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.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

To make everything fit inside theory of social action

Back to his roots from The Immanent Frame by Matteo Bortolini
As Talcott Parsons’s beloved student at the Department of Social Relations at Harvard in the 1950s, Bellah was subject to high expectations… From the point of view of the sociology of ideas, this strategy might be seen as both a homage to a venerable sociological tradition—going all the way back to Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer and the incredibly vast array of interests of 19th-century sociology—and as an attempt to bring Talcott Parsons’s work to a higher level of complexity and explicative power. Many may not know, but Parsons was a biology major and remained a voracious reader all his life, eager to make almost everything fit inside his signature “theory of social action.” …
Luhmann’s, as well as Bellah’s, silence about historical change in general should not be mistaken for lack of scholarship or courage: on the contrary, it comes from a lucid understanding of the promises and the limits of theory vis-à-vis the study of individual historical facts and processes that takes Parsons’s tendency to over-theorize seriously and tries to find a way to transcend its shortcomings.
The story of Robert Bellah and Religion in Human Evolution can thus be told as the quest a hero had to bring to an end against all odds and impediments, and as the dutiful effort of a metaphorical son to resume and further the work of his metaphorical father within a long line of ancestors—even putting the clear Weberian inspiration aside, Bellah’s decision to go back to pre-axial and axial-age civilizations after a life of work on modernity and modernization might be read as parallel to Durkheim’s decision to focus on Australian aboriginals after The Division of Labor in Society and Suicide, a choice that Bellah himself once interpreted as a journey into the unconscious sources of social existence analogous to Freud’s work on dreams…
I would make a fool of myself by saying that the main thrust beyond Bellah’s latest work is the resentment of the unappreciated intellectual. No need to call Nietzsche into question: I am just saying that besides the aspiration to bring his self-assigned life plan of research to an end, Bellah might have had another, all too human, desire to fulfill.

Perhaps more importantly the author does not write to simply address followers of Sri Aurobindo but has done an even greater service by attempting to make the Record available to a wider audience by drawing comparisons with the work of several of the most renown philosophers of the late 20th Century including Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and especially Gilles Deleuze who figures most prominently in his analysis of the Record of Yoga.
Contemporary philosophy or theory is now in a post-metaphysical stage given the myriad of problems associated with ideologies that have been spun from worn out metaphysical creeds throughout the 20th century. It is a stroke of genius to analyze Sri Aurobindo’s yoga by employing the language of Gilles Deleuze because of its relevance to contemporary thought. Given the fact that The Record of Yoga and Sri Aurobindo’s many other important texts were written close to 1o0 years ago and thus are cloaked in the language of metaphysical idealism, that although appropriate for the times, now represent a discourse largely removed from the necessities of our Post-Metaphysical Age, Banerji has performed an invaluable service for contemporary scholars, theologians as well as followers of integral yoga. Because of the seemingly incommensurable discursive gap between Aurobindo and Deleuze one would never gleam the similarities if someone as skilled as Banerji has not attempted his comparison.
R: A short note on the... Posted March 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
Reading them today I can not help to smile because language – as we know from Future Poetry – charts the leading edge of our evolutionary turn. So for example to read these words in the 21st century well after the intuitive poetic vision that inspired their first utterance has passed, I can only wonder what the signifier psychicization differs and defers to? If one takes SA seriously about the infinite expressive potentialities of the Divine then one would be real surprised if this did not also correspond to an equally expressive ever-evolving language.
Therefore it seems to me rather unlikely that what Sri Aurobindo may have first gleamed in language from an intuitive vision over 75 years ago would in fact be the very same language he would cloak his “guru english” in today. Over time sublime experience becomes reified in language, inspirational poetry quickly becomes stale ideology. While one can memorize his system and learn to parrot Sri Aurobindo’s words mapping his experience onto the countless differences that shape the experiences and inner topography of each one of us is a whole other enchilada.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Autocracy propped up by falsehood, intimidation and bribery

Throughout the world there is an unmistakable trend of common people rising up against their autocratic overlords and tyrants. No doubt there is a Divine decree that has gone forth that is behind this rapid overturning of all dictatorships and the breakdown of political thuggery. 
If the Ashram is a microcosm of the world and what happens in it is a representative of the world outside, then the Divine Will, as it manifests in the world, is also an indicator of what It seeks to achieve in the Ashram as well. The writing is on the wall for all to see. 
This issue can only be resolved if the average Ashramite stands up and quietly, but firmly, rejects the stifling apparatus of unaccountable and non-transparent autocracy propped up by falsehood, intimidation and bribery, which the current management has foisted on them and now seeks to legitimize in the name of the Mother, specifically by recourse to the Trust Deed. 
The true friends of the Ashram, as well as of the trustees themselves, are those that speak out and call a halt to the suicidal downward slide on which the collective has been accelerating under their reckless and negligent misrule. A positive outcome of the current crisis in the Ashram will surely constitute the next step in a virtuous cycle of more transparent and better accountable governance of people throughout the world. Reply

Robert Wilkinson is misinformed when he says the Ashram Archives "lists Heehs as one of its founding member". He is merely repeating Heehs' false claim. In fact Heehs was originally one of 40 proof-readers of the SABCL publication unconnected with the Archives when it was started. The Mother blessed two young men as the first researchers at the Archives founded by Jayantilal Parekh. Heehs was nowhere in the picture. Since Jayantilal headed both projects (Archives and SABCL), eventually after 1973 the proof-reading group was folded into the already existent Archives. That is how Heehs came to join the Archives as a proof-reader. By that time, the actual researchers at the Archives (approved by the Mother) were already at work for over two years

With a little bit of luck Vancouver Sun  By DOUGLAS TODD, Vancouver Sun March 16, 2012 Is life just random chance? Or is it pre-determined, either by God or by the inexorable laws of a mechanistic universe?
Going a bit further than O’Driscoll, some spiritually inclined philosophers – such as Sri Aurobindo from India and Hartshorne and others from North America – have taken to heart that the universe is continually evolving.In the world’s process of becoming, they say that “God” is basically the natural force that draws order out of chaos, out of randomness. Like Aristotle, 20th-century philosophers and scientists such as Charles Peirce, David Böhm and Robert Kane are convinced there is more than spontaneity, accident or blind luck. There is also an organizing principle. As Hartshorne put it, “Neither pure chance nor the pure absence of chance can explain the universe.”
Even while rejecting the notion of an all-controlling Designer of the Universe, Anglo-American physicist Paul Davies said new “post-modern” science reveals that “an ordered universe is more than a gigantic accident.” It contains purpose. The late Australian microbiologist Charles Birch said it this way: “The post-modern discourse is that chance and purpose can live together. Indeed, one is not possible without the other.”
Not absolutely everything is predetermined by cause and effect, Birch says. Humans, and other sentient creatures, have some degree of real free choice. In other words, randomness and directivity are complementary. In life, especially in humans, Birch maintains there is a fundamental “urge to live,” to “anticipate,” to seek “realistic hope.” The creative power of the future, which some call “eros,” influences the world to move toward greater richness of experience. Whether or not most people accept such cosmological speculation about the evolutionary process, such ideas about inherent purposefulness in the universe seem to back up David Foster Wallace when he said, “I wish you more than luck.”

special article the statesman 29 January 2011 Poetry & Patriotism~I  Argha Banerjee 
The Enduring Legacy Of Sri Aurobindo & Swami Vivekananda
Poetry is the spiritual excitement of a rhythmic voyage of self-discovery among the magic islands of form and name in these inner and outer worlds. ~ Sri Aurobindo
In his poem, “Lines on Ireland”, composed in 1896, Sri Aurobindo exclaims at the fall of Ireland:
How changed, how fallen from her ancient spirit!/ She that was Ireland, Ireland now no more,/ In beggar’s weeds behold at England’s door ...” 
The seeds of fervent nationalism or patriotism, which were to blossom over the coming decades, could be traced to his poem on Ireland. Sri Aurobindo’s prescription for Irish redemption, was not a military strategy but a return to its roots, self-introspection, deeper spiritual communion, revival of its past glory and distinctive cultural identity. For the subjugation and subservience of Ireland, he doesn’t accuse the alien power but blames the enslaved state:
But thou to thine own self disloyal, hast/ Renounced the help divine, turning thy past/ To idle legends and fierce tales of blood,/ Mere violent wrath with no proposed good.
The poet’s attack culminates in the line which emphatically asserts:
How fallen art thou being ruled by these!
His personal frustration is a spontaneous  condemnation of a shameless surrender to foreign domination. As Shyam Kumari rightly observes in the critical essay “The Spirit of Indian Nationalism in Sri Aurobindo’s Early Poems”:
“It is a sweet journey to follow in the footsteps of Sri Aurobindo’s early poetry and trace the first dawn of the Indian spirit.”
Sri Aurobindo’s entrapment in an alien culture did not impede his quest for search of the traditional roots of Indian heritage. His stress was on spiritual regeneration and rediscovery of the cultural roots for an emphatic assertion of nationalist identity. Sri Aurobindo was influenced by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who fused spirituality with nationalism in Anandamath. He advocated a confrontational path for the sanyasis as their means of liberation or nirvana.
Patriotism or nationalism is not alienated from spirituality. Cultural self-discovery, especially the rekindling of inherent tradition and heritage, has a sacramental dimension. The sanctity of the latter has to be preserved against all odds. This is at the root of  the spiritual resilience of a nation against external subjugation. It is this spiritual empathy that Sri Aurobindo celebrated when he described the novelist in his poem entitled “Bankim Chandra Chatterji” as “The sweetest voice that ever spoke in prose.” In his obituary lyric “Saraswati with the Lotus”, he evokes the muse of learning and bemoans the sad demise of the author:
Thy tears fall fast, O Mother, on its bloom,/ O white-armed mother, like honey fall thy tears;/ Yet even their sweetness can no more relume/ The golden light, the fragrance heaven rears,/ The fragrance and the light for ever shed/ Upon his lips immortal who is dead.
Spiritual heritage and individuality are intrinsic to national identity. Sri Aurobindo started from this point and made spirituality and nationalism concomitant like a glorious and invincible union of the Ganga and Jamuna, thereby upholding the sacred past and the “mighty godhead of Sanatana Dharma”. It is this spirit that is echoed in the celebration of the sacrifice of the Irish nationalist, Charles Stewart Parnell (1891):
O pale and guiding light.../ Thou too wert then a child of tragic earth,/ Since vainly filled the luminous doom of birth.
Sri Aurobindo’s identification with Parnell and correlation of India with Ireland is distinctly clear in the following lines:
Deliverer lately hailed, since by our lords/ Most feared, most hated, hated because feared,/ Who smot’st them with an edge surpassing swords!
These early poems testify that Sri Aurobindo was searching for an apt metaphor for his own Mother India. The general refrain in most of these lyrics is a clarion call to regain the lost pride and glory, which would pave the path for liberation from alien rule. Behind the guise of Ireland, Sri Aurobindo revealed his concern for his own country. The mask however lies uncovered, though in a different context altogether, in the poem “Night by the Sea”:
In thy bosom’s snow white walls ... Shut my heart up; keep it closed/ Like a rose of Indian grain ...”
Having resurrected the faith in his roots he became acutely conscious of how he “had wronged” his “youth and nobler powers” by “weak attempts, small failures, wasted hours”. The call for homeland and its freedom is distinct and resonant.
CR Das once described Sri Aurobindo as “the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity”. Among the poems that express his sense of nationalism and quest for liberty, the most notable is “Baji Prabhu”, a long narrative poem that eulogises the fortitude and valour of the Maratha warrior against the Mughals.

Descending stooped, towards the vesper verge/ He gazed and cried: “make iron of your souls./ Yet if Bhavani wills, strength and the sword/ Can stay our nation’s future from o’erthrow/ Till victory with Shivaji return.
Inflicted. And from time to time the gaze/ Of Baji sought the ever-sinking sun./ Men fixed their eyes on him and in his firm/ Expression lived. So the slow minutes passed. 
The poem marks a remarkable blend of form and content.  Sri Aurobindo’s “Vadula”, first published under the title “The Mother to her Son”, also explores the theme of valour and courage.  The following extract echoes the clarion call of Mother India to her children:
Shrink not from a noble action, stoop not to unworthy deed!/ Vile are they who stoop, they gain not Heaven’s doors, nor here succeed ~ When thou winnest difficult victory from the clutch of fearful strife, I shall know thou art my offspring and shall love my son indeed.
The notion of the Nation as Mother seemed a natural continuation of Swami Vivekananda’s evocation of the goddess in the poem “Kali the Mother”. Written in Kashmir in 1898, the poem was composed during his pilgrimage to Kshir Bhavani… Both Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo advocated a massive upheaval for the spiritual resurgence of the country and Shiva serves as a triumphant symbol of such a spiritual revival. (To be concluded) The writer is on the faculty of the Department of English, St Xavier’s College, Kolkata

Friday, March 9, 2012

Will for taking uncompromising positions has dwindled

Mirror of Tomorrow :: The Mother's role in the 1971 War—by Kittu ... 30 Jul 2009 – Savitri Era Party is committed to raise a band of young leaders and inculcate in them a brand of patriotism as envisioned by The Mother & Sri ...
Re: The real risk of corruption is that it stifles government—by Ian Johnstone-Bryden by Tusar N. Mohapatra on Sat 03 Sep 2011 06:39 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
That the Hazare campaign enjoys complete support of the Hindutva brigade is not hidden from anyone. With such a backdrop, how far it is justified to endorse the same in the public domain? [TNM55] by Tusar N. Mohapatra on Sun 04 Sep 2011 08:56 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
I was wary of my comment being deleted, and hence, couldn't put it clearly. I'm not against anyone supporting or opposing Hazare. My concern is whether we the readers of the Mirror should follow this advisory? (although it was late in the day) [TNM55] by Tusar N. Mohapatra on Wed 07 Sep 2011 01:08 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
If you say I don't take tea, there is every likelihood of someone asking why. Coalitions, similarly, have lately become so common that the will for taking uncompromising positions has dwindled. But, we have no such compulsions at the moment, and hence, may march alone. [TNM55]
Re: India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny: Part N by Tusar N. Mohapatra on Thu 06 Aug 2009 07:41 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
You have touched upon some issues which can be dealt with by getting elected to the Parliament or State Assemblies. I have floated the Savitri Era Party to precisely this end. [TNM]
by Sandeep on Thu 06 Aug 2009 10:39 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
Where is the complete manifesto of the Savitri Era Party? What is the position of the party on the last Indian budget. Also, on the issue of reservations in the educational institutions?
by Tusar N. Mohapatra on Thu 06 Aug 2009 10:48 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
Please correspond to tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com disclosing full identity and interests. [TNM]
by Sandeep on Fri 07 Aug 2009 08:29 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link Tusar,
The questions were meant for public discussion. You may answer the first two questions at leisure but I am more interested in the reservation issue which is corrupting the education system. It needs to be replaced by another system which addresses the historical inequities without sacrificing merit. 
Unless you have the "pull" to change those laws at the Centre, I don't see any merit in having a private conversation :)
by Tusar N. Mohapatra on Fri 07 Aug 2009 08:34 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
RYD is averse to discussion on political issues. [TNM]
by Vikas on Fri 07 Aug 2009 01:18 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link Tusar, 
While I understand and appreciate the leverage that a political position - a position of power - can provide for greater action, I am convinced that there is a lot that can be done in an apolitical setup. In fact a lot is being done by apolitical organizations (NGOs, spiritual organisations etc). My experience has been that Govt bureaucracy and interference can impede and retard the work.
I believe the villages need to be given attention. The major thrust of the effort ought to be there. It is not only for amelioration of the conditions of living but the immense potential that exists in the youth. I have been wonder-struck by the reservoir of raw talent. It is simply amazing to watch teens fixing tractors and repairing sophisticated mechanical equipment with absoutely no formal training. Then the genuine warmth and simplicity of the people is deeply touching. One is truly humbled and quickly reminded of the first part of the Uttarpara speech. 
Savitri Era: SP to SEP The Anna Hazare movement could have thrown a new party, but they developed cold feet. Savitri Era Party gaining popularity is a long term ...