Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Gandhi's brahmacarya was a kind of feminism

by Veena R. Howard (March 1, 2013) 

Even though the scholarship on Gandhi is vast, this book takes a unique approach to understanding his life and methods. Through a comprehensive study of Gandhi's own words and cultural and historical context, this book probes the role of Gandhi's ascetic practices, specifically his unconventional brahmacarya, in nonviolent activism. Since the beginning of his career as a political activist, Gandhi's revolutionary techniques in the field of social and political conflict resolution have drawn the attention of the international community. Despite scathing appraisals of some of his political ideologies and personal idiosyncrasies, Gandhi's life and methods continue to capture the popular imagination through a variety of media—books, films, plays, and a recent opera. Each year popular and academic volumes are added to the ever-expanding literature on Gandhi's philosophy in a number of areas and disciplines. In recent years, many mass movements across the globe confronting religious, political, and social injustice, environmental and food crises, and economic inequality have generated a renewed interest in Gandhi's life and nonviolent methods, affirming their relevance to contemporary challenges.

During one of the seminars on Gandhi that I cotaught at the University of Oregon, Gandhi's frank autobiographical recollections of his “experiments with truth” intrigued the participants. However, the sections on Gandhi's vow of brahmacarya, which exposes his obsessive and antagonistic feelings toward sex, generated a different kind of reaction in the class: a feeling of palpable discomfort, even awe. A wide variety of questions emerged: Why was Gandhi so preoccupied with sexual control? What about love, and, more importantly, what about his wife's feelings and desires? What does a personal sex life have to do with political activism? These inquiries immediately stirred my thoughts, and I realized that these responses are not limited to Western students, but have been part of a worldwide scholarly discourse on Gandhi.

Gandhi's brahmacarya and his views on sexuality continue to draw attention and cause suspicion among scholars who search for the reasons behind his unusual interest in sexual renunciation and its centrality in his political activism. Yet there exists no comprehensive study that systematically explores Gandhi's own explanations and actions—documented in his thousands of pages of writings—for this nuanced practice, which might help us understand the broader questions of the value of sacrifice, discipline, and ritual and mythical performance in activism.

However, in the current era, poetic and artistic expressions of sexuality have taken on new license. The everyday barrage of sexual imagery, the overt obsession with sex by youth and contemporary culture, the fixation on sex exhibited by many powerful adult celebrities (in varied fields from politics to sports), Internet pornography, as well as the ever-growing research on the powerful effect of sex on our daily lives, have overpowered the parallel strand of virtuous self-control that until now was common in human societies for much of history. In this contemporary cultural setting, even a discussion of celibacy seems odd.

Celibacy has come to represent an antithesis of life affirmation: it is viewed as denial of the body and emotions; world-rejecting, unhealthy, the solitary pursuit of a few religious men and women, an oddity, and an impossible expectation. Sex, on the other hand, is perceived as an affirmation of all that exists: central to physical, emotional, and social well-being; the foundation of creativity and constructive behavior; the essence of life and the life of love. Unlike Saint Augustine and Swami Vivekananda, who warned their followers against the snares of sex, modern media gurus, including Oprah and Dr. Oz, recount to the masses the benefits of sex and guide them to experience its power. Against this background of an overtly sex-oriented society, on one hand, and the Indian religions' classic bifurcation between this-worldly aspirations and spiritual goals, on the other, Gandhi's celibacy appears on the surface to be a misplaced fixation, particularly as he advocated its practice for nonviolent social and political activism.
Gandhi's celibacy also appears odd due to modern views on female sexuality, which have been profoundly influenced by the sexual revolution of the West. The sexual revolution, which ushered in the belief in the right to sexual satisfaction for women, altered the psychological landscape of sexuality for both men and women. Conventional perceptions of “normal” sexuality shifted from a view of sex as a simple act of physical fulfillment for men, or a necessity for the production of children. It became, instead, an expression of “free love” and equality between both sexes. These new sexual mores, which notably went hand in hand with the women's liberation movement of the latter twentieth century, exist in the subconscious erotic culture of the Western (and now global) mind. But Gandhi lived in an era when this revolution had not yet taken place. From Gandhi's writings, it is apparent that sexuality in his era fit the more stereotypical model. For Gandhi, the constant need for male sexual satisfaction could be viewed as aggressive and violent. It could be seen as an endangerment to women's lives due to the hazards of childbirth; an obstacle to their well-being; and an impediment to their fuller participation in society and emancipation. In this way, Gandhi's brahmacarya was a kind of feminism.
Gandhian celibacy can thus be viewed as a sexual counterrevolution, of sorts, arising out of his indigenous views of sexuality. This reformulation of existing traditions included an attempt to pacify men and channel their sexual energies toward nonviolent resistance to injustice, while empowering women and liberating them to engage in a more active and activist lifestyle. No doubt, Gandhi was a complex figure, and his celibacy can be studied using different hermeneutical lenses. But if we are to take Gandhi's methods seriously, it is important to trace the self-representation of his austere practices and his cultural context while weighing his intent. It becomes clear that most of the ascetic principles Gandhi utilized for constructing his method—svarāj, satyagraha, and swadeshi, for example—carried both ascetic and political values, and they helped create a coherent narrative for moving the hearts of the masses toward action.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

There is very little purity in belief

Re: Whose evidence to believe Ian Johnstone-Bryden
The difficulty in discussion of Abrahamic religions is that only the fundamentalist models are completely secure and fixed. Many of those following these religions are not fundamentalist and do not have any desire to be evangelical. The Christian religions are a large family of faiths that share some aspects but can be very different. Logically the same is true of some flavours of Islam because the position that 'no man should come between another and God', implies that each Muslim is controller of his or her own beliefs and therefore that there must be as many forms of Islam as there are followers.

Probably, an overwhelming majority takes a very pragmatic view of their particular religion. However, those same pragmatists can rapidly form up behind the fundamentalists against another religion, in the same way that those following religions that may not be classed as fundamentalist can show very similar intolerance and discrimination.

Unfortunately, most people build a picture in their own mind of what another religion is and that then becomes a box into which all who say they follow that religion are conveniently placed. It makes life simple and provides a clear focus for discrimination even though it is not logical and unfairly condemns.

To a fundamentalist Christian, only the Creation Theory is valid and this has led to conflict in the US where creationists fight to exclude Darwin's theories from schools. Some Darwinists are equally determined that creationism should not be taught, but may also consider themselves Christian. As Darwin's Theories are now widely accepted by many Christians, logic says that these individuals are not fundamentalist Christians but cannot argue with the individuals that they are not Christian.

There is very little purity in Christian belief because the faith prospered by absorbing festivals and beliefs from pagan religions and in some parts of South America, there are Catholic Christian communities that that would be considered heretical and pagan by some Christians. This pragmatism can apply to Hebrews. A colleague, who in his forties still obedient to his mother, a very orthodox Jew, enjoyed bacon sandwiches and enthusiastically enjoyed Christian festivals but was the model of orthodoxy at the Synagogue.

Usually what happens is that some very anti-social people hide behind religion and quote only those parts of the faith that support their positions. That applies to a great many religions. In Liberal Christianity, senior priests no longer believe in many of the teachings that were once followed blindly and some show little sign of even accepting God.

During the last forty years, we have been able to observe a new faith emerging that claims to be based on science. How far that proves to be a false faith will only be seen at some point in the distant future and even then there may be followers of the belief who refuse to accept any proof of fallibility. The Global Warmers who became Climate Changers may have deliberately distorted or hidden inconvenient facts to suit their beliefs, but their new faith includes correctly observed phenomena. The questions for debate are in the interpretation of the observations and the accuracy of conclusions drawn from observation and interpretation. As climate science is still a very long way from being a settled science, there will be observations that prove to be very accurate but interpretation may be shown to be seriously flawed.

As the new faith started out with a belief that human activity was causing a new Ice Age, it already has a questionable history. Those predicting a new Ice Age 40 years ago discovered that reality was not cooperating with their computer model predictions and they started to change their belief to blame human actions on increasing global temperatures. When the rate of warming slowed and then stopped, some scientists deliberately concealed data and deliberately misrepresented other data and produced new computer models that were designed to distort data to support earlier trends as a continuing and increasing trend. More recently, a new group of climate change believers have expressed horror that human activity is delaying and may halt the development of the next Ice Age which they claim should otherwise arrive in 1500 years time.

What this area of belief demonstrates is how a new faith can develop on the basis of accurately observed conditions that are interpreted to fit a pre-conceived belief and then for later observations to be distorted or suppressed to avoid the faith being discredited. In itself, it might form a part of a healthy debate of the environment and identify actions that many might wish to support for very sensible reasons. What makes it an extremely dangerous religion is that it includes a very aggressive proselytizing element. What makes it even more dangerous is that it coincides in various parts of the world with other older religions that are actively proselytizing. 

In much the same way, very few individuals ever chose a religion, but accept the religion of parents, extended family, the society in which they live. That also means that the views of those few individuals who have studied a specific religion may be significantly different from the general view of a religion by its followers. For a great many people, religion is only lightly accepted. It is used as the setting for celebration of a birth, the coming of age, marriage, and death. Outside those occasions religion is not a great consideration but that may not reduce the value of belief, just position it as a background guide. 

Dear TNM, A discussion on the topic of Religion in the context of Sri Aurobindo's and The Mother's Integral Yoga is welcome, if deemed necessary. However, we are of the opinion that it is better to establish and lay down the facts before engaging in unending debates.
With regards to the Supreme Court Judgment, one can keep arguing about matters of Religion and Spirituality forever as these are merely a play of words. But for those who choose to play with words and the Law that is defined by these words, the Supreme Court Judgment establishes that enough has been said and argued on this subject and this matter can now be laid to rest, unless this Judgment is now sought to be reviewed or challenged.
Moreover, in the interest of Truth let us not get distracted by the never-ending arguments of legal experts or the polemics of self-appointed custodians of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Let us instead pay heed to the words and actions of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother who have: - Clearly stated that the ideals, teachings and the institutions they founded were not part of any religion whatsoever. They also acted according to these principles. - Have clarified that it is not their purpose to propagate any religion, new or old. - Unequivocally discouraged their followers from being religious. These are the undisputed facts and the only ones that matter. But in case there is any information that is to the contrary, you or others are invited to present it here, as the purpose of this website is to present information that is factual and truthful.
However, we would like to add that we are of the opinion that if some of Sri Aurobindo's and The Mother's followers wish to establish a new religion in the name, ideals or teachings of their Masters, they are of course free and welcome to attempt it. It is entirely up to them to try and reconcile their preferred personal beliefs and intentions while going against the directions and guidance of their Masters. If this is the path that these followers choose, so be it.
But there is absolutely no reason or justification for the rest of the followers to get misled by a few individuals who wish to further their personal views and preferences by creating the Myths of a non-existent religious movement. Editors, Auro Truths. February 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sri Aurobindo recovered the lost mind of India

Sankaracarya's influence on the Indian religious mind--A bird's eye view
Sri Lanka Guardian - Basil Fernando - Aug 25, 2011(August 26, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian)
India became a society having replaced religion with humanism quite early. The Western world came to this stage only after the greater acceptance of Darwinism. Even so, until today, finding a basis for morality outside a belief in God remains one of the West’s main concerns. This issue was resolved early in India however, through the rejection of religion, which had created enormous chaos in many parts of the country due to practices such as large scale animal sacrifices—causing serious problems for farmers—and through other modes of exploitation of the people by priests. Anti-priest and anti-religious attitudes thus grew among the people. The replacement of religion was led by movements of Jainism and Buddhism, which introduced a new mode of social cooperation with reason as the basis of morality. …
In the 20th century, Sri Aurobindo lamented the death of the Indian mind and devoted the latter part of his life to recover the lost mind of India. Living in Pondicherry, he tried to motivate young people to regain their lost heritage. Another great Indian, Dr B R Ambedkar, attempted to pursue the same goal as Sri Aurobindo through attempts to reawaken the Untouchables, renamed Dalits by him. In an attempt to reclaim India’s lost glory, he publicly became a Buddhist together with a large gathering. …
The man who was destined to bring about the death of the Indian mind, (which Sri Aurobindo later vowed to revive), was intellectually a brilliant Sankar known as Sankaracarya, who brought about the revival of religion with his poems and hymns. He introduced a kind of theism, complete with myths and rituals. Indians of later generations were indoctrinated and immersed in such ritualism and worship. Whether there is any other nation as deeply enslaved to its rituals and religion as India is hard to tell. …
In the West, replacement of religion took place mostly due to science, and particularly due to Darwinism. In the Christian West, the belief in one God was established and all explanations regarding the world and society were based on this belief. When the belief that God created the world was lost, these religious explanations lost their validity.
The acceptance of science in India has unfortunately not led to the same result. The internal process influencing the mind has not changed due to science. Perhaps the manner in which Indian religion has affected the Indian mind is different than in the West. The kind of religion that was established in India needs to be understood better if the enterprise undertaken by Sri Aurobindo, Ambedkar and other modernizers, including the country’s first prime-minister Jawaharlal Nehru is to succeed. … ( W.J. Basil Fernando is a Sri Lankan born jurist, author, poet, human rights activist, editor. He can be reached at [Indian Idea of Political Resistance: Aurobindo, Tilak, Gandhi, and Ambedkar Ashok S. Chousalkar - Dec 1990)] [God Market: How Globalization Is Making India More Hindu Nanda, Meera - Mar 1, 2009)]

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wilber divides the 20th century physicists into two batches

Home > E-Library > Magazines > Sraddha > August 2010 > Contents
The Country and Nationalism Sri Aurobindo 7
Sri Aurobindo, Namaste Swami Pratyagatmananda Saraswati 10
Sri Aurobindo and The Veda Kireet Joshi 14
The Path of Nachiketa Alok Pandey 34
Veda Vyasa’s Mahabharata in
Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri Prema Nandakumar 41
Sadhana and Sahitya : The Early
Years in Pondicherry Richard Hartz 52
Sri Aurobindo and the Bengal
Renaissance Debashish Banerji 67
Sri Aurobindo’s Concept of Freedom Sonia Dyne 95
Nation and Beyond – Aspects of
Sri Aurobindo’s Political Vision Dasharathi Sengupta 103
Five Martyrs of Bengal Amalendu De 120
Beyond Mind : A New Paradigm
of Psychology Based on the Mystical
Exploration of Nature Kundan Singh 128
Science and Religion Georges Van Vrekhem 142
The Theme of Urvashi in the Indian
Renaissance : Madhusudan Datta,
Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo Ranajit Sarkar 168
Rabindranath and Sri Aurobindo :
Towards Divine Humanity and
Human Divinity Saurendranath Basu 181

Nation and Beyond – Aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s Political Vision
Dasharathi Sengupta
Sri Aurobindo stands apart from and above all other philosophers and humanists of modern India. He is also regarded as the foremost and, perhaps, the only original political thinker of 20th  century India. The centenary years of the Bengal chapter of his life provide an occasion to remember our indebtedness to this great mind. Shafts of light emanating from this source did not leave untouched even the apparently insignificant parts of human life and society. They travelled from sociology to culture, from history to politics and economics, from the spiritual to the mundane, from the problems of the body to those of mind and soul. In him culminates the tradition whose germination can be traced back to the Vedas and which flowered through subsequent ages to reach the likes of Vivekananda, Rabindranath and Gandhi. […]
Sri Aurobindo thus moves beyond the parameters of nationalism, and writing at a time when the League of Nations was still in its embryonic stage, visualises the European Union of the present UN era. Centripetal forces, comprehended and harnessed by human mind, are sure to lead mankind towards international unification. The great vehicle of this progress is human consciousness, derived from and blessed by the Supreme, the Divine Consciousness. It is not a unilinear progress, but is achieved through life expriences, through conflicts with centrifugal forces, through division and strife, through violence and bloodshed, through Kurukshetras and Gettysbergs32.
These forces operate, not on physical or vital, but on mental plane, and lead inexorably to what Sri Aurobindo describes as ‘The idea of humanity as a single race of beings with a common life and a common general interest…’33. This is the ethical essence of internationalism which Sri Aurobindo defines as ‘…the attempt of the human mind and life to grow out of the national idea and form and even in a way to destroy it in the interest of the larger synthesis of mankind’34. Nation has a space in this synthesis, but not the whole space. It cannot be made to disappear in the interest of world-unity. That would be against the law of ‘natural evolution’. But nation is not the end of the road either. The ideal it represents is destined to flower into ‘the ultimate ideal of a free association of free human aggregates’ 35. 
Nobody can predict exactly as to when the process would reach its terminal point. May be there is no terminal point, an ascent with no climax. Hence there is no time-frame either. The Supreme creator of Time has plenty of it at His disposal. The concept of such a timeless process shaping human destiny is apparently Hegelian. But Sri Aurobindo, while absorbing the tenets of Hegel’s philosophy of history, outgrew the latter in his political vision. National liberation was for him a necessary step towards Human Liberation36. In Hegel’s  Philosophy of Right, the State (in which the soul of nation finds its body) is the march of God upon earth. Sri Aurobindo would not disagree. But for him God (meaning the Divine) marches also beyond the nation, or the nation-state as its political embodiment. For He is Infinite Unity37.

Science and religion
Georges Van Vrekhem
Scientists pro and contra
Ken Wilber was one of the thinkers who reacted strongly against the thesis of popular books like  The Tao of Physics and  The Dancing Wu Li Masters. He “disagreed entirely” with such books “which had claimed that modern physics supported or even proved Eastern mysticism. This is a colossal error. Physics is a limited, finite, relative, and partial endeavour, dealing with a very limited aspect of reality. It does not, for example, deal with biological, psychological, economic, literary, or historical truths; whereas mysticism deals with all that, with the Whole.”29
One of Wilber’s least known books is  Quantum Questions, in which he examines the sources of the thought that created 20th century physics: Einstein, Eddington, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Born, Pauli … some of whom he quotes extensively. “Everyone of the physicists in this volume was a mystic,” he writes. “They simply believed, to a man, that if modern physics no longer objects to a religious worldview, it offers no positive support either; properly speaking, it is different to all that.” It is different because physics was and is a work of the mind, and the mind is only part of the Whole, incapable of grasping the Whole. “They all shared a profoundly spiritual or mystical worldview, which is perhaps the last thing one would expect from pioneering scientists.”30
Wilber quotes Arthur Eddington: “Briefly the position is this. We have learned that the exploration of the external world by the methods of physical science leads not to concrete reality but to a shadow world of symbols, beneath which those methods are unadapted for penetrating. Feeling that there must be more behind, we return to our starting point in human consciousness, the one centre where more might become known.”31 A mathematical formula can never tell us what a thing is, only how it is moved. It can only specify an object through its external properties: movement, measure, mass.
Wilber also quotes Erwin Schrödinger: “The scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously. … In brief, we do not belong to this material world that science constructs for us. … From where do I come and to where do I go? That is the great unfathomable question, the same for everyone of us. Science has no answer to it.”32
This is of course a tone which differs altogether from much that we have heard before. These physicists, among the very greatest, dared to reflect and to speak out on the essential problems of our lives and on the relation of science to them. The difference between them and the parochial reductionists we have become acquainted with, is considerable. Moreover, “their writings are positively loaded with references to the Vedas, the Upanishads, Taoism (Bohr made the yin-yang symbol part of his family crest), Buddhism, Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Berkeley, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Kant, virtually the entire pantheon of perennial philosophers.”33
Consequently Wilber divides the 20th century physicists into two batches: the open-minded “mystics” including all those named above, and the mathematical theorists of the next generation like Dirac, Weinberg, Feynman and Witte, plus most of the physicists active at present. As to the latter, one quote from Steven Weinberg says it all: “Among today’s scientists I am probably somewhat atypical in caring about such things [the concept of God]. On the rare occasions when conversations over lunch or tea touch on matters of religion, the strongest reactions expressed by most of my fellow physicists is a mild surprise and amusement that anyone still takes all that seriously. … As far as I can tell from my own observations, most physicists today are not sufficiently interested in religion even to qualify as practising atheists.”34
Whence this huge existential and perspectival difference? The “mystic” physicists lived on the fault line between two eras, between two Kuhnian paradigms in science. They personified the transition between the Newtonian era, as it were, solidified by the 19th century positivism we have met in the lives of Lamarck, Darwin and Wallace, and their own 20th century thinking which put everything into question. An important factor here is that religion was no longer part of the equation. Spirituality, or “mysticism”, or “the oceanic feeling,” yes; dogmatic religion, no. To Einstein, Eddington, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Born and Pauli – to name only the best-known – re-thinking the universe in the terms of physics was their life task. In their quest, time and again, they found resonances and references in the testimonies left behind by others who had undertaken a similarly daunting task, though necessarily in other terms: the “mystics” in West and East, who had put their life on the line for similar reasons: to find out about Reality. Those who say that physics (and science in general) has nothing to do with “mysticism” are ignorant of its copiously documented history of a century, and less than a century, ago.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christian scholars are perplexed at Jesus' choice of the word "yoke"

Death represents the culmination or boundary of horizontal existence. As such, Lazarus represents pure verticality, detached from the world of sickness, suffering, and toil. In Buddhism, there is a concept that is similar to divine incarnation, that is, the bodhisattva principle. A bodhisattva voluntarily renounces his verticality for horizontality, willingly taking on the suffering of existence until all beings have achieved liberation.

Christianity takes this principle to its translogical extreme, in that Jesus may be thought of as the ultimate bodhisattva, giving up an endowed chair in the Department of Trinitarian Studies in order to take his place with the struggling creatures below.

If death is the foreclosing of the horizontal for the vertical, this is the opposite, the renunciation of the vertical for the horizontal. And as Tomberg says, "there is no greater love than that of the sacrifice of eternity for the limitations of existence in the transient moment" -- and which is why, in the words of Petey, we are grateful for this undertaking of mortality, for our daily lessons in evanescence, for this manifestivus for the rest of us.

"Christian yoga," if we may call it such ("my yoka's easy"), is a strict balance between verticality and horizontality. One does not renounce the horizontal world. But nor does one cling to it as if it were the ultimate reality. Rather, one must always be in the horizontal but not of the horizontal. Excessive entanglement in the horizontal entails one kind of sleep, forgetting, and death; giving it up entirely for the vertical represents another kind: Lazarus' kind.

Shankara refers to horizontal men -- those flatlanders who are dead to the vertical -- as “suicides” who “clutch at the unreal and destroy themselves. What greater fool can there be than the man who has obtained this rare human birth... and yet fails, through delusion, to realize his own highest good? Know that the deluded man who walks the dreadful path of sense-craving moves nearer to his ruin with every step.”

Similarly, the Upanishads say that “Rare is he who, looking for immortality, shuts his eyes to what is without and beholds the Self. Fools follow the desires of the flesh and fall into the snare of all-encompassing death.... Worlds there are without suns, covered up with darkness. To these after death go the ignorant, slayers of the Self.”

In other words, pure horizontality entails not just the end of verticality, but the death of the Self -- or banishment to a world without the central Sun (of which our sun is only a symbol), "covered in darkness."

Let's refer back to Jesus' cryptic words in John 11:10, that "if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." Note that one does not stumble because of an absence of external light, but because there is no interior light: the light is not in him.

I find it interesting that Thomas is the disciple who supposedly evangelized India. Naturally, this would have been known when the gospels were written. But when Thomas says, "Let us also go, that we may die with Lazarus," he is saying something rather suggestive.

Let's set aside the literal meaning for the moment, and interpret it to convey something like, "let us all die to the world and go entirely vertical, like one of those Upanishadic seers so that we too may be reborn 'for the glory of God, that the son of God may be glorified through our rebirth' (referring again to John 11:4). Let's be his glowdisciples and bring the vertical Light into the horizontal darkness that the latter doesn't comprehend!" (Also interesting that Jesus mentions there being "twelve hours in the day," which suggests to me that there shall be "twelve evangelists in the Light.")

Now, since we are dealing with principial truth, it is surely no coincidence that the Isha Upanishad warns that "To darkness are they doomed who devote themselves only to life in the world, and to a greater darkness they who devote themselves only to meditation.” 

Comment posted by: Govind Re: A Hindu View of Christian Yoga—by Rajiv Malhotra

The real Yoga of Jesus is already contained in his teaching. His teaching never originally fit into Orthodox Jewish religious beliefs and constraints and the Jewish religion has rejected it completely. The Roman religion founded in Jesus' name several hundred years after his passing was from the very beginning an imperial construct which, while appearing to surrender, in fact, quite effectively conquered the early Jesus movement and killed the spiritual by substituting it with the imperial religion.

But the yoga is there and unmistakable. So many instances can be cited. For example, his statement "Be ye perfect as your father in heaven" is an almost exact parallel of the Gita's "Nirdosham hi samam Brahma, tasmaad Brahmani te sthitaaha." What is most striking here is that Jesus uses the word "perfect" in the exact sense that Krishna uses the word "Nirdosham"... in the sense of equality of the EQUAL (Samam) Brahma. This is clear from the passage in which the teaching occurs: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

So close, almost identical, are the two that it almost sounds like Jesus is here giving a commentary on that verse from the Gita

Furthermore look at his statement "My Yoke is easy" in which Yoke is an exact translation of Yoga (latin: ieugem)... when read in context of the larger passage indicates that the Yoga of Jesus brings EASE or sukham and liberates one from suffering and again corresponds to a definition in the Gita of Yoga as "dukkha sanyoga viyogam" or which leads to "sukham akshayam". Furthermore, to this day Christian scholars are perplexed at Jesus' choice of the word "yoke" which had an almost exclusively negative context in the Biblical scriptures. In the roman world also, simply making another person pass under a yoke was a form of humiliation.

One could go on and on and on...

Sri Aurobindo has pointed us in this direction and provided all the important guideposts and guideposts to Jesus' Yoga even in Savitri. What needs to happen is the recovery of Jesus' yoga and its liberation from the grossly obscuring religious misinterpretation that has spread the mere outer word throughout the world but has also veiled the Yogic Truth of Spirit contained in them.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Undue mental and psychological burden for who follow a faith

Habermas on Religion in the Public Sphere January 04, 2007  Aimee Milburn Cooper
First, Habermas has become concerned that the suppression of religion in the public sphere has created an unacceptable inequality between citizens of the state:
The liberal state must not transform the requisite institutional separation of the religion and politics into an undue mental and psychological burden for those of its citizens who follow a faith. . . . [Citizens should not have to] split their identity into a public and private part the moment they participate in public discourses. They should therefore be allowed to express and justify their convictions in a religious language if they cannot find secular ‘translations’ for them.[10]
Though it is questionable that religious speech should be “allowed,” as opposed to recognized as a basic right, I appreciate that he recognizes the burden and seeks to rectify it.
Second, he reasons that religious citizens have a burden, as far as possible, of “translating” religious reasoning into terms their secular counterparts can understand, to facilitate communication; and the freedom, if they can’t “translate,” to speak freely and publicly in religious terms. He also reasons that secular citizens have in turn the responsibility to listen for possible “truth” in religious arguments:
This requirement of translation must be conceived as a cooperative task in which the non-religious citizens must likewise participate, if their religious fellow citizens are not to be encumbered with an asymmetrical burden. . . . Secular citizens must open their minds to the possible truth content of those presentations and enter dialogues from which religious reasons then might well emerge in the transformed guise of generally accessible arguments.[11]
Note that Habermas, the secular atheist, is acknowledging that religious reasoning may contain “possible truth” that secularity should be open to. This is a far cry from the view of religion as oppressive “superstition” in the original Enlightenment view.
Third, Habermas observes that particular worldviews and religious doctrines are inherent to the formation of the person and cannot simply be laid aside in the public square, but must be taken into account in any public discourse. The expectation that they be laid aside, which he identifies as dominant since the Reformation and Enlightenment, places undue burdens on religious citizens and creates “cognitive dissonances” that, if they penetrate deeply enough into the fabric of the community, can cause its disintegration into irreconcilable segments:
In the absence of the uniting body of a civic solidarity . . . citizens do not perceive themselves as free and equal participants in the shared practices of democratic opinion and will formation wherein they owe one another reasons [emphasis Habermas’] for their political statements and attitudes. This reciprocity of expectations among citizens is what distinguishes a community integrated by constitutional values from a community segmented along the dividing lines of competing world views.[12]
His view is based on the concept of the person as having both freedom and inherent dignity, which in the public sphere manifests as both the right to speak freely and be heard, and the duty to listen to and carefully consider the freely expressed views of other persons. He speaks of the danger to pluralistic civil society when “in the case of conflicts that cut deep, citizens need not adapt to or face one another as second persons” (emphasis Habermas’).[13]
He has developed this idea elsewhere in his theory of “communicative action.”[14] This theory is consistent with recent Catholic teaching on the person and society, beginning with the documents of Vatican II and expressed most recently in speeches and statements of Pope Benedict XVI, such as the Regensburg address,[15] which call for respectful, rational dialogue between persons and societies of differing religious and philosophical views.
Fourth, Habermas has come to believe that modern Liberalism is “intrinsically self-contradictory” because it represses and devalues the free speech of religious citizens, and demands of them “an effort to learn and adapt that secular citizens are spared having to make.”[16] He is highly critical of this prevailing secular prejudice against religion:
As long as secular citizens are convinced that religious traditions and religious communities are . . . archaic relics of pre-modern societies that continue to exist in the present, they will understand freedom of religion as the cultural version of the conservation of a species in danger of becoming extinct. From their viewpoint, religion no longer has any intrinsic justification to exist. . . . [Secular citizens] can obviously [not] be expected to take religious contributions to contentious political issues seriously and even to help to assess them for a substance that can possibly be expressed in a secular language and justified by secular arguments.
           . . . The admission of religious statements to the political public sphere only makes sense if all citizens can be expected not to deny from the outset any possible cognitive substance to these contributions. . . . [Yet] such an attitude presupposes a mentality that is anything but a matter of course in the secularized societies of the West.[17]
Fifth and last, he criticizes the way that reason itself is used in secular culture, calling it inadequate and a danger. He calls for a “self-critical assessment of the limits of secular reason;”[18] the “overcoming of . . . a narrow secularist consciousness”;[19]and asks “secular citizens . . . [to be] prepared to learn something from the contributions to public debates made by their religious counterparts.”[20] He states “the ethics of democratic citizenship assumes secular citizens exhibit a mentality that is no less demanding than the corresponding mentality of their religious counterparts,”[21] and so calls citizens to a much higher standard of reasoning:
The polarization of the world views in a community that splits into fundamentalist and secular camps [shows] that an insufficient number of citizens matches up to the yardstick of the public use of reason and thereby endanger political integration.[22]
In sum, Habermas is proposing no less than a “revised concept of citizenship”[23] that simultaneously restores freedom of religious speech and reasoning to the public squareand elevates the level of secular reasoning, with an equal duty of respect, listening, and reciprocity expected of all citizens. This is stunning in light of classical Enlightenment and Liberal thought on religion – and very hopeful, coming from such a prominent and respected secular atheist.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kant, Gödel, & Rees

D'oh, we may never decode the universe - Times Online Jonathan Leake 42 COMMENTS Understanding vast cosmic events such as galactic collisions is one of science's greatest challenges, says Lord Rees

SOME of the greatest mysteries of the universe may never be resolved because they are beyond human comprehension, according to Lord Rees, president of the Royal Society.
Rees suggests that the inherent intellectual limitations of humanity mean we may never resolve questions such as the existence of parallel universes, the cause of the big bang, or the nature of our own consciousness.
He even compares humanity to fish, which swim through the oceans without any idea of the properties of the water in which they spend their lives.
“A ‘true’ fundamental theory of the universe may exist but could be just be too hard for human brains to grasp,” said Rees, who is also the astronomer royal.
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
“Just as a fish may be barely aware of the medium in which it lives and swims, so the microstructure of empty space could be far too complex for unaided human brains.”
Rees’s thesis could prove highly provocative to other scientists, especially those who have devoted their careers to understanding such mysteries.
He is well placed to understand the potential limitations of science. Besides heading Britain’s premier scientific organisation, he is also professor of cosmology at Cambridge University, where he is one of Britain’s most respected astrophysicists. He is currently delivering the annual BBC Reith lectures.
Rees’s warning, in a Sunday Times interview, is partly prompted by the failure of scientists working on the greatest problem of modern physics — to reconcile the forces that govern the behaviour of the cosmos, including planets and stars, with those that rule the so-called microworld of atoms and particles.
Rees points out how Albert Einstein was able to use mathematical theories developed in the early 19th century to build his 1915 theory of general relativity, describing how gravity controlled stars and planets.
Similarly, early 20th-century physicists such as Paul Dirac used “off-the-shelf” mathematical systems when devising quantum theory, which describes how nature works at a sub-atomic level.
The problem faced by their successors is that the two theories are deeply contradictory — and no one can find the mathematical tools needed to bring them together into a “unified theory”.
Rees points out that thousands of scientists have been working on this problem for several decades and are still nowhere near an answer.
“There are powerful reasons to suspect that space has a grainy structure but on a scale a trillion trillion times smaller than atoms. Solving how this might work is crucial for 21st-century science,” he said.
Rees believes the most promising idea is “string theory” which suggests that the particles that make up atoms are “woven from space itself”. Such particles, he suggests, could exist in 10 or 11 dimensions. Humans, by contrast, can experience only the three spatial dimensions plus time. He adds that there could even be other 3-D universes “embedded alongside ours”.
“In theory, there could be another entire universe less than a millimetre away from us, but we are oblivious to it because that millimetre is measured in a fourth spatial dimension and we are imprisoned in just three,” he said.
Such ideas sound extraordinary but Rees wonders if they can ever be proved. He suggests humanity may have reached the limits of comprehension.
“Some aspects of reality — a unified theory of physics or a full understanding of consciousness — might elude us simply because they’re beyond human brains, just as surely as Einstein’s ideas would baffle a chimpanzee,” he said.
Other scientists are more optimistic. Brian Cox, the BBC science presenter and physics professor who was awarded an OBE yesterday, said: “The idea that certain things are beyond us is quite a bleak one and history does show that we can eventually overcome the most difficult of problems.”
The mind boggles
The scientific mysteries that may be beyond us include
* Multiple dimensions — string theory suggests space has up to 11 dimensions, but mathematicians have struggled to prove this
* Consciousness — scientists suggest consciousness derives from chemical reactions in the brain but cannot explain how this might generate a sense of self
* Are we real? — Rees and other physicists have suggested the universe and humanity are part of a giant computer simulation as seen in the Matrix films
People not smart enough to understand universe: scientist Toronto Sun By QMI Agency A top British scientist says we may never know all the secrets of the universe because, quite simply, we're just not smart enough. ... Has the human brain reached its limit of understanding?‎ - Limitations of the human brain mean we may never understand the ...‎ - Daily Mail
This is the week of my annual lecture, which as regular readers know is on twenty first century enlightenment. Madeleine Bunting has kindly written a piece.

Friday, May 21, 2010

One must let go of one’s certitudes and beliefs

Looking For Right Answers Times of India ANIL MATHUR, May 21, 2010
As a child, questions concerning life and death would perplex me. Sixty years later, i find myself grappling with the very same questions. Is there such a thing as an ideal life? If there is, how does one know how to attain it? I tend to think that my destiny is in my hands. Experience, however, says something different. The path my life has taken is evidence enough that my destiny is not in my control; it does seem as though some kind of superpower is orchestrating the way each and every moment of my life unfolds. 
I have tried my best to try and quantify how much of what happens in my life is within my power to change and how much is not. However, the answer is still not within my grasp. I have failed to find the answer. Despite knowing that as a rational thinking person i would not come to the conclusion that one has to accept total surrender as that is the only approach that will help one to stay sane i find that surrendering to the inevitable seems to be inevitable. […]
Why have religions made life and death so difficult to comprehend? Going on pilgrimages and travelling to different places of worship and religious importance has given me much joy and pleasure. I have also enjoyed meeting and knowing several enlightened souls and interesting persons from whom one can learn a lot. Despite all of this, i still have not been able to find an answer to the question: In its final form, can salvation be achieved through pilgrimages and darshans? 
All roads lead to the same destination that's one philosophy i have tried to believe in. However, i do not know if the difference in quiet prayers at the Pondicherry Aurobindo Ashram and the vibrant chanting of Hare Krishna at the Vrindavan ISKCON temple are cosmetic or are marked by definite characteristics. I have enjoyed both, but cannot say which will help me reach the desired goal of salvation or peace. How does total surrender to God differ from escapism? Is being totally rational, or trying to be rational, an exercise in irrationality? […] 
If you get the message that i am totally confused you are right but i have still managed to live a life of some relative sanity because of spiritual or higher pursuits. Meanwhile, i will welcome any answers to some of my questions from the readers of the column that has helped me stay afloat.  
Michael Shermer in his book “Why We Believe” describes the mind as a “belief engine” that is constantly creating patterns of belief. From fractured information and sense impressions the mind weaves together plausible pictures of reality that we believe in. What do we mean when we say we “believe” then? Things that we believe in are things that we “think that we know.” 10 Comments » 
Benthamite reasoning is hard to escape. Everyone relies on it when making decisions in everyday life, whether it be voting on a job candidate or buying one car rather than another or putting a bus line on one road rather than another.  Even a lot of the arguments for following rules rely on an ultimate Benthamite judgment about good vs. bad consequences…Benthamite reasoning is inescapable, though it is a big mistake to make cardinal utility the only relevant value.  We're all pluralists now, but cardinal utility should be a major part of the relevant pluralist bundle.
The Divine Will is an elusive thing for sure.  The religious preacher confuses his strong beliefs with the Divine Will, the despot attributes his success to it’s action, and spiritual aspirant is supposed to surrender to it.  Does any such thing as the Divine Will really exist?  How can one recognize it ?  The Divine Will does exist because there is a teleological purpose in evolution.  Every soul is being led to the Truth through a certain line of evolution, seemingly haphazardly, and it is this Divine Will which subtly goads him to progress forward. Ordinarily, the Divine Will remains concealed due to our ignorance of our true nature but it begins to unveil itself as we gradually erase the ego through Yoga and allied occult-spiritual practices. […] Conditions for knowing the Divine Will
Purification of consciousness is necessary to uncover the Divine Will. There are certain set of practices one must do regularly as an integral part of spiritual life.  First, one must let go of one’s certitudes and beliefs, and clear the clutter of opinions one has acculumated regarding the world.