Tuesday, December 26, 2006

This is the Truth Sri Aurobindo has brought for us

Barindranath Chaki Monday, December 25, 2006
The Next Evolution The Next Evolution1As we generally know, this earth is a field of Evolution. Evolution is the history of life on earth, which has been well said by Darwin. According to him, man is the consequence of an evolution. But Darwin has stated nothing with reference to evolution after the appearance of Homo Neanderthal, or of Homo Sapiens at the latest. He told us nothing about any evolution after the appearance of man on earth, or even about the purpose why man was evolved at all.
And his view was a scientific truth, limited to the epistemology of Science. Science discovers and finds the Truth, which is but only a partial aspect of the whole Truth; it does not go beyond the senses, beyond the apparent, even with the help of logic. It is based on the experiences of the senses.Reason and logic are the means of finding Truth, but they cannot be the only means or the whole of the means. An integral seeker of the complete Truth, even a true student of Philosophy, realizes this. There are other methods or means...Science, not to speak of the human commonsense, has not seen beyond the mortal imperfect Man.
  • Is man the final word in Evolution, in the entire Manifestation in Nature on earth?
  • Has Nature remained satisfied having reached at something through Evolution which is so incomplete, so imperfect, so ignorant and so incapable such as man?
  • How can he be the last thing? Of course, Mankind has many lofty and high Aspirations and Dreams and Hopes! Will they fail?

Man has to know himself, strive towards Perfection and transcend himself. Out of man, the superman has to emerge. That is the goal of this Manifestation, as it has been said by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. That is purpose and goal of Evolution, of onward movement of the Supernature. That is the reason why men would evolved further beyond the Homo Neanderthal, even beyond the Homo Sapiens. Man has to go beyond the limits of mind and reason, scale newer and higher heights of Consciousness and ascend the Supramental Consciousness, and bring in the Dreams and Hopes! Will they fail? Man has to know himself, strive towards Perfection and transcend himself. Out of man, the superman has to emerge.

The advent of the supramental race is THE NEXT EVOLUTION. The Advent of the Supramental Race on earth is the goal of this Manifestation, as it has been said by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. That is purpose and goal of Evolution, of onward movement of the Supernature. That is the reason why men would evolved further beyond the Homo Neanderthal, even beyond the Homo Sapiens. Man has to go beyond the limits of mind and reason, scale newer and higher heights of Consciousness and ascend the Supramental Consciousness, and bring in the supramental race on earth. This is the Truth Sri Aurobindo has brought for us. We have to live for this Goal, this Truth. Posted by Barin at 11:12 PM

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Hindu Upanishads? Excellent. The caste system? Very bad

Monday, October 24, 2005 Cosmic Solidarity, Part One: A River out of Eden
posted by Gagdad Bob at 10/24/2005 07:00:00 PM
The other day over at Shrinkwrapped there was yet another story that falls under the heading, "History is What Happens When the MSM is Chasing Other News." The MSM, in their endless quest to magnify the momentary a thousand times beyond its importance, can always be counted on to miss the world-historical forest for the journalistic trees.

The world-historical development to which I am referring has to do with the Bush administration's efforts to create a new Anglo-Hindu alliance. It is now the policy, or "Grand Strategy of the United States," to assist India in becoming "a major world power in the 21st century."

Shrinkwrapped quotes the website Indus Valley Rising for a perspective on what this suggests geopolitically:

"India and America have long wanted to like each other but, on account of India's Cold War alliance with the former Soviet Union, couldn't. Both have much in common: they were formerly colonized by Britain; both threw off the yoke of Britain, their colonial master (even if India did so 170+ years later than the American colonies); the more educated members of each country speak English; and the people in both countries--to varying degrees--appreciate their British heritage. With the end of the Cold War, the adversarial relationship between America, leader of the West, and India, the cradle of Hindu civilization, has started to thaw.

"With the U.S. State Department's declared policy of helping India become a world power, aid and cooperation between India and America--and thus aid and cooperation between Hindu Civilization and Western Civilization--is beginning to take place at levels which will alter the balance of power in the world. How this alliance will affect each country and each civilization will not be known for some time. What we should know is that the U.S. State Department's declaration of policy toward India is an important event that, in time, will affect the world."


Affect the world, indeed. As I posted on Shrinkwrapped, I believe that this represents a world-historical development of the highest order. I think of a world-historical moment as a point in which vertical energies pour down from above, either helping mankind to evolve to the next phase, or breaking up some kind of evolutionary impasse, in which human beings cannot get beyond themselves. For example, one world-historical moment is known as the "axial age," a period of general spiritual awakening when all of the initial major revelations of mankind were downloaded: the Old Testament prophets, the Greek mystery schools, the Vedic seers of the Upanishads, the Tao te Ching and Confucius in China.
If you are Christian, you probably have no difficulty understanding the incarnation of Jesus as a sort of depth charge dropped down into history from on high. The temporal reverberations from that spiritual shock wave continue to wash ashore over the present. After all, even if you don't believe in Christ, you are nevertheless the benefactor of his presence, say, in the decisive manner in which he affected the thinking of the American founders.

In Hinduism, an "avatar" refers to an incarnation of the divine. Unlike Christianity, they believe there have been many avatars, and yet, this principle is not really at odds with either Christianity or Judaism. That is, you can think of an avatar as something short of a literal manifestation of the one God; many righteous rabbis and saints would qualify as avatars, not necessarily as a literal descent of the divine, but perhaps as embodiments of an ascent to holiness or to the divine.

In my view, there have also clearly been non-religious avatars that have had a singular effect on the general evolution of mankind. The American founders would be prime examples. Other examples would have to include Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, and many others, both detected and undetected by history. It is easy to misunderstand this point, so I will post on it in more detail later, but there are certain personages who appear on the historical stage at precisely the right time and place, to either "rescue" mankind or advance it to a new level of moral, political, or aesthetic understanding.
These world-historical characters are often consciously aware of the fact that they have been seized by a higher power in order to accomplish a mission. This can be confused with narcissistic inflation, but it is really quite different. Winston Churchill was clearly aware of this force. As was Abraham Lincoln. When Martin Luther King said that he had been to the mountain top, he wasn't engaging in hyperbole. He had been. Our elites continue to mock Ronald Reagan, but it is obvious to me that he embodied the mythological (in the positive sense of the term) essence of America in a way that transcended his own personality. History will tell if the unlikely figure of George Bush appeared at the right time and place to combat a new incarnation of the dark force that impedes and drags down mankind's progress.


Evolution requires time and experimentation. If you stand back from world history and view it in the widest possible context, you can think of it as a journey out of Africa that began some 60,000 to 75,000 years ago, with various search parties setting out to discover what they could. Various cultures and civilizations may be thought if as the embodiments of the discoveries and solutions these groups came up with, some good, some bad, some perfectly awful. Only now are we in a position to call a new meeting to order and compare and contrast what these different groups found in their world-historical journeys. And I'm not talking abut the U.N., which actually has the opposite function: to justify and maintain the worst in mankind.

What I am advocating represents multiculturalism in a positive sense, because it doesn't mean accepting any and all cultural nonsense as beautiful and helpful, as does the left. Rather, our task is to critically examine what various human groups have discovered or developed, and keep the good and throw out the bad. For example, Chinese Taoism? Good. Chinese food? Even better! Chinese Maoism? Bad. The Hindu Upanishads? Excellent. The caste system? Very bad. The American constitution? Unsurpassed. American materialism? Troubling. Etc.


A primordial fork in the road took place in mankind's evolutionary journey sometime after the 10th century BC, when both the Torah and Upanishads appeared, signifying a split between what might be called the Abrahamic and Brahmanic traditions.

Since we are wading in it, we are pretty familiar with the path the Biblical stream took, winding its way through Jesus, the late Roman Empire, Western Christendom, the scientific revolution, the American founding, etc. Most of my readers probably don't know much about the other stream that began with the Vedas. The reason why this split is so important is because it represented two differing conceptions of ultimate reality, one seeing it as more radically transcendent (the Judeo-Christian stream), the other as immanent in the world (the Vedic stream). (There is actually a bit of both in each, but there is a clear emphasis on one or the other, that is, transcendence vs. immanence.)

The word "veda" simply means knowledge. Each of the four Vedas is divided into two parts: work and knowledge. The former deals with myths, hymns, prayers, and instructions for rites and ceremonies--mantras, incantations, ritual formulas, etc. The second part concerns itself with the highest experiential basis of religious truth. These latter, more metaphysical Vedas are collectively known as the Upanishads.

Vedanta represents the esoteric core of Hinduism. Veda-anta actually means "end of the Vedas," and can be taken both literally and metaphorically. That is, the Upanishads not only appear at the end of the Vedas, but also represent the "end" of relative knowledge--they represent a special kind of knowledge that transcends both ordinary and scriptural knowledge. It is knowledge of the direct experience of ultimate reality.

There are one hundred eight Upanishads, but only ten have come to be known as the principal Upanishads. The literal meaning of Upanishad is something like "sitting near devotedly," but may also be understood as "secret teaching," for this is a kind of special knowledge that may only be handed down from "one who knows," from a guru who has experienced the ultimate reality to an earnest disciple who seeks it. This is a kind of knowledge that is very much bound up with a radical notion of liberty, for it "destroys the bonds of ignorance and leads to the supreme goal of liberation."

The Upanishads are different than the scripture of the Bible, in that they do not record historical events, revelations, or prophecies, but the direct experiences of the Vedic saints and seers. Their main conclusion--or "I-witness" testimony--is that the ultimate reality beyond name and form, or Brahman, the Self of the universe, the eternal I AM, abides deep within each individual, or Atman. Ultimately, Atman and Brahman are One. Well, not exactly. It is perhaps more accurate to say that they are not-two. Importantly, the Atman is not to be confused with our surface ego. Rather, it is the indestructible and changeless Self behind the superficial personality. It is actually located not in the mind but the heart. A Vedantin would consider it the beating heart of the living cosmos.


One of the reasons why the United States represented such an evolutionary advance over past nations is that it was the first to consciously embody Judeo-Christian principles. That is, there had been Christian nations, but never before an explicitly Judeo-Christian one. I won't outline the entire argument here, but an excellent book that summarizes the evidence is "On Two Wings," by Michael Novak. In total contrast to the crude anti-Semitism of Europe (which continues to this day), the American founders were deeply influenced not just by Christianity, but Judaism. For example, John Adams wrote, "I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation." Thomas Jefferson saw the United States as "God's American Israel," leading human beings out af a decadent Europe to a new way of life.

I believe America and the world are at another evolutionary crossroads, or perhaps even impasse. Yes, the modern children of Israel successfully escaped the decadent world of Europe for the new American frontier. That frontier expanded westward, until there was no frontier left, so it expanded upward into space, downward into the oceans, and "beneath" the illusion of solid materiality, into the subatomic world. Where is the new frontier for the American children of Israel?

It is into the only truly infinite frontier-- the inward frontier explored and mapped out by the forgotten little search party with whom we parted ways three thousand years ago: the lost tribe of the "Brahmanic'" peoples. PART TWO TOMORROW One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Purpose of life and the afterlife

'Mysteries of Death, Fate, Karma and Rebirth' by Jugal Kishore Mukherjee
Reviewed by Debashish Banerji on Sun 16 Oct 2005 03:21 AM PDT Permanent Link
Shortly after his masterly exposition on the practice of the integral yoga, Shri Jugal Kishore Mukherjee has come out with a slim but packed volume on the rather grim and esoteric subject of death, rebirth and karma. The subject itself is shrouded in mystery as noted in the Mahabharata with the question asked by the yaksha of the lake to Yudhisthira: “What is the most amazing thing in human life?” Yudhisthira’s answer relates to a fundamental and universal human incapacity to deal adequately with death: “The most amazing thing is this, that all human beings die but each person conducts himself as if there is no death.” Though the yaksha approves of this answer, we can ask ourselves the question as to why this is so. I may hazard two guesses for an answer:
(1) to the inmost being death has no reality, so it cannot give any finality to it in its life-experience;
(2) to the outer being, death represents the fear either of the unknowable or of the extinction of consciousness, and it readily suppresses this fear through a wholesale socially sanctioned denial.
Perhaps there is a little of both of these in all of us, but whatever be the truth, it goes to highlight the enigma that death presents to all human beings, an unanswered mystery and anxiety we either ignore or can at best speculate about. Acknowledging this hidden enigma at the center of human existence, Jugal Kishore starts his exposition by fore-fronting the fear of death and analyzing its causes.

In today’s materialistic age, which sees consciousness as an accidental epiphenomenon of matter, the popular widespread belief denies any persistence to consciousness after death. But in other times and in cultures not invested in the materialistic standpoint, there are a variety of alternate ideas regarding the “other side.” All these admit of an afterlife beyond death, but differ often radically about its character and purpose. Jugal Kishore explores all these varieties of approaches and brings them into comparative focus against what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have to say about this subject. For example, the Judeo-Christian tradition holds that there is only one life and a soul which persists beyond the death of the body, but goes to sleep until a Day of Judgement when God decrees eternal heaven or eternal hell based on its one life on earth. Pythagorean Greece, on the other hand, believed in a soul which is immortal inhabiting the body and a form of earthly rebirth of this soul or “transmigration” after death, by which they meant the assumption of a continuous succession of physical bodies from life to life without any respite.
Indic thought, such as Buddhism and the various Hindu schools also believe in rebirth but unlike the Greeks, the consciousness after death passes through a succession of invisible worlds before being reborn in a new body on earth. However, here too there are a variety of differences, from the belief in a soul inhabiting the body for Hindus to a soulless non-substantial persistence of consciousness driven by the momentum of desire for the Buddhists. Indic thought also includes a rationale for the nature of life-experiences based on the accumulation of “karma”, a ledger of good or bad deeds which leave inexorable and universal consequences outlasting one’s lifetime. Jugal Kishore, following Sri Aurobindo points out that these theories combine two disparate motives, not always integrated into a consistent scheme – on the one hand, a moral system of reward and punishment and on the other, a metaphysical explanation for the purpose of human life on earth. Most modern day Hindu or Buddhist understandings of human life and rebirth, for example, are pessimistic in nature, life on earth seen as an entrapment in a wheel of karma (karma-chakra) over which we have little or no control and from which the best we can aspire for is eventual escape, the cessation of rebirth.

To these notions of life, death, psychic persistence of consciousness, rebirth and karma, Jugal Kishore brings the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s explanations. The sources he draws on for these mainly include Sri Aurobindo’s The Problem of Rebirth, The Life Divine and his Letters on Yoga and the Mother’s Questions and Answers. In this regard, the question may be asked as to whether this is merely a believers’ lesson book in yet another relative and speculative theory on these mysteries of the invisible or whether there is anything more objective about this presentation. The answer, implicit in this work as in most other works by this author, lies in the overwhelming sense of the integral perfection of the view presented in the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. One of the principal intuitions of the ancient western world, carried over into modern times through the assumptions of Science, is that the universe is ultimately simple and that its apparent complexity can be explained by a single or at most a very few rational principles.
Modern Enlightenment philosophy assumes this cosmic rationality to be identical with the human faculty of reason and seeks to find the one law systemically uniting all other laws through rational enquiry. But as Sri Aurobindo points out, human reason works by piecing together fragments and arrives, thereby only at larger fragments masquerading as wholes. The intuition of a cosmic rationality, on the other hand, proceeds from an overmental or supramental source of unity and proportional harmony which is compact even in its infinite extension and seamlessly one. Its integrality is evidenced in the overmastering presence of the whole in itself and in every part. It is this of which the Upanishad says purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate, purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavashishyate. And it is this which impresses itself in its undeniable reality in the ideas and writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother - which, in their absolute consistency and miraculous integrality, make them different from other relative attempts at explanation.

As in all his other works, Jugal Kishore marshalls a most impressive set of quotes from the Master and the Mother to make his points. He clarifies the closely knit ideas relating to death as part of the perpetual process of life and to the evolution of consciousness through the progressive growth of the psychic being in its mastery over mental, vital and physical nature and the further infinite expression of higher powers of consciousness that form the bases of Sri Aurobindo’s description of life, death and rebirth. He indicates the inner necessity and meaning of karma as a temporary automatism of universal nature aiding such an evolution and the possibility and means of overcoming it through growth of consciousness, divine Grace or yogic intervention. He describes the occult process of the inner being’s journey through the non-physical worlds and the soul’s part in this journey and its long or short sleep of assimilation in the psychic world before rebirth.
And finally, as a most edifying last chapter, he addresses “some knotty problems of rebirth” in question form with relevant quotes from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as the answers. As a final conclusion to this last chapter, he raises the question which forms the distant fringe of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s vision of a supramental life – “Is death necessary?” Sri Aurobindo’s philosophical view on this, stated briefly is that if indeed, as he maintains, humankind is here to fully realize its divinity in time and space, it must translate the eternity which is an essential attribute of this divinity into temporal terms as perpetuity – in other words, a mastery of the physical consciousness which amounts to a physical immortality. The author draws attention to his earlier work The Destiny of the Body which addresses this question centrally before closing the present work.

Overall, I would recommend this book as an impressive work which sheds light on all the innumerable complexities of death, the purpose of life, the afterlife, karma and rebirth, as taught by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in an integral view of human existence and its destiny.
by Ron on Mon 17 Oct 2005 04:35 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Thanks for this very interesting book review Debashish. I've just created a new Topic named "Book Reviews" (within the Category "NEW TOPICS"), and have placed your posting there in addition to where you placed it within INTEGRAL YOGA > Philosophy/Metaphysics and the Main Page. Did Jugal Kishore reference Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's direct memories of their own past lives? Perhaps as a form of 'knowledge by identity' of the actual facts of death, rebirth & karma? - I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts about claims of such memories ...
by Debashish on Tue 18 Oct 2005 07:40 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link No, he does not refer to Sri Aurobindo or the Mother's "past lives". His book is more like a philosophical exposition of the subject, but also aimed at giving certain practical attitude pointers relevant to the sadhana. Re. knowledge of past lives as a form of knowledge by identity, Mother suggests that this would constitute a part of total knowledge. They have spoken here and there about their own past lives, but did not make too much of it, since it is likely to be romanticized by people who have not arrived at the means to know these things themselves.

Savitri takes us to that source of true sense

Foreword to Jugal Kishore Mukherjee’s The Ascent of Sight in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri published in 2001 by the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. by RY Deshpande on Fri 15 Dec 2006 07:28 AM PST Profile Permanent Link
From Galileo to Hubble telescope in our nearer sky has been a long leap of science. The sight that would show us the dark spots on the sun has now travelled to the farthest reaches of the universe. Yet the end doesn’t seem to be in sight. The 240-cm eye looking at the galaxies receding swiftly away from us is puzzled at the miracle that lies beyond its gaze. So also is the microscopic vision scanning distances in the atomic world. It all seems to be a wavy dance with the substantial entities masked behind the instrument’s alertness. Designed with one of the objectives of studying the universe and put in the orbit at a cost of $1.5 billion, the Hubble is a marvel of technology unparalleled in history. It weighs 11 tons on earth, is 13.2 m in length and has a diameter of 4.2 m at its maximum. But the cold universe doesn’t breathe life in its amazing peep. This eye cannot show us the “invisible day of our night”— to use Arjava’s phrase.
In that respect our eye spans sights beyond sight. It enables us to see objects at variable distances and under different conditions of light. An incredible biological evolution has brought out a complex structure by which this wonder is achieved. For an optician our eye may simply be an advanced camera bearing many similarities with its functioning. But an ophthalmologist looks at it in some other details. If the cornea, the iris, the pupil and the lens act like an optical system controlling and focusing light rays onto the retina, the retina senses them and creates impulses that are sent through the optic nerve to the brain. Macula, a small specialised area in the retina, contains certain specific light sensitive cells that allow us to see fine details. The optic nerve connects the eye to the brain. It carries the impulses to it where they are interpreted as images. In the entire process the optical aspect slowly starts becoming a mini-computer with several layers of information getting processed in a complex sequence until the object is recognised by us.
But there are eyes and eyes. Once in a while we experience the “artifice of eternity”. There are also eyes that draw “peacefulness from tarns on mountain tops”. Abanindranath Tagore affirmed that “every artist must first weave to his own design a dream-catcher’s net.” In that endeavour he must develop a sight almost yogic in character and from that should come the arts of painting and sculpture. He must mould “Time’s clay to everlasting Art”. When one has not trained one’s vision one sees imprecisely, says the Mother. Plato’s eye views a wonderful world of forms of which things are just remote copies here. A technique, rather a faculty of vision that sees objects with another sensitivity, has been highly specialised in India. A seer’s knowledge is a visioned truth and that is why it is called a darshana. But sight does not stop simply at seeing the metaphysics of the world or in defining a shape for the abstract. Perhaps it goes pretty far beyond to grasp the form standing behind the formless. There seems to be another eyesight which, without the instrumental aid, can see remote distances both in space and time. Let us take some examples.
In the Ramayana we come to the episode after the abduction of Sita when the efforts to locate her whereabouts are on. The party sent by Sugriva to find her has arrived at the inaccessible Vindhya Mountain. But as yet there is no success in fulfilling the difficult mission, as there are no clues available to carry out the search. While all were in a state of despondency Sampati, the elder brother of Jatayu who was killed by Ravana, approaches them for his own reasons. But soon he understands the nature of the task they are engaged in. Seeing their helpless plight Sampati tells them that he could easily see the presence of Sita in the far Ashoka Vana in the south some 100 yojanas (1200 km) away from that place. He also tells them that he could spot her there unmistakably, for he belongs to that class of birds whose flight is the highest in the sky; by the potency of his birth he has that natural sight to see objects at great distances. Sampati also tells the party about the prediction made by the Rishi Nishakara who could, by the power of his tapasya, foresee future events, that Rama would succeed in getting Sita back.
We have been told about the third eye of Shiva. It has another power. The bodacious demons were causing havoc and the world was in trouble. The gods were concerned, but they were also helpless. They knew that if only Shiva married and begot a son could the menace be stopped. This son of Shiva alone could become the leader of the divine army and their rescuer. But Shiva was absorbed in meditation and none dared disturb him. There was however a sense of urgency and hence Kamadeva was sent by the gods to arouse Shiva’s passion for Parvati. But when Shiva opened his third eye Kamadeva was burned to ashes. In the meanwhile, however, the deed was done and Skanda was born. Later, at the pleading of Kamadeva’s wife Rati, her husband was revived. This is an eye that is turned towards action in the destruction of all that is evil, a destruction by which the divine task is furthered.
It is said that in the case of a Yogin the third eye in the middle of the forehead becomes visible during deep meditation. This eye is also known as the star of the East, or the inner eye, or the dove descending from heaven; it is the eye of intuition which can open in him and show to him the worlds otherwise lying hidden from sight. Since the third eye will give him whatever he asks for, it is important that the Yogin should possess a certain capacity, adhikāra, to hold the gifts ensuing from its occult power which, if misused, can prove to be disastrous. The gift is meant to further his spiritual progress.
According to the Tibetan lore the third eye is “the director of energy or force, and thus an instrument of the will of the Spirit… It is the eye of the inner vision, and he who has opened it can direct and control the energy of matter, see all things in the Eternal Now, and therefore be in touch with causes more than with effects, read the ākāshic records, and see clairvoyantly… It is through the medium of this ‘all-seeing eye’ that the Adept can at any moment put Himself in touch with his disciples anywhere.”
In the Gita, the war reporter Sanjaya had televisionic eye by which he could see all the events taking place on the battlefield; thus he could narrate the happenings to the blind king Dhritarashtra. This sight was a gift he had received from Vyasa. We are also told in the Gita that the “human eye can see only the outward appearances of things or make out of them separate symbol forms, each of them significant of only a few aspects of the eternal Mystery.” But Arjuna wished to see the imperishable Self of the pre-eminent Being. He was given a divine eye, divya chakshu. With that the Master of the great Yoga showed him his supreme Form. Arjuna saw what was never seen before. “Neither by the study of Vedas and sacrifices, nor by gifts and universal rites or severe austerities,” Arjuna is told, “can this form be seen.” The infinite Godhead with the cosmic manifestation spreading in its splendour everywhere is what he saw with that sight.
But it was a sight that brought the vision of the Time-Spirit specifically poised for the destruction of nations. It was an “overwhelming appalling” form, and Arjuna was eager to see the earlier reassuring gracious form, close to him, friendly and intimate, approachable to him, familiar and dear to his heart. The sight that was granted to him was too great to bear. It was a sight meant to see one particular aspect of the supreme and the sights that lie beyond it can open out only by going to the worlds past the cosmic manifestation. The ascent of sight has to continue not only to see the triple glory in the superconscient but also its manifestive play in this material creation. Rare is such a sight even for the Yogins to possess.
We have in St. Matthew the following: “The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” If it is in connection with the treasures of heaven which can be spotted by this eye, then it is a luminous seeing by which everything becomes luminous; by it even the body becomes full of light,—a remarkable revelation indeed. When in Savitri Sri Aurobindo says that Aswapati saw the Omnipotent’s flaming pioneers crowding the amber stairs of birth, certainly he must have seen them with the supramental sight. In it alone is the infallibility of the vision. He saw the sun-eyed children with the eyes brighter than even their eyes. Is that the ultimate sight? Although it is a supramental sight, here it is a sight which is only in a certain context, the context of the evolutionary need to make the next decisive leap. There is also the gaze of two tranquil eyes that look into man’s and see the god to come. In the entire Aurobindonian fulfilment there is the topaz wonder looking at rapt divinities in all forms.
When one reads Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri one opens oneself to the infinity of sight. It is not only an inspired mantra with the power to establish fully what it utters, but is also a revelatory vision that gives to the unmanifest a luminous shape in manifestation. In it the silence speaks of forms that can become living realities even in this material creation. Within, without, around, everywhere there is the splendid urge to make those realities patent upon earth in the triple richness of the truth-conscient happiness. The supreme sense of delight gathers in its essentiality all the other senses.
Jugal Kishore Mukherjee in his beautiful study of the ascent of sight aptly draws our attention to Sri Aurobindo’s explicit statement about it: “This essential sense [sanjñān] is the original capacity of consciousness to feel in itself all that consciousness has formed and to feel it in all the essential properties and operations of that which has form, whether represented materially by vibration of sound or images of light or any other physical symbol.” It is here in sanjñān that we have the primary source of all perception. Savitri takes us to that source of true sense.
Tracing the various degrees of sight-perception the author takes us from sightless sight of the inconscience, through its ascending grades, all the way up to the superconscient sight. The Upanishadic golden lid is lifted, and is left behind the cosmic gaze of Overmind, and at once one has the Sachchidananda vision of all existence. It is a sight by which the ultimate reality sees itself dynamically in manifestation. Sachchidananda sees himself by the supramental sight, sees his own being and the entire manifestation of himself, beyond space and time, as much as in space and time, the omnipresent reality in its splendid vastness. What otherwise appears dark assumes significance in its full operative sense. Such are the Sachchidanandaic realities in the world. RYD

Intellectually rigorous thinkers need not all be scholars

joe perez Says: December 15th, 2006 at 11:42 am Marko: Rather than responding quickly to you, let me take your remarks as an invitation for me to spend more time digesting the thinkers you mention at Integral World. I have read some of their writings, but not enough to have formed the conclusion as you have that they have successfully attacked ideas at the “root, core, base, heart of the matter.” Furthermore, these thinkers often approach Integral Theory from a perspective that really is outside my level of strong interest or expertise.
If I viewed Integral as primarily a content-full body of dogmas about human nature rather than a meta-framework in itself agnostic regarding the nature of the liquids that can be poured into its wineskins (or if I were employed full-time as an integral theorist!), then I would probably place a high priority on understanding every possible theoretical dispute and articulating cogent responses to them. Fortunately, I see such preoccupations with theory as largely unnecessary to my own life and work. I think it’s great there are forums such as the AQAL Journal and ARINA for substantive scholarly discussions and less formal forums such as Integral World and the blogosphere for airing ideas that are less fleshed out or not well suited for an academic audience.
Intellectually rigorous thinkers need not all be scholars, nor take it upon themselves to settle every theoretical dispute imaginable! Even if it takes me weeks or months to get around, say, to reading and evaluating whether or not Andy’s ideas about social holons completely discredit Wilber’s AQAL model, by keeping tabs on the serious literature I can benefit from the collective wisdom of scholars whose specialties allow them to delve into these matters with greater thoroughness than any non-specialist is able. If someone offers a criticism of Integral that is wholly and irredeemably damning (and I’ve seen none), then that’s the sort of thing that does tend to get noticed, get talked about, and set the agenda for further research or analysis.
In conclusion, as a matter of just continuing to do research on Integral, I will spend more time at Integral World and perhaps will post more thoughts about what I find there on my blog or elsewhere. But it’s difficult for me to articulate why I am not looking forward to this research work. It’s also difficult to express without pushing people’s buttons or causing offense.
But basically I feel that a person’s writing often does allow a sort of window into their heart and soul, and their shadows. And my impression of the writing at Integral World at this admittedly quite subjective and emotional perspective is that it usually doesn’t connect with me. I see very little heart and soul, lots of unacknowledged shadow, and lots of egos spinning intellectual boobytraps and masculinist marking of territory. These thinkers often turn around and project onto Wilber many of their disowned attributes (and so far as I know, they may very well be right about Wilber, but that’s entirely besides the point). In short, while I am sure I have much to learn by spending more time at Integral World, I don’t think these are the lessons in Wilber’s “blunders” necessarily intended by the writers there.

Friday, December 01, 2006

But things are also changing in qualitative ways

Progressive Thought and the Denial of History
We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. --C. S. Lewis
In one respect, history represents constant change and novelty. But in another respect, it involves constant repetition of the same themes. In this regard, it is somewhat analogous to music, where you have a certain rhythm, bass line, and chordal structure, on top of which is the melody. But the melody is constrained by the structure. Often we notice the historical melody to the exclusion of the droning and repetitive bass line. Primitive societies abhor change, and do everything within their power to prevent, deny, or undo it. Often, when change happens suddenly, these cultures will simply assimilate the novelty into their old system of belief.However, one far-sighted observation of the psychoanalyst W.R. Bion is that many modern human groups are every bit as primitive. While they might have a veneer of civilization, their more basic function is to structure existence and to allay anxiety.
You see this, for example, in very obvious cases such as the NAACP, the ACLU, or the feminist movement. While these groups once had an instrumental purpose, now their only function is to provide a cognitive template for the world of the people who belong to them, and to reinforce the structure through contact with like-minded people -- people who share the same anxieties. It's not even a pleasant world. Rather, it is a dark, paranoid, and conspiratorial world. And yet, the paranoid world of the far left is preferable to the ambiguity of the real world. Human beings have an amazing capacity to deny change and to live in the past. Then again, if viewed through the lens of Darwinian evolution, this should not be surprising. After all, evolution did not design us to be happy, or well adjusted, or even to know reality. Rather, in our horizontal aspect, we were specifically selected to survive and adapt to a certain environment. All successful species are stuck in a rut of adaptation. Humans are no different. The majority of cultural beliefs are not adaptations to external reality but adaptations to internal reality -- they help to alleviate anxiety and uncertainty and to structure existence.
After World War II, anthropologists discovered primitive groups that had been entirely static and had never "entered" history. Their belief systems were entirely structured around various benevolent and malevolent tribal spirits. Upon noticing American soldiers and their boats loaded down with riches that were distributed to the population, they did not alter their basic conception of reality. Rather, they simply incorporated the American G.I.s into a "cargo cult," and gave their old gods a new identity. Time and change were successfully warded off.On the bottom floor of the primitve group psyche there is an abiding sense that time is not progressive. Rather, time is the enemy. It does not advance, but wears away and corrodes. Things that unexpectedly develop in time, like, say, President Bush, the conservative movement, or the threat of Islamic terrorism, are not exactly denied. Rather, they are regarded as bizarre aberrations -- they are not really real.
For the progressive, their reality has been stolen and a false one has been inserted. I mean this literally, for example, with regard to the ineradicable obsession with the 2000 election. It is not so much that an election was "stolen." Rather, the feeling is that their beautiful reality has been purloined. But this is just a small reflection of the more pervasive sentiment in the dead and dying liberal MSM that reality went off the rails in approximately 1980, with the ascendancy of Reaganism. It is as if they are constantly trying to undo that tragic mistake and force reality back into the little liberal box that once contained it (and them). In order to deny the corrosive effect of time and change, primitive groups enact rituals to reassert the original divine order.
This is why you can see that the left is so astonishingly ritualistic in their thinking. For their philosophy, like any religious philosophy, revolves around certain iconographic symbols that abide outside time. They are "forever." They need only be evoked, like magical incantations, and we are back in the comfortable tribal delusions of the 1960's: "War is not the answer." "America is a racist, sexist, homophobic country." "Culture of corruption." "Tax cuts for the rich." "Be Very Afraid, the world is cooling/warming." "Global Orgasm for Peace." This is the otherwise inexplicable appeal of that cliche-ridden empty suit, Barack Obama.Like the Islamists, the "progressive" is animated by a beautiful ideal located in the distant past.
In truth, it never really existed. Rather, it is purely archetypal and precedes any particular "thoughts" about it. Once it is embraced, it then produces its own thoughts. The formality of a thinker is not required. If you peruse, say, huffingtonpost or dailykos, you will see that the memes that are reflexively channelled there are overwhelmingly angry, paranoid, and alarmist. In reality, this represents alarm over the fact that time really does exist, and rage at the fact that the wider world does not mirror their tribal ideal. The progressive party is the nostalgic party that actually wishes to deny history and escape from time. Perhaps I should again emphasize how common this is, both in individuals and in groups. Freud, for example, said that the neurotic "suffers from reminisences."
For what is a neurosis but a perpetual replaying of events of the past that are superimposed on the present, the constant structuring of reality in terms of the timeless unconscious? Similarly, the progressive navigates through life while keeping his eyes riveted on the rear view mirror. Therefore, the same things keep mysteriously happening. It's positively eery: Bush is Nixon. Iraq is Vietnam. The terrorist intercept program is the White House enemy list. The Valerie Plame matter is Watergate. Clearly, these progressive cargo-cultists think that all the economic gifts brought to us by those two tax-cutting bwanas, Reagan and Bush, really arrived courtesy of the old big government gods. The archaic community lives in a tribal memory that is impervious to the ravages of time.
But as reality increasingly deviates from the sacred memory, it is the duty of every tribal member to renew, reassert and rejuvenate the ideal through rituals of various kinds. You can see these primitive magicians at dailykos, going through their various rituals and Ghost Dances, raging against reality, desperately trying to cleanse and "renew" it. For primitive groups, time is terror. Therefore, it is no surprise that we routinely hear from the left that "George Bush is the world's biggest terrorist." That he is, in the sense that he has no respect for the tribal ways of the progressive mind and its sacred, eternal myths. In the long run, in most merely quantitative ways, things always get better, as science and capitalism -- not progressivism -- assure that.
The economy is humming along with low unemployment and interest rates, people are living longer than ever, the environment has never been cleaner in my lifetime, crime rates and illegitimacy are much lower than the recent past, more people own homes and attend college than ever. These are all the things progressives supposedly care about, but the better things get, the worse they feel. But things are also changing in qualitative ways: materialism and spiritual exhaustion, neopaganism, barbarous entertainment, cognitively repressive political correctness, the cult of the body, sexual license, self-worship, moral relativism, multi-culturalism... Why aren't progressives more grateful? Still not primitive enough? posted by Gagdad Bob at 11/30/2006 06:35:00 AM 24 comments links to this post One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Max Weber, Rudolph Steiner, Jürgen Habermas, and Ken Wilber

The Integral movementin social andhistorical context
Integral Esotericism - Part Two Alan Kazlev
2-iii Secular Modernity
Secular and materialistic developments, and hence the loss of the sense of the sacred and the rise of dualism and materialism, can be traced back to classical Greek (beginning with the birth of Western rationalism with the Ionian philosophers and the other presocratics), Chinese (as explained in Jacob Needham's monumental Science and Civilization in China), and other cultures, and to Medieval nominalism and scholasticism (the rejection of Plato in favour of Aristotle). Additional impetus was provided by the rise of Western scientific method (Galileo, Francis Bacon), and of course the "modern" Western worldview that developed with the rise of science and rationality and the "Enlightenment" of 18th century European philosophy and society. As Max Weber, Rudolph Steiner, and Jürgen Habermas and, following him, Wilber, have all in different ways shown, the rise of rational thought brought about the end of the old premodern, mythological worldview and its replacement with an understanding of discrete scientific (objective), a social (inter-subjective), and a psychological and spiritual (subjective) realities, thus allowing the development of these separate fields and of modern society. (Also included in the sphere of religion/spiritual/subjective would be traditional pop gurus; intermediate zone[3] pop gurus, etc).
What the Enlightenment Age represented was a change, an evolution of the collective worldview; not the individual consciousness, but the collective consciousness. It was a movement from a more mythic and intuitive collective worldview, to a more rationalistic, mechanistic, and "ahrimanic" pone . This meant that people, who had previously used their rational minds to understand the mythological world, could now use their rational minds to understand the natural, social, and religious and psychological; worlds. This led to the development and specialisation of knowledge, such as we see today.
It also led to the loss of the sense of a sacred or transcendent dimension, and the retention only of the secular. This takes as its authority scientism and the scientism-based physicalist worldview which forms the basis of the worldview or creation narrative of modernity (hence my term "secular modernity"). Hence among some intellectually-orientated types there will automatically be a preference for a sceptical, anti-metaphysical perspective as given, and tendency to see empiricist knowledge and methodology as the only reliable source of knowledge. This is also the case with postmodernism with its "deconstruction" of all underlying narratives and metaphysical and scientific assumptions (it is however important to note that one also finds a less widely known tendency towards spirituality in postmodernism as well[4]).
2-iv. Modernity and (Exoteric) Religion
Although modernist exoteric (conventional, non-mystical) religion preserves a sense of the sacred or transcendent in the personality of Deity, even here there is a loss of mythology and mystery, whether it be by the liberalising tendency of progressive monotheism, or the literalist tendency of fundamentalism that began with the Protestant revolution, and which approaches the Bible in the same way that science approaches nature, as a set of facts out there to be understood and analysed, but not altered (indeed the scientific revolution itself probably only succeeded because it built upon the early Protestant revolution, but transferred the empirical method from the Bible to the natural world). The result is an impoverished theology, an impoverished metaphysic, in which - as I once commented to a friend, Steven Guth, after perusing an evangelical Christian youth magazine - "all that exists is you, God, and nothing else" (or more precisely, "you, God, the physical world, and nothing else" but I was being expressive). In reply, Steven said "yes, it's Ahriman", referring to Rudolf Steiner's interpretation of Ahriman (originally the Zoroastrian and Manichaean polarity of darkness) as the principle of materialism and of consciousness becoming too imbalanced and caught up in matter. And this is the very well secular world that modernised exoteric religions portray, there is no sacredness of the natural world, no intermediate spiritual realities, no angelic or celestial hierarchies.
"Premodernism" does still survive in the West in "old style" fundamentalism such as Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism. Even there it is impossible to totally separate the original "pre-modern" from the larger world of modernity, unless one lives a very insular life (this in fact is the option preferred by Orthodox Judaism). Outside the West, religion and religious fundamentalism is likewise a mix of "pre-modern" and "modern"; this includes both benign forms of fundamentalism and extremists such as Islamism which for example incorporates elements of 20th century Western fascism[5].
The Wilber-Beck flavour of Spiral Dynamics interprets exoteric religion as "blue value meme", which will be supplanted by or evolve into, or rather the individuals who hold these views will mature into advocates of, the "orange value meme" of empirical knowledge and scientism. But this simplistic analysis ignores the fact that even exoteric religionism is quite different, according to overall worldview. Thus the worldview and the state of consciousness of the born-again Christian bible literalist is not necessarily the same as the old-style Orthodox Jew or Catholic who still retains a sense of the original "perennialist" wisdom (albeit distorted by the fundamentalism of their faith)
2-v Western Esotericism
Esoteric has already been defined (sect 1-ii). Esoteric and occult knowledge and practice is as old as humanity. Shamanism is the earliest religion and belief system; there is for example the famous paleolithic image of a bird-headed shaman at Lascaux, the site of many important cave paintings.
But the idea of unified "big picture" explanations of the inner realities and the popularity of the theme of a "perennial philosophy" only came about with the rise of modernity and Western external knowledge that esotericism became a distinct field in itself. This was because the secularisation of "official" knowledge in the West created as a counter balance esotericism, in the current sense of the term. Although the word "esoteric" is used to refer to the inner or mystical side of a religion, as opposed to the outer or "exoteric" - e.g. Kabbalah in Judaism, Sufism in Islam, Tantra in Buddhism - in the past "esoteric" always assumed a literalist and fundamentalist acceptance of the exoteric scriptures and teachings, but provided a hermeneutic for interpreting them in a less restrictive way.
This newer and more contemporary form of Western esotericism dates from as recently as the early 19th century[6]. It is similar to Western secular enlightenment in that it adopts a critical, questioning, and non-naive attitude to traditional religion and spirituality. At the same time, it avoids the limitations of materialism, reductionism, and scientism that define secular modernity.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Religion lessons but should be transmitted convincingly

POPE: TEACHERS ON RELIGION MUST USE CATECHISM AS BASE(AGI) - Vatican City, Nov 10 - The teaching programmes for religion in schools "must be geared towards the Catholic Church's Catechism, so as to transmit the entirety of the Church's faith and life throughout the scholastic course," the Pope said to German bishops today on his visit ad limina. According to Benedict XVI, in Germany, "in the past the content of the catechesis has been pushed into second place in favour of didactic methods." Because of this, the Pope wished to recommend that Bishops follow strict criteria in the approval of textbooks. "The ability of making the faith accessible is an important aspect for the approval of textbooks for teaching religion," he explained. "Just as important is also teachers' adherence to the Church's faith and their participation to liturgical and pastoral life in the parishes or ecclesiastical communities near the place they work at."
According to the Pope "it is fundamental that the introduction of the Catholic vision of the world and religious practices, as well as the unitary formation of personality are no transmitted only during religion lessons but should be transmitted convincingly throughout the school day in Catholic schools. Similar importance is reserved for the many institutions and activities carried out in higher education." According to Ratzinger, "in this field, special attention should go to the choice of topics and rapporteurs, so that the central contents of the faith and the Christian way of life do not slip into the background in favour of marginal or contemporary matters."
The Pope then entrusted German bishops the Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt with some concern. "Here Catholic Germany has an eminent site where disputes with spiritual movements or high-level academic problems can be carried out in the light of the Catholic faith and a spiritual elite can be trained capable of keep abreast with the challenges of the present and the future in the spirit of the Bible. The economic security of the only Catholic University in Germany should be recognised as a joint effort from all German dioceses, because the support to the institute cannot be shouldered only by Bavarian dioceses, which nonetheless have special responsibility towards the Univeristy." (AGI) . 101744 NOV 06

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It is enough to reach out half way around the world

From: "Don Robertson" donaldwrobertson@yahoo.com To: "Tusar N. Mohapatra" tusarnmohapatra@mail.com CC: Subject: Re: Savitri Era Learning Forum: Witticisms are in their least part philosophy Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2006 05:32:32 -0700 (PDT)

It's a good and excellent morning for me. Good evening, to you. I am gratified to find someone who found some enchantment in my words. I wish I could say more, but at this moment I fail with words too proud to tempt a stumble.

Perhaps later at another time when the fond sensations I feel have settled calmly into me, the pride at having passed myself off as the American Philosopher, like Twain, and like all the great philosophers of the world, ancient, young and old.

Life is good. And today, I feel immortal. It is enough to reach out half way around the world to touch, feel and sense, and to find a kindred soul there? There is almost too much joy. It is as if I were there with you now, each of us laughing at the paradox with no care about any inconguity of the distance that enhances by our marvel at it, the feeling of closeness.

Attached is a picture of myself and a close pal. I'm the one with the less pointed ears. dadkitty1.jpeg, 655 x 412 Please on your blog post it and these words of gratitude for such a life as mine has become, and for yours, as it has become for me too. Best-
Don Robertson, The American PhilosopherLimestone, Maine -U.S.
An Illustrated Philosophy Primer for Young Readers Precious Life - Empirical Knowledge The Grand Unifying Theory & The Theory of Time

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tom and Eva’s pastoral frolickings

Cabin Fever By HENRY LOUIS GATES Jr. NY Times Published: October 22, 2006
I first read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in an eighth-grade class in 1964, when it was probably just going out of fashion as required reading for American school children — and the phrase “Uncle Tom” was about to come into widespread use as the ultimate instrument of black-on-black derogation.
The scholar Stephen Railton traces the first printed uses of the term to the black nationalist Marcus Garvey and his followers, in about 1919, a year of bloody race riots as black World War I veterans demanded their civil rights. “The Uncle Tom nigger has got to go,” the Rev. George Alexander McGuire declared at Garvey’s first convention in 1920, “and his place must be taken by the new leader of the Negro race ... not a black man with a white heart, but a black man with a black heart.” Intense cultural clashes emerged within the race, as Southern, rural migrants — the proverbial children of Uncle Tom — flooded north, and as black people, spurred on by a variety of warring political organizations, became ever more vocal about ending Jim Crow segregation.
Black nationalists in subsequent decades turned Uncle Tom into a swear word, but it was with the rise of popular black militancy in the 60’s that poor old Uncle Tom became the quintessential symbol that separated the good black guys from the servile sellouts. He was the embodiment of “race betrayal,” an object of scorn, a scapegoat for all of our political self-doubts. In 1966, Stokely Carmichael called the N.A.A.C.P.’s executive director, Roy Wilkins, an “Uncle Tom,” while the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee asked, in its position paper on black power: “Who is the real villain — Uncle Tom or Simon Legree?” Muhammad Ali pinned the epithet on Floyd Patterson, Ernie Terrell and Joe Frazier as he pummeled them.
I doubt that many of those who tossed around the insult had actually read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel. But James Baldwin had. In a scathing 1949 critique, “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” Baldwin boldly linked the sentimentality of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” to the melodrama of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel “Native Son,” a work far more appealing to black power types. “Uncle Tom” had become such a potent brand of political impotence that nobody really cared how far its public usages had traveled from the reality of its literary prototype.
When I returned to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” not long ago, it struck me as far more culturally capacious — and sexually charged — than either Baldwin or the 60’s militants had acknowledged. Half a century after Baldwin denounced it as “a very bad novel” in its “self-righteous, virtuous sentimentality” and promotion of feminine tears and anguish as a form of political protest, both the novel and Baldwin’s now canonical critique are ripe for reassessment.
Baldwin wrote that Tom “has been robbed of his humanity and divested of his sex.” Tom’s political impotence, for Baldwin, is symbolized by his sexual impotence. In fact, Tom and his wife, Aunt Chloe, do have children, but Baldwin has a point: the question of Uncle Tom’s relation to his family and his marital status has long intrigued Stowe scholars. Stowe shows us a devoted — even doting — father, but not a lover. Where Stowe conveys a sense of physical intimacy among the other married couples in the novel, Tom and Chloe share a pointedly “snowy spread” in their cabin.
And so when, early in the novel, a kindly owner sells Tom to pay his plantation’s debts, the slave leaves his cabin free from domestic bonds. For the fact of the matter — which has not escaped the attention of generations of the novel’s illustrators and parodists — is that once Tom leaves his home he almost immediately becomes involved with a young blonde. She is, of course, Eva, the lovely daughter of his next master.
Indeed, Stowe all but dares the reader to see something untoward in the obsessive closeness of Uncle Tom and Little Eva. While their relationship is not sexual, it is remarkably physical: Eva spends hours in Tom’s room, drapes him with flowers and perches on his knee, causing some concern: “How can you let her?” says her cousin, Miss Ophelia; “Why not?” answers Eva’s father. “You would think no harm in a child’s caressing a large dog, even if he was black.” Eva puts “her little golden head close to his,” kisses him and throws her arms around him. From the traditional children’s edition book cover images of a beaming Tom and Eva to such popularizations as the 1933 Disney short “Mickey’s Mellerdrammer” (in which Mickey plays Tom and Minnie plays Eva) or the 1947 Tex Avery short “Uncle Tom’s Cabaña” (starring a sultry animated Eva), the public has always seen Tom and Eva as a couple.
Baldwin, for his part, saw nothing subversive in Tom and Eva’s pastoral frolickings. His view was that of the book’s illustrators, who had always been careful to depict Tom as sweet, gray haired and bespectacled when Eva is in his lap. Yet Baldwin did sense something dark and secret beneath the surface. Sentimentality was not to be trusted: “The ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty, the inability to feel,” he wrote. “It is always, therefore, the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of cruelty.” Real men, for Baldwin, don’t sigh, don’t cry, and certainly are not satisfied with a kiss on the cheek.
Baldwin’s writings make clear that his distaste for sentimentality had everything to do with the perception that sentiment undermined what it meant to be a desiring being. Sentiment focuses on a person’s exterior, whereas art, he thought, privileges the interior, the soul, the seat of desire. Yet sentimentality doesn’t deny the existence of wayward appetites; it merely provides a protective distance from them. In antebellum America, sentimentalism was the only mode Stowe could employ to write about sex — especially interracial sex. It made possible the story’s barely submerged sexual content, most apparent in the sensuality of nearly every desperate young slave woman (“The brown of her complexion gave way on the cheek to a perceptible flush, which deepened as she saw the gaze of the strange man fixed upon her in bold and undisguised admiration. Her dress ... set off to advantage her finely molded shape”).
Nor could Baldwin ever acknowledge his own indebtedness to Stowe. In “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” Baldwin insisted that “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” scarcely qualified as literature and that Stowe was “not so much a novelist as an impassioned pamphleteer.” Baldwin denounced the fundamental assumptions about the relationship between literature and politics underlying Stowe’s self-righteous tone. Her novel’s characters “spurned and were terrified of the darkness, striving mightily for the light.”
But this sort of Manichean simplicity is a central feature of some of Baldwin’s own work, like the plays “The Amen Corner” and “Blues for Mr. Charlie” and the novels “Another Country” and “Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone.” The suppleness of his prose gives way to stereotypical depictions of two-dimensional characters, both black and white — individuals who seem to exist as set pieces for ideological diatribes rather than nuanced explorations of their full humanity. The paradox of Baldwin’s career is that he wrote essays with all of the lyricism and subtlety of a great novelist; yet he approached the craft of the novel with an essayistic didacticism.
The hallmark of most 19th- and many 20th-century American novels about race is the tendency toward the sort of melodrama we see in Stowe. Much of the emotional energy is a matter of shackled love. Baldwin was right to see the penchant for melodrama at the heart of even a novel as “black” as “Native Son.” As the critic Albert Murray first pointed out, though, what Baldwin decried in Stowe and Wright he could not relinquish in his own work. Even his early novel “Giovanni’s Room” — a pioneering depiction of a gay love affair — is characterized by impossible love and even more impossible plot coincidences. By the time Baldwin wrote his most carelessly crafted novels, “Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone” and “Just Above My Head,” melodrama had become the narrative register he could not escape.
Why would Baldwin, in his attack on Stowe, speak so harshly against the power of the fiction to persuade? Surely it was because he was, however unconsciously, speaking to his own deepest fears: that as a novelist, he was guilty of the very thing he disdained in Stowe. When Baldwin looked in the mirror of his literary antecedents, what he saw, to his horror, was Harriet Beecher Stowe in blackface. Stowe’s most vigorous detractor was destined to become her true 20th-century literary heir.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the W. E. B. Du Bois professor of the humanities at Harvard. He is the editor, with Hollis Robbins, of the forthcoming “Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” from which this essay is adapted, and the author of “Finding Oprah’s Roots,” to be published in February.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

India's contribution to World Thought and Culture

India's World-Wide Cultural Diffusion paras_ramoutar@yahoo.com TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, October 20, 2006: "The diffusion of India's cultural immensity over the vast expanses of Asia and other continents is a glorious epic of human achievement in the domain of thought and its _expression in space and time." This summarized former UNC Senator Suren Capildeo's feature address at the 20th annual Divali Nagar on October 12, 2006, before a packed assembly. Theme of this year's Divali Nagar was "The Hindu Contribution to World Thought and Culture." The Nagar ends Friday, October 20.
"Beyond the shimmering blue waters of Lake Baikal in the heart of Eastern Siberia lie monasteries studded with Indian images and silken scrolls of Tantric Deities. A little below lies the Mongolian People's Republic which has one of the richest treasures of translations of thousands of Sanskrit works and rare icons of India's Divinities like Maha Kala, Kali, Ayushi, Tara Devi and many others," Capildeo said. From the Central Asian sands have been exhumed Sanskrit manuscripts, rare works of art, unique administrative documents in Prakit, exquisite murals and objects of a high material culture - all imbued with the spirit and form of India, Capildeo reported. "In the Far East, the sprawling mainland of China has preserved a rich heritage of the art, literature and philosophy of India. Stories of the Mahabharata in the classical Japanese theater, the art traditions of Ajanta at Horyuji Temples, or Sanskrit mantras, all are ageless symbols of India's contribution to Japan's evolution. The Tibetan books on medicine, astronomy, grammar, rhetoric and poetics are inspired by Indian works of similar description."
Capildeo said that the skyline of temples in Bangkok, Sanskrit words in the Thai language, Ramayana as the supreme _expression of Thai theatre, Shiva ceremonies at the Royal Court - are parts of the stream that flows in the heart of Thailand from the deep of India's being. The enthralling stupa Borobudur, the Shiva Temple of Prambanan, the living presence of Hinduism in Bali, are some of the facets of the dynamics of India's cultural spectrum in the Isles of Indonesia. "Modern research reveals that the dispersal of Indian culture, at least in the former Soviet Central Asia can be traced from the early stone age which will take us back over half a million years ago. But such studies of cultural contact between primitive peoples, being based solely on stone tools or other artifacts can only give us very meager and vague ideas on the subject of what we properly recognize as human culture," Capildeo said.
"The great truth about Hinduism was hither-to-ignored or obscured by the fact there is no evidence of such missionary spirit of the Hindus during the last thousands years or more. It was Swami Vivekananda who revived the old missionary spirit of Hinduism towards the close of 19th century. Capildeo went on to say that there is no denying the fact that the whole of the Far East is in India's debt for Buddhism which helped to mould the distinctive civilizations of China, Korea, Japan and Tibet. As well her special gifts to Asia, India has conferred many practical blessings on the world, notably rice, cotton, sugar cane, spices, the domestic fowl, the game of chess and most important of all, the decimal system of numeral notation, the invention of an unknown Indian mathematician.
Capildeo, had his audience spell bound, as he continued, "The extent of the spiritual influence of India on the ancient West is much disputed. The heterodox Jewish sect of the Essenes, which probably influenced early Christianity, followed monastic practices in some respects similar to those of Buddhism. Parallels may be traced between the passages in the New Testament and the Pali Scriptures. Similarities between the teachings of Western philosophers and mystics from Pythagoras to Plotinus and those of the Upanishads have been frequently noticed.
"Deokienanan Sharma, president of the NCIC, in his address, said that the impact of Divali Nagar has extended beyond our shores and has triggered the revival of the almost lost Indian cultural practices in our sister isles of Martinique and Guadeloupe where substantial populations of East Indians live. Sharma said that the Divali Nagar festival has also spread to Canada where some years ago, a Divali Nagar festival was staged in Montreal and Toronto." The NCIC is proud of these developments having been not only the inspiration but has also assisted in whatever way its limited resources would allow," Sharma said. "My only hope is that they will continue to serve selflessly as before so that not only the Divali Nagar, but the NCIC will grow and develop into an even more formidable cultural organization," he said. hpi@hindu.org

Sunday, October 08, 2006

God as 'He' or 'Lord'

Anglicans: 'HE' God = Wife Bashing by Grant Swank October 08, 2006 09:00 AM EST
The Anglican Church is in such drastic damage level that it comes to this: "Church of England leaders warned yesterday that calling God 'He' encourages men to beat their wives. "They told churchgoers they must think twice before they refer to God as 'He' or 'Lord' because of the dangers that it will lead to domestic abuse.," per The Daily Mail. Anglicans accept homosexual lifestyle as divinely blessed. This equals that religious body furthering AIDS / HIV as well as labeling themselves apostates. In other words, they endorse that which the biblical God abhors. Christ told His own to go into all the world, preaching the gospel. What is the gospel? Preaching personal salvation via Christ the sinless sacrifice upon Calvarys cross. Anglicans have sidelined Gods chief purpose for the church in favor of kissing the Devils feet.
"In new guidelines for bishops and priests on such abuse, they blamed uncritical use of masculine imagery for encouraging men to behave violently towards women." Let it be known that Anglican churches basically are empty today. And those who show are female or men who are female wannabes. Many of the clergy are the latter. Therefore, there are not that many robust wife-beating potential males attending the Anglican sanctuaries any more. So where comes the wife beating throughout Anglican laity? I want the stats on that one."
They also warned that clergy must reconsider the language they use in sermons and check the hymns they sing to remove signs of male oppression. "The recommendation - fully endorsed by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams - puts a question mark over huge swathes of Christian teaching and practice. "The Archbishop has shown himself to be as spiritually deprived as Pope Benedict XVI. They are both maximum wafflers and so will answer seveerely at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Their souls are in grave danger for backsliding before God. They also further their backsliding by counseling followers to betray the Bible. Christ said such persons will go to a deeper hell for leading laity astray.These two men substitute biblical data with human hodgepodge called "theology." It wont wash before the eternal throne."
It (the Anglican guideline publication) throws doubt on whether the principal Christian prayer should continue to be known as the Lord's Prayer and begin 'Our Father'. "It means well-loved hymns such as Fight the Good Fight and Onward Christian Soldiers may be headed for the dustbin." While the world goes to hell in a liturgy printout, the religious leaders so-called write their own religion. The Bible warns against adding to or subtracting from its divine revelation. One does not tamper with the eternal Word. Yet these men and their blind followers do just that – brazenly, without apology. End Times signals?
"The rules also throw into question the role of the Bible by calling for reinterpretations of stories in which God uses violence. "The guidelines also claim that abuse is common within marriage and says this is because marriage heightens a sense among husbands that they own their wives."
The document prompted an outcry from conservative clergy. They accused the Archbishops' Council, the CofE's cabinet that produced the guidelines, of distorting theology for a 'feminist agenda'. Rod Thomas, a Plymouth vicar and spokesman for the influential evangelical Reform movement, said: “There is a danger that this document has veered too much towards political correctness.”
"The Bible says God has both female and male characteristics but it does not feel inhibited about referring to God as male.” Simon Calvert of the evangelical Christian Institute think tank, said: “They appear to suggest seriously that we should ditch many centuries of Judeo-Christian teaching because of some half-baked feminist theory. The guidelines - Responding to Domestic Abuse - say that centuries of Christian teaching have led to “questionable assumptions” about the Bible and moral teaching."
With biblical conservatives up in arms, it reveals the righteous remnant who are in every quarter of Christendom. These are those who defend Scripture against all costs. These are those who could be the martyred during the Tribulation in our near future. These are those who will be persecuted by the very church leaders they once looked up to. Yet the righteous remnant will remain on the Earth till the Second Coming of Christ. This bride will welcome back the Groom Christ as He returns to rule the planet for a millennium. The bride will keep herself soul-spotless for her approaching Groom, not yielding to the religious harlots who attempt to plunge the worldwide church into The Pit.

A harmony between the secular and the sacred

by Rev. Mark Creech Faith and Conservative American Politics October 07, 2006 09:00 AM EST
Churches of the late Middle Ages are well known for embodying a Christian worldview in their architecture. No where is this better demonstrated than in the Gothic Cathedral at Chartes, France. This cathedral, which was built during the 12th century, supposedly pictures the kingdom of heaven on earth. In his book, Earth Restored, John Barber says "[t]he west façade, one of the most glorious of all Gothic structures, is harmonized through decoration and proportion to give it an upward, reaching effect -- reaching toward the purity of paradise itself." Barber further adds: "The south side of the cathedral displays Old Testament figures whose message is to proclaim that the rulers of France are not independent of God, but in fact stand in the line of the great kings and prophets from before the time of Christ. The worldview of the cathedral is summed up through a figure of Christ appearing as Judge and Lord of the Universe above the doorway with an assembly of twenty-four elders in the archivolts." The message of the Cathedral is clear, claims Barber: "the ideal society consists in a harmony of spiritual and secular injunction, where Christ is the head of both." [1]
Interestingly, America was founded on a similar view. Dating all the way back to the Mayflower Compact, the nation’s birth certificate reads: "... Having undertaken for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith ... a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia ... do by these presents solemnly ... covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic." [2] When the New England settlements gathered, they formed what is known as the Constitution of the New England Confederation, which reads: "Whereas we all came to these parts of America with the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel thereof with purities and peace, and for preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the gospel." [3]
The documentary evidence that the United States was based on the concept that society should be built on a harmony between the secular and the sacred is solid. In 1832, Noah Webster published his History of the United States, in which he concluded: "The brief exposition of the constitution of the United States will unfold to young persons the principles of republican government; and it is the sincere desire of the writer that our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion." [4]
Today, however, the religious premise of the nation has largely been wiped from the collective mind. Failing to realize all nations that ever existed were founded on some theistic basis (with exception of anti-theistic countries such as the former Soviet Union) -- whether it is the Hinduism of India, the Confucianism of Asia, the Islamic religion of the Arabic states, or the Christianity of the western nations -- Americans have offered little resistance to the radical effort of "progressives" to remove every vestige of America’s Christian heritage and completely secularize matters of public policy.
Certainly the mantra of progressives has been the so-called doctrine of the "separation of church and state." Terry L. Johnson, a Presbyterian minister from Savannah, Georgia, best summarizes the current circumstances, contending:
"The progressives have been saying for a generation or more that there is an impenetrable 'wall of separation' between church and state. This phrase, by the way, is not found in our national documents ... What is wrong with a manger scene at City Hall? What is wrong with a Menorah on city property? What is wrong with a prayer at graduation, or at the beginning of a football game, or at the beginning of the day in our public schools? Common sense, tells us, of course, that nothing is wrong with it. The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution at a time when ten of thirteen colonies had state-supported churches, and authorized government-paid chaplains for the military, opening the daily sessions of the Supreme Court and Senate with prayer. Moreover, the printing of the Bible at public expense never imagined the degree to which fanatics would go to remove religion from the public square." [5]
Unfortunately, this wrong-headed approach by progressives, who have dominated the political landscape in recent decades, has wreaked havoc on the nation’s character and institutions. Their misguided intent to unite the country under a secular multi-cultural banner has instead deeply divided it by removing its moral compass.
Such has precipitated a cultural war with a revival of sorts for "orthodox" or "conservative" values, which are fundamentally biblical in nature. A number of areas where the battles are currently being fought and must be won if the nation would be redeemed are:
1. The battle to preserve the sanctity of human life (Psalm 139:13-16; Isaiah 42:2, 24; Luke 1:41-44; Exodus 20:13). America’s wholesale slaughter of innocent life at its earliest stages through abortion and destructive embryonic stem-cell research is unacceptable. Neither is the practice of euthanasia or forms of assisted suicide tolerable. The Bible argues life is sacred at every stage and that government has a responsibility to vigorously protect it. The late Mother Teresa said at the 1996 National Prayer Breakfast, "If a child is not safe in his mother’s womb, nothing is safe." The attack on innocent human life at any juncture is an attack on all of life.
2. The battle to preserve the traditional monogamous family (Genesis 2:21-24; Ephesians 5:22-33). Divorce is epidemic in America with nearly half of all marriages failing. For the first time in the nation’s history more people are cohabitating than are married. Diverse forms of family such as homosexual marriage, polygamy, and group marriages are being advocated. These family scenarios are rejected by God. Moreover, they open a Pandora’s Box of ills that strike at the very heart of a stable society. They create circumstances where, unfortunately, children suffer the most. The ideal plan God ordained for the family simply begins with one man and one woman who legally marry for life.
3. The battle to preserve common decency (Proverbs 14:34). Alcohol and drug abuse is rampant, costing the nation nearly $400 billion annually, not to mention the destruction of countless American youth. Pornography is a multi-billion dollar business. Television programs and the movies are rift with obscenity, profanity and vulgarity. Yet many of the "liberal/progressive" persuasion promote the legalization of illicit drugs and advocate for lesser government regulation of the media.
Nevertheless, the best way to protect a representative republic is for the state to defend the national morality. John Adams, the second President of the United States argued: "Religion and virtue are the only foundations, not only of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all governments and in all the combinations of human society." [6]
4. The battle to preserve a limited government (Romans 13:1-7). The Scriptures teach that government’s primary responsibility is to procure justice by protecting the life, liberty and property of its citizenry. It may legitimately tax in order to carry out this particular function. But contrary to the notions of progressives, God never authorized government to tax in order to provide matters such as housing, food, child-care, health-care, etc. Just as individuals have no right to play Robin Hood and use their coercive powers to relieve poverty, neither does the government. In fact, governments are charged to do just the opposite -- to protect the private property of its citizens. Governments, as well as individuals, are required to obey the eighth commandment of God: "Thou shalt not steal." Although Christianity is concerned with the needs of the poor, it teaches "the poor you will have with you always" and poverty concerns are best addressed by acts of private charity.
Sadly, modern America has evolved into a welfare state that has made government "the opiate of the people." Americans look to the government to solve nearly all of their problems. Because government is involved in funding countless projects it was never authorized to take on, there is now an outrageous tax rate, Eminent Domain abuses, and even state promotion of vices such as gambling in order to supply the government’s insatiable desire for additional revenue. America must return to its moorings, once again embracing the biblical concept of limited government.
5. The battle to preserve the diffusion of government powers. ( Romans 3:10-18, 23; Jeremiah 17:9 ) Most of America’s founders were devout Christians who believed human nature is sinful and depraved. This conviction led them to conclude that liberty could only be protected when power was shared -- no person or group of persons should ever be trusted with total authority. Thus they established that federal power should be divided into executive, legislative and judicial branches.
Lately, these lines of power have been blurred significantly, especially by the judicial branches. Nearly every issue currently tearing away at America’s moral fabric -- no school prayer, no posting of the Ten Commandments, abortion, the repeal of sodomy laws, homosexual marriage, etc. -- have been foisted on the public, not legitimately by the executive or legislative branches, but solely by activists judges bent more on making law rather than interpreting it according to the original intent of the founding fathers in the Constitution. Essentially, this has placed the neck of the nation under the foot of a judicial dictatorship.
Only a healthy respect for the Bible’s teaching about human nature’s tendency for corruption will lead Americans to reject, as well as be leery of any concentration of power, whether it’s an imperial Presidency, Congress, Judiciary, or something else.
6. The battle to preserve a faith-based educational system (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Ephesians 6:4). Public schools today are the "golden calf" of the left. Their influence has literally removed the name of God from the campus. The worst effect by far is not simply that school prayer, the Bible, the Ten Commandments, Creationism or Intelligent Design are not allowed in the classroom, but that students are led to believe that faith in God, reliance in the Holy Scriptures, or obedience to God’s commands has no place in the process of education.
The late great Peter Marshall, Chaplain to the U.S. Senate during the late 1940s, warned: "Let us not fool ourselves -- without Christianity, without Christian education, without the principles of Christ inculcated into young life, we are simply rearing pagans." [7]
Obviously, faith is the source of conservative values. Progressives may often assert that faith is also the premise for their values. But it should be realized as James Davidson Hunter, (professor of sociology and religious studies at the University of Virginia) in his book, Culture Wars, The Struggle To Define America, notes: Progressives embrace the view that "moral and spiritual truth can only be conditional and relative." [8] In other words, they seek to supplant the eternal verities of the historic Christian tradition by imposing a faith or dogma of their own.
In a letter to General Benjamin Lincoln, dated June 29, 1788, George Washington’s words are a challenge, as well as a word of encouragement for modern America: "Much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to, so plainly ... The Great Governor of the Universe has led us too long and too far ... to forsake us in the midst of it ... We may, now and then, get bewildered; but I hope and trust that there is good sense and virtue enough left to recover the right path."
Indeed! And may God hasten the day when as pictured in the great Gothic Cathedral at Chartes, France, American jurisprudence will once again reach toward the "purity of paradise itself" -- harmonizing the secular and the spiritual, acknowledging Christ as the Lord of both. Rev. Mark H. Creech (calact@aol.com) is the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.[1] Barber, John, Earth Restored: Calling the Church to a New Christian Activism (Christian Focus Publications, Ltd., 2002), pp. 43, 44[2] William J., Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (Amerisearch, Inc., 1999), p. 435-436 [3] Ibid at p. 466[4] Ibid at p. 678[5] David W., Hall, Election Day Sermons, (The Kuyper Institute, 1996), p. 107[6] William J., Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (Amerisearch, Inc., 1999), p. 12[7] Marshall, Catherine, The Best of Peter Marshall, (Guideposts, published by special arrangement with Chosen Books), pp. 73, 74[8] James Davidson, Hunter, Culture Wars, The Struggle to Define America, (Basic Books 1991), p. 123