Hi Guys/gals (any gals here?)
Geoffrey: The quotes are all mine - I was just imagining myself as an opponent of everything about Sri Aurobindo, or imagining myself as Osho, Eric (hope you don’t mind Eric!:>), Debashish, etc, and using what I imagine might be their words.
Darwin, glad to hear about the lack of push. I’m catching up on evaluation/reports today, but I can give you a quick socio-political overview.
The fastest, briefest overview - in a way, the entirety of his book, “The Ideal of Human Unity,” is a review of different groupings throughout human history, from tribal through city-states to empires, the modern nation-state and a review of various possibilities for global cohesion, with a strong warning about a world-state and a conclusion about a world confederation, which is a kind of “spiritual localism,” one might say. Throughout the book, he reviews military, political, economic and social factors that would support or block in various ways the development of a unified world. There are implicit developmental (individual and collective) factors as well. To sum all of it up in the way I found most moving, he frequently alludes to the ideals of the French revolution, and says that humanity has barely but at least partially begun to recognize the values of liberty and equality, but simply has not (consciously, or collectively) understand the necessary foundation for fraternity - which is not ordinary brotherhood or sisterhood but the conscious recognition of one Self in all.
Here’s my take on what he says about various political formations (this is from both The Human Cycle and Ideal of Human Unity) focusing particularly on the United States (sorry folks in Europe and elsewhere).
The beginning of the “Individual age” - the rationalistic age since the Enlightenment - highlighted the ideal of liberty (which, for most humans living egoically is mostly about getting more “elbow room” to do what their egos drive them to do - one can see the outcome of the most deficient form of this in modern right wing libertarianism). This was perhaps not so distorted in the early days of the most agrarian US, times when communities were small enough that groups could get together and individuals in the groups be heard. But by the decades after the civil war it was clear, Sri Aurobindo said, that pure unregulated capitalism was a “moral failure” and so the socialist and anarchist revolt set in.
Unfortunately, socialism in its most well known form became conflated with authoritarian statism, and the values of what Sri Aurobindo referred to as “intellectual anarchy” were lost. A rationalistic approach to equality (as the reaction to excessive egoistic liberty) led to a machine-like bureaucracy that if persisted in, would lead to the eradication of both liberty and equality. He gives a very hesitant positive appraisal of the experiments of the social democratic countries in northern europe, but again, without a spiritual - or at least, subjective - foundation - they would not likely be sustainable either.
As the rationalistic age comes to a close (possibly with massive destruction, though there may be ways out) various forms of “subjectivism” can be seen. By “subjectivism” Sri Aurobindo means the healthy, natural reaction to the extreme, materialistic 'objectivism" (think, “Ayn Rand” at her worst - if that distinction is possible!), BUT - with the problem that there are “false” and “True” subjectivism. So, the Nazis, who sometimes actually said “we think with our blood” took the life force to be the true self (a much modified form of this took place in the 1960s; this is what Wilber somewhat crudely calls the “pre-trans fallacy”).
What seems to be emerging in the last half century and perhaps particularly in the last 10 years, as various forms of panpsychism and idealism and to some extent a limited form of non-dualism become more prevalent at the not-too-extreme edges of science, is what Sri Aurobindo would call “mental subjectivism” - taking the mind to be the Self (I know all the non-dualists would object - but remember folks, I’m trying to present what Sri Aurobindo says - or what I understand him to say - and not necessarily my own opinion or view - I struggled for several decades with this, but Sri aurobindo often claims that many who think they have realized the Self are still in a rarefied region of the mind).
He said that a mental or psychic (“psychic” pertaining to the psychic being) subjectivism would lead to a society of undreamed of richness but also of great peril, as it would still be ruled by ego, and because it would open humanity to the vastly greater non-physical powers of the subtle worlds (see Eric Weiss’ paper that I think Durwin or Geoffrey linked to? No, Johnny, I think) it might make us nostalgic for minor problems like biological, chemical or nuclear weapons).
Ultimately, he has a very positive vision - though he may be talking about at least a 1000 years from now, when larger groupings of human beings actually awaken to the Self. Though the “gnostic society” he speaks of is vastly, almost unimaginably beyond that, and he is actually speaking of a new species far more different from the human than human beings are from most primates and mammals.
So, that’s just a tad. There’s so much more, and this is one of the most understudied areas of Sri Aurobindo’s writings. I’ve personally never found any socio-political writings as profound, though Gebser, Korten, Barfield and many many others have written so much more detail, and very helpful detail as that. Much to do!
Folks, I was delightfully away from the computer much of yesterday, and had planned to write something today specifically related to our chapters of Divine Maya and Supermind, playing off the VERY cool opening chapter of Owen Garfield’s “Saving the Appearances.” I’ve got a patient in about 20 minutes, and a LOT of analyzing of test results. If I have a free moment later this afternoon, I’ll write something up (heads up Geoffrey - I’m going to write FROM Sri Aurobindo’s viewpoint, which includes the idea of the vast non-physical worlds, as well as transcendence - so please don’t take it as being overly critical - just trying to do Sri Aurobindo justice in my very limited capacity).
BUT! I will say one thing that’s been on my mind for a few days about transcendence that might be helpful to you. When we hear that word, it seems to often evoke a kind of stark duality, like the theologian Rudolf Otto and his idea of God as “wholly other.” But here’s an incredibly down to earth example - I think it’s from David Hart Bentley (or is it David Bentley Hart, I can never remember:>).
Say you’re looking at a piece of paper, and someone has used an ink pen to write, “Today is a nice day.” As long as you’re looking at the words, you’re not consciously attending to the fact that what you’re “actually” seeing is simply shapes made in ink.
From at least one perspective, one way of using the word, the “ink” is “transcendent” to the words. Or, another way of saying it is the true “substance” of the words is the ink (there’s an opposite way of using “substance” which I won’t go into).
So you’re not talking about the transcendent as something separate. In fact, the words couldn’t exist without the ink. This is kind of what Sri Aurobindo meant in the chapter on the refusal of the ascetic when he said, “World exists because of That” (i.e. transcendent). And something after that like, the world couldn’t exist except because of That, yet That (transcendent) does NOT depend on the world.
This all can seem very confusing to the mind, but when you “see” it, it’s the most obvious thing in the world. It’s like the non dualists say. I look at a tree, or computer, or apple, or a shirt, and normally I am completely oblivious to the fact that I am “looking” at (“at” isn’t quite right here) a form in awareness. The awareness here is 'transcendent" to the tree, but the tree does not exist without the awareness, is made of awareness, is not separate from awareness, etc. I hasten to add, if you’re having trouble with this sounding terribly unscientific and a New Age version of quantum physics, I’m not taking about “my” awareness or “my” mind (Durwin, you know this from your non dual studies, I assume?), I’m talking about what Sri Aurobindo describes as Chit-Shakti - when he says “Consciousness is the fundamental thing in the universe, it is the movement, the energy of consciousness that creates everything in the universe.”
Ok, if time, later today some fun with Maya!