Archive for March 2013
There’s a sort of “poor man’s” Horkheimer and Adorno that denounces– based on The Dialectic of Enlightenment —the spirit of the Enlightenment, claiming that it was responsible for the Holocaust, the horrors of the Soviet gulags, as well as the colonial genocides. Indeed, discussions along these lines have often occurred here on the blog. In particular, I’ve often heard this line of deployed by the religiously inclined as a way of calling for a spiritual or divine supplement to keep beastly humans from killing others. I call this a “poor man’s” version of Horkheimer and Adorno because, being dialectical thinkers, I think they’re position is far more sophisticated than this and that they aren’t calling for abandoning the Enlightenment project– which just is the project of critique and emancipation –but a new type of Enlightenment project. That aside, I was thus intrigued when I came across the following…
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Posted March 25, 2013on:
The mental, vital and physical levels of consciousness are fundamentally limited by their basis in division and fragmentation. They see and categorize their understanding in a way that emphasizes the separateness of the forces at work and the consequences. This makes it impossible to understand the action of Karma in any comprehensive way, as such an understanding requires an integrating vision that can both see the parts and the whole of which they are elements.
Sri Aurobindo elucidates this point: “The secret reason of man’s failure to rise truly beyond himself is a fundamental incapacity in the mind, the life and the body to organise the highest integral truth and power of the spirit. And this incapacity exists because mind and life and matter are in their nature depressed and imperfect powers of the Infinite that need to be transformed into something greater than themselves before they can escape from…
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We have completed our review of Rebirth and Karma by Sri Aurobindo.
The customary view of rebirth clearly leaves much to be desired. It is based, generally, on the idea that a specific personality will be reborn, and join up with the friends and family experienced in the current birth in another lifetime. It misses the inner rationale behind the entire process of rebirth, the growth, manifestation and evolution of the soul as a spark and “representative” of the Spirit involved in Matter for the expression of ever-greater forces of consciousness.
Similarly, the customary view of karma is also clearly flawed. The idea of either a machinery that metes out precise responses to an individual’s actions, or some high tribunal measuring actions and meting out justice, across this life and future lives, clearly is a distortion of the process that is truly taking place.
What we eventually see is that…
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The Bhagavad Gita occupies a unique position in the spiritual literature of the world, as it is one of the most revered scriptures, while at the same time being an outstanding poetical expression, a philosophical masterwork, a visionary experience and a profound psychological text outlining key concepts in the practice of yoga as a methodology for the development of consciousness.
One of the things that makes the Bhagavad Gita unique is the setting. It is a teaching provided on a battlefield, at a time where the evolutionary progress of humanity was meeting substantial opposition and hostility. The questions that arise within this context are universal questions that every human being eventually has to face, questions of life and death, morality and religious faith, and questions of relationships, honor, justice and of war and peace.
In order to truly grow and evolve, the individual must eventually come out from behind the…
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The basic tendency and characteristic of the mind is to divide, analyze and classify. We use this power to great advantage in our attempt to harness powers of Nature, but we must also recognize that this power has its disadvantages, particularly when we try to address the meaning of life and our own spiritual development, things which require a unifying rather than a dividing intelligence.
We have used our fragmenting and characterizing capabilities to try to understand the working of the law of Karma, but we have now had to recognize that this has led to over-simplification and, at last, to a failure to appreciate the vast, manifold and flexible movement that actually is the basis for what we call Karma.
Sri Aurobindo sets about to re-set our understanding, and thereby move us beyond the limits of the mechanical view we have had of Karma to a much more dynamic…
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The solution to the riddle of rebirth and karma lies in understanding of the secret intention that is working itself out through these mechanisms. Sri Aurobindo reviews this intention: “At first she is physical Nature building her firm field according to a base of settled truth and law but determined by a subconscient knowledge she does not yet share with her creatures. Next she is Life growing slowly self-conscious, seeking out knowledge that she may move seeingly in them along her ways and increase at once the complexity and the efficacy of her movements, but developing slowly too the consciousness that knowledge must be pursued for a higher and purer end, for truth, for the satisfaction, as the life expression and as the spiritual self-finding of the soul of knowledge. But, last, it is that soul itself growing in truth and light, growing into the absolute truth of itself which…
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It is a quite natural tendency of human nature to fixate on one issue to the exclusion of others. The mind, as a dividing and analyzing instrument, tends toward exclusive concentration. So it is easy to understand that when we once focus on the ethical principle, that it may be viewed as the “categorical imperative” of our human nature.
Sri Aurobindo acknowledges the role of the ethical principle, but he also puts it in context with other aspects of our nature that equally call for fulfillment. There are the seeking for knowledge, the seeking for beauty and harmony, the seeking for Oneness which also represent aspects of our nature.
Sri Aurobindo takes up this question: “The Indian thinkers had a wiser sight who while conceding right ethical being and conduct as a first need, still considered knowledge to be the greater ultimate demand, the indispensable condition, and much nearer to…
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