Archive for February 2013
Posted February 27, 2013on:
The powerful imagery of the human transgressing limits and then being struck down by a force of cosmic justice has permeated our response to life’s setbacks through the ages. We need only look to the famous ancient Greek tale of Oedipus or the story of the house of Atreus, or even tales such as Hamlet or Macbeth by Shakespeare to recognise that we have imbibed these concepts and accepted them at some level of our consciousness as “the way the universe works.”
It is at this point that we generally assign a moral or ethical component to this universal action, but as Sri Aurobindo point out, the response is not strictly to moral failings but actually a response to any form of weakness, insufficiency, imperfection at whatever level it manifests. The human striving is to exceed our limits, to achieve success in life through expansion, extension and enjoyment. We push…
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It also shares psimilarities with what Sri Aurobindo calls the attainment of the “silent mind,” which is well explained in chapter 4 of The Adventure of Consciousness. In fact, we may discern a convergence of the Christian and neo-Vedantic …
Living Laboratories of the Life Divine Debashish Banerji
Text of a talk delivered at the AUM Conference, Los Angeles, May 2003.
A transcript of the Guru Pershad Lecture given at the Sri Aurobindo Society Beach Office in Dec. 2004, this article links a key chapter in The Life Divine with the Mother.
Text of a talk at the AUM Conference, Port Townsend, June 2005
Transcript of a Talk given at Nainital, India on 8/16/06. Detachment in a spiritual sense is the development of another dimension within us, a dimension which coexists with our active personality but is outside of it. It is to find an inner freedom, to discover a part of the being that cannot be touched by external circumstances or by the outer being’s activities – a separation within between what we know as ourselves in the world and something which is intrinsic and connected to an infinite being, a sort of an immutable witnessing.
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.
In these last chapters of The Ideal of Human Unity, Sri Aurobindo draws together the threads that he has introduced earlier in the work, leading to his conclusion. Though Jan Smuts was yet to coin the word “Holism” to encapsulate the idea that a directed tendency towards the formation of ever-larger aggregates is observable in Nature, each such distinct stage marked by the presence of an identity and properties exceeding those of the sum of their parts, Sri Aurobindo’s model of History follows this course. Indeed, this teleology follows naturally from Sri Aurobindo’s master-idea of the progressive manifestation of intrinsic spiritual Oneness in Time, expressing itself politically as the drive towards world-union.
A revised transcript of a talk given at the Cultural Integration Fellowship, San Francisco in 2008 and carried in the February 2010 issue 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.
On the eve of India’s independence, 15th August 1947, Sri Aurobindo wrote an address to the nation in which he outlined the five dreams with which he began his adult life. This address spoke of the scope of these dreams and held out pointers towards the future. This article explores these five dreams of Sri Aurobindo in terms of their contemporary relevance and their relationship to Sri Aurobindo’s yogic teaching. After two World Wars, can we still speak of nation-souls as Sri Aurobindo had? What did Sri Aurobindo envision in terms of the unity of India, the rise of Asia or a world union of the future? How can we understand these things today? And do these larger social and political goals have anything to do with his yogic vision? These and other questions are explored in this article, based on a talk given on 15th August 2008 at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, New Delhi, by Debashish Banerji. The article is reproduced courtesy of the February 2010 issue of the journalSrinvantu, Kolkata, India.
Revised tramascript of a talk presented at the conference Fundamentalism and the Future held on 9/11-12/2009 at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. The first part of the talk ia a study of Sri Aurobindo’s nationalism contextualized within the colonial-national interchange and the modern understanding of the nation. This includes a consideration of the nation-soul idea. The second part considers the implications of this nationalism to Sri Aurobindo’s social ideas – concerning the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville and, in general, the social context of the Integral Yoga and his vision of the future, so as to engage reflection on the present.
Following the conference on Fundamentalism and the Future, Alan and Carel, editors of Auroville Today conducted this interview for the February 2010 issue of the journal. The archived pdf pf the interview may be downloaded here. Subsequently, in the March issue, a rejoinder to the opinions expressed in this interview was submitted by Raman Reddy. My response to the rejoinder was printed at the bottom of the article. This article and response may be downloaded here.
The Bengal Renaissance, was a movement of early cultural nationalism in late 18th and early 19th c.India. This essay contends that this movement initiated a wide and deep engagement with post-Enlightenment ideology, both in its more immediate expression as colonialism and in the global teleology of modernity. Within this discourse, we find the contribution of Sri Aurobindo as one which provided a penetrating critique and profound alternatives. These alternatives were not isolated solutions tangential to modernity or anachronistic regressions to the pre-modern. By demonstrating the limits of the Enlightenment idea and the creative adaptation of both new and pre-modern ideas towards overcoming these limits, the Bengal Renaissance opened up ways towards alternative modernities, and Sri Aurobindo’s solutions in this context, may be seen as not merely critiques but alternative fulfillments of the ideals of the Enlightenment.
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.
Posted February 18, 2013on:
It is man’s destiny to represent and carry out the establishment of the force of mentality into the world, as man is characteristically a mental being. While the mental power takes up and thereby influences and modifies the action of physical forces and vital forces, the essence of mentality can be seen when we exercise the truly mental powers, independent of their specific impact on physicality and vitality.
Sri Aurobindo discusses this: “There is a higher law of mental being and nature of which he is bound to become aware and to seek to impose it on his life and his action. At first he is very predominantly governed by the life needs and the movement of the life energies, and it is in applying his mental energy to them and to the world around him that he makes the earliest development of his powers of knowledge and will and…
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Posted February 11, 2013on:
As we have been examining physical Nature and its forces, it has become obvious that the return or response of the energy, the essence of the law of “cause and effect” which underlies or notion of Karma, is strictly in line with our adherence to the principles and laws of the physical universe and does not include any moral or ethical component. Physical Nature will put into our hands the power to split the atom if we focus intensely enough, regardless of whether we will use it benignly or malignantly.
We try to impugn an ethical motive in the results of physical energy, but in the purest sense, physical energy simply does not have this impulsion. The concept of Karma that includes a “payback” in terms of morality or ethics is actually something that arises with the development of higher forms of consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo describes the response of Nature:…
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Posted February 9, 2013on:
There is a story stemming from the Greek tradition which illustrates the role of man in physical nature–The story of Prometheus. The name itself stems from Greek roots that mean “forethinker”. The story goes that the Gods were withholding the power of fire from humanity. The allusion however widens to represent powers of understanding, progress and mastery over the forces of physical nature that enter into the world with the advent of human-embodied powers of creativity and originality and the corresponding application of the powers of mind and will to manifest what was formerly latent in Nature, in most cases against intense opposition (in the original story Zeus, king of the Gods opposed the action of Prometheus and penalized him with constant and ever-recurring pain and anguish). Zeus also created Pandora and gave her the famous “Pandora’s box” in retribution for the action of Prometheus. The symbolism of Pandora’s box…
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Posted February 5, 2013on:
Students shuffling out of the classroom after a discussion of Platonic realism and the possibility of transcendent, objective values independent of culture, history, and individual determination.
STUDENT: “This class is impossible.”
ME (Alarmed): “Why?”
STUDENT: “We come in here thinking we understand the world and now we discover that everything we think might be mistaken.”
Posted February 3, 2013on:
There are many secondary works which profess to explain Sri Aurobindo’s views on nationalism, but it is better to read what he himself said on the matter. These are a few selections from the works of Sri Aurobindo on Nationalism. These pieces first appeared in the Karmayogin journal in 1909. Later in life, Sri Aurobindo saw these writings as outdated remnants of his extinct political persona but to us they remain luminous milestones indicative of his political sagacity and broad vision.
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