Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pre-modern symbol systems fossilize into ideology in Modern Age of plurality

Sanatana Dharma: III—Swaraj and the Musulmans by Sri Aurobindo
by RY Deshpande on Sun 14 Jun 2009 04:04 AM IST Permanent Link Cosmos

The task is implementation, and it is to accomplish that that the enlightened society should prepare itself. A force has been released into operation and the obligation is we receive it and let it work within us. Perhaps in it is the key to tackle all the problems that arise due to various types and grades of antagonism, problems also perpetrated by all kinds of degenerate attitudes. But let us read Sri Aurobindo. ~ RYD

Re: "Applied Sri Aurobindo"
by RY Deshpande on Sat 20 Jun 2009 10:41 PM IST Profile Permanent Link

Ned Thanks for your perceptive response... Placing Mahomed and Islam in a new light was on the agenda; but Sri Aurobindo could not unfold it to us—as within months he had to take the divine refuge in Pondicherry. But if we have to practise what I may call “Applied Sri Aurobindo” in the Aurobindonian spirit, if we have assimilated his principles well enough, then certain lines of approach could be pretty clearly visualized.

Let us talk of the early days of the authentic Independence Movement. Those were the days of great leaders who shaped the destiny, those who really were extraordinary visionaries, the exceptional beings. The history that got written later was by the lesser souls, much lesser than we imagine them to be. Independence from the colonial rule was never envisaged in those days along the lines of division. Sri Aurobindo had categorically rejected the 1916 Lucknow Pact. Much later, after the fissured Independence, Sri Aurobindo told KM Munshi—he was his student in Baroda—that the Partition was because of the blatant play of falsehood, fraud and force, these entering into picture both in the political and occult sense. If they have the occult origin then no political approach is going to solve the problem. Towards that occult we can, however, prepare ourselves in various ways. That’s a long way, but perhaps that’s the only way. We can get hints about it from the writings of Sri Aurobindo. That is what I mean by “Applied Sri Aurobindo”. ~ RYD Reply

Re: Unending Desire: de Certau's 'Mystics' by Philip Sheldrake
by Debashish on Mon 22 Jun 2009 10:40 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

This is most often the ground of self-justification. Degrees of sincerity at the individual level may be there, but identification with group myths (having sometimes long histories) give a kind of irrational strength which feels bolstered in its numbers to hold itself out as Truth and justify violence in its name and for its defence. This is in fact one of the most pernicious problems of the Modern Age of plurality, where pre-modern symbol systems of all kinds have become mental constructs which individuals substitute for personal identity and feel comforted. If these are challenged, there is a refusal to see that one is defending an irrational structure which has imposed itself through a mental construct as a displaced identity. All such symbol systems (or at least some of them) may be valid descriptions of the Truth, but their validity exists for subjective choice and experience. When they become means for determining subjectivity and forming subjects, they have fossilized into ideology - religious, political or otherwise. All such ideologies speak in the name of the One, the Total, and justify all manner of irrationality in its name.

by Debashish on Sun 21 Jun 2009 09:43 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Whereas by dint of his experience, Sri Aurobindo holds out a phenomenological metaphysics relating a mental experience of time to a modality of consciousness based in omnitemporality, the reification of such an articulation, erasing the phenomenology and capturing the metaphysics as orthodoxy is a most predicatble outcome and infinitely dangerous due the very totalistic basis of its realization. This totalism becomes vulnerable to a totalitarianism without an unceasing insistence on the phenomenological practice of the alienness of the familiar. Practices of everyday life are such practices which by their invocation of the uninstitutionalizable propel the reality of Being under erasure. DB Reply

Obama and the end of exceptionalism
from The Immanent Frame by Thomas L. Dumm

In the last part of that century we overextended ourselves in many ways, as all empires do. The intensified power of the great, organized interests—since the advent of neo-liberalism, the immense corporations—created a large permanent national government joined at the hip with private powers. Globalization has been the result of that neo-liberalism, and helped transform the United States into the debtor nation that it now is. This development, coupled with an increasingly polarized political climate that was in part brought about by that very growth, and that has been exacerbated by the emergence of new forms of electronic media, has increasingly diminished the ability of presidents over this secular time to fundamentally shift the direction of government. [...]

When Obama said, "Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism---these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history," he was of course evoking the idea of American exceptionalism, a claim that we are possessed of distinctive values that, in times of crisis, come to the fore, and then inspire us to save our sorry asses.

Presidents are compelled to use the language of exceptionalism in two important ways. If our presidents are to be believed, we are always doing something New and something Great. We have had, in the past eighty years, the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier, the Great Society, the New Nixon, Morning in America, A Thousand Points of Light, a New Covenant, a Bridge to Tomorrow, and Compassionate Conservatism, and now we have a New Foundation. These slogans are made to do a lot of work, in that they suggest another word that became the brand of the Obama campaign last year: change.

This rhetoric reflects an interesting fact: while it is common for us to claim that there is no real progressivism in the United States anymore, the truth is that both ruling parties for the past eighty years have had to envelop themselves in a rhetoric of progressive change or transformation in order to be credible with the American people, who are deeply addicted to Newness and Greatness.

At the same time, and indeed as a part of the rhetoric of exceptionalism, presidents constantly invoke the Constitution as the rock upon which this church of America is built. The Constitution, whether you believe it to be a living document (Justice Breyer) or a dead one (Justice Scalia), is the ultimate foundation upon which all renewal is supposed to take place. No one can question it, especially the core of it, though many are incredibly inventive in interpreting it.

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