dilemma of a school-goer can be considered as to how he makes up his mind, much in advance, to join one of the three – Science, Arts and Commerce – streams. For, from there, in effect, starts a broad opting for a particular class of professions. The rest is a sordid story of Herculean struggle for survival, hard-nosed bargaining and chicanery. What all that leads to and where it takes the individual, is a veritable snakes-and-ladders game of fate and free-will.
Be that as it may, it hardly helps to be fatalistic. From actors to astronauts, the human situation is an elegant mosaic of multitudinous marbles. The kaleidoscopic symmetry is no less illusory than the chaotic complexities. Whether one, merely, mirrors the other or complements him is a conundrum. But the taxing task of ferreting out a reliable taxonomy remains ever necessary.
The overt and covert personality traits imbricated by practical compulsions to take recourse to hypocrisy, diplomacy and deception further complicate the scenario. Besides, humour, honour and image in consonance with the need for self-protection and positioning litter the landscape with more riddles. Age, education and emotions, too, take their toll as time passes by, thus obliterating historical stereotypes.
In the face of such drastic diversity, it is difficult to accept the Vedic notion of a universal aspiration encompassing the whole of humanity. That Light and Force, Delight and Harmony are the ultimate ideals for each human being and it is quite possible to attain them during the span of a lifetime, is something which is not easily accessible, intellectually.
Physiological, biological and psycho-somatic grip over human conduct results in a mechanicity in contrast to the freedom of intellectual flights. Differential powers of perception and convoluted tiers of cognition engender enough individual differences. Power structures obtaining in the society contribute to further fragmentation and alienation among persons. And the quest continues....... Tusar N. Mohapatra # posted by Silika : 2:46 AM Monday, June 20, 2005

I criticise the exoteric worldview

Integral Esotericism: A new Integral paradigm in theory and practice Part One: Introduction Alan Kazlev
The distinction between esoteric and exoteric can also be defined as a pair of opposites - "inner" and "outer" - as follows: One the one hand, there the "inner", esoteric, spiritual, occult (in the context of hidden from ordinary perception and mundane consciousness), supra-physical, unlimited, causal (emanation, involutionary) reality. We can think of this as the reality known to mystics, representing by the "perennial philosophy", and so on. It could be called "metaphysics" in the pop-colloquial (not the philosophical) sense of the word.
On the other there is the "outer", exoteric, mundane, physicalistic, limited, dualistic, world of effects, or of linear causality (evolutionary), and ordinary physical consciousness. This is the reality known to Western secular knowledge, to science and scepticism (these two are not synonymous, despite the claims of the latter to appropriate the former), and to modernity and much of academia.
"Inner" and "outer" is here used in an Aurobindonian, rather than a Cartesian, Teilhardian or a Wilberian context. Each of these opposites is both metaphysical and phenomenological. "Metaphysical" in that each pertains to ontological, causal, and cosmological realities. And phenomenological in that each is associated with specific types of consciousness and experience. It may be objected that what is being proposed here with the esoteric-exoteric distinction is just another form of elitism, like Wilber's special insider club for those 2% of Turquoise Meme / 2nd Tier people who accept his teachings[12].
Nothing could be further from the truth. For one thing, "esoteric" doesn't belong to any one individual; indeed the very claiming of unique privilege or ownership here is a sign of exoteric fundamentalism. For another, "exoteric" is not better than "esoteric", but simply pertains to a different aspect of reality, a different form of understanding, and and a different psychological polarity (sect 4-iii). Both are necessary for a complete - as oppose dto a partial - integral approach. Finally, many of the greatest spiritual teachers taught and functioned on the exoteric every day level, not the esoteric level; for example St Francis of Asissi, Martin Buber, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.
Many of the greatest integral teachers, such as Teilhard de Chardin, were the same. And the entire body of science, academia, and scholarship and all its amazing contributions, and all the vast technological and social achievements of humanity, pertains to the esoteric. So in no way should the exoteric be considered inferior. It only becomes inferior when it seeks to deny the esoteric dimension, as in scientism, scepticism, reductionism, literalism, fundamentalism, and so on. So when I criticise the exoteric worldview, it is only that exclusivist exoteric worldview that is being criticised. Just as an exclusivist esotericism, which replaces real science with pseudoscience (as do some forms of the New Age movement) or rejects and attacks modernity and for example replaces science with creationism (as does the Guenon-Schuon school of Neo-Sufi-inspired Traditionalism) is equally one-sided.

What is the nature of the infinite?

Mark Says: November 22nd, 2006 at 7:24 pm To These wonderful questions Edward:
But what is the nature of the infinite? What is the nature of the Witness? And how do we interpret both? I suggest delving into the great sacred texts and into the modern classics by the great prophets, theologians, seers and social justice sages of contemporary times. And find a community that breaths life into one of the honoured traditions of the Mystery and do what they do for yourself. And keep dancing. peace mark
Edward Berge Says: November 23rd, 2006 at 9:43 am I’m doing it Mark and the work-in-progress is here on these pages. And this community is an important part of that process, for which I give thanks on this day of thanksgiving.
Mark Says:November 23rd, 2006 at 8:05 pm Wonderful to hear that Edward.

Anthropomorphism of Vedic Philosophy

Re: The Post-human, Evolution and the Avatar by Vladimir on Wed 22 Nov 2006 09:39 PM PST Profile Permanent Link Dear Debashish, your interest and concern about the latest development of language and its metaphysical and linguistic crises generated some thoughts on metaphysics and its approach to knowledge, which i would like to share. It looks to me like a wakeup call. What is striking from the first glance, comparing the Western and Eastern Metaphysics, especially Vedic, is that they considerably differ in their approach to knowledge. If Western metaphysics from Plato onwards can be described as logocentric (Derrida), the Vedic approach can be described as anthropo-morpho-centric (centered on man himself).
The Vedic Philosophy was never purely logocentric. It was always open to the synthetic experience of all the members of consciousness of man. The knowledge itself was only a means to reach to a higher state of consciousness and not a thing in itself. In the West the approach to knowledge and cognition was defined by the mind, which eventually reduced and excluded everyone else from the possibility of influencing its own pure process of knowing; and, having become the sovereign lord, it created its own logocentric reality, the reality based on thoughts, worshipping thoughts and ideas, trusting them more than reality itself. In India it was founded on all the faculties of consciousness including senses, mind, life and even body, etc., and how they constitute one conscious being. Man was the center of research, and not only his mind. Such anthropomorphism of Vedic Philosophy saved it from falling into purely mental approach to reality.

The language problem is endemic to the Ignorance

Re: The Post-human, Evolution and the Avatar by Debashish on Wed 22 Nov 2006 08:11 PM PST Profile Permanent Link The language problem you have raised is endemic to the Ignorance. Nor does one have to name it the Ignorance (though again it can be so named in a "tradition" of practice where its name has been verified in collective experience and new epistemologies and phenomenologies are being built on it - partly why if the transition is to be via yoga, the renewal of and participation in the discursive tradition of Indic spirituality is so useful and part of a cross-cultural enlargement) for this problem to be phenomenologically endemic. Logical statements may be "at home" in the house of "human" language (a static humanism) but Being is not at home in it either without aporetic violence or mantric implosion. (T.S. Eliot likened the overt language of poetry to the bone the thief throws through the window to occupy the watch-dog before he enters to do his hidden work).
Aporia are the staple of a transitional being and any aporetic statement is only as contorted as its receipient's distance in consciousness from it. This is why Zen teachers encourage novices to mediate on the absurdity of the koan, which seems like nonsense but turns out to be profound in experience. Given this fact of disjuncture between language and the paradoxical transitionality of the human, we can either remark on the need for a new language (which would be incomprehesible to us until we rise into its consciousness) and sit silent in the meantime or accept human language as it is - a vehicle of transition (and transformation through practice) like the human body for the birth of a consciousness for which it does not have adequate systems, but towards which it stretches (or contorts) its resources. Felicity or infelicity of language to express aporia is however not an absolute function of language (in spite of its grammatology) but of consciousness which experiences the expression.
The contortion may turn out to be the perfect asana once the consciousness which it facilitates is intuited. Hence it is better to state your experience as yours (or some specific others' whose experience you may be privy to). I can say for myself that I experience no infelicity or contortion in Sri Aurobindo's languaging of the Time-Body of the Supermind. Collective use of the language of "a" transition alows it to become phenomenolgically effective to a habitus, tradition or field. As an "episteme" gathers weight languaging also becomes more effective phenomenologically. Vocabularies and grammars of aporia are inevitable in a time of evolutionary transition. We may expect a bankruptcy (or transformation) in the language of science just as we have seen in the language of philosophy. Or else specialized vocabularies and grammars of practice will bifurcate and once grown more adequate to their own transitional needs, be assimilated into a common transformed language. My own interest in the questions re. the historicty of rupture belong to such a (sub)culture of practice and the need for an accumulation of collective objectivity and subjectivity (or objective subjectivity) there.
As mentioned earlier, for me it is important to sort these things out for the Integral Yoga community - that accepts the transition spelt out by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and are involved in the process of validating it (to whatever degree and in whatever way) in their lives. Otherwise a big mishmash and confusion will characterize this field in the name of the uselessness of language and terminology. Apart from this these matters are of practical concern to a community of practice, because they are keys to our progress. And I am not referring to a "date" such as 2/29/56. Sri Aurobindo was talking in his letters to disciples about dependence on a descending Shakti long before that. What is he talking about here? What relation does this have to the will of the supramental purusha? Does he highlight it in the Synthesis of Yoga? Is it a universal phenomenon? Is it available to us now? Is something more or other available to us since then? Does this add to, modify or enlarge earlier formulations of an Integral Yoga? DB

The illogicality of combining atemporality and temporality

Re: Re: The Post-human, Evolution and the Avatar by Debashish on Wed 22 Nov 2006 01:40 PM PST Profile Permanent Link The illogicality of combining atemporality and temporality in One Being is of course well understandable but so is a variety of other contradictions Supermind combines in its experience. But this is the only condition under which Ignorance and Knowledge can be bridged in an Integral Experience - otherwise we are left with the Ascetic Denial (Advaita, Buddhism)/Materialist Refusal divide. This is also one of the reasons why Sri Aurobindo has not become that well accepted as Buddha (Ron's question). His answer is "logical" to its problem but its reality is "illogical" to our experience. So we have to take its experience or existence on faith and ask whether indeed he or the Mother are making this up or are stating the dimensions of their experience. Sri Aurobindo's assertion is the latter.
The 4 poises of the Supramental Time-Being is nit a contortion of mentality but a fact of his (and its) experience, This assertion opens up the possibility for practice - but yes, bsed on faith, intuition and growing experience on our part. However, this is not why I am interested in the temporality of ruptures. As part of an evolving Ignorance, our access to Being is a temporal one, in fact changing according to the disclosures of Being in Time. Hence, it is important for us to know if indeed this access has changed, and if so, when and how. Is what is available to us as practice the same as what was available to the Vedas? Is the statement of practice in the Synthesis of Yoga the same as its statement in the Letters on Yoga or in the Mother's talks or beyond their words, or have new possibilites, emphases, directions of practice emerged? If so, how, why and what can we do about it? DB

Divine Compassion and unconditional Love

spiritofnow (spiritofnow) wrote,@ 2006-11-23 10:44:00 Light: I'm an ignorant fool. It's all the same Light. The Quran, the Bible, the Upanishads, you name it. It's all the same Light, different facets of the same Godhead.All this ranting, all this anger, all this repetition of the same mental thoughtforms again and again, over and over ad infinitum, making the words get more and more stale, is so utterly pointless. This is not what I'm hungering for. The only thing that satiates me is Divine Compassion and unconditional Love. Lesser Light seeks greater Light and greater Light respects lesser Light. Light thrives on Light.
Aurobindo and Mirra have taught me this. Right now I can't see anyone who's gotten further than them in terms of spiritual evolution. Mirra especially seems to have been a spectacularly dynamic individual, highly developed intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Maybe I'll do a more detailed post at some point on their philosophy. In the wise words of John Stuart Mill: "When two people debate, they are both correct in what they affirm, but wrong in what they deny."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nothing else comes close to this. Nothing

Varieties of integral theory - Michel Bauwens 19th November 2006 Readers of the first draft manuscript on P2P Theory, will notice that I have a methodological section which refers to integral theory as the basis for structuring and organizing my inquiry. Some other readers will remember my critique of Ken Wilber for his intellectual and spiritual authoritarianism, which I find to be anti-thetical to the participatory worldview. I have often argued that integral theory is much broader than Wilber, and must now largely dismiss his weak and faulty version of it (it’s faulty because it is built on the fundamental intellectual dishonesty of systematically misrepresenting the raw data, as has been demonstrated by Jeff Meyerhoff).
Such a call has recently been re-iterated at the Open Integral blog, (I believe by my friend Alan Kazlev, though I do not find the signature), which I co-founded, but have decided not to participate in further because it also contains pro-war material. But this has not deterred others to make it a lively forum for debate on integralism. In any case, one of the more recent entries, contains a typology of integrali theory, which is perhaps not complete but as comprehensive as I have seen so far, so I recommend reading the entry, the discussion, and paying some attention to the typology, which I’m reproducing here:
Participatory integralism, or P2P Theory, which also strives to be integral, i.e. meta-paradigmatic, is mentioned as one of those traditions. I think Alan has it exactly right. This is a definitive progress compared to the Wilberian and Don Beckian characterization of P2P as ‘green’ (i.e. somehow a backward form of consciousness). It is more correct to say that P2P Theory is integral, but that P2P practices and projects can fall in many of the categories mentioned in the structural typologies of Wilber and Spiral Dynamics, as has been demonstrated by Chris Lucas.
Aurobindonian. The original Integral tradition, represented by Integral Yoga, which has as its goal the Supramental Transformation of the Earth. In sheer “include and transcend” value, nothing else comes close to this. Nothing. (ok so I’m biased! Sri Aurobindo, Mirra Alfassa (The Mother) and their disciples and those who try to carry on the Yoga. Also includes Indra Sen (Aurobindo disciple, the original Integral psychologist and Integral theorist, now little known, I wrote his bio for Wikipedia), Haridas Chaudhuri, and Michael Murphy. P2P Spirituality, P2P Theory, Integral Theory.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I do need to check into this Aurobindo fellow

Edward Berge Says: November 21st, 2006 at 7:19 am Thanks for the link Tusar. It’s good to see that an Aurobindo adherent can appreciate and understand Derrida, unlike some “integral” thinkers. You and Alan are right, I do need to check into this Aurobindo fellow. From your link:
One does respect Derrida for recognizing the utter potential for the disaster which logocentrism and a transcendental signified can bring to interpretation; and in so doing for remaining at the “margins”. Although Derrida’s work can be seen as providing a remedy to the totalizing narratives of metaphysics, in which the whole tyrannizes it’s parts, it can also be said that if metaphysics had not existed he would have had to invent it to be coherent. But Derrida gestures, hints, puns, and his way toward finding a heuristic for encountering the Other. The true Kabbalist he refrains from speaking the “One Word” which when spoken dissipates the phenomena, in a metaphysical abstraction.