Journey to Supermind [proposed] – Aurobindo reading & practice groups – planning & logistics

(Marco V Morelli) #1

Continuing the discussion from The integrative Impulse: Sri Aurobindo's Experimental Praxis:

I’d like to create a page soon on Metapsychosis with the details regarding the reading group we are planning for Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine. This page will give an overview of our plan, provide details and background info, and invite others to join our collaborative journey through conversation and creative praxis.

I am imagining that this reading will be offered at no cost, but we will include a donation form for those who wish to support the development of Cosmos, Metapsychosis, or any of our other efforts. It will also be possible to become a monthly subscriber to Metapsychosis / Readers Underground, or member of I am envisioning these as options, not requirements, as I would like anybody who feels the sincere desire to be able to join our group on a gift economy basis. I feel that this most appropriate approach for the subject matter, but of course, I am open to feedback.

Furthermore, I would like to propose that we incorporate a triple focus into our game plan:

  1. Studying the philosophical, literary, and spiritual aspects of Aurobindo’s work, specifically by reading and discussing The Life Divine.
  2. Applying his ideas through personal and/or intersubjective experiments with his Integral Yoga. (It’s been suggested we might also want to read to Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, which surveys that various modes of yogic practice in an evolutionary context.)
  3. Engaging the question of how spiritual realization interacts with, influences, or is effected by social, political, and technological realities, especially at the psychic and subtle levels. (Here we can refer to the work TJ has started on The Human Cycle.) What are the real world implications of consciousness realization?

Might we have different sub-groups, or off-shoots from the main path, meeting at different times perhaps, to dive deeper into specific areas? Although I am not intending any kind of social media marketing push (the Readers Underground is underground for a reason!), I would like to share this event with our mailing list, along with several people (and groups) I suspect would be interested and could make great contributions. I would like for us not just to go through the motions of a ‘reading group,’ but see what happens if we collectively (pluralistically, naturally) focus our minds on a higher possibility.

Following @EMW’s advice, I have divided the text into 20 segments, so that we’re reading an average of 50 pages per week. I am also suggesting we take breathers between the major sections of Book 1, Book 2/Part 1, and Book 2/Part 2.

Reading Schedule [proposed]

INTRODUCTORY MEETING (no required reading): Thursday, 5/31.

Book One

Omnipresent Reality and the Universe

Starting week of June 4

Week 1 | Chs. 1–6 
Week 2 | Chs. 7–11
Week 3 | Chs. 12–16
Week 4 | Chs. 17–21
Week 5 | Chs. 22–24
Week 6 |Chs. 25–28

(One-week break)

Book Two

The Knowledge and the Ignorance—The Spiritual Evolution

Part 1 – The Infinite Consciousness and the Ignorance

Starting week of July 23

Week 7 | Chs. 1–2
Week 8 | Chs. 3–4
Week 9 | Chs. 5-6
Week 10 | Chs. 7–9
Week 11 | Chs. 10–12
Week 12 | Chs. 13–14

(One-week, end-of-summer [in the Northern Hemisphere] break)

Part 2: The Knowledge and the Spiritual Evolution

Starting week of September 10

Week 13 | Chs. 15–16
Week 14 | Chs. 17–19
Week 15 | Chs. 20–21
Week 16 | Chs. 22–23
Week 17 | Ch.  24
Week 18 | Chs. 25–26 
Week 19 | Ch. 27
Week 20 | Chs. 28 

Help Needed

If we’re going to accommodate more participants, we’ll have set up a better system for managing our video meetings and archival recordings, so that different groups can efficiently record and post videos, share notes, and create meetings on the fly without central admin. I could really use help with this. Getting the word out (especially to marginal groups and outliers), responding to interest, and facilitating the production of successful discourse events will also be key.

I could also use help with web admin and posting recordings to the website. We don’t have to make everything public and promoted on the front page, but I believe we can use the site to host aesthetic archive pages of our dialogues—including descriptions, keywords, and transcripts if possible, for ongoing learning and discovery.

The creative output of this event could be a invaluable resource, even treasure trove, for future researchers and creative explorers, and I would like to work on a way of presenting it that honors all the time, effort, attention, love, and care we’re putting in.

Finally, I would love for this event to open up new possibilities of engagement within Cosmos as a whole. How might we be actualizing ourselves in all the dimensions we’re reading about? And what happens next?

Journey to Supermind: Aurobindo Reading & Practice Groups - Introductory Session [5/31]
(Douglas Duff) #2

You said it best…this does come across as the most appropriate approach. Perhaps if we do require an entry fee we can use these:


_Life Divine_as study; Synthesis of Yoga as practice; Human Cycle and others as the collective project. Wondering if Savitri would go with 2. or as a 4th focus?

I remember others mentioning that the Gebser reading pace was of an expedient speed. The first few weeks of proposed schedule for_Life Divine_ are a bit top heavy, especially for those jumping in without previous experience with Aurobindo’s prose, or for someone who might have a night or two to complete the reading each week, etc. Wouldn’t mind seeing an introductory meeting with Chapter 1 as an ice breaker. The breaks in between major sections will be a nice cushion if we are falling.

Personally, currently at peak participatory output here and else where. Please come to me if you do need something, as I’ve been known to survive overcommittals in the past :slightly_smiling_face:

(Marco V Morelli) #3

Yes, why not? I also recently found a volume by Aurobindo called The Future Poetry. Looking specifically at Aurobindo’s aesthetics could be distinct ‘track’ or focus.

That’s helpful feedback. Something had been gnawing at me about the schedule, and I feel that perhaps even at 50 pages/week, we need to ease it into more slowly, as you suggest. It would also be good to begin with an introductory/informational meeting (limited to an overview and maybe the first chapter only) perhaps, before proceeding ahead at a healthy pace?

Another good reason to ease into it. A question that occurred to me this morning: How do we slow down without losing momentum? (Or paradoxically, how might we gain momentum by slowing down?)

(Douglas Duff) #4

Yet another publication installment in Arya; a shorter collection at only 400 pages…:grimacing:

An idea that sprouted based on @Geoffrey_Edwards post-Sloterdijkian prompt is revolving around a sort of hibernation. A sort of tech-infused bubble (shields us from the global catastrophies and the daily time-grind) that allows for patient reflections, slow-form responses, deliberately practiced living within a safe place, learning and infusing as a child does, at rapid rates, but within a spacious framework free of time constraints. The rushing to complete one author/reading in order to fit in other creatives, visionaries, experts is easy. Let us challenge ourselves.

(Ed Mahood) #5

I couldn’t agree with this more.

Sri Aurobindo’s starting point is much different than other writers we’ve considered, including Gebser. While the latter is unabashedly spiritual, as I like to say, the former takes that as a given and goes from there. This was reflected clearly, for example, in Mohrhoff’s interview. Being as isolated as I am, I don’t know how (truly) open most Cosmos Cooperators are toward such ideas. The Gidley (and Hampson) paper(s) are encouraging, and I would tend to think that those of a more artistic and aesthetic inclination will have little trouble adapting. Having someone accompanying the reading who has more intimate familiarity with Sri Aurobindo is an added plus, but I still think being able to get oneself oriented and in tune with the proposed project would be very helpful.

(Zachary Feder) #6

I’m particularly interested in this and should have more time in a month or so to allocate to reflecting and discussing it.

(Marco V Morelli) #7

An update on scheduling for this reading group. I have not yet re-factored the exact breakdown of pages for each week, but it does sound like we should have an introductory meeting with no (or little, e.g, first chapter only and some background materials) required reading, followed by the ramp-up to our ~50 page/week pace, which is our recommended speed limit.

If we go this route, and give ourselves a little more breathing room up front, then perhaps we start the week of May 28 (following Memorial Day in the US)? If so, then I’d suggest we take only a one-week break (instead of two) between Parts 2 and 3 of Book Two, which would come (the break) the week of Labor Day (September 3). And we’d still complete the reading before the madness of the end-of-year holidays. (Sorry to be so US centric, but I’m trying to think in terms of a ‘season’ for reading, and using these holidays as guideposts.)

I’m wondering also, when during the week do we meet? Shall we use our Cosmos Café time for these events? Maybe add a time in the evening or later in the week for participants who can’t make the regular Café time?

I am looking forward to this overall event, and have already upped my meditation practice in preparation. Once we have our schedule decided, or at least the intro meeting (which would actually be on Tuesday, 5/29, if we use the Café time slot), then I could add the event to the calendar and we can invite some folks to join us.

E.g., I received an inquiry from the Sri Aurobindo Association of America. It sounds like some people there might like to participate. I imagine these could potentially serve as valuable guides and collaborators.

(john davis) #8

I would say no to that. The Cafe has a different character and I would like to preserve that informal, improvisational character to that meeting. It is also becoming a nice place to invite a guest speaker on occasion. It has a weekly rhythm, good for short essays, a movie, a feisty, good natured free for all, for making arguments and airing differences. And since TJ has already done so much work on Aurobindo I would like us to make a time that is easy for him to attend, as the Cafe has not been convenient.

The big philosophy books have a different rhythm. I think evenings are best for that kind of self-reflexive, serious, scholarly kind of reading. It feels more formal to me and slower.When reading Fiction it feels lighter and less prone to controversy or debate, naturally more adjusted to the lyrical. These are just my personal feelings and so I put them out there for whatever they are worth.

Why not the Thursday night as with Sloterjdiik? That’s might two cents.

(Ed Mahood) #9

Being as democratically inclined as I am, I think y’all need to find a time that is amenable to the greatest number of participants.

While I agree with @johnnydavis54 that the CCafe has developed its own dynamic in that given timeslot, but if circumstances changed and it had to be moved, well that’s just the way things are. We must make do even with what we have.

Having said that, there are four timezones to accommodate in the US alone, but add five to Ann, six to me (and that’s from the East Coast!) and one person’s evening is another’s afternoon if not the middle of the night. It’s a small world, and it’s getting smaller every day, but I still wouldn’t want to paint it or try to schedule an event that suits everyone in every way. I think that in general the utilitarians missed much of the point, but there is a very practical aspect to their thinking that is helpful here: the biggest bang for the largest communal buck. Given the circumstances in general that seems to be a very reasonable approach for me.

One significant advantage of modern technology is that the sessions can be recorded and people who couldn’t be there can at least watch and listen to how the session went, which is a huge plus when then trying to follow what is being discussed in the forums … I(almost)RT and potentially in the future.

(john davis) #10

I am willing to let go of the Cafe and let others reorganize it if they wish. I have no attachment to the way it is but I have preferences. Keeping a group together long enough in cyberspace is pretty hard to do. In depth collaboration is almost absent anywhere on the globe, we are getting a lot of traffic jams and noise. I would just as soon turn the damn thing off. However if there is a signal I will track it and I sense the Cafe has a purpose, a pulse. Consistency is not everything but it is important. And if enough persons show up often enough there is a stability that is established, and disciplined flow can be a norm rather than a perpetual flying by the seat of your pants. Getting these big readings together are a very different kind of energy than the Cafe, however I cant be the only one who values that. Not too loose and not too tight. As I appreciate others have different motivations than I do, I admit I am uninterested in more postmodern drift. Watching videos of other people talking has a limited attraction to me personally. I want to be a participant observer. And I actually want to make something happen on the ground. If we keep all of our options open eventually our options will disappear.As above, so below.There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. The readiness is all.

(Ed Mahood) #11

If I had my druthers, I’druther keep the CCafe, but my being at the edge of the sun’s day-shadow is a simple twist of fate. There is a very narrow window of time on any given day (and on some days, there’s no window at all) in which I can be a participant observer, but that is something that is incumbent on me alone to resolve.

We’ve grown substantially since the beginnings — when it was just Marco — with a significant part of that occurring in just the past six months. It’s a worthy trajectory. The fact that we’ve been able to invite guests or switch topics quickly has been a real added plus, along with the somewhat rollicking free-for-all nature of the sittings. Even if we do mind our Ps and Qs when necessary, that is something I would certainly hate to see go.

(john davis) #12

Yes, and when we see a sign of life, I feel the need to protect it. Of course, we need to let go when the timing is right. I just dont think the timing is right. Flow only happens when there is a structure. As a performer I was well aware of the nature of public time and how hard it is to get the audience to re-direct attention from the busy day to the drama onstage. It is a shift as we move through personal attention to a meta-attention. a blending of attention with others. Good conversations are rarely accidental, they are usually arranged. Spontaneity then arises. We can’t make spontaneity happen but we can make arrangements. All manner of thing ultimately will be well even if most of what appears in the arena of public discourse looks like a post-modern train wreck.

(T J Williams) #13

I would be OK with some kind of rotating schedule of video discussions. Because of the (wonderful!) way things are growing, it is just not going to be feasible to get all interested parties to every session. But those who are willing to commit to the reading will keep up and alternate times may be the messy but most realistic way to reach for maximum inclusion. We should probably look at this project formally as a series of recorded talks and associated forum threads from the outset. We really do this in practice but perhaps specific reminders or ‘checking-in’ e-mails to group members unable to attend “this week”. (And, yes, let me know if I can help facilitate something like that… :grinning:) We could even do a simple vote each time - the upcoming week schedule determined by the greatest number of people who know they can make it (barring unforeseen emergencies).
Anyway, just thinking/tinkering… This is a good challenge to have!

*Aside: @madrush , when the Aurobindo section goes live, will the “praxis” and “Human Cycle” threads be placed therein?

(Marco V Morelli) #14

This is what I’m beginning to imagine, too—a braiding pattern, or a kind of fugue or concerto, with different sections or mini-ensembles playing variously the open song. So for example, we could potentially do:

Every other (or third) Tuesday of the Café (@ 1pm MT) dedicated to Aurobindo, with every other alternating Thursday evening (6 pm MT) also dedicated to Aurobindo—the non-Aurobindo Café Tuesdays still following their freeform course.

So there would be one Aurobindo meeting every week in the calendar to start (Tuesday or Thursday). But there could potentially be other meeting tims if some sub-group forms, like the EST Magicians. These might form a third strand in the braid. (The writing and fiction groups are yet other strands.)

Would this keep some coherence and some rhythm? Not too light, and not too loose? Are we all wearing our helmets? Does it got that swing?

I was thinking so, yes, but open to alternatives, or however you’d like to develop it!

(john davis) #15

This sounds good to me. I appreciate all of our alternate ways of knowing coming together in novel ways.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #16

This would definitely work better for me during a school session. During the summer, my time is more flexible, but to have alternative time slots during busy sessions would make my time planning more manageable. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation.

(Zachary Feder) #17

For what it’s worth I’m still interested in the Cafe but am also several months out from having any kind of consistent schedule.

On another note - @madrush - I have a call on my calendar today / tonight with Writers Underground at 6pm MT is that correct?

Danke - from Tubingen in Germany …

@achronon - where are you? Heidleberg?

(Ed Mahood) #18

No, a couple of hours farther north … Bad Hersfeld, near the geographic center of Germany. What brings you to the Fatherland, looking for ancestors?

(Zachary Feder) #19

I love Germany. Everything is so bloody clean and well done. Those wood piles for God’s sake. Every one stacked with the precision of a Master Mason.

We’re actually here for dental surgery. The clinic we work with in the states, run by Deitrich Klinghardt works with a couple of dentists here that do cutting edge work. My wife had hers on Tuesday, I’m next Tuesday. Four cavitation sites, probably a lot of necrotic flesh from bad dentistry when I was younger. I’m hoping it spikes my IQ and gives me an extra inch of height … ; )

(Ed Mahood) #20

Really? 1 May? It’s a holiday, I’m surprised. And with the 30th being Walpurgisnacht … and you being in one of the better superstitious parts of the country. If you think the stacked wood is great … I would encourage going out for a dance into May (Tanz in den Mai).

You should know that the Germans have two noteworthy sayings in that regard: Ordnung muss sein. (lit. Order must be.); and Ordnung ist das halbe Leben. (lit. Order is half of life.) They mean it.

Gute Besserung (lit. Good betterment … or as we would say, get well quickly.)