The Life Divine – Reading Group, Session #4 [6/21]


(Don Salmon) #26

Let’s see if this link works:

one version of an outline of the integral psychology of Sri Aurobindo

(Don Salmon) #27

At the end of that summary of integral psychology, you can find one of my favorite passages from Sri Aurobindo. it’s from one of his commentaries on the Isha Upanishad:

Lift your eyes towards the Sun; He is there in that wonderful heart of life and light and splendor. Watch at night the innumerable constellations glittering like so many solemn watchfires of the Eternal in the limitless silence which is no void but throbs with the presence of a single calm and tremendous existence; see there Orion with his sword and belt shining…Sirius in his splendor, Lyra sailing billions of miles away in the ocean of space. Remember that these innumerable worlds, most of them mightier than our own, are whirling with indescribable speed at the beck of that Ancient of Days whither none but He knoweth, and yet that they are a million times more ancient than your Himalaya, more steady than the roots of your hills and shall so remain until He at his will shakes them off like withered leaves from the eternal tree of the Universe. Imagine the endlessness of Time, realize the boundlessness of Space; and then remember that when these worlds were not, He was, the Same as now, and when these are not, He shall be, still the Same; perceive that beyond Lyra He is and far away in Space where the stars of the Southern Cross cannot be seen, still He is there.

And then come back to the Earth and realize who this He is. He is quite near to you. See yonder old man who passes near you crouching and bent, with his stick. Do you realize that it is God who is passing? There a child runs laughing in the sunlight. Can you hear Him in that laughter? Nay, He is nearer still to you. He is in you, He is you. It is yourself that burns yonder millions of miles away in the infinite reaches of Space, that walks with confident steps on the tumbling billows of the ethereal sea; it is you who have set the stars in their places and woven the necklace of the suns not with hands but by that Yoga, that silent actionless impersonal Will which has set you here today listening to yourself in me. Look up, O child of the ancient Yoga, and be no longer a trembler and a doubter; fear not, doubt not, grieve not; for in your apparent body is One who can create and destroy worlds with a breath.”[v]

Sri Aurobindo, Commentary on the Isha Upanishad

(Don Salmon) #28

Come to think of it, it might be useful to post this from the integral psychology summary as well:

Prelude – The Dance of Consciousness

Consciousness is… the fundamental thing in existence – it is the energy, the motion, the movement of consciousness that creates the universe and all that is in it.[i]

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga

The Divine is a radiant and joyful Reality, ecstatically bringing forth the universe from its own Being, within its own Consciousness, at every moment; playing out the infinite possibilities of its infinite Being, simultaneously in the eternal Now. It is the shift of Its attention that creates the sense of sequence in time, and the shift of its attention that creates the sense of movement through space. As the One Infinite Consciousness gazes in one way, the universe is birthed. As that gaze shifts, the stars are “born,” planets and solar systems take shape, the adventure of evolution unfolds. Beyond time and space altogether, the supreme, infinite Conscious-Being sees within Itself its myriad, infinite possibilities, and in that very seeing joyfully, blissfully, manifests the all that we see around us.

All is the play of Conscious-Being and Conscious-Energy, Shiva and Shakti , Soul and Nature. In any act of “conscious-ing,”[1]that which is known (the “object”) is a movement of Conscious-Energy. The movement is itself an act of will – a shift of attention of the Divine Conscious-Being (the “subject”). This movement (the “object” created by the shift of attention) is known as it is willed into being. Thus, the object is inseparable from the act of knowing it. The myriad objects of our universe – apparently separate but always one with the Infinite – are nothing more than infinite acts of shifting attention of the One Divine Being. These acts of knowing-and-willing – which manifest as the universe – exist inseparably within the Delight of the Divine Being. It is the movement of apparent separation and reunion that is experienced by different creatures as attraction and repulsion, pleasure and pain, love and hate, and ultimately as unbroken Delight by the fully awakened seer.

All is the One Conscious-Being knowing and feeling itself in infinite ways, in infinite forms. The individual Soul is a particular focus of consciousness, the various planes of consciousness each a particular kind of interaction between Conscious-Being and Its Conscious-Force, between Soul and Nature. When Consciousness is absorbed in the play of forms, identifying with a particular part of the Field, the result is Ignorance. Over the course of evolution, there is a progressive freeing of the embodied consciousness from its exclusive identification with a small part of the Field. The essential Nature of this whole interaction between Soul and Nature, Shiva and Shakti , is infinite Joy, Ananda , Bliss.

(Durwin Foster) #29
" something deeper or higher," (states, stages?)

"manifesting the various planes (grades) of consciousness " (definitely levels)

I will stop right there, and stick with the Aurobindo text itself :slight_smile:


(Don Salmon) #30

Hi, sorry I didn’t make it clear, the text is from our book on yoga psychology - i wrote this particular section, from our Appendix B).

Looking back at it, the word “grade” is a mistake. A Plane, as Sri Aurobindo defines it, is something that is the origin of any particular universe, the physical or the “subtle” worlds that Eric wrote about. So the Supramentla Plane is a particular relation of Soul and Nature which is characterized by intelligent-will permeating the universe, manifesting in the purely physical universe as constants or laws of nature, in animals as instincts and in humans as intuition.

Durwin, it seems like you’re very much interested in getting some clarity between us on this - and I, as you, would like to do it in a deeply dialogic fashion without conflict.

I just came across a wiki page I hadn’t seen for awhile, and it struck me, the language it uses might be helpful for me to make another attempt to clarify for you what i’m thinking about development.

The page speaks of “continuous” and "discontinuous’ theories of development.

Let me apply this to Kegan’s 5 stages, since as far as I know, taken simply by themselves, Ken has never had any fundamental difficulty with them (they’re fine for what they address, though leaving out much more that ken addresses, in other words).

It’s been many years since I’ve spent any significant amount of time with Kegan’s work, so if I don’t say this well, perhaps you can help me be more articulate. As far as I recall, what characterizes a “stage” in Kegan’s theory is a quantum shift, so to speak, from one stage to another - what was “me” or subject in an earlier stage becomes it or object in a higher and later stage. So in the wiki terminology, Kegan’s is a discontinuous developmental theory. Let’s use the word “stage” to refer ONLY to discontinuous developmental. I think that’s how Ken uses it also, and it fits, I think, for Kegan’s usage.

I accepted this discontinuous view of development from the first time I read about developmental stages, back in 1970. I accepted it pretty much without question, and assumed it was the same thing that Sri Aurobindo meant when he used the phrase “stages of development.”

It was not until 33 years later, in February, 2003, when I spent a week researching developmental theories for 3 pages in our yoga psychology book, that something shifted in the way I saw it. I read Ellen Langer’s chapter in chuck alexander’s “Higher Stages of Development.” She was generally in favor of continuous stages of development. Several authors refused to accept any discontinuity but that made no sense to me. Langer’s more flexible open minded view (fitting her definition of mindfulness, interestingly enough) made me sit up and take notice, and provoked a somewhat painful, challenge to a view I had held for a 3rd of a century.

She mostly kept her view of development as continuous (meaning, not consisting of discrete stages) but made one striking exception - the shift from preverbal infancy to verbal toddler. It immediately occurred to me that this fit almost perfectly with the Vedantic shift from manas (sensory, emotional mind) to buddhi (reasoning mind, or "intelligent will).

I looked back over all the discontinuous stage theories I had known of, and it seems to me at least, at that moment, that the idea of a discontinuous shift from Kegan’s first stage to the 2nd stage, and a continuous freeing of the buddhi for all of his subsequent 3 stages, made more sense of development than the descriptions of the various discontinuous stage theories.

So I’m not saying I don’t think there are levels or stages. All I’ve really said here, I think, if I recall the all too much I’ve written (!!), is that for the outer, surface nature, at least as far as what integralists call first and second tier, I think it makes more sense to see the shift from the first manasic stage to the next buddhic stage as a “stage” - in the sense of there being a quantum leap, a discontinuous shift, and the subsequent phases of development as continuous - in that the buddhi is getting progressively freed from tamasic and rajasic influences an able to function more as McGilchrist’s “analytic and intuitive” mental structure, and as the Gita portrays it in chapters 14-18, with further purification is able to reflect more and more of the wisdom of the Nous, Logos, Supramental, etc

I sincerely hope that helps, and invite you to help me clarify this distinction between continuous and discontinuous development.

(Durwin Foster) #31

A couple thoughts this morning @Don_Salmon : 1) I championed the states and stages distinction at Mind and Life Institute as a graduate student, for which I was called a “hero” by Ken at that time. @Geoffrey_Edwards if you are interested in the scientific study of meditation, Mind and Life is your go to place, as they have largely birthed the field of contemplative neuroscience. 2). The Mind and Life folks threw out that work by Alexander and all because it wasn’t rigorous enough, according to them. Ken described this as a loss: he understandably wanted to see that work included as it was at least some work that was done looking at stages and meditation.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #32

I much prefer the use of words such as “planes” - perhaps my Deleuzian influences - than the idea of “higher” or “lower” that seems to permeate much of this litterature. I understand that Aurobindo uses the term “higher” to mean closer to Sachchidananda or God, but sometimes he uses the term to distinguish, say, plants from humans. This is an error from my perspective - it assumes or implies that humans are somehow “higher” or “better” than animals and plants. Within humans, I guess, “levels” can make sense, although I dislike the “categorization” implicit in that approach. It is my experience that once humans have a set of categories, they tend to try to slot everything into them, forgetting that categories are merely one way of schematizing the world - they are another by-product of our need to “chunk” the field into recognizeable and distinct entities.

(john davis) #33

I have read this thread from beginning and I hear the echos of many voices and many trends.

This day, I plan to study Aurobindo, at the Cooper U Library, which is almost empty during the summer.

To be a really useful study, this study will be like what?

A Cosmic Egg hunt.

And for this study to be like a Cosmic Egg Hunt, you will be like what?

And I will be like an Cosmic Egg Hunter.

And I will enter one of the cracks into the Cosmic Egg with caution, knowing full well I could trip and fall and end up in the darkness or get blinded by the light and fry my brains. I am looking for some place in the giant cracks where I might find a small gallery, a well lit area where I might find some signs of life, of artifacts, of foot prints, of hand prints, of old bones, fossils, tapestry, cloth, an odd looking map. I want to find something that makes sense…in the darkness I ask for Light.

And a bird appears and I ask,“Who are you?”

The bird says," I am God." I am shocked, confused, a bird talks? The Bird-God asks ," Did you think I’d look like you?" And flies away…I cry out for it to return. It returns and flies into my open mouth. I swallow it. I am afraid for I have just swallowed God. What will happen now that I have swallowed God?

I turn the page…

I find the Aurobindo task is getting larger, as I read between the lines, in a more historical way. Sri Aurobindo appears to be in the midst of gigantic shifts in allegiance from the mythic figure of the radicalized Kali fuck Goddess , with her skull necklace, reeking vengeance and generating fear, to something different.

As he rejects his pro-revolutionary stance, Aurobindo retreats, becomes the meek and mild and non-political patriarch, a mostly behind the scenes scholar conducting yogic research as he allows The Great Mother Archetype, free of Kali’s paranormal powers, to rule the domestic nest.

This UN-tantric Mother is practical and so the Radical wild Kali energies are banished or dominated by the cool top down descent of the Super mind into Matter. We can hear the struggle in the words of Mira Alfassa as she describes how she tries to embody this archetype.

Personal reflections. The father/mother archetype may have worked to stabilize an ashram and could have been an effective model for moving cultural treasures from one historical incarnation to another historical incarnation. But I am as a child of the West, of the violent deep south of the United States, and as a queer refugee, who fled from the violent, racist, homophobic, Bible thumping South, currently living in the Capital of Capitalism, I am not interested in ashrams or cults, especially when those ashrams are dominated by non-democratically elected, charismatic figures who want to mind fuck me with heterosexually derived categories of the Divine that dont fit my culture or my biology. I exaggerate to make a point.

That doesn’t mean that I reject the study of Aurobindo’s metaphysics. I am moved by the struggles that he went through. That he tried to integrate Vedanta with the rising Materialism of the West is fascinating. I am fascinated by the very human need he had, to sanitize Shakti and to put himself and the Mother onto a pedestal and together put together a package of cultural ideas that could re-stabilize a gigantic Culture, like India, which was under immense pressures to change.

How to democratize a culture that was run by a caste system? And how to get out from under the great British Vampire, without violence? He tried violence and it didn’t work. He ended up in jail. This is a freedom fighter’s struggle that I find deeply compelling. But what happens next is, well, kind of wierd.

The chaste and practical ‘Mother India’ motif, along with the silent and mostly passive benevolent Patriarch Aurobindo played, is a strong metaphorical set up, but did they get trapped in these Archetypes? He and the Parisian born, Mira Alfassa, enacted these roles brilliantly but was it at a cost to themselves and does it translate into current culture clashes?

She is a Western woman, performing an integrating function, in a turbulent period when old ways are not working, new ways have yet to emerge. We, post post modern, would be Integral types, have much to learn from how they moved through the turbulence of their own time and place.

We can resonate with their struggles as we are also aware that we have different kinds of transitions to orchestrate, and perhaps different cracks in the cosmic egg are starting to get our attention. The Arctic Ice is making loud cracking sounds, the waters are starting to rise.

And East and West are no longer becoming what they were becoming in the days of Sri Aurobindo. Man, as he rightly says, is in transition. What kinds of transitions moving towards what kinds of future(s) do we want to make happen?

Freedom from desire, like freedom from the ego, seems to me the wrong way to go. As I am a gay tantric practitioner, with lots of experience in retail and marketing as well as community building amidst epidemics and environmental collapse and neo-liberal propaganda , I wonder what kinds of resources we have that we want to develop? I recognize the pressing need to collaborate and invite new visions of our collective future(s) to emerge. I am, as a gay person, drawn to alternate ways of knowing and I want to cultivate desire not get rid of it. How are we to preserve plurality in a fascist age?

And it is clear to me that Sri Aurobindo was doing the best he could with what he had…

(john davis) #34

I can feel the rumble from below…I tune into the root chakra between the anus and the perineum, in the physical body, but the chakra is not the source of the energy, the energy moves through the chakra, and sensing into the bowels of the planet, in the dark from which the Body Electric is born, the sons and daughters of Kali are arising out of chaos…and that’s right, baby, they are going to burn down your house !

(john davis) #35

Another kind of Practitice arises, as the Subtle realms are related to in an embodied, rather than a purely theoretical way. We channel vaster energies and this can be hazardous. Pain is a great teacher, as my friend, Juanito, cautions us. We make no progress unless we get off our ass and start to move. You are to become human, and that means you have to dance and sing and even lift weights! A Life Divine may embrace many metaphors. As a friend once said before he went out to the dance club," I want to stick my butt up into the air."

(john davis) #36

A Life Divine may embrace many metaphors.The Beloved returns. In my flesh I shall see God.


(Durwin Foster) #37

evolution has given us a neo-cortex, so that we can at least reflect upon such ethical conundrums :slight_smile:

(Don Salmon) #38

Durwin, your paper is VERY well written, much appreciated. Still going through it.

Geoffrey, it’s probably best to let go of our Protestant-informed morality when looking at virtually any contemplative writer, “East” or “West.”

Evolutionary neuroscience tells us that plants exhibit a startling range of intelligence. One that I find fascinating is that when a predator is near, plants will “intentionally” (?) send out chemicals that attract predators of whatever animal is on the verge of attacking the plant.

Amoeba have been demonstrated, in the lab, to be capable of solving a maze. Bees will perform a “waggle dance” which can tell other members of the bee clan where food is, how much food there is, and what direction it is. Many other astonishing examples of animal intelligence have been found (Howard Bloom talks about a host of extraordinary things that bacteria can do, seemingly up to the point of intentionally rearranging their DNA).

However, these same neuroscientists identify increasing levels of complexity as well. J. Alan Hobson notes that consciousness in animals appears to be graded, with greater complexity evident as you examine the nervous systems and brains of creatures from one celled organisms to insects, reptiles, mammals and primates (Durwin, I haven’t seen where they have made a clear indication whether they think that increase in complexity is continuous or discontinuous, which is the main point I was looking to clarify regarding human stages).

Well, if you take the outline of such development from the Life Divine, it simply points toward a further complexity. The discontinuity from mind to that which is “beyond” mind (a higher plane, if you prefer) is said to be greater than that between mind and matter. On the other hand, as the Mother said, “Salvation is physical.” The word “supermind” often gives people the impression that it’s some “higher” or further abstraction.

But it’s only found by going deep deep deep into the body, literally, into the consciousness of the cells of the body. It’s a revolution against everything in the universe which is afraid of waking up, one might say. A revolution which makes the old Kali look like a frightened old lady by comparison!

(Don Salmon) #39

Johnny, as far as revolutions, Sri Aurobindo once wrote that he had initially participated in a relatively calm, simple revolution against the British Empire. When he “retired” from this rather superficial act of political rebellion, he instead took on the cosmic revolution against Avidya.

The cosmic vision, in Chapter 11, in the Bhagavad Gita, has always been one of my favorite passages in literature. In September, 1983, I was thinking about what I wanted to do for my masters thesis in music composition. I got some orchestration paper (music notation with about 30 or more “staves” or “staffs”) and sketched out a piece for chamber orchestra, 4 singers and narrator. I was thinking about Huston Smith’s comment in the opening of “The Religion of Man.” He told the story of Robert Oppenheimer, standing some 200 miles away from the site where the first atomic bomb was going to be exploded at “Trinity Site” in the New Mexico desert (“Trinity Site”, so named by Oppenheimer, had been named by the early Spanish settlers as “jornada del muerto,” the journey of death, because so many died of thirst or at the hands of the indigenous people who were not so happy about the invaders).

Oppenheimer had, for his own “edification,” as a student at UC Berkeley, not only taught himself Sanskrit but memorized the entire 700+ verses of the Gita. He wrote in his journal, which almost everyone has heard about, that while watching the light of the bomb blast at midnight light up the darkened sky as if it was mid-day, the words came to him from Krishna, “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Interestingly, he mistranslated “kala” as Death; it is actually “Time” that is the destroyer, in this and this and this and this moment, with a Nietzschean eternal recurrence.

But Smith goes on to say, most people ignore the other line that Oppenheimer reported recalling, which he also wrote in his journal: “If 1000 suns were to rise in the sky all at once, that would not equal the splendor of the Supreme Spirit.”

Smith suggested that this moment, when the Faustian representative of the West, in the form of Oppenheimer, reflected on the quintessential words of the East, that he had fulfilled a prophesy of Rudyard Kipling. We usually, Smith reminded us, only think of the first two lines of Kipling’s quatrain: “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.” But we forget the next 2 lines: “Until heaven and earth meet on God’s judgment day.”

Smith wrote that at that moment, of the bomb blast, there was that meeting of heaven and earth (Oppenheimer was later to say, when asked if nuclear weapons should be banned, “It’s 20 years too late. It should have been done the day after Trinity.”

So I finished my orchestral sketch and turned on our local Pacifica non-commercial radio, WBAI. At that very moment, they had just started playing the soundtrack of a documentary about Oppenheimer’s life, “The Day After Trinity.”

I got my tape recorder, recorded the whole thing, which included accounts from several physicists who worked on the Manhattan Project, saying things like, “There was speculation back in the lab that it might be possible to explode the atmosphere [when they did the bomb test in August, 1945], in which case the world disappears.”

Let that settle in - the physicists actually thought there was a remote possibility they could actually destroy the planet - AND THEY WENT AHEAD AND DID THE TEST ANYWAY!!!

So many wonderful and amazing synchroniticites happened during that period. At one point, I and the Spanish choir i directed was invited to sing at the Archdiocese of NYC, where the archbishop of Nicaragua and some 100 or more nuns were also going to be singing (this was during the time we (America) was contributing to the torture and murder in both El Salvador and Nicaragua). It was Easter, and we sang "Resucito, Resucito, Resucito, Aleluya,

(it worked!!).

The WBAI soundtrack included an actual recording of the atomic bomb blast. I had my meditation teacher at the time read the verses where Arjuna is scared shitless by seeing his dear friend Krishna transformed into an all devouring fire torturing, killing, demolishing not only his friends and enemies but the entire universe. The verses were read in Sanskrit, and I mixed them to sound like some kind of apocalyptic psychedelic trip with the sound of the bomb magnified with tons of reverberation, and at the end, I had the recording of the 100 nuns and members of Our Lady of Guadlupe choir singing “Alleluia Alleluia” after which the entire thing dies down and you hear Oppenheimer in an utterly broken voice telling how Krishna said, “I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” with one of the most painful, saddest pregnant pauses you have ever heard, and concluding, “I guess we all felt that, one way or another.”

Here is Sri Aurobindo, from his 'Essays on the Gita," commenting on that moment in the Gita:

(before posting, I’ll just add this small bit of advice - I am not the smartest bulb on the planet, but I don’t think I’m completely devoid of the capacity for insight; I just hated so passionately everything about Sri Aurobindo’s writing when I first came across it - dry, thin, abstract, utterly lacking in spiritual insight, MUCH much more cutting criticism than anything Johnny wrote above; there’s absolutely no way I would have continued if it hadn’t been strongly recommended to me by someone I deeply trusted. And when I did find something I liked, it was the radical Satprem, and not at all Mother or Sri Aurobindo at first. So I get it - I remember having all the reactions Geoffrey, Johnny and others have expressed. My little suggestion is, since it took me 20 years of almost daily reading of many of his texts to realize I had been misreading him from the start, and after another 22 years, I think I’m maybe going to be ready to say at least something intelligent about what he wrote, sometime in the next 2 or 3 years, I would say this: "Assume that whatever you think when you’re reading the Life Divine is probably not what he is intending to communicate. If you don’t really think it’s worth continuing, throw it away. That’s great. But if you continue with the book, don’t worry about whether any of it makes sense, or you hate it, or think it’s some kind of abstract, thin intellectual dross.Continue to look at the assumptions and reactions, and see if anything else emerges. It may not, but it may.

So with that, here’s the comment on Kali:

The raw religionist, the superficial optimistic thinker, the sentimental idealist, the man at the mercy of his sensations and emotions agree in twisting away from the sterner conclusions, the harsher and fiercer aspects of universal existence. Indian religion has been ignorantly reproached for not sharing in this general game of hiding, because on the contrary it has built and placed before it the terrible as well as the sweet and beautiful symbols of the Godhead. But it is the depth and largeness of its long thought and spiritual experience that prevent it from feeling or from giving countenance to these feeble shrinkings.

Indian spirituality knows that God is Love and Peace and calm Eternity, — the Gita which presents us with these terrible images, speaks of the Godhead who embodies himself in them as the lover and friend of all creatures. But there is too the sterner aspect of his divine government of the world which meets us from the beginning, the aspect of destruction, and to ignore it is to miss the full reality of the divine Love and Peace and Calm and Eternity and even to throw on it an aspect of partiality and illusion, because the comforting exclusive form in which it is put is not borne out by the nature of the world in which we live. This world of our battle and labour is a fierce dangerous destructive devouring world in which life exists precariously and the soul and body of man move among enormous perils, a world in which by every step forward, whether we will it or no, something is crushed and broken, in which every breath of life is a breath too of death. To put away the responsibility for all that seems to us evil or terrible on the shoulders of a semi-omnipotent Devil, or to put it aside as part of Nature, making an unbridgeable opposition between world-nature and God-Nature, as if Nature were independent of God, or to throw the responsibility on man and his sins, as if he had a preponderant voice in the making of this world or could create anything against the will of God, are clumsily comfortable devices in which the religious thought of India has never taken refuge. We have to look courageously in the face of the reality and see that it is God and none else who has made this world in his being and that so he has made it. We have to see that Nature devouring her children, Time eating up the lives of creatures, Death universal and ineluctable and the violence of the Rudra forces in man and Nature are also the supreme Godhead in one of his cosmic figures. We have to see that God the bountiful and prodigal creator, God the helpful, strong and benignant preserver is also God the devourer and destroyer. The torment of the couch of pain and evil on which we are racked is his touch as much as happiness and sweetness and pleasure. It is only when we see with the eye of the complete union and feel this truth in the depths of our being that we can entirely discover behind that mask too the calm and beautiful face of the all-blissful Godhead and in this touch that tests our imperfection the touch of the friend and builder of the spirit in man. The discords of the worlds are God’s discords and it is only by accepting and proceeding through them that we can arrive at the greater concords of his supreme harmony, the summits and thrilled vastnesses of his transcendent and his cosmic Ananda.

(john davis) #40

" When I look at people, I dont see them as they see themselves: I see the vibration of all the forces that are in them and go through them. That’s how I see that my physical sight is not failing but changing in character, because physical details of normal sight are false for me! But that doesn’t prevent me from seeing physically. For example, if I try to thread the needle while looking at it, it is literally impossible, but if I have to thread a needle, it threads itself. I have nothing to do with it: I hold the thread, I hold the needle, that’s all. I think that if that condition perfects itself, it will be possible to do everything THE OTHER WAY, the way that doesn’t depend upon external senses; and that would be of course the beginning of a supra-mental expression. Because it is an innate knowledge that DOES things." The Mother, aka Mira Alfassa, from The Lives of the Cell.

I find this a compatible way of describing the supramental. She gives a 1st person account of what she means by an abstract concept. I think this kind of exchange enhances comprehensibility of the more abstract terms used in this text. I have no problem with this.

[quote=“Don_Salmon, post:39, topic:2100”]
“But if you continue with the book, don’t worry about whether any of it makes sense, or you hate it, or think it’s some kind of abstract, thin intellectual dross.Continue to look at the assumptions and reactions, and see if anything else emerges. It may not, but it may.”

I plan to finish the book, Don, as I have worked on getting this reading to happen for the last two years. I imagine that what you suggest Ido is exactly what I am already doing. I am trying to be heard and put on the table something that may be different. Please ignore if you dont like but stop telling me I dont know how to read this text properly as you do. The tradition of these reading groups has been to allow others to put whatever they want on the table and let that take an effect. I find it odd that you are so intent upon creating a consensus. We have a tradition here of allowing others to misread in creative ways. I hope that you can hear the positive intentions behind my comments, even if they appear to you to be puerile and off the wall.

I am not being critical of Aurobindo but stating something pretty obvious. He and the Mother were engaged in creating a model. A model is a metaphor that has gained stability. God as Father and God as Mother have been effective and it works in limited circumstances, such as an ashram. This Model arises out of a rich cultural tradition and unique circumstances as you point out and that has real life consequences. A parent child dynamic is often the preferred model of cults and nation states. Keeping people in that dynamic is dangerous,though, as should be obvious, too.

Thanks, again , Don, for your commitment to bringing your excellent communication skills to the mix and I hope you continue to do more of it and do it even better.

I am trying to do so in my own way, and am fine with not knowing and making huge blunders. I also have different concerns and bring forward different kinds of metaphorical constructs.

(Don Salmon) #41

Hi Johnny - actually, i don’t even have a consensus among my selves so I wouldn’t imagine how to create consensus among the many more selves here!

What I’m suggesting, is that I still don’t know how to read Sri Aurobindo, and that I personally have found it helpful to question, challenge, debate, argue with myself for the 4+ decades I’ve been reading Sri Aurobindo.

So far, I haven’t read anything you’ve written that I haven’t thought about Sri Aurobindo, the model, the Mother, the Force, etc.

What I’m not hearing, is something that conveys the effort to read without the mind.

I’m sorry if that sounds enigmatic. That’s really what I’m suggesting. I mean quite literally, without using the mind to understand it. Not necessarily whether I or anyone else can do that, but attempting it. Putting up my 8 (or was it 9?) part critique of Sri Aurobindo was part of my attempt to communicate that. It wouldn’t be quite accurate to say what I’m doing is trying to suggest that we NOT come to consensus, but in saying it’s worth the effort to try to read without using the mind, it’s sort of like that.

maybe another way of saying the difference between reading with and without the mind - what little I understand of the Life Divine, is it’s a communication of energy. What I hear in the comments is a response of the mind to that energy. I’m just suggesting, it would be interesting to experiment with what it would be like to see that energy put into words. That’s all.

(john davis) #42

Great. That is what you are not hearing. Is there anything else that you may not be hearing?

(Don Salmon) #43

Geoffrey: I just came across this passage from Durwin’s paper. Excellent distinction about hierarchies:

The difference between an existential and a functional hierarchy is crucial. Whereas a functional hierarchy is domain-specific, existential hierarchies involve assumptions that one human being is fundamentally better or more adequate than another human being. From an integral perspective, existential hierarchies are always destructive: all human beings are created equal in their fundamental being. What this means is that the presence of a functional hierarchy in the specific arena of the counselling relationship should never be confused with an existential hierarchy in the absolute sense. In this way, Integral counselling represents a democratic or egalitarian ethos, but without reducing depth of intelligence or expertise or awareness in specific areas to what Wilber would call a flatland view (K. Wilber, 1995). Integral counselling thus represents an advance over earlier models that might confuse the functional and existential domains. For example, some have accused medical model adherents of perpetuating existential inequality, through views such as that the doctor is somehow better than the patient. On the other hand, some postmodern or egalitarian approaches put forward an unhelpful functional equality, in which clients are viewed as knowing virtually everything they need to already about how to get better; if that were so, why would the counsellors be paid?

(Don Salmon) #44


4’34" …

(Douglas Duff) #45

Originally interpreted this as John Cage’s 4’33" - a reference to silence (and perhaps influenced by your musical background, Don) and perhaps 4’ 34" is the ending of the silence, the silent performance and the bringing forth the silence into the next moment of…(thoughtful speech? More silence? An encore performance?). “Is there anything else that you may not be hearing?” Even when hearing/listening at my best, there is a ringing in my ear, re- mind -ing me of my existence, of the mental persistence, of the mind’s resistance to fully read without the mind. Thats why I find listening to the recording by Shraddhavan quite lovely this time around! It opens up my Third Ear:

In a dream, when I was reading EPO, Jean Gebser came to me. I was in a shop where they sold light fixtures, it was on the bottom floor. I overheard two young women discussing the film Inception ( a film about lucid dreaming) and the work of Carl Jung. I found this an odd conversation, filled with strange meanings. As I walked up the stairs, I bumped into Jean Gebser and he pointed to his ear and said to me," You need to learn to listen with your Third Ear." I woke up.

And third ear…and when third ear…what kind of ear is an ear when it is a third ear?

And what does that Third Ear want to have happen?

And You who have a Third Ear let them hear with that Third Ear!

And my words echo thus in your mind…

…but perhaps this is a Bible verse reference, from the book of John, reminding us of our unfinished work and to see The Life Divine as food from the gods…

…or perhaps from the Koran…just hope I use the right translation! I do enough self-flagellation without the need for others’ assistance, thank you!