Monday, June 28, 2010

Integral roars end up in old religions

A personal item: I have long been a practicing Buddhist, since adolescence. For the last three years, I have practiced at the Tendai Buddhist Institute in upstate New York. The influence of TianTai and Tendai thinking should be evident in my academic work, particularly the items I have published at the Integral Review, to one who is familiar with it.
As of this summer, I am also a novice Buddhist priest. My title is Doshu (information on what that means and what kind of training I have participated in is available here). I mention this simply for the sake of clarity: I think readers should know where I am coming from, in a sense who I am and what I stand for. 
Finally, my training is far from complete. I am by no means done learning; I am no master of anything and make no claims for myself except an earnest desire to be helpful rather than hurtful, to keep my commitments, to keep going.
Now you know. I will keep the other details of my spiritual life private since they have no bearing on my public life.]

All bloggers and commenters should ideally disclose their religious and political affiliations. Anderson has written a few pieces adverting to Sri Aurobindo, and they should be read in the light of the above. [TNM]

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What is real and what is not real

If we never left planet earth, barring physical catastrophe, we’d think the strength of gravity a universal, but it turns out that the moon and in fact every object in the universe has a different degree of gravity, as proportional to its mass. It is only by going into counterfactual situations (‘what if I were no longer on this planet?’) that we start to get closer to the realm of the unthought. We start to unlayer the onion of the unthought, …
In class, I often tell my students, particularly those who have never encountered theory or philosophy before, that my job as a teacher is to ‘mess up what they know’, but when you know something, you don’t think about it, knowing is the opposite of thinking. I think there’s a lot of truth to this. 9:39 AM]

[Another Canon: Indian Texts and Traditions in English - Page 124 Makarand Paranjape - 2009 - 293 pages
The American dancer, Ruth St Denis and Mira Richard, who later became the Mother of Pondicherry. ... 
because the book reduces the stature of the Mother and is unable to do justice to her. ... Though no 'official' response from Sri Aurobindo Ashram has been forthcoming so far, Ashram circles have voiced their disapproval and ... 9:33 PM] 

The biography is craftily written to fulfil an objective born out of the author’s misguided objectivism. The general reader by and large is prone to be misled by such misdemeanours in literature and becomes an easy prey unless he/she is intelligent enough to decipher and discriminate between what is real and what is not real and maintain the right balance in his/her opinion…
I will give only one advice to PH, though I don’t think he will understand it. The Mother said that “to come closer to the Truth, you must often accept not to understand.” A Disciple]

Heehs, in all fairness, can be said to have attempted to ‘mess up what they know’ and force thinking. That, unfortunately, is yet to happen. [TNM]

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sri Aurobindo often touched up the letters

[Sri Aurobindo and the new age: essays in memory of Kishor Gandhi Kishor Gandhi, Sachidananda Mohanty ... - 1997 - 239 pages
Kishor made a compilation of Sri Aurobindo's letters in four parts and sent them one by one to Sri Aurobindo for his final approval before publishing them. Sri Aurobindo often touched up the letters here and there.]

Thus, even Sri Aurobindo can be charged with tampering the archival records. [TNM]

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Miltonic afflatus

Much water has flown down Hindon Cut during my five years as a blogtender, and it has been a learning process throughout. Many years back, I read something to the effect:
“No matter, if you haven’t read Wordsworth or Byron;
Neither had Shakespeare nor Milton.” 
This piece of self-help maxim has been a morale booster in general and for blogging in particular. Thanks everyone. [TNM] [Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.]

OOOntology sans the sacred

Cheston Knapp on his story “A Minor Momentousness in the History of Love”
But Heidegger’s not the Camus of The Stranger. He knows das Man is necessary and inescapable and he defines it as part of Dasein’s [existence’s] “positive construction.”]

[Stuart Kauffman by larvalsubjects
I picked up Stuart Kauffman’s Reinventing the Sacred at the bookstore today before heading off to see Splice. …
What I find less appealing in Kauffman’s book (and his other works) is his project of “reinventing the sacred”. On the one hand, I don’t see anything particularly sacred or divine in demonstrating that the universe is creative.]

[Creativity existed before the universe emerged from it. …Like a cosmic Houdini it breaks free, transcends its constraints, revels in a frenzy of creative imagination, regains consciousness, revels in a frenzy of creative speculation, wondering what it all means.
Reviewed by U. Mohrhoff ANTIMATTERS 2 (3) 2008, June 18, 2010 at 8:10 am]

Once you are used to archives, it loses its charm

[Sangha is charming from a distance, but the closer you get, it pushes all your buttons and brings out all the unwanted things from within you. If you think a group is good it means you are not yet completely with the group. When you are totally part of that group, you will find that some bickering will come up. But you are the one who makes the group so if you are good, your group will also be good.
Sangha has a reverse nature to Buddha. Buddha makes your mind one-pointed; sangha, because it is of so many people, can scatter your mind, fragment it. Once you are used to a sangha, it loses its charm. This is the nature of sangha. Still, it is very supportive. If it were repulsive all the time, then nobody would be part of sangha. 
Buddha uplifts with Grace, love and knowledge, Buddha pulls you up from above, and sangha pushes you up from below. SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR, Jun 16, 2010, TOI Buddha, sangha and dharma - Speaking Tree - Spirituality - Life ..., Home » Life & Style » Spirituality]

Bickering is OK, but conceiving the Ashram as a scientific research institution is utterly mischievous and down right subversive. Moreover, the imperious disregard for the feelings of a large contingent of co-practitioners is appalling. [TNM] 9:59 AM

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Banerji & Bermuda

[Advance publicity Re: Jyotirmaya Sharma: Hindutva (revisited) by Jyotirmaya
on Tue 22 Aug 2006
Debashish, I suspect you haven't read my book and are commenting on the basis of Mr. Carlson's `review' of my book. In my book, I have never even indirectly imputed that Aurobindo Ghosh was a Hindutva votary. The book is about the ideas that went into making of political Hindutva. In other words, it is about genealogy of ideas, rather than suggesting that so and so was a Hindutva votary or any such nonsense. Moreover, the book contains attributions not only to the Bande Mataram period but takes the story upto India's independence and Sri Aurobindo passing on. … In the case of Sri Aurobindo, all I have suggested in the book is that whether it was the period of revolutionary terrorism or the period as a Maharshi in Pondicherry, there are aspects of Sri Aurobindo's thought that forms the genealogy and patrimony of political Hindutva as we know it today. It simply cannot be dismissed as a simple instance of appropriation, which is the line Mr. Peter Heehs also tends to take. Whether Hinduism is not fossilised, or whether it is an evelving cultural/spiritual corpus or not, this is a subject which I shall try to have my say in a book published next year.
by Debashish on Tue 22 Aug 2006 Jyotirmaya, I do not believe that any text is immune to the abuses of history. … No one can predict what will happen to his/her texts outside of their explicit polemics and before holding someone responsible for contributing to a genealogy of political ideas it is proper hermeneuic practice to establish what were the central social and philosophical concerns of such a person and what was the genealogy of ideas constituting his/her texts. I have seen the charge of "unwitting patrimony" applied in a number of cases lately such as with Nietzsche and Nazi Germany, Okakura and Japanese hyper-nationalism and Vivekananda (and now Sri Aurobindo) and Hindu fundamentalism. In all these cases, the question is seldom asked or answered what were the central or explicit concerns of such individuals and what the ambiguities in their texts meant to them and their times. The alternate genealogies of "Hindu" need first to be explored before the patrimony of the genealogy of "Hindutva" can be accurately attributed. Debashish 12:52 PM Wednesday, August 23, 2006]

Why Banerji failed to ask whether “the central or explicit concerns” have been adequately addressed in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo remains a mystery of Bermuda Triangle proportions. [TNM]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Christ analogy clinches the issue of religion

We have no information about the degree of zeal with which our David advised members of his community to consult the Internet site for a quick delivery of video-cassettes with "the fast-paced and interesting" film The Last Temptation of Christ by Martin Scorsese. Fortunately, David is well acquainted with legal and other consequences of such a perverse incitation.
Indeed "the people of the city" had "much to learn" on the Christ from that film by Martin Scorsese! The movie had to include, however, "a disclaimer explaining that it departs from the commonly-accepted Biblical portrayal - hagiography ? - of Jesus' life, and that it is not intended to be an exact recreation of the events detailed in the Gospels." from A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs Dr Prasenjit Sen has a Ph.D. from a German university and is a successful engineer. He is the youngest son of late Pramodekumar Sen, Sri Aurobindo's biographer in Bengali.]

The Christ analogy clinches the issue of religion. Dr Sen, however, prefers to be pusillanimous on this score. [TNM]

Monday, June 14, 2010

A new religion was enshrined on December 5, 1957

With the enshrinement of the sacred relics of Sri Aurobindo on December 5, 1957 in Delhi, a new religion can be said to have been instituted. Since then, the roots of this religion have spread far and wide, and the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo can be found across the globe. A vocal section of the followers, however, dislike the practice of performing Pranam before the Samadhi as, they feel, it applies a tacit pressure on them to mimic the gimmick.

Habermas has a word of advice for the secular-minded which can as well be relevant in the aforesaid circumstance. He called upon his tribe not to be unduly uncompromising with the believers and hoped co-existence of both the camps within the civil society. The situation within the followers of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, however, is slightly different. Here the question is not about belief, but rather concerning the modalities of its expression.

The behavioral aspects within a global community surely can’t be immune from cultural variations. Moreover, this new religion itself encourages eschewing the beaten track and devising innovations. Despite guarding against the anathema of dogma, however, the physical flow succumbs to certain habits and conveniences over time. Tolerance of such “oddities” in a generous and democratic spirit, therefore, is the only way in the circumstances. [TNM]    

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lack of internal institutional and intellectual leadership

[Caught in court, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, The Indian Express, editorial, Thu Jun 10 2010 … a lack of serious intellectual leadership with the Supreme Court which has often failed to craft doctrines with sufficient, clarity, precision and scope to inspire confidence.
The Supreme Court is now in a battle for its legitimacy. Most of its wounds, including the handling of Bhopal, are self-inflicted. In fact in the entire debate over regulatory reform in India, very little attention is paid to the fact that institutions often fail, not because of their formal design or powers or lack of insulation from politics. They fail because of lack of internal institutional and intellectual leadership that is up to the task of the challenges the court faces. The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi]

Mutatis mutandis, this rings true with regard to Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry. [TNM]

Faith-based fragmentation

Kendriya Vidyalayas are the best our public schooling system has to offer, their explicit mission to promote “national integration” and create a sense of “Indian-ness”. State-run schools are supposedly a separate sphere, where secular notions of citizenship are forged, and they should stay aloof from contending spiritual schools and missions. If the Brahma Kumaris are okay, why not outsource it to other faith-based groups as well?]

Communists got decimated in India because they consistently disregarded the perpetuation of castes quite obstinately. The Hindutva brigade, likewise, lulls itself with an imagined Hindu monolith, while the reality is that now people are fragmented into various neo-religious sects. Not to take note of this compartmentalization in the society is sheer foolhardiness. [TNM]

Monday, June 07, 2010

All contraries prepare her harmony

Spero News - ‎The 'Instrumentum laboris' - a working paper for Catholic bishops to consider in dealing with the Middle East also notes that the key to harmonious living ...
The document also analyses the strong impact of "modernity", which "to most Muslim believers is perceived to be atheistic and immoral and a cultural invasion, threatening them and upsetting their value-system". "At the same time, 'modernity' is the struggle for justice and equality, the defence of rights". ...
"Christians have a special contribution to make in the area of justice and peace"; they have the duty to "courageously denounce violence no matter what its origin, and suggest solutions which can only be attained through dialogue", reconciliation and forgiveness. However Christians must "utilise peaceful means to insist that the rights of Christians be acknowledged by civil authorities".]

The hybridity of Savitri Era Religion is the right locus for reconciling diverse religions of the world and various caste blocs obtaining in India. [TNM]

Sunday, June 06, 2010

You have been called upon to do God's work.

This elucidation, happily, harbours many seeds with the potential of being expanded to a book-length text. However, the writings and speeches of Sri Aurobindo right from his student days to the poems composed in the jail itself needs to be taken into account for a proper appraisal of the significance of the Uttarpara Speech.

A minor correction: He was not “sentenced” but was simply an undertrial. [TNM] JUNE 6, 2010 3:02 AM 

Root out "revolutionary violence"

Gautam Siddharth05 June 2010 To quote Ajoy Bagchi who wrote in response to my blog,
"An out of the box suggestion is that a core multidisciplinary group comprising anthropologists, social psychologists, social scientists, sensitive public administrators and those who have considerable experience of conflict resolution should be set up to evolve a strategy to win the hearts and minds of those who have today taken to what Peter Heehs (author of the recent controversial book on Sri Aurobindo) describes as "revolutionary violence" and seeking a regime change through it.”]

Lest someone surmises that the trigger happy ultra-leftists draw the blessings of Sri Aurobindo through Peter Heehs, Savitri Era Party unequivocally dissociates itself from any sort of violence and coercion perpetrated by any non-state outfit. [TNM]

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Nadkarni Doctrine

[SELF Group Blogs Since Monday, June 20, 2005 Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
rainbowther This mire must harbour the orchid and the rose June (2)
Taxonomy And the quest continues....... Tusar N. Mohapatra. Posted by Silika at 2:46 AM Monday, June 20, 2005
The Inner Fields - There is a brighter ether than ... Sri Aurobindo 14-3-1947. Posted by Silika at 1:45 AM Thursday, June 30, 2005]

[Savitri Era Time-line Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo, A Critical Perspective by Rod Hemsell January 2002 
Sri Aurobindo’s Opposition Why the Indian establishment resisted him by Mangesh V. Nadkarni The Indian Express March 21, 2002 7:28 PM
June 2005Savitri Era Learning Forum group of blogs hit the net
September 2005: Science, Culture and Integral Yoga webzine - "SCIY" launched
January 2006SELF (Savitri Era Learning Forum) awarded the Best Integral Theory Non-Ken Wilber blog - by ebuddha of Integral Practice
July 2006In search of The Mother Orkut community, category: Religion & Beliefs
November 2006: Senior sadhak Shri RY Deshpande, Debashish, Vladimir, and others contribute to rich discussions at SCIY
Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 3:21 PM Wednesday, December 20, 2006]

The Nadkarni Doctrine of overpowering all those who constitute Sri Aurobindo’s Opposition is a constant challenge. Such forces are firmly entrenched within the fort also. Identifying them is not an easy task as many of them masquerade as leading flag bearers. Anonymous web voices further complicate the matter, and it’s really tricky to make out who is telling what and why. The vigil, however, must not flag. [TNM]    

Undulating mindscape and porous consistency

[Cox Communications ( Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, drraghu has left a new comment on your post "Sri Aurobindo draws close attention to the transit..."
It would be a sufficient achievement for the day and the times if rationality were to be comprehended and practised consistently in dealing with everyday phenomena and issues. We can then consider portentous discourse about the "Suprarational" and such premature constructions. …
All this harks back to some sort of Medieval Infrarationalism or infra-rationality, quite like the one perpetuated by Christian fundamentalism with its affirmation of Satan's role in producing natural disasters, demon-possession, exorcism, and faith healing, rather than even a minimal form of rationality. Posted by drraghu to Savitri Era Political Action at 5:58 PM, June 04, 2010 Savitri Era Open Forum]

In the WSJ online I cover Hollywood and capitalism including Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, The Wire and much else. 
“"The Wire" shows how money and markets connect and intertwine white and black, rich and poor, criminal and police in a grand web that none of them truly comprehends—a product of human action but not of human design. It's the invisible hand that's calling the shots…
Smith's metaphor of the invisible hand, like Mr. Simon's invocation of Zeus, tells us that to understand the world we need to look beyond the actions of individuals to see the larger forces at work.” More here.]

After the “incident”, Ravishankar and his disciples seemed just too anxious to have it certified as an assassination attempt… From an editorial in today’s Times of India:
“The guru’s statements after the recent shooting incident at his ashram seem to be quite out of character…. Ordinary mortals are entitled to engage with the authorities in a back-and-forth of this nature. But a spiritual teacher is expected to be more circumspect. He could have drawn inspiration from the Gita, which in shloka 17/15 advises austerity of speech, and said that Chidambaram may have been improperly briefed.”]

[on internet reader comments from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman)
I don’t see why “democracy” entails that mean-spirited ignoramuses should be allowed to address millions of members of the public. If they want to start their own blogs, fine. But why should the mainstream media encourage them with comment boxes? There is almost never any value added to the stories in this way.]

Equality Is Important—But It Isn’t Enough A. BARTON HINKLE TIMES-DISPATCH COLUMNIST: May 25, 2010
while liberals find inequality across race and gender classes invidious, many seem to find nothing wrong with an inequality between the enlightened few and the great unwashed. Large swaths of the knowledge class seem almost wistful about the idea of a dictatorship of the professional elite to oversee the lumpen proletariat. …
Hence Thomas Friedman contending in The New York Times that one-party autocracy can "have great advantages," when it is "led by a reasonably enlightened group of people."
They mean well, of course. But then so did John C. Calhoun, when he argued that slavery was not a necessary evil but a positive good… Contact A. Barton Hinkle at (804) 649-6627 or]

[Beware of Social Engineers by Don Boudreaux Here’s a letter to the New York Times:
Adam Ferguson (1723-1816) described civilization – including each component part, such as language, law, and the economy – as being “the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.” (An Essay on the History of Civil Society 1767, Part Third, Sec. II, Para. 7.)]
Hayek pointed out on page 30 of The Constitution of Liberty, “All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant.  Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest.”]

The overarching assumption of a uniformly pervasive human intellect regardless of age is a rather surprising feature of all theorizing. Equating teenagers with septuagenarians is patently absurd and deciphering precisely at which points of life irrationality sneaks in or bids goodbye is distinctly difficult and complex. But there is no gainsaying of the fact that rationality and irrationality are fluctuating indicators of a single phenomenon reflecting the current level of consciousness (as in an ECG graph). No rational analysis has been able to explain what lies beyond the sky and hence it can’t be the final limit to man’s imagination. [TNM]