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Wednesday, August 26
by Debashish on August 26, 2009 06:11PM (PDT)
The following is a revised transcript of a talk given by me at the Cultural Integration Fellowship, San Francisco in 2008 and carried in the current edition of Sraddha, a journal of the Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata.
In this, I bring into dialog the epistemic boundaries of the western academic discipline of Psychology and Sri Aurobindo's formulation of Integral Yoga, so as to reflect on the disciplinary formation of a field of Integral Psychology. What would such a field hold out and how would it impact the existing assumptions of both Psychology and Yoga? The insertion of such a discipline into the academy is not a trivial task. It is a project fraught with danger and possibility, which needs to be carefully negotiated. - db more »
Monday, July 20
by Debashish on July 20, 2009 09:00AM (PDT)
Sri Aurobindo envisaged the goal of human becoming as a transformed society and civilization based on the expressions of an integral consciousness. However, in keeping with the collective dimension of this goal, a transformed society was envisaged by him not merely as the end result of individual transformations, but as the dynamically transforming life-context or field which would allow and facilitate individual transformation. Seen from this standpoint, the social discipline of education, meant to “socialize,” “in-form” and inculcate the cultural, knowledge and epistemological skills of the social habitus for individual engagement takes on a changed meaning related to a new phenomenology, epistemology and teleology of human and social becoming. Integral Education then becomes a socially acknowledged and authorized praxis of the Integral Yoga or at least the pedagogical condition for its social possibility and collective transformation.
Though much has been written and several attempts at implementation made to formulate Integral Education as a form of child education, the higher educational possibilities and ramifications of Integral Education have remained largely untheorized. This paper is an attempt to think through some of these possibilties and implementations. Debashish Banerji is the educational coordinator of The University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles. more »
Sunday, June 7
by Debashish on June 7, 2009 04:46PM (PDT)
This is an annotated introduction to the first chapter of a recent book Knowledge and Human Liberation by Ananta Kumar Giri of the Madras Institute of Development Studies. The essay tries to engage Jurgen Habermas and Sri Aurobindo in a thought dialog. The potency of Jurgen Habermas (1929 - ) in a postmodern era has sustained itself due to the questions of human liberty, equality, ethics and understanding he has prioritized over those of knowledge, identity or experience. Habermas’ most powerful contribution to contemporary thought has been in the theorization of the “public sphere.” In elaborating its implications, Habermas focuses on what he calls “communicative reason.” Communicative rationality, according to him, is "oriented to achieving, sustaining and reviewing consensus - and indeed a consensus that rests on the intersubjective recognition of criticisable validity claims.” This discipline of intersubjective practice restores the lifeworld from its fragmentation under ideological or economic (commodified) alien consolidations. Thus Habermas’ communicative speech acts operate under an implicit faith in Human universality and its inevitable collective experience as social and individual knowledge, a continuation of the Enlightenment ideal.
A discplined intersubjective praxis of creative communication can very well be seen as a part of the social realization of an integral spiritual ideal in a plural field. Usually this has not been clearly described or prioritized by scholars and practitioners of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Non-Dualism, the emphasis having been directed towards the articulation of a universal (integral) Psychology, in terms taken from Sri Aurobindo’s own writing. But such denotative asocial descriptions have tended to subjugate phenomenological variety and social/cultural/personal experience. As a consequence, the danger of a totalitarian epistemology in the name (nomos) of Integral Theory has asserted itself with its own institutional disciplinary agents, who have increasingly tended to police out (violently if necessary, as the contemporary controversy related to the recent biography, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, alarmingly and overwhelmingly demonstrates) all subjective interpretation of the way to this goal, and thus to the possibility of a plural realization of the Integral Yoga.
Against this background, the comparative and cross-cultural dialog between Habermas and Sri Aurobindo initiated by Ananta Giri is a salutary intervention. Using each to critique the limits and possibilities of the other, Giri shows how the rational assumptions of knowledge in the Enlightenment ideal lead to aporia which have been amply documented by postmodern thinkers, but which receive a higher validation through the transcendental ontology and praxis of Sri Aurobindo; just as the susceptibility to ontotheological abstraction and totalism of Sri Aurobindo’s phenomenology and praxis when reduced to an Integral Psychology, Integral Theory or Integral Religion can be safeguarded for a plural space through disciplines of intersubjective communication as developed by Habermas. more »
Friday, May 29
100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution: The Illusion of Human Progress and the Ideal of Human Unity (part 5 of 6)
by Rich on May 29, 2009 12:43PM (PDT)
... In this context progress can be seen as a social ideology that corresponds to other hijacked evolutionary ideologies reflected in the German Idealism of “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”, and Herbert Spencer's “progressive evolution”. All the above ideas at one time or another have been utilized by those with couched power agendas for their use value in aligning different races and cultures along a scale of graduated being in which the European was seen to be the most highly evolved. A close reading of Sri Aurobindo however, will show that he had no such agenda. This fact should be understood properly before moving on to consider Sri Aurobindo's view of human progress.
Although in many ways Sri Aurobindo was certainly a visionary in his view of history he did not claim to be a prophet. The impossible burden of proof placed on prophecy is not lost on him. Even the future of poetry it seems can not be anticipated twenty five years years hence:
“ The gods of life and still more the gods of mind are so incalculably self-creative that even when we can distinguish the main lines of which the working runs or has so far run, we are still unable to foresee with any certainty what turn they will take or of what new thing they are the labor. It is therefore impossible to predict what the future poetry will actually be like. We can see where we stand today but we cannot see where we shall stand a quarter century hence” (Sri Aurobindo FP p.1972)
If this be the case with the life gods of poetry how much more is this so with the gods governing human history. Indeed how could one expect him to anticipate the developments in subsequent years when he wrote this optimistic assessment of the future in his 1909 essay Process and Evolution:
It is not likely that the immediate future of the democratic tendency will satisfy the utmost dreams of the lover of liberty who seeks an anarchist freedom, or of the lover of equality who tries to establish a socialistic dead level, or of the lover of fraternity who dreams of a world-embracing communism. But some harmonization of this great ideal is undoubtedly the immediate future of the human race. Once the old forces of despotism, inequality and unbridled competition, after they have been once more overthrown, a process of gradual samyama will be performed by which what has remained of them will be regarded as the disappearing vestiges of a dead reality and without any further violent coercion be transformed slowly and steadily out of existence.”
Of course what followed were the two great wars that almost destroyed civilizations and the partition of his beloved India. It seems like a harmonization in the immediate future was not to be in the cards dealt by history.....
For Sri Aurobindo the question of human progress is, as almost everything he wrote about, complex. While he believes in 1909 that human progress is the agent of change and writes: “ Whether we take the modern scientific or the ancient Hindu standpoint the progress of humanity is a fact.”(Aurobindo 1909) by the early 1940s his view seems to have notably altered and he writes:
“the idea of human progress itself is very probably an illusion, for there is no sign that man, once emerged from the animal stage, has radically progressed during his race-history; at most he has advanced in knowledge of the physical world, in Science, in the handling of his surroundings, in his purely external and utilitarian use of the secret laws of Nature....
Thursday, April 2
by Rich on April 2, 2009 09:24AM (PDT)
As the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origins of Species take place this year, it is easy to overlook the fact that 2009 also marks the 100th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo's first major text on evolution and consciousness. In Process and Evolution and Yoga and Human Evolution (1909) Sri Aurobindo begins to comprehensively articulate his vision of human evolution. Just as Darwin's book became the foundation for a science of evolution, what has been called evolutionary spirituality can be traced back to Sri Aurobindo's work. Many are acknowledging this bi-centennial year of Darwin's birth with a reassessment of his work in light of what we now know about evolution it therefore, also seems to be a good time to reassess Sri Aurobindo's vision of human evolution in terms of our contemporary understanding of the phenomena......
Even though his view of history is essentially cyclic he starts his consideration of evolution by writing in Yoga and Human Evolution (1909) the following:
“Whether we take the modern scientific or the ancient Hindu standpoint the progress of humanity is a fact” (Aurobindo)
However, by the early1940s when he is revising the last chapters of The Life Divine he writes:
“the idea of human progress itself is very probably an illusion, for there is no sign that man, once emerged from the animal stage, has radically progressed during his race-history; at most he has advanced in knowledge of the physical world, in Science, in the handling of his surroundings, in his purely external and utilitarian use of the secret laws of Nature “ (Aurobindo 1949 p832)....
There are six sections in this paper:
I) Why Sri Aurobindo would not believe in Intelligent Design
2) Darwinian Fundamentalism: reductionism, pluralism, play
3) Anticipating Science & Society
4) Complexity and the Dialectics of the Visible and Invisible
5) The Illusion of Human Progress and the Ideal of Human Unity
6) The Dialectics of Biology and Culture: science, ecology & economics more »
Saturday, January 10
by Debashish on January 10, 2009 09:46AM (PST)
Rick Lipschutz reflects here on the continuum which stretches from religion to spirituality. Drawing on the Mother's distinction between spiritual realization, spiritual philosophy, occultism and religion and her perception of a complementarity in their workings, the author calls for a more integral understanding of the yoga and its stages and processes. more »
Friday, December 5
Sri Aurobindo's commentary on the Upanishads in the life of Rashaan Roland Kirk: Aug 7, 1936 - Dec 5, 1977
by Rich on December 5, 2008 01:31PM (PST)
I wanted to provide a video of Kirk's performance to compliment this article and demonstrate some of the techniques and music described in it
Roland Kirk died 31 years ago on Dec 5th 1977, I believe his life illustrates what in the Isha and Kena Upanishad is referred to as the workings of Prana and Kratu . Following Sri Aurobindo's excellent commentary on these two Upanishads in this article - that has been recently updated - I trace the self-formulation of prana and kratu in the biography of this amazing musician
Prana, Kratu, Jazz
(the life and will of Rashaan Roland Kirk)
By whom yoked moves the first life-breath forward on its path? By whom impelled is this word that men speak? What god set eye and ear to their workings?....
- Kena Upanishad more »
Tuesday, November 11
by Rich on November 11, 2008 01:34PM (PST)
From the beginning of time man has been preoccupied with the phenomenon of Consciousness. His understanding has found its expression in the religious and ritualistic texts.
The Aitareya Brahmana 25. 7 depicts Vedic ritual, agnihotra, as consisting of three priests: hotar, adhvaryu, and udgatar, reciting texts from Rig, Yajur and Sama Vedas, corresponding to the three spheres of the Sacrifice: earth, air and heaven, respectively. The fourth one—brahman, who is silent during the performance, observing all the actions as well as listening to all words uttered by the priests. His function is to be a witness of all what is happening and in case of some imperfection in action or in speech to cure and correct it in his mind, praya-citta.... more »
Tuesday, October 7
by Debashish on October 7, 2008 07:17PM (PDT)
... The personal yoga of Sri Aurobindo, as he himself once characterized it, was an "incalculable" one, leading from realization to realization in a journey without end. Through his life, Sri Aurobindo attempted to chart this journey in the form of a darshana (or philosophy) and a yoga (a process leading to experience and transformation). His earliest formulation to himself of this journey with its goals and processes is what he called the Sapta Chatusthaya (Seven Quartets) which form the background to his private notes to himself of his own yogic progress, kept mostly between 1912-1920 and now publshed as The Record of Yoga. Between 1914-1920, he wrote most of his major works in the serialized journal, Arya, where he outlined his yoga, philosophy of evolution and social philosophy in terms which may also be thought of as contemporaneous with the Record of Yoga. Particularly, in his principal work on yoga, The Synthesis of Yoga, the fourth part, the Yoga of Self-Perfection, can be thought of as a yoga of transformation, a new formulation for the future which followed the achievements of the more traditional yogas of Works, Knowledge and Divine Love, comprising respectively the first three parts of Sri Aurobindo's synthesis in this text. This Yoga of Self-Perfection can largely be correlated with the Sapta Chatusthaya and thus, the Record of Yoga.
Later, after 1926, we have Sri Aurobindo's Letters on Yoga and later still, after 1932, further revisions to his other texts, including the Synthesis of Yoga and the Life Divine. In these writings, Sri Aurobindo introduces a new terminology and what may seem new emphases to his yoga and darshana.
Richard Hartz, who works at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram archives, has studied Sri Aurobindo's texts and revisions intensively as an editor of his Complete Works and takes a historical view of the development of Sri Aurobindo's yoga and writing. Here, he raises and tries to answer some of the questions pertaining to the changes and revisions in Sri Aurobindo's understanding and teaching, by looking at the Record of Yoga, the Yoga of Self-Perfection and other key texts of Sri Aurobindo such as the Life Divine and Savitri. He also considers what may be the special contribution of Sri Aurobindo to the Indian tradition of yoga and touches on the part paid by Vivekananda as a precursor. ... more »
by Debashish on October 7, 2008 07:05PM (PDT)
The concluding section on Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies by Debashish Banerji continues its second installment's reflections on the Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence presented to us as the emerging destiny of post-Enlightenment Modernity and compares this destination with its appropriation and supercession in the Neo-Vedantic teleology of Sri Aurobindo. What are the differences, dangers and promises of these destinies and what are the conditions for achieving an alternate destination? ... more »
by Debashish on October 7, 2008 07:04PM (PDT)
This is a fragment constituting a continuation of Debashish Banerji's reflections on Techno-Capitalism as the epistemic regime of modernity and posible post-human futures at the eschatological cusp of history. Here the alignment of Marx and Hegel with the Enlightenment vision/teleology is contemplated and questions asked regarding a comparative alignment with the Neo-Vedantic teleology (if it can be called that) of Sri Aurobindo. more »
Saturday, August 9
by Debashish on August 9, 2008 11:41AM (PDT)
SCIY Editor Vladimir Yatsenko will teach an online course in the Vedas starting in October 2008. We carry the details here as well as a link to one of the lecture transcripts posted earlier in SCIY. more »
Friday, August 8
by Debashish on August 8, 2008 07:36PM (PDT)
This article attempts to sketch out Sri Aurobindo's contribution to the future of humanity as carried in his major texts. In doing so, it also tries to underline the cross-cultural nature of these texts and the disciplinary redefinitions implicit in them. more »
Wednesday, April 9
100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution: The dialectics of biology and culture; science, ecology & economics (part 6 of 6)
by Rich on April 9, 2008 01:36PM (PDT)
Perhaps it is best if the twain between science and religion do not meet. Trying to engage science and spirituality in a dialog has a long and troubled history. The incommensurable narratives of matter and spirit they both tell have proven time and time again troublesome for reaching any common understanding. In fact, if science and spirituality do share something in common it is that they all too often accuse the other of totalizing a universal narrative that usurps all ways of looking at the world that are inconsistent with their own.
Religion and science each have their own fundamentalist practitioners who would reduce the world solely to accounts told in their holy books or biology text books. One can not easily imagine an encounter between science and religion in which some violent reaction would not be triggered. Worse perhaps then the violent confrontation between science and religion is when either one appropriates the narratives of the other for the purpose of furthering their own ideological concerns. In the case of religion one example would be in their use of science to justify creationism, while in the case of science such appropriation usually results in one of the just-so stories of origins or cultural analogs of natural selection that Neo-Darwinism tells....
This holds true also for any dialog one would wish to begin between integral yoga and science. It would perhaps be best to begin such a dialog by first exploring Sri Aurobindo's dialectic between yoga and culture and then to look for resonances with narratives told by credible scientist regards the dialectics of science and culture. Better yet, in Sri Aurobindo's own work one finds him at times also critically exploring the dialectic between science and culture. It would therefore seem best to arrive at a dialogic platform to engage science and integral yoga using their diffusion in the semi-permeable membrane of culture, rather then by a direct confrontation as a means to begin the conversation. more »
Friday, March 28
100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution: Complexity and the Dialectics of the Visible and Invisible (part 4 of 6)
by Rich on March 28, 2008 01:03PM (PDT)
“but all this need not mean that the types developed one from another in an evolutionary series. Other forces than hereditary variation have been at work in bringing about the appearance of new characteristics; there are physical forces such as food, light-rays and others that we are only beginning to know, there are surely others which we do not yet know; there are at work invisible life-forces and obscure psychological forces. For these subtler powers have to be admitted even in the physical evolutionary theory to account for natural selection;”
Although, in the above passage, Sri Aurobindo is referring to these subtle forces as invisible, we should also recall one of the three laws of the future that Arthur C. Clark's has defined, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. This law is so ingrained in us, now that we can fly the globe or surf the web, that Gehm's Corollary to Clarke's Third Law cynically puts it, "Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced." or even more to the point Marge Simpson states "We can do anything now that scientists have invented magic,"
We are now able to parse matter almost magically to a degree that would have surpassed the understanding of Sri Aurobindo's age. His work was written before the discovery of the dna molecule. One does not really know how he would assess the biological sciences today. For instance, how would he conceive of evolution in light of genomics and bioinformatics? How would he assess the discovery of the cybernetic process that now govern bio-chemistry? How would he apprehend a paradigm of life not in vitalistic terms but in terms of information? Would he regard the application of precise cybernetic principles to biology as making visible the invisible life forces he was referring to when he wrote the above passage, in the early 1940s, when Shannon, Von Neumann, Wiener and others were just defining the new paradigm of information (cybernetics)? ....
But while keeping in mind his rejection of eugenics in his 1915 essay on Evolution Sri Aurobindo does seem to have enough foresight into history as to extrapolate from what he knew already about bio-technology the possibility that human biological/spiritual evolution may preceded through the intervention of its own sciences; in other words that our minds may operate upon our biology to produce new genetic mutations in organisms: “It has been noted that the human mind has already shown a capacity to aid Nature in the evolution of new types of plant and animal: it as created new forms of environment, developed by knowledge and considerable changes in its mentality. It is not an impossibility that man should aid nature consciously also in its own physical and spiritual evolution and transformation.” (844) more »
Friday, January 11
by Ron on January 11, 2008 12:55PM (PST)
I recommend watching this video. Imo, it's a good example of the spirit and vision shared by many Aurovilians. ~ ronjon
A 6.37 minute video pointing out the potentiality of Auroville Universal Township, especially of the International Zone, as a new kind of United Nations, has been posted by way of answer to [the]Davos Question on the You Tube, thanks to timely intimation from Jack Alexander, a former Aurovilian and a close friend of Auroville from USA.
Link to the video:
The highest videos will be shown and discussed at the World Economic Forum starting from 23rd January. ...more »
Tuesday, December 25
by Kim on December 25, 2007 08:59PM (PST)
Al-Kemi recounts the story of the eighteen months that Andrew VandenBroeck, a painter and writer, spent in daily contact with the remarkable French philosopher, hermetist, and Egyptologist, R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961). Structured like a mystery, and distilled in the crucible of memory for fifteen years, Al-Kemi provides a passionately felt, personal, and dramatic introduction to the startling world of this contemporary alchemist (from back cover).
... Before reaching these particulars, it must be known that de Lubicz held the traditional conception of an esoteric science and its transmission: true knowledge is inaccessible to the rational mind. This epistemological tenet caused his writings to be spiked with metaphor, innuendo, and at times, obscurity. He mistrusted the written word, disliked writing because truth was inevitably degraded when committed to paper through a profane language. This attitude most clearly ordinates the lineage along which he inscribes himself by his premises and his results. His low regard for “demotic” writing as a means of truth-communication made personal contact with him invaluable, for he had no such reservations concerning the spoken word, the word of gesture. Thus he actively believed in oral transmission of a kind of knowledge best called “gnosis,”  and in private, I always found him accessible to leisurely conversation on the most exalted topics. As our relationship soon proved more than casual, his information became increasingly direct, in contrast to his written expression which often presents problems of meaning and referent.more »
To such an epistemology, personal contact is the kingpin of communication, and I found out later to what extent his frame of reference was tailored to his correspondent. ...
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler