The Life Divine – Reading Group, Session #3 [6/14]

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(Geoffrey Edwards) #44

My apologies if this is what you heard through my words. I have the utmost respect for your ideas and thinking. I don’t always agree, but I always value hearing your point of view.


(john davis) #45

Thanks, Geoffrey, and the feeling is mutual.


(john davis) #46

I just want to add , Geoffrey, that it a sign of respect when we can discuss difficult issues in a public forum. I hope when I am corrected I can take that correction gracefully. I have a lot to learn. I want to preserve pluralism without falling into a pit of chaos!


(Geoffrey Edwards) #47

I am somewhat skeptical about this statement, also (no disrespect intended, @Don_Salmon). Fundamentally, I agree that development is incremental, and sufficiently complex that it is difficult and perhaps doubtful to chunk this behaviour together too heavily. That said, I know many working psychologists who continue to do so because it makes both practical and theoretic sense to do so some of the time, as long as one remains aware of the limitations of proceeding in this way.


(john davis) #48

You believe in stages, Durwin, and so I would love to hear how that belief emerged? Do you have any experiences that confirm your belief? Did your belief in stages come at once or gradually or what? I appreciate there is controversy around this and that you are a practitioner. I am great admirer of Lectica. I heard Dawson say that no one was at the Integral Stage but a person could have an Integral performance. That seemed to make sense to me as I noticed the barbaric behavior of so many who claimed they were third tier. I used to believe in stages, and now am open to doubt. Thanks, again. Durwin, for your participation in this dialogue.


(Durwin Foster) #49

I would say the belief started to emerge around the time I started reading Kegan in late 1990’s, and really resonated with it. It was an article about career development, I believe, where the writer was drawing on Kegan. That is an example of an experience (reading that text), that confirmed or made that belief salient to me.


(john davis) #50

Me, too. I read him around the same time and have followed him over the years. I wonder how Sri Aurobindo will hold up after we have absorbed him? I imagine that his ideas are a little bit foreign to the assessment approach, as valuable as assessment can be in certain contexts, such as career development. How could one assess a philosopher, though, who comes from such a different angles?


(Durwin Foster) #51

I am not seeing his ideas as foreign to the assessment approach so far, although there will be cultural factors to consider. E.g. Sri Aurobindo fought against the British, no, to serve the liberation of Indian people. Dawson fights against Trump to serve the same aim (imo). Hopefully their actions stem from their ideas, in both cases.

E.g. https://medium.com/@theo_dawson/the-president-is-not-an-evil-genius-fcbbc94a28d


(Don Salmon) #52

Hi Geoffrey (no disrespect taken!),

Yes, I fully agree. I was referring specifically to academics, developmental psychologists. But I myself know quite a few clinical psychologists, therapists, etc who use various developmental models and find them helpful.

Gee, the way you put it - incremental developmental, doubtful to chunk this behavior together too heavily…

You know, with all this “generative, meditative, dialogic, creating space,” you guys are really no fun to argue with. Here we are, agreeing again! No doubt, having ascended through the various levels to the 4th or 5th tier, you’ve all so far “transcended” argument that you don’t even need to “include” it any more. I’ll have to work on finding something irritating and annoying enough to generate some real fisticuffs next Thursday!

But seriously…(: >. ). … at some point along in the reading, it might be fun to bring up this developmental thing again, when we have a more experiential feel for it, and play around with the possiblity that the Vedantic/Tantric/Integral-yoga vision might bring a radically different (a)perspective on the whole meaning of the cosmic evolution playing through the individual.


(john davis) #53

This is a down to earth conversation about Kundalini. There is a reference made to Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga as he was bringing it down from above, which is more still and serene. When it rises from below it can be wild. Both can meet in the middle. These ascending and descending currents can be disorienting. Each person will have a unique experience and may need support. Too many spiritual communities are not well informed and distort these dynamics. I think it is important to naturalize this kind of phenomena. I find this text, when I first read it, in my early twenties, incomprehensible. After many years of dealing with the effects of the kundalini energy, I have a much better appreciation of the text. I suppose my main objection to Wilber and most cognitive models, with all of the levels, lines and quadrants, seems it seems to evade some of this weird stuff, that needs to be embodied and normalized. I didn’t find that happening in Wilber world. I don’t get it in any of the developmental models actually. Please update me if there if there is something that I have missed. I hope we can stay grounded as much as possible with this reading group as we are doing an experiment. I feel there is a maturing of our community that wants to happen. Doing this kind of thing is a challenge on line. We are not in an ashram and we are a peer to peer set up using the technology in a different way. I am curious what happens next.


(Ed Mahood) #54

As I haven’t read Kegan and have no idea who he is, let me ask you the same kind of question I asked @Don_Salmon earlier: can go give me a brief coupla-sentences overview of what stages are in Kegan’s approach to career development (or whatever)?

Just as it is often helpful to define one’s terms, it is also helpful to see how others are using terms in ways that may be helpful to them, even if others find them insufficient and feel pressed to come up with new ones.


(Don Salmon) #55

looks like I missed some responses - I’ll have to make sure I come to this page and not answer everything in email.

I’ve just got a moment - just wanted to say, I’ve done several thousand psych evaluations since 2003 - close to 2500 disability, and in the last 2 1/2 years, more general mental health evaluations. I’ve always based my evaluations on the yoga psychology of Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Our whole e-course (on “open heartful awareness” and “brain training”) is in a way a restatement of the Mother’s writings on education.

Gotta get going to the dentist, but it might be interesting to say a bit more about that. I’ve never found much of anything practical in western psychology or psychotherapy!


(john davis) #56

You may have misunderstood my reference to Kastrup. He is not a scientist who debunks science. He is debunking claims of AI. As he is in an AI expert, he would be someone worth listening to. Which expert do you trust? That is not easy to figure out. So it is important to keep our sources squeaky clean, and not represent them in the rush of the moment. Sorry if that was not made clear.


(Durwin Foster) #57

Just google “Robert Kegan Harvard” will probably work. Basically three major stages from socialized mind, to self authoring mind, to interim division mind. Books include “evolving self”, “in over our head”, immunity to change, and deliberately developmental organisation

Re east-west, Don I am interested in your psych evaluation work using Aurobindo integral psychology. And I would ask how you have come to know that you are only using eastern psychology?

I am making decision though to not participate here now so as to finish the reading, and focus also on work…three children!


(Don Salmon) #58

(back from the dentist!). Hi Durwin: Great question. I’m going to be, I’m afraid, annoyingly circumspect. There is no western psychology.

Ok, i’m mostly saying that tongue in check, but seriously, if “psychology” truly means study of the psyche, and the modern west (including all of philosophy and science, including Jung also) has no coherent sense of what the “psyche” is (does anything have any meaning apart from That?) or for that matter, any coherent sense of what anything is, how could there be any psychology?

Richard Feynmann admitted once, “We have no idea what energy is.” Try and find a definition of “physical” and the best you can do is “it’s what physicists study.” The same with “Time” (what could it be but the movement of Consciousness?) or “Space” (what could it be but the extension of Consciousness - what else is there?). Heisenberg repeatedly told us, “It is not nature we are studying but nature’s response to our questions.”

Durwin, I use Western terminology but am almost entirely informed by Integral yoga. For example, in all my concluding recommendations, I am looking for the “swadharma” of the child or adult - 'the true dharma," the way in which the hidden psychic being can most fully grow and manifest its inherent qualities. Of course, I don’t use those words, but it’s there if you can see it. Similarly interpreting IQ tests, personality tests, developmental tests, my understanding is all - to the best of my ability, as much within that yogic vision as possible.

Perhaps the single best developmental text I’ve ever read (it’s only hints, it’s hardly "developed’ or fleshed out, but a whole future psyche-ology is implicit here) is from Satprem’s Adventure of Consciousness:https://beyondthematrixnow.wordpress.com/2018/06/18/development-and-the-true-individual/ This ties in with Johnny’s comment before on Kundalini. Satprem shows us “where” the Energy (whether the ascending Kundalini or descending Mahashakti) “comes from.” It is the energy of the psychic being, which of course is the energy of the Self, which is ultimately the Energy (Chit-Shakti_ of Brahman.

(I was a moderator of Bernardo Kastrup’s forum for awhile; he is certainly a brilliant computer scientist and an interesting amateur philosopher. he’s teamed up with Deepak Chopra and Rupert Spira and written some interesting critiques of materialism and much less interesting essays on non dualism. I think his critiques of materialism are among the best; I find his philosophizing on idealism quite simplistic. In regard to the conversation here, the biggest drawback is he has no sense of the true individual - and in fact, denies the possibility of there being one.


(Don Salmon) #59

This is the passage I read in March, 1976 that made me realize I had found what I was looking for (what something in me already knew and was looking for) over the previous 6 years):

The Individualization of Consciousness

We are beginning to have an idea of what consciousness is and to sense that it is everywhere in the universe, at every level, with corresponding centers in ourselves, but we have not yet found “our” consciousness – perhaps because consciousness is not something)to be found ready-made, but something to kindle like a fire. At certain privileged moments in our existence, we have felt something like a warmth in our being, a kind of inner impetus or vivid energy that no words can describe, no reason can explain, because it arises from nowhere, without cause, naked like a need or a flame. Our childhood often bears witness to this pure enthusiasm, this inexplicable nostalgia; but soon we grow out of adolescence. The mind seizes upon this force as it does with everything else and covers it with pretentious, idealistic words; it channels it into a physical undertaking, a job, or a church. Or else the vital captures it and daubs it with more or less lofty sentiments – unless it uses it for some personal adventure, or for domination, conquest or possession. In some cases, this force gets bogged down even lower. And sometimes everything is swallowed up, such that only a diminutive shadow remains beneath an onerous burden. But the seeker who has silenced his mind and no longer falls prey to ideas, who has quieted his vital being and is no longer overcome and scattered at every instant by the great confusion of feelings and desires, discovers in the newly acquired clarity of his nature something like a new youth, a new and unrestrained impetus . As his concentration grows stronger through his “active meditations,” through his aspiration and need, he will feel this impetus begin to acquire a life of its own within him: “It widens, bringing out that which lives,” says the Rig Veda (I.113-8), “awakening someone who was dead.” He will feel it assume an increasingly distinct consistency, an ever denser strength and, above all, an independence , as if there were both a force and a being within his own being. He will notice, first in his passive meditations (when he is quiet, at home, his eyes closed), that this force in him has mass, varying intensity, and movement, that it moves up and down inside him as if it were fluid – much like the shifting of a living substance. These movements inside him can even be powerful enough to bend his body as the force descends, or to straighten it and draw it backward as it rises. In our active meditations, in daily external life, this force inside is more diluted and feels like a tiny muffled vibration in the background, as we have said earlier; further, we feel it not only as an impersonal force but as a presence, a being in our depths, as if we had a support, something giving us solidity and strength, almost like an armor, as well as a serene outlook on the world. With this imperceptible vibration inside, we are invulnerable, and we are no longer alone. It is there in all circumstances, all the time. It is warm, intimate, strong. Strangely enough, once we have found it, we find the same thing everywhere, in all beings and in all things; we can communicate directly, as if everything were the same, without separation. We have touched something within us that is not the mere puppet of universal forces, not the narrow and dry “I think, therefore I am,” but the fundamental reality of our being, our true self, true center, warmth and being, consciousness and [force.51]

As this inner urge or force takes on a distinct individuality, as it grows as indeed a child grows, the seeker will become aware that it does not move at random, as he had thought at first, but converges at certain points of his being, depending upon his current activity, and is in fact behind each of the centers of consciousness: behind the mental centers when we think, assert a will or express something; behind the vital centers when we feel, suffer or desire; or farther down or farther up. That force actually becomes aware of things; all the centers, including the mind, are only its openings on the different levels of universal reality, its instruments of transcription and expression. It is *the traveller of the worlds the explorer of the planes of consciousness; it connects our various modes of being together, from waking to sleep to death, when the small outer mind is no longer there to inform or guide us; it pervades the entire range of universal existence and communicates everywhere.


(Durwin Foster) #60

I feel both a push and pull with what u are saying, don. Pulled in because it is very interesting to me, and Vedanta has been very helpful to me in last year and a half. I’ve done many online retreats and satsangs with Mooji. And also pushed away because categorical statements against the West’s knowledge seem suspect since it seems to me there must be some emotional charge driving a categorical statement against ones culture of origin (?). As a therapist, I would be curious about that.

The limitation I eventually found with Vedanta, classical nondual as Mooji teaches, was that there was no impetus towards democratization.

So, back to reading Aurobindo! And or if u would like to do a Skype chat sometime I am interested. Often easier for me to maintain trust when I can read facial expressions :smiley:


(Don Salmon) #61

Hi Durwin - i’d love to do a chat ("FaceTime or Skype) some time, but for now, i imagine both of our times are quite overfull.

I hope there’s some way to make clear how profoundly different integral yoga is from classical non dual vedanta.

I’m probably taking up too much space here, but still, maybe some background would help.

  1. May 10, 1970 - it came to me in a flash that my life work would involve “spiritual psychology,” but had no idea at that moment what that meant.
  2. Spent 6 years (while a music major then professional musician) looking for anything in psychology that related to what I was looking for, found it on March 1976 in Satprem’s book.
  3. Among my western psychology enthusiasms over about 30 to 40 years: Gestalt therapy, Kegan (from 1989 for at least 15 years), Rogerian therapy, cognitive behavioral (believe it or not, though primarily the 3rd wave mindfulness version), a tad bit of object relations and Self psychology (Kohut, not non-dual:>), and much much more.
  4. I think it was the period 2000-2006 that everything radically shifted. I had hoped for decades to find an integration. it was partly Wilber that was the turning point for me. I looked through over 10 books of his when we began working on our book, and i was amazed as anybody might be to discover I couldn’t find a single thing useful, and in fact, spent much of the first year shedding many misconceptions I had unwittingly accumulated. Even 9 years in grad school hadn’t undone my lingering enthusiasm for various contemporary (not western - Indians and Chinese and Japanese and Middle Easterners and more do psychodrama, psychodynamic therapy, CBT, etc) secular therapy (even non dual). it was over the course of 5 years of deeply thinking through and intentionally challenging all my assumptions that all of what I considered worthwhile became undone.


(Durwin Foster) #62

The next step would be for me to go through a more in depth history, and one thing I note is my view of ur misunderstanding of wilbers claim about Aurobindos “metaphysics”. I don’t believe Wilber means that metaphysical is " intellectual not experiential", but rather that Wilber means Aurobindo is ‘modern not postmodern’.

I’ve done in depth study directly with Wilber over many years, although by my participation here you can see that I haven’t felt complete. But I know wilbers version in some depth including his most recent book which quotes Aurobindo extensively.


(Ed Mahood) #63

Hardly. First, as we can fit gigabytes of data on a thumbnail drive, “space” can’t be in issue, and no matter how much you post, my screen never increases in size. :wink: Second, as far as I can tell, none of TPTB (the powers that be) have declared that everybody has to read everything that’s posted. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

If a more detailed side-thread arises, well, that’s just fine. (I, personally, tend to get sucked down those particular rabbit holes because they are a lot like Gebser’s explanatory footnotes, not just mere references to other works.) As such, they help make clear other things that have been and will be said, and I can get a much clearer picture of who all is involved in our gatherings.