Friday, June 19, 2009

Online discussion forum with suitable policies against censor

[Sri Aurobindo was a contemporary of Ramana Maharishi and was also an Indian mystic. He is well known for trying to integrate evolution and consciousness along lines similar (but not identical) to Teilhard de Chardin. Aurobindo and Ramana died in the same year - 1950 - but never met since Aurobindo could not leave Pondicherry - a French colony - at that time. (He would have been arrested and imprisoned by the British if he had.) The crucial extra element that Aurobindo brought to Indian philosophy/mysticism is a collective aspect of spirit. While he describes communion, union and identity with Spirit in a manner that is similar to Vedanta, he later articulates the descent of the Supermind along with the creation of a new Man and a new advanced society. The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) attempted to carry out this program and helped found Auroville - a model for such an advanced society. In recent times, this theme has been further developed in a (constructive) postmodern direction by Ken Wilber and his followers. The ashram in Pondicherry is also immaculate. Due to The Mother's influence, it has beautiful floral arrangements. In contrast to Ramana Maharishi's ashram, it has much smaller meditation spaces (at least public ones). Through some contacts, we managed to get passes to go to the upper floor of the ashram and observe the living quarters of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother since these have been preserved. You're greeted by the exhortation "Cling to the Truth" as you climb the stairs. I tried to meditate while sitting in the presence of Aurobindo's portrait and was rewarded with an unexpected communion with his rather arresting eyes when I opened my own and looked up after the meditation. The area surrounding the ashram is very well kept and maintained - in sharp contrast to the squalor in Tiruvannamalai - and this is no doubt due to the "descent of the Supermind" community-centric philosophy and The Mother's influence. The meditation areas left much to be desired though.In conclusion, and on a somewhat downbeat note, I felt that these spirits had really departed. Both ashrams have a mausoleum-like feel and no new leaders with anything close to these personalities have emerged. Tough act to follow I must admit. I'm going to check out Auroville the next time I'm in India. Departed Spirits - Ramana Maharishi and Sri Aurobindo from Zaadz: Anands blog by Anand
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[My very strong feeling is that Shared Spaces are the way out. If you look at the conflicted relationship between government and corporations, what stands out is the way both try and grind the ordinary citizen to dust. But in the information age that we are surely in, it is the second person, P2P, social networking or the shared space culture in general that is ascendant. Unfortunately, we are still technologically way behind the curve in terms of the user interface infrastructure necessary to foster the building of shared spaces - with the sorry state of virtual worlds and social networking sites (like this one) helping me buttress my opinion. And, we don't even know how we build up culture or the second person in general when you remove traditional structures such as family, tribe, church and team. This is likely to be a bigger stumbling block before we can realize that the space between public and private is vast and encompasses both. End of an Era: Public, Private and Shared Spaces from Zaadz: Anands blog by Anand
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Scores of serious issues concerning the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the devotees have come up for discussion during the last one year. Apprehensions on many fronts have been expressed in broad strokes in the course of the Heehs imbroglio. All these problems are political in nature and many arise for the want of ideological fine tuning. The Lives lapse by the Ashram has done enormous damage to the legacy of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. Not only vigilance is stepped up, but also commensurate mechanism needs to be put in place so that such things don't recur.

A centralized online discussion forum is required to be launched with suitable policies against censor. A vibrant community is possible if conversation within it is also vibrant. The centenary of Karmayogin today should leave us in no doubt about its necessity. [TNM]

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