The integrative Impulse: Sri Aurobindo's Experimental Praxis

Yes, The Human Cycle is closer to my main interests, which I’m sure surprises no one (LOL).
But The Life Divine is probably the better investment for a group read as a magnum opus of a major figure. On a selfish note, it’s a book I would be surer to finish with the stimulus of a schedule and the promise of illuminating commentary. I like your idea of handling The Human Cycle more informally. Even as thread discussion the two of us could initiate if not a video…

And perhaps we should also be looking generally into splitting up this towering and ever-growing mountain of words: smaller groups or individual presenters to tackle some of the shorter works and put together “book reports” for the larger collective, much like Ed just did for a thread I know will be excellent - once I pull together the time to devote to it I know it deserves!

Edit: as in


Is there anything in Irreducible Mind that strikes your fancy? If we could pick out a chapter to study together, what would that be?

I would enjoy that thread discussion also. Along with the proposed Zarathrustra reading, we could do quicker readings, and book reports, in a break out group, maybe do a ZOOM hangout one evening.

I think that the big, long term readings require at lot more attention to schedules and time zones. Just an idea how we can get the most mileage. I do regret, TJ, that you cant make it to the Cafe on Tuesday so I appreciate how challenging it is to coordinate these events. Since we three are in close proximity we could probably find a time that doesn’t require a whole lot of coordinating of schedules.


Chapter 1 is essentially a summary of the text and might be a good starting point. I’m with Ed on 1, 2, 8 & 9. I also mentioned the panentheism chapter in Beyond Physicalism as close to my heart. BP also refers to Aurobindo throughout, so we may visit it as a “shallow end” reading (if possible to say such a blasphemous statement) before a deep Aurobindo dive.


Dang! Somebody holler as soon as s/he sees this in paperback. It just came out last January and the hard-cover is $140. :frowning_face:


There’s a chapter from Beyond Physicalism, actually, that looks to me pretty interesting. It’s #7, “Hyperspatial Models of Matter and Mind,” by Bernard Carr. Perhaps we could schedule this for an upcoming Café, and relate Carr’s review of these models to the Mereon Matrix, the Hebrew alphabet, and our topology of being? The chapter looks like it brings many strands of recent thought, from Arthur Young on, and adds more fullness to the picture.

I have my own copy of Irreducible Mind, but haven’t yet really dug in. However, I will have to return Beyond Physicalism to the interlibrary loan (courtesy of the University of Wyoming) in a couple weeks. I would be happy to make a PDF scan of the essay for anyone who cannot afford the book, or wouldn’t be able to get it in time. I would distribute the file privately, per fair use, for educational purposes, as in a university course. I could even make it self-destruct. :bomb:

Chapter #10, “Conscious Body: Mind and Body in Abhinavagupta’s Tantra,” by Loriliai Biernacki, might also worth reading together, as prelude to Aurobindo. If part of what Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga does is bring together Tantra and Vedanta, this would give us some grounding (or refresher, for those who’ve traversed it before) in the Tantric current of thought. I wonder what other reading (or experimental praxes) might be useful ahead of an Aurobindic ascent up our ever-growing mountain of books?

Where’s basecamp in our climb of Mount Supermind? How must we acclimatize to the altitude? What gear and provisions will be required? Will we meet Zarathustra on his way back up, in his eternal return!?

So far I hear interest in The Life Divine as a main route, with alternate routes including The Human Cycle, Savitri, and The Synthesis of Yoga (Pair with, You Must Change Your Life? hmm…maybe, perhaps?) interweaving organically in some way to be discovered? Re: the Routledge edition…

We will need to become more than wealthy to just get all these books in our hands!

I’ve noted Ed’s suggestion w/r/t Irreducible Mind on the (slightly renamed to sound more actionable) wiki post: Cosmos Café: Season 1 [November, 2017 – March, 2018]. Please feel free to update the post as needed, or even seed a new topic in the #commons:cafe or #readers-underground channel if you need a place to park an untimely idea.


I much prefer Biernacki’s essay, because I need a change of pace. We have been doing physics and math a lot lately and I need a break. Tantra is very different topic and would also be a good transition to Aurobindo’s project. Could we discuss this at the next cafe?


A Walt Disney version of Aurobindo. For visual thinkers it is helpful. I think Aurobindo would be amused.


Reading this now. I’d like to hear your/others’ perspectives on how this relates to 1/9 Cafe & Young (as I know no Young)…
I have great interest in developing the time/space models, guided here by John, into a mental map that can be accessed at anytime and even cross-pollinate with others maps, as we have already witnessed, but more “hive-mind”. This is a vague idea forming, but I am imagining a method of loci or a Sherlock-style mind palace/memory map. I would imagine reading Carr’s hyperspacial models of matter and mind might just bee the pollen wee need.

On page 231:

This approach (explored in essay) is very much in the spirit of Paul Brunton (1941), who urged that we ‘must … begin to mentalize space and spatialize mind’ (p. 218 in The Hidden Teachings Beyond Yoga)


I’ll create an agenda item; let’s touch on it either before or after Ed’s part. I am meeting for Happy Hour later today with a scholar of Kashmir Shaivism and Tantra; he may have some suggestions.


I actually think the Bernard Carr’s essay is not the one that deals with this the best. I believe your interest in ‘hive mind’ is better served by immersion in actual subtle experiences, not in meta-theoretical physics, especially without a strong math background. If you have an interest in panentheism and embodied alternate ways of knowing, (as demonstrated by Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock), you might get more from the Tantric traditions. I dont think physics, for the lay person, has much to offer experientially. They are still trying to fit old wine into new wine skins. It’s the difference for example between reading a manual about swimming contrasted with actually getting into the water.

Having said that, I have no objection to Bernard Carr essay but it is not the essay ( I’ve read them all) that I find is the most original.


Yes, often we are using a container to reign in the uncontainable.

Quote from our pal Sloterdijk

Vascular reversal: it is not the wall of the jug that makes it possible to pour in liquid; rather, because the contents contain themselves, the vessel appears together with and around them…cosmography and uterography can converge. (Pp. 209-212)

Bernard Carr’s essay (I might attempt at a summary presentation, as we mentioned recently, to save our workload, though I feel like I am attending 10 courses at various universities all at once right now :tired_face: ) has helped with my modeling of, say, something along the lines of

Bergson’s duration

(loose Doug understanding of duration: in which our present experience/ memory is infused with past memories; past memories become new as the memories recalled take a life of their own, as you noticed when reflecting on your experience of reporting the recent robbery; the incident took on new life after each time you reported to the officers).

…yet his graphs/models both expand and limit the personal experiences.
I have immense experience with personal subtle body work, energy work…though this was discovered before chakras, etc. ( no professional guidance, group work) and am also somewhat weary of the confinement of “universal” knowledge of the chakras…this to me is also old wine in new skins (or old skins with questionable wines). I do wish, though, to understand the loaded term that is tantra. And I do wish to discover how to apply the personal with the group experience, something like Casteneda’s dream work. Thank you for further guidance @johnnydavis54!


Hello Marco and Doug and To Whom… @infiniteconversations:

Thank you for the email about reading Sri Aurobindo.

Those lead-ups, including things like the video seem useful and good to
prep for the language and density of Aurobindo’s writings.

Since I am primarily acquainted with The Synthesis of Yoga and The Life
*, *I am going to consult with my philosopher friend and Aurobindo
scholar, Eric Weiss, about the question of pros and cons. I am especially
interested, and have been for years, in bringing Aurobindo’s philosophy and
revelations into an *experiential praxis, *as you put it. If there is
something in The Human Cycle that offers/suggests practical means, then
yes, let’s see if one text can support the other.

In previous group readings of Aurobindo, I have noticed a tendency to need
to work towards a shared understanding of the terms he uses, a very mental
process. My wish has been to find a way to “embody” or at least, in a
group, see what sort of “group deva” arises by shared attention and
intention with the reading. This collective mind relationship that occurs
in the experience of reading with one another has been able, on the rare
occasion in my past experience, to temporarily elevate awareness and
clarify the material during a reading session together. That appeals to me,
as well as discovering methods of personal effort towards “…expressing
the integrative impulse and/or realizing the Supermind.”


I worry that we may be casting too wide a net and not bringing up anything we want. I am all for careful screening of materials and decide, among those for example, who show up at the Cafe what they want to have happen. If you are not aware of the history of that group ( still quite young) but want to grab the microphone, I am a bit worried, that we will sink before we have learned how to swim. Inviting too many people to a party, can become as bad an idea as inviting too few. I am all for allowing those who actually show up to determine what happens next. That is the best motivation for showing up. I have noticed that lots of people are willing to grab the microphone, but less likely to mop up or wash the dishes. We all have different motivations, of course, for dropping in, but I am expressing my concern as transparently as possible.

That’s my worry.

On the other hand, I trust that there are those who deliver, they show up, and consistently. Newbies should be welcomed but be made aware of the cultural norms we are trying to get off the ground. We need people who can sponsor the group and the individuals in the group and have a capacity for commitment. As a refugee from FB world, I want to preserve what is so fragile and valuable here, free and disciplined inquiry, while staying open to new influences. The scheduling problem is perhaps the biggest obstacle here. The larger the group the less attention each person can have.

I think there are different kinds of strategies for each kind of hangout, and who shows up, and most consistently, will probably have more influence. I am all for an elegant anarchism but most anarchism is not that elegant. There is a lot of shoot outs and arid debates going on. I much prefer working with a text ( like sloterjdiik) over the long haul, with people who actually read the chapter. I have noticed how many people in public forums will feel free to criticize what they have not read!

Bringing attention to how we are paying attention, is not easy on these forums. It may be impossible. I am open to believe that it is possible and am working for that. Developing maps as we did on the Cafe is a very good background for the experiential aspect I am most interested in developing. Good theory will come out a good practice. A big research question.


I love Eric Weiss work. I have listened to all of his public lectures twice and read his book on reincarnation. We have in the Tuesday cafe read an essay of his. Thanks for bringing up his name.

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Can we do this before? The more I noodle, the more I’m not anxious to be rushed (-- I’m a slow-enough thinker as it is --) since that noodling keeps uncovering rabbit-holes.

In fact, can we get online 5 minutes early and decide and let everyone else post-decisionally agree to the consensus?

To be perfectly honest, I’m easy about any way that we get to Aurobindo. Whether we turn right then zig left, shoot down the straight-away and veer into the box or whether we back-up, turn left, speed off down around the curve and brake hard for the box is not all that consequential for me. We’re going to get there one way or the other.

The better is the enemy of the good, as we know.


Contents cannot, per definitionem, contain themselves.

Why should you have it easier than any of the rest of us?

And do they … much, much, much more than we would like to admit (or concede).

Yep, loaded … probably in more ways that all of us would like to admit. (There was a whole school of magic – cf. Crowley – based on it.) Castenda’s work – which is thought of highly by Arthur Young, BTW – was based on mescaline … so if that what we really want to explore, somebody’s gotta 'fess up. I’m game. But, trying to merge the personal with group experience, well, that’s what we’re trying to do all over this platform, isn’t it?

I’d say we all still have a lot of work to do.


If we ain’t singin’ from the same sheet of music, it could end up sounding like my daughters’ school concerts when they were learning to play their musical instruments: terribly inharmonious … something only a parent could love.

Any help you could provide to make it all more harmonious would be more than welcome to me.


I think you’d have to read Sloterdijk (hint,hint) to understand the content context…I am content though to leave the context out of it. :face_with_monocle:


No doubt I would, but I won’t, even if you are, though you can’t (for you keep implying it).

If things can’t be taken out of context, what good are they? If you need to have the context, then I ask, why can’t he provide it? (Maybe he does in this case, but he hasn’t ever done so in my experience.)

Hmm …