Friday, April 30, 2010

Estimation of Sri Aurobindo fluctuates

It wasn't that other great thinkers had not seen that evolution is basically Spirit-in-action (it was obvious to Schelling and Hegel, for example). Nor was Aurobindo necessarily the most enlightened spirit in modern India (many would point to the illustrious Sri Ramana Maharshi in that regard). 9:47 AM]

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…
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.]

I decided to write about Sri Aurobindo, first, because I find him tremendously interesting. I won’t go any farther than this.]

(By the by, Peter is the first biographer to speculate, albeit briefly, about the nature of Sri Aurobindo’s sexual experience.)]

An individual’s estimation of Sri Aurobindo is obviously subjective that evolves/fluctuates throughout the life. Expecting a fixed countenance, therefore, is unfair. It is, however, desirable that one is candid about such feelings without hoodwinking others or institutions. [TNM]

Vedic challenge of reclaiming the deathless state

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Are today's youth losing their religion? A new study suggests they are. A group called Lifeway Christian Resources
A recent front-page story in USA Today caught my eye: "Survey: 72% of Millennials 'more spiritual than religious.'" According to a survey produced by
'Mushy' millennials in the news GetReligion (blog)‎
Honk if you've heard the phrase “more spiritual than religious.” That, not “WWJD,” appears to be the mantra of today's young people, even those who call]

I still want to argue for promiscuous interrelations among objects, rather than seeing them all as vacuum-sealed; but here, my only qualification would be that I think that every entity makes a “decision,” as Whitehead puts it, as to which “relation partners” (Harman’s phrase, not Whitehead’s) it responds to, and which it ignores. In Whitehead’s parlance, this ignoring another entity could take the form either of what he calls a “negative prehension” (which is a decided refusal) or of the fact that the other entity has only a “negligible” influence on the entity that is making a decision. So, while I think that “to be affected by something outside us” is the general case, rather than a special one, in practice the degree to which an entity is affected is fairly minimal…
I still differ with Harman in thinking, following Whitehead (who in this case is himself following William James), that the existence of an entity is punctual, and that the endurance of an object through time needs to be understood as a succession of entities, with a large measure of inheritance accounting for the continuity. This is why (as I said at the OOO conference last week — but this part of my talk still needs some revision) the question of whether an entity remains “the same” over time is a relative one, a matter of degree.]

Savitri Era Religion is intimately connected with the history of the 20th century. As an antidote to dominant intellectual waves and widespread cultural upheavals sweeping from time to time, it has proved its worth. Metaphysical inquiry, the world over, wallowed in the luxury of rhetorical ostentation and forgot the original objective, but Savitri Era Religion never lost sight of its goal. The Vedic challenge of reclaiming the deathless state is still the foremost priority for man today. [TNM]

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Without a central core, doctrine can wander

[Why Christianity Must Adapt -- Or Perish Huffington Post (blog) - ‎Apr 26, 2010
Alex Wilhelm is it better to fit the church and Christianity to the world, thus keeping the faith relevant, or is it better to mold the world to the faith? … whether the religion should fit the culture or the other way about… This, of course, is why Brian D. McLaren is on the right path in his most recent work A New Kind of Christianity
Freedom to practice religion as one wishes implies less central homogeneity among Christians. Without a central core, doctrine can wander. Once you have the freedom to leave to find a better-fitting sect, start your own, or just stop practicing all together, it becomes much more difficult to corral a society… 
If the number of non-believers doubles again in 50 years, then by around 2050, the United States will be a majority non-religious country. Clearly, if Christianity seeks to not only stay relevant but viable, it must adapt. The proof is in the numbers; Christianity is suffering.]

So, expect rise in the number of Savitri Erans. [TNM]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The space of not-knowing

Stephen Prothero’s new book, God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter, is a refreshing antidote to the too easy notion that all religions say the same thing. They don’t. Indeed, they are often mutually exclusive… I think the point of Dr. Prothero’s book is to challenge the cheap unity that passes for serious discussion of religion in the popular media…
Dialogue is the willingness to step out of what we know to meet one another in the space between, the space of not-knowing. This happens only when you are willing to be addressed by another, to be transformed by the other. If I leave a dialogue unchanged I never really entered into dialogue in the first place. If my encounter with other religions leaves my Judaism untouched, I never really encountered them. 
Dialogue rarely happens. Most people are too afraid of meet an other… Dr. Prothero doesn’t preclude this kind of transformative dialogue, he just insists that we don’t cheapen it. Posted by Rabbi Rami at 6:28 AM TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2010]

Dialogue between the Heehs & Hartz and Pandey & Deshpande camps is possible if the willingness to be transformed is there. [TNM]

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Grace holds the key

A next time a stronger emphasis has to be put on the experiential work. Although this is a very delicate matter and can not really be “organized”. Sri Aurobindo writes (as quoted by Kailash in her important text on ‘Auroville and Education’ approved by The Mother) :  “Spirituality respects the freedom of the human soul, because it is itself fulfilled by freedom; and the deepest meaning of freedom is the power to expand and grow towards perfection by the law of one's nature.”] 

But Sri Aurobindo's theory of mantra, the text of Savitri itself, and our experience, seem to support rather emphatically the notion that it is the audible sound, with its dynamics of pitch, rhythm, image, and conceptual spiritual content that has a unique potential and power to effect in the fit outward hearer the experience of which it speaks, and of which it is the living symbol.
It is to demonstrate the truth of this hypothesis, at least in part, that we have undertaken the Savitri/Agenda experiment--a series of immersion workshops in which we simply allow the Word to be heard and absorbed, in as clear and deep a manner as we can manage at the present time. And in the context and atmosphere thus created by Savitri, we turn to the Mother's Agenda with the aspiration to hear and know as profoundly and intimately as possible her experience of transformation. The effect of this attempt thus far has been overwhelmingly gratifying. And it has made dramatically clear the fact that the experience of transformation narrated by Sri Aurobindo in Savitri and by the Mother in her Agenda are one and the same. The two together create a resonance that seems to literally dissolve the membrane that separates our worlds and unite us with them in a remarkably vivid and tangible sense. Savitri (book) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] 

The second flaw of postmodernism with regard to religion was not having a sufficiently grounded yoga or practice—or spiritual technology—to help illuminate the transcendent in the immanent in a profound and really transformative way…
As such, postmodernity became a “talking school” of spirituality and religion.  It was still all too identified with the eye of mind.  All of the postmodern writers above, though they write beautifully and at times transcendentally, have no real way of teaching how they got to the point of view that they did that offered them such a majestic vista on the life process.
Without a mature intellectual understanding of the spiritual nor a practice to help reveal and deepen it in one’s life, postmodernism floundered. 6:20 PM   9:26 AM]

Privileging the experiential/immersion/practice aspect is a common ploy but the real key is with "a supreme Grace from above that answers.” [TNM]

Monday, April 26, 2010

Onwards an integral worldview

No one claims that axioms of Accountancy or Engineering are to be found in the works of Sri Aurobindo. Similarly, all strands of literary criticism or behavioral economics are not available in the writings of Sri Aurobindo. The point is, the works of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo read we must, but for fuller knowledge of various other things, relying upon other sources is utterly necessary.

Struggling with the words (and style) of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is an excellent intellectual drill. It endows wideness, depth, as well as suppleness to the mind and maturity to the personality. The content whets our curiosity in varieties of subjects and whips us onwards an integral worldview. Having said that, it is also essential to remain cautious of several potential hazards and apply standard scrutiny.

As they were written at different periods of time and for differing reasons, the books need not be treated each as a unitary whole. It is rather safe to read a page or a paragraph and contemplate upon its message. Many of his works are commentaries, and hence they don’t strictly reflect Sri Aurobindo’s own opinion. One has to be very careful of the compilations, as they were addressed to different persons at different times. Socio-political comments, moreover, are to be read as suitably altered with the contemporary reality and theoretical tenets. [TNM]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bring philosophy to the marketplace

[Whatever Indians may say about the depredations of British rule, the legal system is one gift the nation has taken to its heart. Indians are litigious like no other people that I have seen…
Some day India may have a political class with some semblance of morality. In a world like that, politicians will not be heading sports bodies but doing the job they have opted to do in the government or in the opposition. They may even live within the income they receive as parliamentarians. Think of that! Meghnad Desai Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 IE » Politics in command]

['Indian mathematics loved numbers'-ET Cetera 23 Apr 2010, Amrith Lal, ET Bureau
The Kerala School, as Joseph calls them, marks a continuity of scholarship in mathematics in India, which was believed to have declined after Bhaskara II in the 12th century. Joseph, who holds honorary appointments at University of Manchester, UK and University of Toronto, Canada, argues that the knowledge of the Kerala School travelled from India to Europe via Jesuit scholars and influenced European mathematics. In an interview with Amrith Lal, Joseph talks about the pluralistic origins of mathematics and how this science was practised in India, especially in Kerala. Excerpts: 
The Crest of the Peacock looked at knowledge traditions across the world. In A Passage to Infinity, you have focused on what you call the Kerala School of mathematics.

[The Crisis of Philosophy Inside Higher Ed - Jason Stanley - 5 Apr 2010

Philosophy stands apart from this emerging consensus about the purpose of the humanities. Its questions – which concern the nature and scope of concepts like knowledge, representation, free will, rational agency, goodness, justice, laws, evidence and truth – seem antiquated and baroque. Its central debates seem disconnected from the issues of identity that plague and inspire the contemporary world. Its pedantic methodology seems designed to alienate rather than absorb. Whereas humanists have transformed into actors, using their teaching and research as political tools, philosophers have withdrawn ever more to positions as removed spectators, and not of life, but of some abstracted and disconnected realm of Grand Concepts…
Logical Positivists prized the deliverances of mathematics and science (as did Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz, and Kant). But nothing follows about a lack of political and cultural presence.] 

Philosophy and mathematics have umbilical links with law and justice, thus with a bearing on politics and culture. Savitri Era Party seeks to bring philosophy to the marketplace for an integral sociology to take off. [TNM] 

Govt. of India should quit Auroville

[Auroville Charter: Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. 
Development thus far: involvement and support of the Government of India
The Auroville Foundation came into existence in January 1991. The assets were vested in the Foundation on April 1st, 1992… The creation of the Auroville Foundation is generally judged as positive, and many Aurovilians are grateful that the Indian Government has passed this special Act for Auroville. The Foundation has given a clear uniform legal status to Auroville.]

Savitri Erans are requested to raise their voice to demand that the Govt. of India quit Auroville. [TNM]  

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Educated, creative, and diverse

[Obama-ism posits that we are now in a hypercompetitive global economy, where the country that thrives will be the one that brings together the most educated, creative and diverse work force with the best infrastructure — bandwidth, ports, airports, high-speed rail and good governance…E.T. — energy technology — is going to be the next great global industry. Who’s Up for Building Bridges? Thomas Friedman, New York Times, April 6, 2010]

Savitri Erans will have to pool all their energy and imagination to have a place in the sun and survive. 

Faith in the unity of religions is just that—faith, and perhaps even a kind of fundamentalism” and “A Dangerous Belief” stresses Stephen Prothero, the author of God Is Not One. Savitri Erans must wake to the significance of this timely reminder and firmly orient themselves of the salience as well as the essential superiority of their religion. [TNM] 1:56 PM

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ashram earns royalties from a spiced up book on Sri Aurobindo

There can be no other situation more despicable that the Ashram is happily earning royalties from a spiced up book on Sri Aurobindo written by one of the inmates in a critical tone. The fact that Angiras’ siblings keep pouring accolades upon Das Gupta makes the density of suspicion thicker. It’s not the question of what Heehs will do or not do, as Auroman has argued elsewhere, but for how long Das Gupta be allowed to destroy the foundation and reputation of the Ashram.

Tharoor had to resign within three days, but Das Gupta is sitting pretty for the last three years. And the irony is people are addressing petitions to the culprit himself. [TNM]  

A thorough inquiry is a top priority

The Heehs imbroglio, basically, is a battle between two groups of Ashramites that spilled over among the devotees outside. It also concerns the kind of exit policy that the Ashram should ideally follow and reviewing other administrative stipulations. Apart from a few ad hoc steps, the Ashram is probably firm on the premise that the controversy will fizzle out. This, lamentably, is high on optimism and low on substance.

When a top functionary after three and half decades of stay says, “I decided to write about Sri Aurobindo, first, because I find him tremendously interesting,” it’s like the compulsion of telling one’s spouse “I love you” every day. A thorough inquiry about the whole genesis of the book and the complicity of the present Ashram officials in it, therefore, is a top priority. The public is eager to know to what extent Satyam/IPL like scams are camouflaged. [TNM] 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sex and a wiser love

[One day when I went to the Cold Storage where all the MSs are preserved, I could tangibly perceive the whole room filled up with some wonderful fragrance. Comment posted by: RY Deshpande 20 April 2010

[Sublimating the sexual urge through Yoga April 17, 2010 by Sandeep
Sex is a natural urge implanted in human beings for the procreation of the species but when indulged in excess, it leads to the degradation of the soul. The spiritual solution lies neither in forced suppression nor licentious expression but moderation through the application of progressive self-control. from Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother]

Linking spirituality to “some wonderful fragrance” or “moderation” in sex belongs to the traditional mode of thinking. The trajectory of a person’s life is guided by a wiser love, and hence laying down a set of guidelines turns out to be redundant.

Many confuse “Yoga for perfect eyesight” for Integral Yoga. Others think Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy being equivalent to Liberation of Tamil Eelam or Tibet. [TNM]

Critical sense in paying tributes

[CK Prahalad - the man who knew strategy Rediff - Rajeev Srinivasan, April 21, 2010
He believed in an India that could provide spiritual and not merely technical leadership. That vision - so close to that of giants like Sri Aurobindo - is something that Indian firms need to keep firmly in mind as they develop their strategic intent.]

C K Prahalad from The Big Picture by T T Ram Mohan
Today's Business Standard editorial makes up for what was missing elsewhere…
Must people abandon their critical sense in paying tributes to the departed? Whatever Prahalad's gifts of exposition, comparing him with Peter Drucker was quite a stretch.]

In praise of critical reason and being wary of hagiography. [TNM]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

RYD’s ceaseless peeling off Savitri

[Tharoor’s dexterity with words borders on the sleight-of-the tongue; … Like a too-skilled driver, his words often take him to the wrong places, so fond he is of his own driving. A Gravy Train Called the IPL Posted By Santosh Desai 19 April 2010 City City Bang Bang : Santosh Desai's blog-The Times Of India]

One feels alarmed apropos RYD’s ceaseless peeling off Savitri and what the poem would come about to portray after a few years. [TNM] 

Anonymity doesn't necessarily produce bad behaviour

[Historian's wife and her poison pen expose dark side of literary criticism Independent - The use of libel law by academics to threaten the press has been condemned by a leading literary figure. Sir Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary ... Are there victims of Amazon's killer reviews? Los Angeles Times (blog) Is Amazon's literary whodunnit really a scandal? The Guardian (blog)]

Angiras’ siblings, let’s hope, won't indulge in such lowly tactic. [TNM] 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kumbha uncovering

[25 September 2008 Dear Manoj-da,
I decided to write about Sri Aurobindo, first, because I find him tremendously interesting. I won’t go any farther than this. You will recall that I explained to you once that I find it difficult if not impossible to proclaim from the housetops my feelings about things that mean a lot to me. I’ve always been amazed to find that others do not have this problem, and that they talk with perfect strangers about things that are deeply important to them. IY Fundamentalism - Letter to the Managing Trustee, from Peter Heehs]

[From aurosatya vrata to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 10 April 2010 13:11 subject Re: Reg. ongoing discussion on Sri Aurobindo's Savitri
Dear Mr. Mohapatra,
I agree with you that the Divinity of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo comes first and foremost. But I believe that this is something that is so personal and subjective that it is best if it is not unnecessarily talked about or analyzed…  S. 2:22 PM] 

There are all kinds of people. By temperament, some may be reticent about their faith and avoid any public display of devotion. There are others who harbour no such inhibitions and go on talking about all that they think, guess, or intuit. Neither of the dispositions is a virtue in itself and, therefore, imposing one’s preference on others in this respect appears incongruous. [TNM]

Politics of faith communities

D.L. Sheth (pace Rajni Kothari) argues that “collectivities have to acquire new, democratic habits of handling political power, to ensure that the power of the group becomes politically (i.e., electorally) viable." (Political Communalization of Religions and the Crisis of Secularism, Religion, Community and Development: Changing Contours of Politics and Policy in India, Gurpreet Mahajan and Surinder Jodhka, eds., Routledge India: 2010)

Savitri Erans of all hues need to ponder over such social realities. [TNM]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

SABCL & Le Corbusier

Ever since SABCL was conceived more or less in the Le Corbusier’s “all conform to a uniform code” mode, certain distortions and disadvantages endemic to all mapping exercises continue to pester us. The thirty volume set adorn the shelves of many libraries in royal grandeur, though often forlorn in splendid isolation for months together.

Many inconvenient questions arise which unless addressed popular reception of Sri Aurobindo’s writings will remain a distant dream. The intimidating heavy tomes need to be published in more inviting formats with adequate blurbs and extracts featured on the covers. [TNM]