Journey to Supermind: The Life Divine – Session #1 (Introductory) [5/31]


Please join us for the first session of our Sri Aurobindo reading and practice groups . This will be an introductory meeting and there is no required reading , but our goal is to read through Aurobindo’s philosophical opus, The Life Divine, over the coming months, with potentials for branching off into his poetry, politics, and spiritual practice, which he called “Integral Yoga.”

As with all our Readers Underground groups, this will be a collaborative effort. We will be looking for ways to bring our individual and collective (incl. personal and transpersonal) intelligences into harmony through the quality of our interactions . If we are successful, this will not be only an intellectual exercise, but a transformative journey into higher reaches of consciousness, with real world consequences.

During the meeting, we will talk about Aurobindo’s overall life and work; connect this reading to previous readings we’ve done (especially our Jean Gebser group in 2016, and recent sessions of the Cosmos Café); discuss our goals for the group; share our individual backgrounds and preferences; and decide collectively how we’d like to approach the journey, including questions of pacing and related texts.

There is no charge to participate; but please consider supporting our Open Collective. Many of Aurobindo’s texts (including The Life Divine ) are available as free PDF downloads through the Sri Aurobindo Ashram website. To follow the conversation and share your thoughts, visit our forum. To join the Readers Underground, click here.

If you have any questions, or would like to get started right away, please visit our Infinite Conversations forum topic for this event.

Thanks, and hope to see you there~

Marco V Morelli
Editor Divine: Supermind or Bust…

PS. If you’re looking for a great introduction to Sri Aurobindo’s life and work to watch ahead of the meeting, check out the three-part series on YouTube with Debashish Banerji, which begins with The Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, Part One: The Revolutionary Yogi.

Other Resources/Referenced Material

Study Guides/Introductory Material
Books References During Recorded Sessions
Audio Recordings Of Life Divine

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


A book arrived in the mail this morning - it was Banerji’s Seven Quartets of Becoming. I forgot that I had ordered it, but it looks really interesting. It is subtitled “A Transformative Yoga Psychology Based on the Diaries of Sri Aurobindo” and it appears to situate Aurobindo’s writing in relation to Jung and Freud on the one hand, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida and, especially, Deleuze. It also references the Integral movement. So as a way of connecting Aurobindo’s thought into currents of thinking that I understand (more or less) or am currently reading about, it seems particularly useful to me. Of course, all that is only the first 100 pages or so, after that he dives more deeply into Aurobindo’s writings and its significance. Overall, I’m charmed by the book, and plan to use it as a commentary/companion to the Aurobindo reading itself.


Excellent, Geoffrey! We must be on the same wavelength. I have read some of that book and listened to lots of talks by Banerji. He is a good companion to take on this journey. I am also delving into Aurobindo’s The Future Poetry. Sri Aurobindo is a good writer. I agree with TJ’s comment that he is very direct, unlike our friend, Sloterjdiik.I am also looking at a book on the Tantric traditions which I hope to use as well. I feel the call of a new adventure is stirring us up!


Also of interest (and honestly confused me for a few weeks, as her name is strangely similar to Debashish Banerji) is Dr. Debashri R Banerjee. Also an Aurobindo scholar, with a hefty dissertation on Aurobindo’s social political thought:

Chapter 8 focuses on the stages presented in The Human Cycle which @patanswer presented to us previously here:

…this is not a request to add to any reading lists, just a “note taken!”


I am reading the introduction to Banerji’s book (with the full book on the way), and feel this might be the right book (rather than Synthesis of Yoga, and given that we’re already reading a primary source (via the Life Divine)) to explore Aurobindo’s approach to spiritual practice (i.e., Integral Yoga), and even the social-political implications of such, as Banerji seems to be updating Aurobindo in this regard. I like that Banerji can bring Aurobindo into conversation with some of my favorite thinkers. I’ve also appreciated the videos I’ve seen of him introducing Aurobindo’s thought.

To link this to a contemporaneous thread, maybe we should read Banerji’s book in the Café?


I echo Marco and others, that Banerji’s book might well be a better follow up official reading text, for the reasons stated. Leslie Combs has spoken highly of both B’s book and of B as his colleague - which flames my interest in engaging that text with others.

Michael Schwartz
Augusta, GA


Georg Feuerstein’s The Psychology of Yoga has useful “integration of the integral thinkers,” providing a solid coverage of the last century’s West meets East/East meets West historical context along with useful comparisions between Gebser, Aurobindo, Jung and Wilber, among others.

These theme questions for the next Gebser conference provided here by @hfester might be backburner items to keep in mind:

Perhaps this can become a side item/dessert from the ever growing menu (or perhaps my :eyes: are bigger than my :brain:?)…


There are two different times listed above. I assume it is 6pm MST.

Sorry, that is my fault and easliy confusing. I edited in the new “Insert date” feature from Discourse. This allows for each individual’s time zone to appear, based on your location:

So this: Friday, June 1, 2018 12:00 AM will display a different time for different time zones, easily misunderstood by those that frequent this site. I have edited it above to read that the time displayed in your time zone. It is still 6 PM MDT/ 8PM EDT/ etc.


Am settled into a cafe to prepare myself for the first Aurobindo reading tonight. Seem to have misplaced my Bannerji for the moment (although I am highly impressed with it), so here instead is David T. Johnston, who wrote an interesting book that brings together Jung, Aurobindo, Tolkien and Gebser :

“That both levels of the psyche are addressed by his [Jung’s] work, even though he emphasizes the individual is possible because, at the archetypal level, the microcosm and the macrocosm are effectively one.” from “Prophets in Our Midst: Jung, Tolkien, Gebser, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother” by David T. Johnston

This reminded me of G. Bateson’s remarks which I so appreciated :
“I’ve always thought that way, that the relation between me and that book, or the book and the table, is still a microcosm of the relation between man and God, or God and the Devil, or what have you. That the big relations and the small relations are all the same thing. For study purposes, you have to work with small ones sometimes, and then people blame you for working with small ones. Then you start working with big ones, and they blame you for being a mystic. But it’s all the same business.” Gregory Bateson, An Ecology of Mind, film directed by Nora Bateson

On the relationship between Aurobindo and Jung, Johnston writes :

“In the process, he [Aurobindo] articulates an inspiring world view that includes potential spiritual transformation of different cultural attitudes and of life itself. This is directly in line with Jung’s view of the individuation process; although the latter never systematically developed the effect of the individuation process on culture, it underlies everything he writes. Like Jung, Sri Aurobindo emphasizes the important role of individuals to first undergo a creative process of change, in order for society to eventually undergo the same process.”

Just some opening reflections…


A few more comments and then I will stop and wait for the rest of you… :slight_smile:

Here is Aurobindo in the opening chapter of The Life Divine :

« For all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony. They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity. To rest content with an unsolved discord is possible for the practical and more animal part of man, but impossible for his fully awakened mind, and usually even his practical parts only escape from the general necessity either by shutting out the problem or by accepting a rough, utilitarian and unillumined compromise. »

At this point, I feel resistance setting in. In Johnston’s book he talks about the importance of the number four as encapsulating wholeness and completion, and although I am not in disagreement about the interpretation, I believe five (that is, 4+1) is more important than four, because it encapsulates wholeness and completion (and stability), but then opens into new possibilities. My book cycle is based on the number five.

However, Aurobindo doesn’t stop there, he goes on to say :

« For essentially, all Nature seeks a harmony, life and matter in their own sphere as much as mind in the arrangement of its perceptions. The greater the apparent disorder of the materials offered or the apparent disparateness, even to irreconcilable opposition, of the elements that have to be utilised, the stronger is the spur, and it drives towards a more subtle and puissant order than can normally be the result of a less difficult endeavour. »

So, even though he talks about completion and the resolution of discord, he actually means it is the emergence of new forms of paradox, that it is the play between the two levels, that seeking completion and that opening itself to new paradoxes, which matters :

« The accordance of active Life with a material of form in which the condition of activity itself seems to be inertia, is one problem of opposites that Nature has solved and seeks always to solve better with greater complexities; for its perfect solution would be the material immortality of a fully organised mind-supporting animal body. The accordance of conscious mind and conscious will with a form and a life in themselves not overtly self-conscious and capable at best of a mechanical or subconscious will is another problem of opposites in which she has produced astonishing results and aims always at higher marvels; for there her ultimate miracle would be an animal consciousness no longer seeking but possessed of Truth and Light, with the practical omnipotence which would result from the possession of a direct and perfected knowledge. Not only, then, is the upward impulse of man towards the accordance of yet higher opposites rational in itself, but it is the only logical completion of a rule and an effort that seem to be a fundamental method of Nature and the very sense of her universal strivings. »

Okay! This I like! And such a subtle vision - I love it. I am sold on the endeavour!


I misread the time of meeting. It’s 8pm eastern not 4pm - and I have a standing engagement from 630-830 and after.

I really wanted to participate and reconnect with you all - sorry that won’t happen.

I’ll dip into the forum from time to time.

Sorry to hear that, Michael. We also meet weekly on Tuesdays at 2 pm Eastern for our “Cosmos Café,” with variable topics, but will certainly discussing Aurobindo this summer. You are invited and welcome to join us anytime, if you’re free at that time. :slight_smile:

A note from a friend about “invoking intersubjective Supramental nonduality on conference calls.” I think we should try this.

  1. Draw everyone’s attention to moments of shared silence, rather than people instinctively filling or obscuring the silence, which amplifies group awareness of ‘prior unity’ (to borrow Da’s term);
  2. Encourage participants to ‘follow the thread’ of the conversation, building on and deepening what was said before rather than interjecting egoic non sequiturs;
  3. Ensure that everyone participates and doesn’t hold back (self-contract), no matter how shy (active, engaged listening can count as a minimum baseline).

(Point 3 was also made by Abhinavagupta a thousand years ago for his kula ritual guidelines, so it’s stood the test of time.)

May the Consciousness-Force be with you—

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I made the mistake of not buying the book on paper, and am having all kinds of trouble with Amazon right now…working on it.

Regarding rhw reading process, I am committed to Aurobindo for the summer - for me, the more reading we can do before September, the better. The fall session is looking to be challenging for me at work, so my participation may slacken off in September. I would also be interested in pursuing a second group reading Savitri if there were any other takers on that, again, over the course of the summer. I’ve read the first few pages and it is very interesting, and connects with some of my writing as well.

The other thing I wanted to say is that it quickly became apparent to me that there are many people present with a lot more to say (that is, a lot more interesting things to say) about Aurobindo than I could summon, and so I feel that for this reading I’d rather listen, and perhaps even sit on my hands so I don’t pipe up whenever I feel like it as I sometimes do in other groups. I really feel I could learn more by listening than speaking here. So the larger number of participants I actually view more as a boon than a disadvantage. Although I might occasionally make written comments here :slight_smile:


Hi Geoffrey, just wanted to touch base and mention something about Savitri.

I’ve dipped into it a number of times each year since the mid 1970s. If one is associated with the integral yoga community, it’s considered the “Bible,” so to speak, so one feels almost obligated to make a go of it.

It was only about 5 1/2 years ago, the beginning of 2013, that I made a commitment to read it every day. I found most of it impenetrable in terms of understanding, but almost always felt the “Force” of the words. It’s in a way a very good training for not reading any of Sri Aurobindo’s writings too much with the ordinary conscious mind.

having said that, I still made my way through a half dozen commentaries, not being too happy with any of them.

I’ve been corresponding regularly the last 2 years with Rod Hemsell, who conducts “Savitri Immersion” workshops in Crestone, CO (and at Savitri Bhavan in Auroville) and he has been encouraging me to engage with Savitri at the “mantric” level - especially focusing on hearing it, reading it out loud or listening to it, and letting the rhythms take over.

Most recently, I began listening to Shraddavan’s commentaries on “The English of Savitri.” I still try to follow Rod’s suggestion to “hear” the mantric quality of Savitri, but Shraddavan does a marvelous job of offering very simple language while somehow almost miraculously NOT interfering with the mantric, non-explainable aspect of the language. you can hear many of her commentaries at Videos | Savitri Bhavan


Very thoughtful comment, @Don_Salmon, much appreciated. I shall try to turn off my analytical mind and read it with my other mind :slight_smile: