Thursday, August 19, 2010

Unprecedented frozen conscience

I speak of three sorts of likely readers: (1) those steeped in the Indian tradition who find nothing remarkable about powers like trikaldrishti, since they are described in texts like the Puranas; (2) those who study mystical experience as a remarkably interesting aspect of human potentiality; (3) those who view spiritual experience as a sort of psychological aberration. …
While in the book I don't state my own position in the matter, I can inform you privately that it is position (2). With position (1) I am not concerned. The purpose of my treatment is to take up the objections raised by those of position (3), and by discussing them, to show that they are invalid. This strategy is clear in the book itself and in the enlarged extracts that I attach. This form of argument is, I believe, similar to the purvapaksha-uttarapaksha form of argument of Sanskrit rhetoric. (I say this in an attempt to make my intentions clear by giving an example that may be familiar to you. I have never actually studied Sanskrit rhetoric.) It is also of course a form of argument used Sri Aurobindo in The Life Divine. (Please don't imagine I am comparing my book to The Life Divine.) You may remember a passage in the Mother's talks where she says that Sri Aurobindo's use of this type of argumentation left him open to charges from ignorant people that he was accepting a position that he in fact was discussing in order to refute it.
I hope the above makes my intentions on pages 245-248 of my book clear. I am trying to convince people holding position (3) that it is perfectly all right to view spiritual experience in a positive light. But to do this, I have to speak their language (to the degree that I have learned it) and to cite their literature. (To give one example, I cite a representative of the Freudian school even though, personally, I reject Freudian psychology completely.)
Understanding this, you will see that your accusation that I am engaged in a "personal vendetta against Sri Aurobindo" has no foundation. I am actually trying to encourage people who may have been troubled by my quotations from Record of Yoga to put aside their objections. More generally, I am trying to make it possible for people not disposed to take spiritual experience seriously to study it in depth and form their own conclusions. Peter Heehs]

[Pranabda, My personal assessment of PH, in the context of this book (I may be totally wrong) is as follows: He may not have had a malafide intention as such to denigrate Sri Aurobindo. Unfortunately; he was so obsessed with the anti-hagiography idea that in order to prove his credentials to be an “objective” (does such a thing really exist!) biographer, he has at several places crossed all limits of simple decency! Manoj Das Gupta's letter reeks in chicanery 05/10/08]

[Peter was tempted by an urge to take recourse to some uncanny novelty in his approach to the biography and probably wished to be acknowledged as a so called academic, … Manoj Das wrote to Sraddhalu 28 June 2010]

[Division and disharmony lies within each one of us...: Posted by Anonymous to Savitri Era Open Forum at 3:31 AM, August 09, 2010
His books are indeed firming up a theory that might well contribute towards a “doctrine” very soon! … Heehs status is in fact very relevant and there ARE serious errors and distortions ably brought out by many people. …
First, what he makes are confidently asserted statements that will be construed as facts by the lay reader, one who may not be very familiar with Sri Aurobindo. Second, when delivered by someone who says he is an ashramite or the keeper of the archives, the statements assume even more significance/importance/authority (not whether true or false).]

The SKKFM style of literary novelty might earn him a Nobel Prize, but no power can exonerate Heehs from his ignoble act of character assassination of the Masters. The book has been in circulation for over two years now and the Ashram shamelessly trades the reputation of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo for a few pieces of silver. Such example of frozen conscience is not available in the 10,000 years history of India. A spirit of democratic tolerance and non-violence has prevented the devotees to go for the jugular and the top echelons of the Ashram are shrewdly extracting advantage of this to the hilt. But, what's worrisome is, as they say, there is a limit to everything. [TNM]    

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