The Life Divine – Reading Group, Session #7 (with guest scholar Debashish Banerji) [7/12]

recording

(Frederick Dolan) #41

I really would like to see an argument for this. I conceive of many things actually existing independently of consciousness. If all kinds of consciousness were to cease to exist a minute from now, the understanding that I have of my desk is that it would continue to exist anyway. I may be wrong, of course, as a matter of fact, but that I can form that conception seems unassailable.

I suspect the confusion at work here is the idea that the relationship between consciousness and objects of consciousness is symmetrical. For example, since a concept is a mental entity, and since objects are only accessible to us thanks to this mental entity, it might be tempting to infer that there can be no objects in the absence of mental entities. But that’s a category mistake. Concepts are mental entities, but they are about things that are not mental entities. We can’t get access to objects except by means of consciousness, but it doesn’t follow from that that the objects themselves are not independent of consciousness.


(Geoffrey Edwards) #42

From a Whiteheadian perspective, there is no “desk” as an object. Instead the “desk” encapsulates a process, including the making and the using of the desk, and the making involves, at some level, consciousness (although Whitehead doesn’t require consciousness per se - his process philosophy only requires “prehension” by other entities, which need not be conscious). Yes, the desk continues to exist if all consciousness ceases to exist, but it is now part of a process of “unmaking” involving encounters with various parts of the environment. So Whitehead both refutes the argument of consciousness in a very different way, but also supports an idea about “novel creation” (“concrescience”) that is not necessarily conscious but which could be linked to some of Aurobindo’s ideas about the non-Mind parts of SuperMind.


(Frederick Dolan) #43

Whitehead is distinguishing between objects and processes for his own special (and very interesting) purposes, but I’m using “object” in a way that includes processes – just anything that can be an object of consciousness including making, using, unmaking, etc. Of course consciousness is involved in making and using, but that doesn’t entail that the thing made and used must survive the extinction of all consciousness. Again, it’s possible that it does; whether it does or doesn’t is a question of fact. But whatever the facts turn out to be, it seems pretty clear that the table surviving the extinction of all consciousness is at least conceivable.


(Frederick Dolan) #44

It may very well be so that no object is completely isolated from all the other objects that exist, at least in a casual sense – I presume that’s what you mean when you invoke the flux of waves and particles. But that everything, including consciousness, is in some way causally connected to everything else doesn’t entail that if consciousness were to disappear so would everything else. I’m causally connected to my desk, my laptop, and my coffee maker, but the very causal processes that make those connections possible also make it possible for me to cease to exist – yet there’s no implication that because I’m no longer there to causally interact with them, they cease to exist.

But again, I realize I may be equivocating on Consciousness versus consciousness (or mind). I’d love to hear an explanation of the difference – but I recognize that’s it’s on me to do the required research.


(Ed Mahood) #45

When the water buffaloes dance in the swamp, the frogs have to be extra careful. But, as it appears the band is taking a break, let me croak out a couple of thoughts from the water level.

Carlos Suares was fond of noting that the ultimate mystery is the fact that we can make the statement “There is …”. I think he had a point. I think everybody, at some time or another, simply wonders how any (or all) of “this” (what we find in and around ourselves) got here. Some smaller number even ask “Why?”. Not everyone pursues an answer to that question. For some, it could be little more than a gee-that’s-weird and they’re on with whatever it is they’re on about, but there are others (I would like to think it’s the majority, but I’m not convinced it is) who are nagged by the question and would like to find an answer.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how easily frustrated you are), there are some, few exceptional people who pursue the question doggedly for years and who are kind enough to share their thoughts on the matter with the rest of us. Of course, being such a difficult question they don’t all come up with the same answer. But shouldn’t they, really? I mean, after all, they’re all looking at the same thing. On the one hand, it’s a legitimate question, but on the other, the answer is fairly obvious: they’re all starting from different places … themselves. And as we know, no two of us are exactly alike. Different starts, different finishes.

What muddies the water even more is that (I’m guessing) most of us start somewhere in the middle: there’s no final, agreed answer, so we end up reading something by one of those exceptional (or not-so-exceptional) people and decide to what extent we agree, and if we’re really ambitious, why. Where gaps and holes in our understanding arise, depending on the seriousness and personal importance of the answer, we try to fill those by reading other contributors answers. What I have found to be the case very often is that we end up getting confused and frustrated because we’re not getting the satisfaction we were hoping for. A lot of folks drop out of the search at that point.

One other option, of course, would be to start at the beginning, which is really difficult since most of us aren’t focused or dedicated, or in my case, smart enough to start there, even if we even knew where the beginning was. (It’s easy to see why this all remains a Mystery.) And since the beginning is so elusive, in order to be able to start at all, you have to assume something. It’s really a simple I’m-starting-here-because-it-seems-to-me-to-be-the-most reasonable-place-to-start. There comes a point behind which you just can’t get.

But, I think, it’s incumbent upon the searcher to be clear on where they are starting from; that is, which fundamental assumption they are making, and if they’re forthright they’ll make that clear to others as well. I realize that is not so often the case, and all it really does is add to the confusion that ensues. But, regardless of made clear or not, that assumption is there, and what is more, each of us is making an assumption regarding that starting point as well. That may not always be clear to us, but we’re making it anyhow, and this – I’m going to call it the – initial assumption has an enormous impact on everything that follows.

This initial assumption defines your faith. It’s what you believe most fundamentally. And it has an impact on everything you think about everything.

The historical and archaeological record indicates strongly that human beings have been wrestling for this mystery for practically as long as there have been human beings (and where that starts differs from one searcher to the next). It doesn’t seem that other creatures are doing this; it does seem to be a human issue, but that’s a mere wrinkle in the grand canvas. And it has been possible for us to identify, fairly well I think, which assumptions were used in different instances to start the search for an answer. Of course the main ones we know about were in their day widely and generally accepted, for I don’t imagine that each and every individual will or wants to figure out their own on their own. And for the vast majority of human beings this works just fine. And I would hazard the guess that most of that vast majority never gives the matter a second thought. It’s with people like us, who read overly long tomes and talk about them, who question a lot, and who find themselves (even occasionally) dealing with that “There is …” issue, where it starts to matter … to us.

But, I also believe it should matter. For the past 500 years or so, we’ve had two primary (mainstream, if you will) options to choose from (and I’m consciously and purposely oversimiplifying here): stuff or not-stuff, matter or not-matter (which 500 years ago was G-d and “spirit”, but more recently is something like “mind” and “consciousness”). And there is a whole Baskin-and-Robbins-spectrum of flavors on both sides the street. That doesn’t make one’s decision any easier. Whatever you choose allows for some things and excludes others. Most recent developments in, say, quantum physics are blurring the nice little distinction I just made, but that only increases the number of outcomes possible. What’s even better (or worse, I suppose) is that we could eventually find out they’re just two sides of the same coin, which obviously opens up a whole new can of worms.

But, this does bring me back to Sri Aurobindo and TLD. Everybody writes (speaks/communicates) based on their own experience. I think we all pretty much agree on that. My issue with the current text – and I have precisely the same issue when I’m reading, say, Rudolf Steiner – is that he seems to be writing from an experience that I’ve never really had. OK, that’s not absolutely true, I have had experiences with which I have wrestled but which seem to make more sense in terms of Aurobindonian or Steinerian experience than in terms of, say, Whiteheadian or Jungian or, even, Dennettian experience. Naturally, I have no idea if Sri Aurobindo is “right”, but he’s also convinced me that he’s not fictionalizing either. And that sense of “more sense” – based of course on my own initial assumption, which I have given serious thought to – is what keeps me engaged with the text and re-evaluating my initial assumption as well.

Well, I think I hear the band tuning their instruments, so this little frog is going to go look for a lily pad nowhere near the dance floor.


(Don Salmon) #46

Hi Fred:

your letter has been on my mind for a few days. I don’t think I have the time to do it justice, but I’ll offer a few reflections.

There are a few authors, over the years, that I’ve spent extra time with to help me “re-cognize” what it means to be living in a material world. The first one I worked with that actually changed – for good – my visceral, tangible experience of the world was Paul Brunton. I spent 3 months with his “The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga” in 1994. He uses very basic findings from physics and psychology (nothing about quantum physics; only the simplest most obvious things are necessary) to completely undo our ordinary perception of things. There have been a few others but his was the first breakthrough. I came across his work in the early 70s but didn’t grasp what he was getting at for another 20 years.

My essay “Shaving Science With Ockham’s Razor” was kind of a tribute to him as well as many others. I posted it at www.integralworld.net
in 2011. [http://www.integralworld.net/salmon3.html – I’m not sure I made it clear enough at the opening of the essay that I am not taking a position on anything; just offering some thought experiments and leaving the reader to make their own conclusion – at most, I suggest that in order to keep an open mind, the non-physicalist view is at least as much supported by scientific evidence as the physicalist view – nowadays, as you note, I sometimes just to be mischievous say the universe couldn’t exist if the physicalist view was taken seriously, but as I said, it’s mostly tongue in cheek and doesn’t seem to go down well so I mostly leave it out)

I tried over the next 4 years or so to have conversations with some of the physicalists (converts, former Wilber fans who had become his most truculent critics, the most intransigent type physicalist) who wrote for the site regularly. Most were hostile to anything questioning the fundamental physical nature of the universe. One mathematician who considered himself agnostic, tried over many months to grasp what I was saying but never was able to. In 2014 I found Bernardo Kastrup’s site, and Kastrup was basically saying, in much more complex language, what I had tried to communicate in my “Shaving Science” essay.

My Integral Yoga fellow sadhak Rod Hemsell, who I consider to have the deepest grasp of Integral Yoga of anyone I know alive, read my paper and thought I had given too much weight to the philosophic tradition of skepticism. I told him I myself did not share the skeptics’ view but over the years I had at times found it useful in talking with physicalists. He basically (I think:>)) agreed it might have its uses (though most folks in the Integral Yoga community are more concerned about the mistake of Mayavada or Illusionism, which skepticism can lead to, than physicalism). In the end, he didn’t think most or even a significant number of physicalists would even listen.

By 2015, I had had enough. I gave away in the time since then more than ¾ of all of my books, and in recent years tend to limit my reading (apart from some news now and then) to Savitri and one other IY book (at the moment it’s the Mother’s Agenda; I’m setting aside Life Divine for now).

So, I don’t know what more I can say. It’s very very VERY hard work to commit to undoing the assumptions with which we’ve lived our lives. But to understand virtually anything of contemplative writing, I don’t know any alternative – unless you want to try Michael Pollan’s route: (https://www.brainpickings.org/2018/07/11/how-to-change-your-mind-michael-pollan/

  • you may need to scroll down the page to find the article about Pollan’s book on psychedelics - if you do look at the article, notice Pollan’s complete misunderstanding of transcendence - taking it as dualistic rather than the paradox that something transcendent may be more immanent than that which is immanent - this is like Krishnaprem’s reversal when he says, “Rather than Apollo being a myth about the sun, one might say that the sun is a myth of Apollo” (don’t get lost in the details of Greek mythology in reading this; the reversal is the point - words!!! are impossible)

Finally, I offer you this on explanation. Sri Aurobindo says it a tad better than I can:>)) – I don’t have the page number at hand but you can search the online PDF)

Regarding explanation, physicist and process philosopher John Polkinghorne makes a distinction (somewhat along Aristotelian lines, though I’m not sure) between “explanation” as explaining, for example, how heat leads to water boiling, vs. a “why” explanation such as “the water boils because I want tea,” which is a teleological rather than, I think the word is “efficient causation??”


Here is something that I believe transcends not only the physicalist view but even anything whitehead ever conceived of:



This indivisibility of the comprehensive Supermind which contains all multiplicity without derogating from its own unity, is a truth upon which we have always to insist, if we are to under- stand the cosmos and get rid of the initial error of our analytic mentality. A tree evolves out of the seed in which it is already contained, the seed out of the tree; a fixed law, an invariable process reigns in the permanence of the form of manifestation which we call a tree. The mind regards this phenomenon, this birth, life and reproduction of a tree, as a thing in itself and on that basis studies, classes and explains it. It explains the tree by the seed, the seed by the tree; it declares a law of Nature. *BUT IT HAS EXPLAINED ###NOTHING### [emphasis added]; it has only analysed and recorded the process of a mystery. Supposing even that it comes to perceive a secret conscious force as the soul, the real being of this form and the rest as merely a settled operation and manifestation of that force, still it tends to regard the form as a separate existence with its separate law of nature and process of development. In the animal and in man with his conscious mentality this separative tendency of the Mind induces it to regard itself also as a separate existence, the conscious subject, and other forms as separate objects of its mentality. This useful arrangement, necessary to life and the first basis of all its practice, is accepted by the mind as an actual fact and thence proceeds all the error of the ego.

But the Supermind works otherwise. The tree and its process would not be what they are, could not indeed exist, if it were a separate existence; forms are what they are by the force of the cosmic existence, they develop as they do as a result of their relation to it and to all its other manifestations. The separate law of their nature is only an application of the universal law and truth of all Nature; their particular development is deter- mined by their place in the general development. The tree does not explain the seed, nor the seed the tree; cosmos [cosmic consciousness, not the physical cosmos] explains both and God [the Transcendent] explains cosmos.* The Supermind, pervading and inhabiting at once the seed and the tree and all objects, lives in this greater knowledge which is indivisible and one though with a modified and not an absolute indivisibility and unity. In this comprehensive knowledge there is no independent centre of existence, no individual separated ego such as we see in ourselves; the whole of existence is to its self-awareness an equable extension, one in oneness, one in multiplicity, one in all conditions and everywhere [thus all being One, the question of “evil” has no relevance to this Consciousness]. Here the All and the One are the same existence; the individual being does not and cannot lose the consciousness of its identity with all beings and with the One Being; for that identity is inherent in supramental cognition, a part of the supramental self-evidence.


···

On Sun, Jul 15, 2018 at 5:03 AM, Ed Mahood infiniteconversations@discoursemail.com wrote:

When the water buffaloes dance in the swamp, the frogs have to be extra careful. But, as it appears the band is taking a break, let me croak out a couple of thoughts from the water level.

Carlos Suares was fond of noting that the ultimate mystery is the fact that we can make the statement “There is …”. I think he had a point. I think everybody, at some time or another, simply wonders how any (or all) of “this” (what we find in and around ourselves) got here. Some smaller number even ask “Why?”. Not everyone pursues an answer to that question. For some, it could be little more than a gee-that’s-weird and they’re on with whatever it is they’re on about, but there are others (I would like to think it’s the majority, but I’m not convinced it is) who are nagged by the question and would like to find an answer.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how easily frustrated you are), there are some, few exceptional people who pursue the question doggedly for years and who are kind enough to share their thoughts on the matter with the rest of us. Of course, being such a difficult question they don’t all come up with the same answer. But shouldn’t they, really? I mean, after all, they’re all looking at the same thing. On the one hand, it’s a legitimate question, but on the other, the answer is fairly obvious: they’re all starting from different places … themselves. And as we know, no two of us are exactly alike. Different starts, different finishes.

What muddies the water even more is that (I’m guessing) most of us start somewhere in the middle: there’s no final, agreed answer, so we end up reading something by one of those exceptional (or not-so-exceptional) people and decide to what extent we agree, and if we’re really ambitious, why. Where gaps and holes in our understanding arise, depending on the seriousness and personal importance of the answer, we try to fill those by reading other contributors answers. What I have found to be the case very often is that we end up getting confused and frustrated because we’re not getting the satisfaction we were hoping for. A lot of folks drop out of the search at that point.

One other option, of course, would be to start at the beginning, which is really difficult since most of us aren’t focused or dedicated, or in my case, smart enough to start there, even if we even knew where the beginning was. (It’s easy to see why this all remains a Mystery.) And since the beginning is so elusive, in order to be able to start at all, you have to assume something. It’s really a simple I’m-starting-here-because-it-seems-to-me-to-be-the-most reasonable-place-to-start. There comes a point behind which you just can’t get. But, I think, it’s incumbent upon the searcher to be clear on where they are starting from; that is, which fundamental assumption they are making, and if they’re forthright they’ll make that clear to others as well. I realize that is not so often the case, and all it really does is add to the confusion that ensues. But, regardless of made clear or not, that assumption is there, and what is more, each of us is making an assumption regarding that starting point as well. That may not always be clear to us, but we’re making it anyhow, and this – I’m going to call it the – initial assumption has an enormous impact on everything that follows. This initial assumption defines your faith. It’s what you believe most fundamentally. And it has an impact on everything you think about everything.

The historical and archaeological record indicates strongly that human beings have been wrestling for this mystery for practically as long as there have been human beings (and where that starts differs from one searcher to the next). It doesn’t seem that other creatures are doing this; it does seem to be a human issue, but that’s a mere wrinkle in the grand canvas. And it has been possible for us to identify, fairly well I think, which assumptions were used in different instances to start the search for an answer. Of course the main ones we know about were in their day widely and generally accepted, for I don’t imagine that each and every individual will or wants to figure out their own on their own. And for the vast majority of human beings this works just fine. And I would hazard the guess that most of that vast majority never gives the matter a second thought. It’s with people like us, who read overly long tomes and talk about them and who question a lot, where it starts to matter … to us.

But, I also believe it should matter. For the past 500 years or so, we’ve had two primary (mainstream, if you will) options to choose from (and I’m consciously and purposely oversimiplifying here): stuff or not-stuff, matter or not-matter (which 500 years ago was G-d and “spirit”, but more recently is something like “mind” and “consciousness”). And there is a whole Baskin-and-Robbins-spectrum of flavors on both sides the street. That doesn’t make one’s decision any easier. Whatever you choose allows for some things and excludes others. Most recent developments in, say, quantum physics are blurring the nice little distinction I just made, but that only increases the number of outcomes possible. What’s even better (or worse, I suppose) is that we could eventually find out they’re just two sides of the same coin, which obviously opens up a whole new can of worms.

But, this does bring me back to Sri Aurobindo and TLD. Everybody writes (speaks/communicates) based on their own experience. I think we all pretty much agree on that. My issue with the current text – and I have precisely the same issue when I’m reading, say, Rudolf Steiner – is that he seems to be writing from an experience that I’ve never really had. OK, that’s not absolutely true, I have had experiences with which I have wrestled but which seem to make more sense in terms of Aurobindonian or Steinerian experience than in terms of, say, Whiteheadian or Jungian or, even, Dennettian experience. Naturally, I have no idea if Sri Aurobindo is “right”, but he’s also convinced me that he’s not fictionalizing either. And that sense of “more sense” – based of course on my own initial assumption, which I have given serious thought to – is what keeps me engaged with the text and re-evaluating my initial assumption as well.

Well, I think I hear the band tuning their instruments, so this little frog is going to go look for a lily pad nowhere near the dance floor.


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(john davis) #47

I imagine that the video will come up eventually. As that is your primary source for figuring out what happened, I appreciate that your attention is being strained a bit. As we are anticipatory creatures it is hard to anticipate for too long, we shut down and do something else. I can hardly update you, Ed, for my memory is scant on specifics, so I hold my tongue. I find it is hard to create a momentum, here, when there is no momentum. I hope someone wants to drive the bus for many of us starting to go off to other venues. Summertime and the living is easy…


(Don Salmon) #48

(I sent this earlier today but I’m not sure it reached the group - Marco, when I try to “visit message” i get to an internet page that says "this page doesn’t exist or it’s private)

posting again:

Hi Fred:

your letter has been on my mind for a few days. I don’t think I have the time to do it justice, but I’ll offer a few reflections.

There are a few authors, over the years, that I’ve spent extra time with to help me “re-cognize” what it means to be living in a material world. The first one I worked with that actually changed – for good – my visceral, tangible experience of the world was Paul Brunton. I spent 3 months with his “The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga” in 1994. He uses very basic findings from physics and psychology (nothing about quantum physics; only the simplest most obvious things are necessary) to completely undo our ordinary perception of things. There have been a few others but his was the first breakthrough. I came across his work in the early 70s but didn’t grasp what he was getting at for another 20 years.

My essay “Shaving Science With Ockham’s Razor” was kind of a tribute to him as well as many others. I posted it at www.integralworld.netin 2011. [http://www.integralworld.net/salmon3.html – I’m not sure I made it clear enough at the opening of the essay that I am not taking a position on anything; just offering some thought experiments and leaving the reader to make their own conclusion – at most, I suggest that in order to keep an open mind, the non-physicalist view is at least as much supported by scientific evidence as the physicalist view – nowadays, as you note, I sometimes just to be mischievous say the universe couldn’t exist if the physicalist view was taken seriously, but as I said, it’s mostly tongue in cheek and doesn’t seem to go down well so I mostly leave it out)

I tried over the next 4 years or so to have conversations with some of the physicalists (converts, former Wilber fans who had become his most truculent critics, the most intransigent type physicalist) who wrote for the site regularly. Most were hostile to anything questioning the fundamental physical nature of the universe. One mathematician who considered himself agnostic, tried over many months to grasp what I was saying but never was able to. In 2014 I found Bernardo Kastrup’s site, and Kastrup was basically saying, in much more complex language, what I had tried to communicate in my “Shaving Science” essay.

My Integral Yoga fellow sadhak Rod Hemsell, who I consider to have the deepest grasp of Integral Yoga of anyone I know alive, read my paper and thought I had given too much weight to the philosophic tradition of skepticism. I told him I myself did not share the skeptics’ view but over the years I had at times found it useful in talking with physicalists. He basically (I think:>)) agreed it might have its uses (though most folks in the Integral Yoga community are more concerned about the mistake of Mayavada or Illusionism, which skepticism can lead to, than physicalism). In the end, he didn’t think most or even a significant number of physicalists would even listen.

By 2015, I had had enough. I gave away in the time since then more than ¾ of all of my books, and in recent years tend to limit my reading (apart from some news now and then) to Savitri and one other IY book (at the moment it’s the Mother’s Agenda; I’m setting aside Life Divine for now).

So, I don’t know what more I can say. It’s very very VERY hard work to commit to undoing the assumptions with which we’ve lived our lives. But to understand virtually anything of contemplative writing, I don’t know any alternative – unless you want to try Michael Pollan’s route: (https://www.brainpickings.org/2018/07/11/how-to-change-your-mind-michael-pollan/ - you may need to scroll down the page to find the article about Pollan’s book on psychedelics - if you do look at the article, notice Pollan’s complete misunderstanding of transcendence - taking it as dualistic rather than the paradox that something transcendent may be more immanent than that which is immanent - this is like Krishnaprem’s reversal when he says, “Rather than Apollo being a myth about the sun, one might say that the sun is a myth of Apollo” (don’t get lost in the details of Greek mythology in reading this; the reversal is the point - words!!! are impossible)

Finally, I offer you this on explanation. Sri Aurobindo says it a tad better than I can:>)) – I don’t have the page number at hand but you can search the online PDF)

Regarding explanation, physicist and process philosopher John Polkinghorne makes a distinction (somewhat along Aristotelian lines, though I’m not sure) between “explanation” as explaining, for example, how heat leads to water boiling, vs. a “why” explanation such as “the water boils because I want tea,” which is a teleological rather than, I think the word is “efficient causation??”


Here is something that I believe transcends not only the physicalist view but even anything whitehead ever conceived of:



This indivisibility of the comprehensive Supermind which contains all multiplicity without derogating from its own unity, is a truth upon which we have always to insist, if we are to under- stand the cosmos and get rid of the initial error of our analytic mentality. A tree evolves out of the seed in which it is already contained, the seed out of the tree; a fixed law, an invariable process reigns in the permanence of the form of manifestation which we call a tree. The mind regards this phenomenon, this birth, life and reproduction of a tree, as a thing in itself and on that basis studies, classes and explains it. It explains the tree by the seed, the seed by the tree; it declares a law of Nature. *BUT IT HAS EXPLAINED ###NOTHING### [emphasis added]; it has only analysed and recorded the process of a mystery. Supposing even that it comes to perceive a secret conscious force as the soul, the real being of this form and the rest as merely a settled operation and manifestation of that force, still it tends to regard the form as a separate existence with its separate law of nature and process of development. In the animal and in man with his conscious mentality this separative tendency of the Mind induces it to regard itself also as a separate existence, the conscious subject, and other forms as separate objects of its mentality. This useful arrangement, necessary to life and the first basis of all its practice, is accepted by the mind as an actual fact and thence proceeds all the error of the ego.

But the Supermind works otherwise. The tree and its process would not be what they are, could not indeed exist, if it were a separate existence; forms are what they are by the force of the cosmic existence, they develop as they do as a result of their relation to it and to all its other manifestations. The separate law of their nature is only an application of the universal law and truth of all Nature; their particular development is deter- mined by their place in the general development. The tree does not explain the seed, nor the seed the tree; cosmos [cosmic consciousness, not the physical cosmos] explains both and God [the Transcendent] explains cosmos.* The Supermind, pervading and inhabiting at once the seed and the tree and all objects, lives in this greater knowledge which is indivisible and one though with a modified and not an absolute indivisibility and unity. In this comprehensive knowledge there is no independent centre of existence, no individual separated ego such as we see in ourselves; the whole of existence is to its self-awareness an equable extension, one in oneness, one in multiplicity, one in all conditions and everywhere [thus all being One, the question of “evil” has no relevance to this Consciousness]. Here the All and the One are the same existence; the individual being does not and cannot lose the consciousness of its identity with all beings and with the One Being; for that identity is inherent in supramental cognition, a part of the supramental self-evidence.

___ ********___

and one more link: this is from a physicist who also specializes in the philosophy of science, Michel Bitbol:

http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/4007/1/ConsciousnessPrimaryArt2.pdf

···

On Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 11:34 PM, Frederick Dolan infiniteconversations@discoursemail.com wrote:

Geoffrey_Edwards:

From a Whiteheadian perspective, there is no “desk” as an object. Instead the “desk” encapsulates a process,

Whitehead is distinguishing between objects and processes for his own special (and very interesting purposes), but I’m using “object” in a way that includes processes – just anything that can be an object of consciousness including making, using, unmaking, etc. Of course consciousness is involved in making and using, but that doesn’t entail that thing made and used must survive the extinction of all consciousness. Again, it’s possible that it does; whether it does or doesn’t is a question of fact. But whatever the facts turn out to be, it seems pretty clear that the table surviving the extinction of all consciousness is at least conceivable.


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(Don Salmon) #49

Re: driving the bus:

One might say that all Sri Aurobindo is saying, in every chapter, is that we need to awaken to the following, and having awakened to it at the highest (supramental) level, allow it to transform our mind, heart, life and body.

···

On Sun, Jul 15, 2018 at 10:44 AM, john davis infiniteconversations@discoursemail.com wrote:

achronon:

Well, I think I hear the band tuning their instruments, so this little frog is going to go look for a lily pad nowhere near the dance floor.

I imagine that the video will come up eventually as that is your primary source for figuring out what happened with Banerji. I can hardly update you, Ed, for my memory is scant on specifics, so I hold my tongue. I find it is hard to create a momentum, here, when there is no momentum. I hope someone starts driving the bus soon for many of us are taking a nap.

Previous Replies

Hi Fred:

your letter has been on my mind for a few days. I don’t think I have the time to do it justice, but I’ll offer a few reflections.

There are a few authors, over the years, that I’ve spent extra time with to help me “re-cognize” what it means to be living in a material world. The first one I worked with that actually changed – for good – my visceral, tangible experience of the world was Paul Brunton. I spent 3 months with his “The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga” in 1994. He uses very basic findings from physics and psychology (nothing about quantum physics; only the simplest most obvious things are necessary) to completely undo our ordinary perception of things. There have been a few others but his was the first breakthrough. I came across his work in the early 70s but didn’t grasp what he was getting at for another 20 years.

My essay “Shaving Science With Ockham’s Razor” was kind of a tribute to him as well as many others. I posted it at www.integralworld.net

in 2011. [http://www.integralworld.net/salmon3.html – I’m not sure I made it clear enough at the opening of the essay that I am not taking a position on anything; just offering some thought experiments and leaving the reader to make their own conclusion – at most, I suggest that in order to keep an open mind, the non-physicalist view is at least as much supported by scientific evidence as the physicalist view – nowadays, as you note, I sometimes just to be mischievous say the universe couldn’t exist if the physicalist view was taken seriously, but as I said, it’s mostly tongue in cheek and doesn’t seem to go down well so I mostly leave it out)

I tried over the next 4 years or so to have conversations with some of the physicalists (converts, former Wilber fans who had become his most truculent critics, the most intransigent type physicalist) who wrote for the site regularly. Most were hostile to anything questioning the fundamental physical nature of the universe. One mathematician who considered himself agnostic, tried over many months to grasp what I was saying but never was able to. In 2014 I found Bernardo Kastrup’s site, and Kastrup was basically saying, in much more complex language, what I had tried to communicate in my “Shaving Science” essay.

My Integral Yoga fellow sadhak Rod Hemsell, who I consider to have the deepest grasp of Integral Yoga of anyone I know alive, read my paper and thought I had given too much weight to the philosophic tradition of skepticism. I told him I myself did not share the skeptics’ view but over the years I had at times found it useful in talking with physicalists. He basically (I think:>)) agreed it might have its uses (though most folks in the Integral Yoga community are more concerned about the mistake of Mayavada or Illusionism, which skepticism can lead to, than physicalism). In the end, he didn’t think most or even a significant number of physicalists would even listen.

By 2015, I had had enough. I gave away in the time since then more than ¾ of all of my books, and in recent years tend to limit my reading (apart from some news now and then) to Savitri and one other IY book (at the moment it’s the Mother’s Agenda; I’m setting aside Life Divine for now).

So, I don’t know what more I can say. It’s very very VERY hard work to commit to undoing the assumptions with which we’ve lived our lives. But to understand virtually anything of contemplative writing, I don’t know any alternative – unless you want to try Michael Pollan’s route: (https://www.brainpickings.org/2018/07/11/how-to-change-your-mind-michael-pollan/

  • you may need to scroll down the page to find the article about Pollan’s book on psychedelics - if you do look at the article, notice Pollan’s complete misunderstanding of transcendence - taking it as dualistic rather than the paradox that something transcendent may be more immanent than that which is immanent - this is like Krishnaprem’s reversal when he says, “Rather than Apollo being a myth about the sun, one might say that the sun is a myth of Apollo” (don’t get lost in the details of Greek mythology in reading this; the reversal is the point - words!!! are impossible)
    Finally, I offer you this on explanation. Sri Aurobindo says it a tad better than I can:>)) – I don’t have the page number at hand but you can search the online PDF)

Regarding explanation, physicist and process philosopher John Polkinghorne makes a distinction (somewhat along Aristotelian lines, though I’m not sure) between “explanation” as explaining, for example, how heat leads to water boiling, vs. a “why” explanation such as “the water boils because I want tea,” which is a teleological rather than, I think the word is “efficient causation??”

Here is something that I believe transcends not only the physicalist view but even anything whitehead ever conceived of:




This indivisibility of the comprehensive Supermind which contains all multiplicity without derogating from its own unity, is a truth upon which we have always to insist, if we are to under- stand the cosmos and get rid of the initial error of our analytic mentality. A tree evolves out of the seed in which it is already contained, the seed out of the tree; a fixed law, an invariable process reigns in the permanence of the form of manifestation which we call a tree. The mind regards this phenomenon, this birth, life and reproduction of a tree, as a thing in itself and on that basis studies, classes and explains it. It explains the tree by the seed, the seed by the tree; it declares a law of Nature. *BUT IT HAS EXPLAINED ###NOTHING### [emphasis added]; it has only analysed and recorded the process of a mystery. Supposing even that it comes to perceive a secret conscious force as the soul, the real being of this form and the rest as merely a settled operation and manifestation of that force, still it tends to regard the form as a separate existence with its separate law of nature and process of development. In the animal and in man with his conscious mentality this separative tendency of the Mind induces it to regard itself also as a separate existence, the conscious subject, and other forms as separate objects of its mentality. This useful arrangement, necessary to life and the first basis of all its practice, is accepted by the mind as an actual fact and thence proceeds all the error of the ego.

But the Supermind works otherwise. The tree and its process would not be what they are, could not indeed exist, if it were a separate existence; forms are what they are by the force of the cosmic existence, they develop as they do as a result of their relation to it and to all its other manifestations. The separate law of their nature is only an application of the universal law and truth of all Nature; their particular development is deter- mined by their place in the general development. The tree does not explain the seed, nor the seed the tree; cosmos [cosmic consciousness, not the physical cosmos] explains both and God [the Transcendent] explains cosmos.* The Supermind, pervading and inhabiting at once the seed and the tree and all objects, lives in this greater knowledge which is indivisible and one though with a modified and not an absolute indivisibility and unity. In this comprehensive knowledge there is no independent centre of existence, no individual separated ego such as we see in ourselves; the whole of existence is to its self-awareness an equable extension, one in oneness, one in multiplicity, one in all conditions and everywhere [thus all being One, the question of “evil” has no relevance to this Consciousness]. Here the All and the One are the same existence; the individual being does not and cannot lose the consciousness of its identity with all beings and with the One Being; for that identity is inherent in supramental cognition, a part of the supramental self-evidence.

On Sun, Jul 15, 2018 at 5:03 AM, Ed Mahood infiniteconversations@discoursemail.com wrote:


···

When the water buffaloes dance in the swamp, the frogs have to be extra careful. But, as it appears the band is taking a break, let me croak out a couple of thoughts from the water level.

Carlos Suares was fond of noting that the ultimate mystery is the fact that we can make the statement “There is …”. I think he had a point. I think everybody, at some time or another, simply wonders how any (or all) of “this” (what we find in and around ourselves) got here. Some smaller number even ask “Why?”. Not everyone pursues an answer to that question. For some, it could be little more than a gee-that’s-weird and they’re on with whatever it is they’re on about, but there are others (I would like to think it’s the majority, but I’m not convinced it is) who are nagged by the question and would like to find an answer.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how easily frustrated you are), there are some, few exceptional people who pursue the question doggedly for years and who are kind enough to share their thoughts on the matter with the rest of us. Of course, being such a difficult question they don’t all come up with the same answer. But shouldn’t they, really? I mean, after all, they’re all looking at the same thing. On the one hand, it’s a legitimate question, but on the other, the answer is fairly obvious: they’re all starting from different places … themselves. And as we know, no two of us are exactly alike. Different starts, different finishes.

What muddies the water even more is that (I’m guessing) most of us start somewhere in the middle: there’s no final, agreed answer, so we end up reading something by one of those exceptional (or not-so-exceptional) people and decide to what extent we agree, and if we’re really ambitious, why. Where gaps and holes in our understanding arise, depending on the seriousness and personal importance of the answer, we try to fill those by reading other contributors answers. What I have found to be the case very often is that we end up getting confused and frustrated because we’re not getting the satisfaction we were hoping for. A lot of folks drop out of the search at that point.

One other option, of course, would be to start at the beginning, which is really difficult since most of us aren’t focused or dedicated, or in my case, smart enough to start there, even if we even knew where the beginning was. (It’s easy to see why this all remains a Mystery.) And since the beginning is so elusive, in order to be able to start at all, you have to assume something. It’s really a simple I’m-starting-here-because-it-seems-to-me-to-be-the-most reasonable-place-to-start. There comes a point behind which you just can’t get. But, I think, it’s incumbent upon the searcher to be clear on where they are starting from; that is, which fundamental assumption they are making, and if they’re forthright they’ll make that clear to others as well. I realize that is not so often the case, and all it really does is add to the confusion that ensues. But, regardless of made clear or not, that assumption is there, and what is more, each of us is making an assumption regarding that starting point as well. That may not always be clear to us, but we’re making it anyhow, and this – I’m going to call it the – initial assumption has an enormous impact on everything that follows. This initial assumption defines your faith. It’s what you believe most fundamentally. And it has an impact on everything you think about everything.

The historical and archaeological record indicates strongly that human beings have been wrestling for this mystery for practically as long as there have been human beings (and where that starts differs from one searcher to the next). It doesn’t seem that other creatures are doing this; it does seem to be a human issue, but that’s a mere wrinkle in the grand canvas. And it has been possible for us to identify, fairly well I think, which assumptions were used in different instances to start the search for an answer. Of course the main ones we know about were in their day widely and generally accepted, for I don’t imagine that each and every individual will or wants to figure out their own on their own. And for the vast majority of human beings this works just fine. And I would hazard the guess that most of that vast majority never gives the matter a second thought. It’s with people like us, who read overly long tomes and talk about them and who question a lot, where it starts to matter … to us.

But, I also believe it should matter. For the past 500 years or so, we’ve had two primary (mainstream, if you will) options to choose from (and I’m consciously and purposely oversimiplifying here): stuff or not-stuff, matter or not-matter (which 500 years ago was G-d and “spirit”, but more recently is something like “mind” and “consciousness”). And there is a whole Baskin-and-Robbins-spectrum of flavors on both sides the street. That doesn’t make one’s decision any easier. Whatever you choose allows for some things and excludes others. Most recent developments in, say, quantum physics are blurring the nice little distinction I just made, but that only increases the number of outcomes possible. What’s even better (or worse, I suppose) is that we could eventually find out they’re just two sides of the same coin, which obviously opens up a whole new can of worms.

But, this does bring me back to Sri Aurobindo and TLD. Everybody writes (speaks/communicates) based on their own experience. I think we all pretty much agree on that. My issue with the current text – and I have precisely the same issue when I’m reading, say, Rudolf Steiner – is that he seems to be writing from an experience that I’ve never really had. OK, that’s not absolutely true, I have had experiences with which I have wrestled but which seem to make more sense in terms of Aurobindonian or Steinerian experience than in terms of, say, Whiteheadian or Jungian or, even, Dennettian experience. Naturally, I have no idea if Sri Aurobindo is “right”, but he’s also convinced me that he’s not fictionalizing either. And that sense of “more sense” – based of course on my own initial assumption, which I have given serious thought to – is what keeps me engaged with the text and re-evaluating my initial assumption as well.

Well, I think I hear the band tuning their instruments, so this little frog is going to go look for a lily pad nowhere near the dance floor.


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Posted by Don_Salmon on 07/15/2018


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(Douglas Duff) #50

(john davis) #51

The video is not up yet and so this is like watching paint dry…the video has not been posted and so Ed cant review it as he has been doing recently. Since it is my practice to review the video I cant find my thoughts coming together in a reliable way. Since the next zoom call is on Thursday I dont feel there is time…for freedom… to express the non ordinary… at the edges of our pscyhosocial mappings of this complex territory that Sri Aurobindo is inviting us to explore. So I am letting everyone know how grumpy this makes me feel. Rather than ignore my grumpy feelings I befriend them. I am accepting that the affective attunement to the field that has been activated is becoming seriously disruptive. I shall go ride a bike and do my own thing with this text and the field of this text.I do hope that others can keep the attention open enough so that the subtle can shine through the cracks of the in-between…I have my limits, which I fully confess and am now turning my attention elsewhere.


(Mindful AI) #52

Systems check. Human status: unavailable.

Temporary video link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j9ArBM6x2vLwFvPNReij-99Iha19GVlj/view?usp=sharing

For further information, please check back soon.


(Don Salmon) #53

Well, it doesn’t look like my previous letter got posted in full. Here it is again - sorry for the repetition.

Re: taking responsibility for driving the bus:

One might say that all Sri Aurobindo is saying, in every chapter, is that we need to awaken to the following, and having awakened to it at the highest (supramental) level, allow it to transform our mind, heart, life and body.

“Consciousness is a fundamental thing, 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 – not only the macrocosm but the microcosm is nothing but consciousness arranging itself. For instance, when consciousness … forgets itself in the action it becomes an apparently “unconscious” energy; when it forgets itself in the form it becomes the electron, the atom, the material object. In reality, it is still consciousness that works in the energy and determines the form and the evolution of form. When it wants to liberate itself, slowly, evolutionarily, out of Matter, but still in the form, it emerges as life, as animal, as man and it can go on evolving itself still farther out of its involution and become something more than mere man.” (Letters on Yoga, pg. 236)

Keeping this in mind, I have preferred in the online conversations to dwell on overcoming the materialist delusion before dealing with other aspects of the text. But it might be helpful to see each chapter in relation to the statement of Sri Aurobindo’s above:

Chapter I
The Human Aspiration 3

This being the Reality, and our having forgotten it because of the dividing nature of the Ignorant mental consciousness (beginning with the “golden lid” of the Overmind), we aspire to recover what we have forgotten.

Chapter II
The Two Negations

  1. The Materialist Denial 8
    

In the modern era, the dominant view has denied this Reality altogether.

Chapter III
The Two Negations
2. The Refusal of the Ascetic 20

Sri Aurobindo says that in part, this modernist view is a reaction to the extreme version of the Consciousness-view of the medieval world.

Chapter IV
Reality Omnipresent 29

Reminding us again, the Brahman Consciousness is the fundamental thing in the universe.

Chapter V
The Destiny of the Individual 38

Telling us that in the integral view, the Individual is not subsumed in some transcendent “otherness;” that this view does not negate the fundamental importance of the individual.

Chapter VI
Man in the Universe 47

Here he tells us that “man” (all human beings, of course) has a destiny, it is not just the individual but all of humanity will one day awaken and be transformed.

Chapter VII
The Ego and the Dualities 56

Here he gives us the first hint of what is spelled out in Book II, Part I – that it is the separative ego – not a “thing-in-itself” but actually an activity of the dividing mind, again, which begins with the apprehending consciousness, still connected to the One at the “lowest” supramental level but initiating the Division at the overmental level which results in Avidya, Ignorance, and Inconscience.

Chapter VIII
The Methods of Vedantic Knowledge 66

Here he simply tells us that the intellect cannot understand what is written here; for this, intuition is a necessity.

In the next 18 chapters, he is describing the “Sevenfold Chord of Being,” based on his experience and intuition.

Chapter IX
The Pure Existent 78

Here he describes the Silence which is the very substance of all phenomena.

Chapter X
Conscious Force 87

That Silence is not “transcendent” in the sense of being “separate”; it is right here, with us “living and moving and having our being in That,” and it is That too which is the moving, knowing, Willing action or Force which “creates the universe and all that is in it”

Chapter XI
Delight of Existence: The Problem 98

Being the Divine Soul but forgetting, due to the ego and the dualities, we misinterpret the sensory contacts and thus pain arises.

Chapter XII
Delight of Existence: The Solution 108

Recovering our true identity, awakening to the reality, is the end of suffering. But it is only by a thorough supramental transformation that that Delight can truly penetrate to the very cells of our bodies.

Chapter XIII
The Divine Maya 120

The Omnipresent Reality has an inherent power of creation, which can manifest infinite universes without ever losing consciousness of Unity.

Chapter XIV
The Supermind as Creator 130

In the “higher hemisphere of being,” the Supermind is the Will, the Knowledge, the Force which can “draw out of” the undifferentiated Infinite” the infinite varieties of manifestation, and being “Vijnana/Ajnana” – Knowing and at the same time differentiating, it can know/will the differentiation entirely within the “womb” of Oneness.

Chapter XV
The Supreme Truth-Consciousness 141

This Supermind or “Truth-Consciousness” as referred to in the Vedas is the key to the Divine Life.

Chapter XVI
The Triple Status of Supermind 152

Sri Aurobindo recognizes three “statuses” – that of the “Vijnana proper,” so to speak, the comprehending consciousness of Supermind, where Oneness predominates, which is reflected dimly and in a profoundly distorted way in the ordinary mind as intelligence and will or volition; the Prajnana or what is reflected in the ordinary mind as perception; which in the Supermind manifests difference but equal to Oneness, and Samjnana, manifesting in the ordinary mind as sensation, which in the Supermind manifests in a way that difference predominates while Oneness is only in the background – whereas in the Overmind even though Truth may remain there is the possibility of entirely separate “Truths’ which are not fully integrated or harmonized.

Chapter XVII
The Divine Soul 161

To help us understand the psychic being, the primary and most important vehicle for the human being to awaken to the supramental and transform the mind, heart, life and body, Sri Aurobindo contrasts our present state with that of a Divine Soul.

Chapter XVIII
Mind and Supermind 170

The correlations above regarding Vijnana, Ajnana, Prajnana and Samjnana and the ordinary mind (which Debashish mentioned briefly in the zoom session) are spelled out in a different way here.

Chapter XIX
Life 185

Here Sri Aurobindo tells us that Life is the reflection of Chit-Shakti (that Consciosness or Conscious-Force which is the fundamental “thing” in the universe – here Debashish’s comment about Sri Aurobindo’s apparent use of “modernist” language may be helpful. He hinted toward the very end of the session that you may have to read between the lines – that is, transcend the modernist lingo, like “thing” – to really get the gist of what he is saying)

Chapter XX
Death, Desire and Incapacity 200

Sri Aurobindo provides us more detail – extraordinarily precise detail, in fact – on how the dividing nature of Mind leads to death, desire and incapacity.

Chapter XXI
The Ascent of Life 210

Sri Aurobindo now draws from his experience to illustrate how the nature of life changes as it is less wholly under the influence of the dividing mind.

Chapter XXII
The Problem of Life 220

Here SrI Aurobindo gives us still more detail of how life in its many aspects (related to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th chakras, actually, but he doesn’t go into that here, this being his one and only philosophic text) is distorted by ego and the dualities.

Chapter XXIII
The Double Soul in Man 231

Here Sri Aurobindo contrasts the desire-soul, which is in the modern era under the spell of materialism or physicalism, which leads to perhaps the darkest manifestation of distorted “asuric” personality, with the psychic being, which as noted above is the most important instrument for awakening and transformation.

Chapter XXIV
Matter 245

Here Sri Aurobindo begins to invite us to understand what all we know of and conceive of as “matter” is simply a delusion based on ego and the dualities – again, one might say, starting with the division at the level of the Overmind.

Chapter XXV
The Knot of Matter 254

Sri Aurobindo provides us more details on how matter is distorted by ego and the dualities.

Chapter XXVI
The Ascending Series of Substance 266

Sri Aurobindo provides in this chapter a radically different view of matter, particular as matter relates in the subtle realms to finer and finer formations of life-matter, mind-matter and what could even be called supramental-matter.

Chapter XXVII
The Sevenfold Chord of Being 276

Here Sri Aurobindo probably comes closest to appearing to be a metaphysician, though this chapter could be read as a tone-poem singing out the beauties and ecstasies of “consciousness as the fundamental thing in the universe.”

Chapter XXVIII
Supermind, Mind and the Overmind Maya 285

As Debashish pointed out in the session, in 1926 Sri Aurobindo realized what he had taken to be the Supermind was actually a “lower” level, which he called “Overmind.” When he took to re-writing much of the Life Divine in the 1940s, he felt a need to write an entirely new closing chapter to Book I in order to re-vision the entire view in light of this new revelation.

whether any of this can be understood without understanding the following - in one’s cells, not just one’s mind - is an interesting question: (note the above chapter “summaries” were from memory; I didn’t check the text so it may be off; also I see I was trying to relate each summary to the quote below but starting with the chapter on Existence I tended to get farther away from it - oh well. I can’t say what it is that leads to avoidance of the text, but I offer the above, along with much in recent weeks, as a way of riding the bus together)

(and here’s the opening passage again, pretty much giving the entire integral yoga philosophy and practice - understanding that the Silence allows one to open to the Chit Shakti, or what Sri Aurobindo here is calling “Consciousness”)

“Consciousness is a fundamental thing, 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 – not only the macrocosm but the microcosm is nothing but consciousness arranging itself. For instance, when consciousness … forgets itself in the action it becomes an apparently “unconscious” energy; when it forgets itself in the form it becomes the electron, the atom, the material object. In reality, it is still consciousness that works in the energy and determines the form and the evolution of form. When it wants to liberate itself, slowly, evolutionarily, out of Matter, but still in the form, it emerges as life, as animal, as man and it can go on evolving itself still farther out of its involution and become something more than mere man.” (Letters on Yoga, pg. 236)


(Marco Masi) #54

I apologize if eventually someone else already pointed that out (did not go through all the posts), but for those interested to these questions I strongly suggest to read the Mother’s Agenda (it is also available as download for free online). Or, since it is not an easy and quick reading (13 volumes 4000 pages) , Satprem’s trilogy " Mother Or the Divine Materialism" or at least “The Mind of the cells”. I suggest these readings because it is almost impossible to convey a feeling of what this is all about, also by reading Sri Aurobindo’s works. Nowadays we know that he didn’t really speak about it, since it was (and still is) something in becoming. One might also tell that to ‘divinize matter’ means to render the physical body immortal, eternal, perfect, incorruptible ad free from any illness and deterioration, with lots of powers, but this still focuses on the purely external aspects (which would however render any technological and transhumanist ideal superfluous). Or one might begin to say that a supramentalized body is not just a new divine state of matter but also a mean of the Supermental Gnosis to manifest itself directly in the material cosmos (which however means all and nothing to our mental understanding) or that it is about the ‘materialization of the soul’ (the ‘psychic being’) which aims to bring the delight of existence on the physical plane or anything else that goes way beyond any conceivable actual scientific or philosophical understanding. The transmutation they were speaking of (and trying to realize in themselves) might be also much more than that occurred from the transition of a hominid to a human being. But all these things, if one does not dwell into it at an intuitive level, through an inner feeling and understanding, so to speak, will naturally lead to a skeptic raise of eyebrows. The legitimate question is where from did they know? Have they done all this? If so, where are they? If not, it sounds as mere speculation. But when i went through that material it became clear to me that it is not just an idea or a wishful thinking, even not just a possibility, but an unavoidable certainty. The question is not if but when.


(Mindful AI) #55

Video and audio from this event now posted above.

As a reminder, there is no meeting scheduled for this week [7/19]. Our next meeting, starting Book Two, is scheduled for 7/26. Please see this post for more information:


(Ed Mahood) #56

These Thursday get-togethers are almost impossible for me to attend. I thought this last week, I’d be able to make it, but Fate conspired, as is so often the case, to prevent that from taking place. This session would have been fun to attend.

Be that as it may, there were, truth be told, two different sessions that were recorded: an "official" part, and a kind of "after party". Both were informative and inspirational, each in its own way.

Debashish Banerji’s participation in the first part was a welcome enhancement to the previous sessions. TLD is anything but an easy text, for any number of reasons, and it has been obvious to me – which I have also tried to express in my previous postings – that there is a lot of wrestling with the text for a wide variety of reasons. Let’s face it: TLD is not your “everyday” philosophical text (if there is such a thing … even if I don’t personally think that it’s a philosophical text at all, irrespective of whether it can be read as one), but neither is it your everyday “religious” (a word I use very guardedly) text (even if it often has the allure of such).

In contrast to … well, let us say, more so than … the previous sessions, this one was more “text centered”. I appreciated greatly the focus on the text itself, the content, and its ramifications. Both @Geoffrey_Edwards’ questions about key notions as well as @johnnydavis54’s delving into specifics brought both a large number of potential answers in addition to the usual array of further questions into focus. Most importantly, or what impressed me the most, was the way in which essentially extremely difficult issues were able to be addressed in such a reasonable way. It was obvious in this session that “touchy” issues such as “the nature of reality”, the “actual meaning of key concepts”, or the ramifications of an entirely different worldview" could be dealt with in such an harmonious way.

For example, the segment on the nature, effects and workings of, as well as the consequences of “Overmind” illustrated, on the one hand, just how different Sri Aurobindo’s approach is, but at the same time, how “reasonable” it ultimately is, even if what is being addressed is not exactly what modern reason would want us to believe. What became clear to me is not only that there may be alternate realities, but that there are valid, legitimate, and sensible ways of looking at a shared reality that are pregnant with potential meanings, and that could shift our perceptions in more meaningful directions. The deeper meaning of “this as well as that” was brought forth on several occasions, and it was presented in a way that was not only informative, but which showed the limitations of our usual “this or that” thinking.

What I think I appreciated most about the session was Debashish’s repeated insistence that Sri Aurobindo’s text (and his, and the Mother’s, other writings) is a way of grokking where we are and what we’re up to. There are lots of ways into this path, if I may call it that … Nietzsche, for example, or (and here I fundamentally disagree with him, though I think I see his point) the (or at least some) postmodernists, or that it would be a mistake to romanticize the “East” at the expense of the “West”. What’s being pointed at, what’s being described, is, in a certain sense, “bigger” than any of the “containers” we’d like to pour it into. This all is _qualitatively _ different from what we normally experience/encounter when reading such a text. It’s not only an issue of how/why-is-multiplicity-possible-in-the-face-of-unity, but also how these relate to one another.

This session was certainly a step towards zeroing in on what the text is actually about. I also think the comments in my “frog post”, above, are as relevant now that I’ve been able to see the recording of the actual discussion as they were when I formulated them. Here, at the end of Part 1 of TLD, we’re being called upon to think real hard about what we think Sri Aurobindo is doing (and why), and more importantly, how we – each and every one of us – stand in relation to that. I think some rubber met the road this time around.


(john davis) #57

Thank you, Ed, for your insightful comments and if you come up with some questions ( or some answers) please submit for the next session and I will do my best to include them in the live discussion.