Tusar Nath Mohapatra

It is time for the West to adopt a more humble attitude

Posted on: September 10, 2007

Summary presentation of the theology implied by the work Being and Becoming
Christopher E Macann

All are but parts of one stupendous whole Whose body Nature is, and God, the Soul
Alexander Pope

Theology occurs in one of two ways, either as an independent project or as integral part of a philosophy, and in the latter case, either as a separate project belonging within the overall frame of a philosopher’s thinking or as an inseparable part of the philosophy. Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology, for example, is an independent theological project, though one worked out along philosophical lines, and indebted to first Heidegger, among others, for its fundamental principles. On the other hand, medieval philosophy was so very theological in character that it is often difficult to distinguish the philosophy from the theology. Leibnitz’ Theodicy was an attempt at a separate justification of religion. In his Monadology, on the other hand, he develops a theology out of his philosophy along philosophical lines, even though God plays so central a role that, strictly speaking, the philosophy will not work without the theological assumptions; and the same holds of Descartes or Berkeley. Spinoza wrote a Theologico-Political Treatise as a separate contribution to both religious and political thought. In his Ethics, on the other hand, a theology (as also an ethics) emerges out of his philosophy, as an integral part of what might even be called an ontological philosophy.

 In Martin Buber’s I and Thou or Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine, the philosophy and the theology are so integrally related that it is difficult to decide whether to call these projects philosophical theology or theological philosophy… 

If the ‘identity of the person’ is grounded in memory, and if memory is explained as a function of brain processes, then there not only can be no scope for any such continuity between lives, but even within a life this fragile continuity can be accidentally broken, and this before it is inevitably dissolved with death. Following Sri Aurobindo, I have given the name ‘Psychic Being’ to that which allows for just such a continuity over lives. It is not enough to dismiss such a notion as an unjustified speculation for which there is no evidence. For the evidence upon which Sri Aurobindo relied was largely that of the meditative investigations of India’s rishis, who themselves developed these notions not out of nothing but out of a spiritual experience of which we can have only the faintest intimation today (12).

12/ The importance of Sri Aurobindo’s thinking as the expression of an Indian mind working out its ideas in the English language cannot be overestimated. The two principal philosophical works of Sri Aurobindo are: The Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga, one oriented in a theological, the other in a psychological direction. Aurobindo’s limited command of Western philosophy (qualified by familiarity with the classical Greek tradition) is balanced by an extensive command of the literature of the Vedantic philosophy, coupled with an intense, lifelong reflection upon his own spiritual experience as one of India’s greatest Yogic practitioners. It is time for the West to adopt a more humble attitude towards a philosophical tradition based not upon the conquest of the world but upon the conquest of self, upon self development, more specifically, the raising of the self to ever higher levels of consciousness. This is the perennial aim of Indian philosophy, an aim never more badly needed than today, when the results of our Western pre-occupation with science and technology threaten the physical world with destruction.


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Tusar N. Mohapatra

Director, Savitri Era Learning Forum
SRA-102-C, Shipra Riviera, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad - 201014 (UP) India + 91 96500-65636
Aadhaar No. 3628 2075 7337
SELF posits a model of counselling and communicative action as an instrument in order to stimulate the public sphere. The model aims at supplementing the individual’s struggle for a successful social adjustment with more aspirational inputs so as to help one take an informed and balanced attitude towards life as well as society.
Savitri Era of those who adore,
Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.

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