Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dynamic entanglement with the forces of world politics

Our worth lies only in the measure of our effort to exceed ourselves, and to exceed ourselves is to attain the Divine. -The Mother (1973)

One must not forget that both Sri Aurobindo an the Mother were very aware of the social context of yoga. Sri Aurobindo can be considered a social philosopher with the development of conditions propitious to the emergence of consciousness being at the base of his social thought. The same can be said for the Mother in the practical formulation of Auroville. However, as part of the modernist discourse within which they articulated their ideas, the social, cultural and psychological were separated, so that yoga became articulated outside of its social/cultural conditions purely in terms of psychology.
A postmodern discourse has problematized this exclusive differentiation, since particularly in our times when modernity has entered its global chapter, to think psychology in isolation from social and cultural realities is to blind oneself from social/cultural/historical inscription of discourses on human subjectivity and even anatomy (after all the body is a structure of consciousness). We live in a world saturated with economic and political power. In such a world, we may seek to find a “purity” of collective existence by taking shelter in ashrams or Aurovilles where we seem to be absolved of the need for thinking of these things because someone else has provided the sheltered social conditions. Or we may act as if such conditions are irrelevant to yoga by wishing them away in favor of a purity of psychological concern. However, in the present rapidly uniformalizing phase of neo-liberal globalization, the Hegelian end-of-history, there is no “inside” whether social or psychological which is immune from the determination of this fundamentally political regime. I am convinced that both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were very conscious of this and that their personal yoga through their acts of personal consciousness, was also a micropolitics. The scope of this micropolitics, in their case, was in fact hardly micro and is better seen as a macropolitics. Nevertheless, what I am saying is that there is a different way of perceiving the yoga, which does not isolate it from its dynamic entanglement with the forces of world politics and thus enables its action not only as a psychological “progress of consciousness” but as a being-in-the-world in the micropolitical sense. This is one way to understand the statement of Sri Aurobindo, “All Life is Yoga.”
One sees a good example of this active today in the increasingly overt politicization of the ashram. I see this as the inability to see yoga simultaneously as social/cultural/psychological. The continuing denial of their intimate braiding has lead on the one hand to a rupture of the yoga in its alignment with extreme right wing politics and on the other to the willed refusal of the ostrich.

Comment on Introduction to The Seven Quartets of Becoming by debbanerji from Comments for Posthuman Destinies by debbanerji … “an eternal perfection is moulding us in its image.”
What is the yoga of self-perfection but an ethics (will-to-right) and aesthetics (will-to-beauty) of self-fashioning? As one aspect of the Record, Sri Aurobindo was literally engaged in aesthetic self-fashioning since a siddhi of the sharira chatusthaya (quartet of the body) is saundarya (beauty). He understood this term in many ways, including the shaping of his body parts into the image of the perfection of an archetype.
In the Foucauldian sense, an aesthetics of the self through disciplines of truth telling is a goal which can be thought of as an alignment with the Nietzschean project of overmanhood. Reading Nietzsche closely, one finds his overman as that being which exceeds environmental determinations through the power of creativity. This requires first a consciousness of the forces within and without which subject us. Freedom from subjection is the condition for the exercise of psychic and spiritual forces of self-perfection. The disciplines of truth telling help us to disentangle ourselves from the compromised life to which we have acceded through our weaknesses. It thereby strengthens that which is autonomous in us and its creative power, to refashion ourselves in the image of beauty (saundarya), an aesthetics of the self.
As I said earlier, there are many descriptions of the Integral Yoga which Sri Aurobindo held simultaneously, and “an aesthetics of the self” leading to the image of Beauty, I believe, is one such description.

SA in his language practice privileges the One over the Many, leading to misunderstandings, imo. Because a close reading makes it clear that the Integral is radically One and radically Infinite. This cannot be logically comprehended and any attempt to language it leads to difficulties. Deleuze’s Univocity, for example, which he characterizes by the formula Monism = Pluralism, can be misunderstood, as a kind of unity as Badiou has done, or even translated in Vedantic terms to a visistadvaita (qualified non-dualism) of the Ramanuja school, where one cannot know the One-in-itself, but the One-as-difference. According to SA’s integrality, this is one poise of the supermind, the other two being those of the One-in-itself and the Different-Ones. One may call these Radical Monism, Monism = Pluralism and radical Pluralism. To mind, there will always be the game of musical chairs between these three contenders without any conclusion. But it is important to empower each of these if one is to think the unthought within thought or aspire for that which is logically unthinkable.

Management of Human Energies - Fourth Dimension Inc. - Towards ...
A Monthly Ejournal by Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondichery. SAFIM. Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Integral Management - Management of Human Energies by M.S. Srinivasan
Similarly a just, equitable, transparent and open social and political structure with minimum of hierarchy and a maximum of free and direct interaction between people, driven by a feeling of equality, comradeship and fraternity, releases a vast amount of energy in the work-life.
Liberty, equality and fraternity are some of the eternal and universal human values and they are part of the highest evolutionary destiny of humanity. So all creative and sincere attempt to realise these values in the human life, brings in the supportive sanction and energies of universal Nature. So an important part of the effort for progress is to strive for a pragmatic manifestation of liberty, equality and fraternity in the outer life of the organisation or the community or in other words towards a more and more free, equitable and fraternal corporate life. The author is a Research Associate at Sri Aurobindo Society and on the editorial board of Fourth Dimension Inc. His major areas of interest are Management and Indian Culture.

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