Saturday, June 30, 2007

The question of whether the cosmos is evolutionary or degenerative comes down to whether God is a funny guy

Friday, June 29, 2007 One Flew Over the Cosmic Nest One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin
I wanted to finish up my thoughts about Frithjof Schuon in commemoration of his 100th birthday. As I have said, I don't agree with everything he says, and in fact, I might even be in disagreement with one of his most unfunfundamental tenets, which is, to put it bluntly, that the world is in an inexorable slide toward dissolution and catastrophe, and that there's nothing we can do about it, at least collectively. In short, no one knows the day or hour, but we are headed toward apocalypse in a hand basket. I say I "might be" in disagreement, because I'm no longer sure if the world is evolutionary and progressive, or whether mankind's apparent progress is not only superficial, but a kind of deodorant that covers up the smell of the rot. I am an optimist by nature, an attitude which is further exacerbated by a disposition that is essentially cheerful, sunny, and sort of jovial. But what if the universe is not cheerful, sunny and jovial? Then I'm distorting things every bit as much as the depressed and morbid person who sees life as one hopeless struggle, aren't I?
Obviously, when I wrote my book, I was unabashedly in the evolutionary camp. This was undoubtedly due to the influence first of Ken Wilber and then Sri Aurobindo, both of whom see the cosmos as a field of progressive spiritual evolution. A while back, I wrote that.... Never mind what I wrote. I was about to select a quote, but I couldn't pick just one, so here's the link to the whole thing. It is a reflection of the optimistic side of me, which again comes very naturally. But that doesn't mean it's correct, now does it?
Then again, the traditionalists such as Schuon all appear to me to be on the serious side, to say the least. I've almost read Schuon's entire body of work, and I don't think there's a single gag in the whole existentialada, except maybe the hollow and bitter kind, as Bertie Wooster might put it. In my more grandiose moments, I sometimes think that maybe I was put here to introduce a little levity into the gravity of religion. I mean.... somebody's gotta do it, right?
Alan Watts was a pretty funny guy, but he was also alcoholic and had a spanking fetish.... not that there's anything wrong with that, but my point is that whatever seriousness he was able to convey through humor did not extend to himself, since he was a pretty frivolous character, and underneath the frivolity were some pretty dark currents. Thus, he was only superficially frivolous, whereas my goal is to be deeply frivolous. Come to think of it, I have to say that all of the spiritual models I was initially drawn to were of that nature. Given my basic temperament, I just couldn't take traditional religions seriously. They were just too easy to make fun of.
So I was drawn toward people like Watts, Ram Dass, Terence McKenna, and even a sociopath like Timothy Leary, since at least they all had a sense of humor. Is my sense of humor just a giant defense mechanism? Here's where I think psychology can go too far. Yes, there are certainly people who use humor as a defense to cover up their problems. Just think of all the deeply troubled great comedians. Research has shown that there is a very high incidence of mental illness, including bipolar disorder, among great poets, but the comedians might even be worse.
There are the completely self-destructive ones, like Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, and John Belushi, and a great many who clearly just use comedy to cover up an essentially bitter and angry personality, such as Bill Maher, David Letterman, or Rosie O'Donnell. Ironically, it is apparently rare to find a comedian who is actually fun to be around and happy in his private life. At any rate, something in me caused me to reject all of the above "stand-up theologians" for a variety of reasons, even though I suppose I wanted to retain their playful attitude. As I mentioned the other day, if there is one adage I live by, it is to simply follow the depth, wherever it leads. This includes scientific truth, psychological truth, theological truth, and comedic truth. Is there any fundamental reason why ultimate truth can't be deeply funny, a guffah-ha experience, the joke than which there is no jokier?
Yes, I suppose so. First of all, if you aren't funny, you shouldn't try to be. Please, leave it to the professionals. And the professionals know that it is much more difficult to write good comedy than good drama. Even more difficult is to write good comedy that is simultaneously deep. Now that I think of it, my favorite films tend to be those that walk that fine line between comedy and drama, for example, Sunset Boulevard or One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. And now that I think of it some more -- and I'm thinking about this for the first time -- I can't even tell you how much I was influenced by the latter film. I was 18 or 19 when it came out, and it was sort of a.... religious experience.
In short, I totally identified with the R.P. McMurphy character, who was quite transparently a symbol of the messiah. And when I say "messiah," I don't necessarily mean it in the Christian sense, but in Bion's sense as the person who comes along and injects a little life into the dead and sclerotic establishment. I even had the movie poster on the wall of my shabby little apartment back in the day. Obviously, this is why I was a default liberal in my younger days, since I identified "the establishment" with conservatives. But as I was mentioning to my uncomprehending brother the other evening, one of the biggest disappointments in my life is how my own generation has become the stultifying establishment -- conformist, narrow-minded, humorless, politically correct, authoritarian, fearful of change. I mean, Hillary Clinton is the very image of Nurse Ratched, is she not? From Wikipedia:
"Nurse Mildred Ratched is the head administrative nurse at the state mental hospital, where she exercises near-absolute power over the patients' access to medications, privileges, and basic necessities such as food and toiletries. She capriciously revokes these privileges whenever a patient displeases her. Her superiors turn blind eyes because she maintains order, keeping the patients from acting out... A cold sadistic, tyrant obsessed with her own power.... She has also become a popular metaphor for the corrupting influence of power and authority in bureaucracies.... When McMurphy arrives at the hospital, however, her dictatorial rule is nearly toppled; he not only flouts her precious rules with impunity, but encourages the other patients to follow his example. Her attempts to cow him into submission -- at first with threats and mild punishments, then with shock therapy -- are unsuccessful. If anything, they only make him more defiant...."
So back to my theological dilemma. In many ways, the question of whether the cosmos is evolutionary or degenerative comes down to whether God is a funny guy or more like the morbid fellow portrayed in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Yes, it's an extended quote, so skip it if you want, but it's pretty entertaining. Otherwise, this is the end of today's post...posted by Gagdad Bob at 6/29/2007 07:37:00 AM 29 Comments:

Thursday, June 28, 2007

New Way to synthesise the Transcendent, the Cosmic and the Individual in a single formula

The New Way is the most unique synthesis of the human experience to appear over the past several thousand years, - precisely because it is the only path that combines three dimensions of Reality – Transcendent, Cosmic, and Individual – in one system. Because of this the New Way achieves what had not been achieved in this Age after the emergence of Buddhism as a philosophy and the resultant world-view that displaced what constituted the way of the Ancient Ones. With that displacement the focus was on the Being of God disconnected from the Becoming. Only the New Way offers a practical formula we can apply in this 21st Century for an integral approach.
Sri Aurobindo described what was needed as a ‘reversal of direction’. Seekers had been encouraged to extend their consciousness to an extra-cosmic ‘beyond’ rather than an Earth-bound integral pursuit for the purpose of establishing what he referred to as a Life Divine on the planet itself. The descent and flowering of a new faculty in human consciousness, the Supermind, would be the instrument for these higher perceptions to be experienced, he announced. While he described the anticipated reversal and the reasons thereof, he informed us that during his lifetime he had not activated the ‘formula’ for Supermind’s ‘organisation for Earth use’. This is what the New Way does. It provides the formulas by which we can see the operations of Supermind in all the affairs of the world, both in the macrocosm and the microcosm. That is, finally a harmonisation of the Being and the Becoming of God.
Recently I read an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s book, ‘Einstein’, as a case in point. Concerning the illustrious scientist’s religious beliefs, based on the material Isaacson collected we note that Einstein’s concept of Divinity involved only one aspect, Being: ‘… [God] who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists…’ He could accept that but he could not carry this perception to the microcosmic level. ‘I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.’ This is similar to every path we know today and every philosophy. They all reach the same impasse; and they have no answer to achieve the synthesis that is demanded if we are to cross the threshold, reverse the direction of spirituality, and change life on Earth into a Divine Manifestation. All of them, even those who now accept Sri Aurobindo’s vision and seek to pass it off as their own discovery, or to implement it in some way, fail because they do not have the key to Supermind’s organisation for Earth use. This is what the New Way offers.
Most belief systems today end in the same impasse, be it Buddhism or the many oriental Yogas of one school or another; and, of course, all the orthodox religions which concern themselves only with an extra-cosmic divinity. This is revealed by the fact that they do not effectively reconcile the unity of God, much less to live in such a consciousness applicable to our 21st Century demands. It is only the New Way that provides a working model which is able to synthesise the Transcendent, the Cosmic and the Individual in a single formula. Only the New Way harmonises the Being and the Becoming to reveal why we are here on this planet, at this time. (17 June 2007)

Enlightened Masters imbued them with their own energy

Idol worship is not an idle ritual! PARAMAHAMSA SRI NITHYANANDA The Economic Times> Editorial THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2007
Clay images have been used in many tribal cultures to infuse health and illness, even death and life, into animate and inanimate beings. This is not a voodoo myth, but documented by eminent scholars, who studied these phenomena without bias. On the other hand pseudo scholars from the west, followed by imitators from the east condemn what they call as idol worship.
In our Vedic culture we do not worship idols, we worship the universal energy through idols. If clay images of men and material can have so much power as demonstrated by the tribal societies, how much energy would there be in images of the Divine? Vedic seers created temples as repositories of truth and energy. They are batteries of cosmic energy that radiate this energy for thousands of years. This requires intelligence to understand, not intellectual knowledge.
Western scholars have denigrated our culture through misinterpretation. Some scholars have gone on record to say that they translated our scriptures to prove that there was nothing of value in them. Many Indians celebrate such people as great scholars who provided invaluable service by translating our scriptures. These same Indians, many of them with scholarly credentials, have no depth of understanding of their own culture, and condemn temples and rituals.
There are two problems. One is that all our sacred scriptures need understanding at different levels of energy, actually seven. Very few are able to understand beyond the gross physical energy level. It is not a matter of learning Sanskrit words. Anyone can look up a dictionary and translate; it is a matter of rising in energy to the required level of understanding.
The second is the loss of connection between our sacred scriptures and the rituals that followed from them; between the sruti and smruti. Without this connection, rituals seem meaningless and are performed without meaning. It is the duty of spiritual masters to reestablish this connection.
Temples have been created not for idle worship. Most of our great temples are built upon or created by enlightened Masters who imbued them with their own energy. When you pray in an energy field like that, your prayers do come true. It is like a projector that magnifies a slide onto a screen. The same way your prayers are projected into reality through the energy of the temples and the energised idols. The energy enables your body, mind and spirit to be focused on what you sincerely wish for resulting in fulfilment. Most Read Articles Columnists Editorial 2:02 PM

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

St Maximos believed the cycle of suffering could not be broken by us

For a Christian such as myself interested in Comparative Theology, an important theological work could be done by offering an analysis of the Four Noble Truths and showing how they can be adapted for Christian thought. Sunday, October 15, 2006 The Well At The World's End
The law of karma is something Christians can engage. Certainly there are many questions a Christian should raise about it, like how does one deal with the concept of reincarnation. Yet these questions should not stop us from learning from the concept of karma. Christians gained quite a bit from Greek thought and thinkers, despite Hellenistic acceptance of reincarnation. While the question of reincarnation is not our concern here, perhaps one could look further at the Buddhist concept of anatman, and consider whether or not it might offer a way reincarnation could be reinterpreted in a way which follows the fundamental Christian belief of the uniqueness of each human life.
It is Siddhartha’s emphasis on suffering, and its causation, that is the central concern of this essay. Perhaps it is from his similar monastic background, but St Maximos the Confessor’s writings seem to raise the same questions about suffering and its origin that are behind the Four Noble Truths. His answers, moreover, have much in common with Siddhartha’s analysis, and offer a place where the two religious traditions can have a fruitful dialogue with one another. Moreover, he takes his answer and uses it to create an interesting Christological point, offering us a new way to understand the incarnation of Jesus.
First, we find him stating the origin of pain and death lies in our inordinate use of pleasure. “Because of the meaningless pleasure which invaded human nature, a purposive pain, in the form of multiple sufferings, also gained entrance. It is in and from these sufferings that death takes its origin.” St Maximos the Confessor, “Fourth Century of Various Texts” in The Philokalia: The Complete Text. Volume Two. Trans. by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware (London, Faber and Faber: 1990), p.244.
We were meant to long for God, who transcended all earthly things, but instead, we transferred this longing to the created world, idolizing it. “But on his creation the first man, through an initial movement towards sensible objects, transferred this longing to his senses, and through them began to experience pleasure in a way which is contrary to nature. Whereupon God in His providential care for our salvation implanted pain in us as a kind of chastising force; and so through pain the law of death was wisely rooted in the body, thus setting limits to the intellect’s manic longing, directed, in a manner contrary to nature, towards sensible objects.” Ibid, p.243.
We might want to explore what is being said here a bit further. We were meant for communion with God, and only that communion provides for satisfaction. God is unchanging, transcendent, eternal, and therefore, communion with God can fully provide for that which we long for, it can provide that happiness which we seek. However, in our ignorance, we turned from God and to the senses, to the delights of the world, raising them above their proper place (they are indeed good, they are indeed beautiful, but by placing our longing into them, we try to make them something they are not. When we do not get what we are seeking out of them, pain is the reminder that what we seek can only be found in something greater. That is, it is a reminder that we seek God).
Pleasure for Maximos is the acquisition of what we desire. He does not say pleasure of itself is bad, only inappropriate ones are. In our inordinate pursuit for pleasures, we will have to face the consequence of our action. “All suffering has as its cause some pleasure which preceded it. Hence all suffering is a debt which those who share in human nature pay naturally in return for pleasure.” Ibid., p. 244.
Both Siddhartha and St Maximos see suffering rooted in inappropriate desire. Siddhartha points out that whether or not we acquire it, we will suffer. Yet, St Maximos would point out that there is some pleasure we acquire through our desire, so I do not see he would disagree with Siddhartha’s point...
One fundamental difference is that Siddhartha offers the way out through our own effort, while St Maximos believed the cycle of suffering could not be broken by us. While an examination of their common analysis of suffering could enrich both traditions, a thorough examination of this fundamental difference might be a better place for dialogue between the two religions. It would provide a better understanding of what differences there really are between the two religious faiths, preventing the kind of injustice a synchronistic vision of the two would create. Labels: , posted by Henry Karlson @ 9:03 AM

Einstein speaking of religion is quite equivalent to Tagore speaking of science

Flaw in creationists’ argument by RY Deshpande on Wed 27 Jun 2007 04:16 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Flaw in creationists’ argument
It has been said that the conditions in nature were designed in such a precise way that man inevitably must appear because of them. He has been programmed into the scheme of things. True or not, this anthropomorphic view has been claimed to be the great understanding of science. Everything is tailored for man, but man who does not know what is next stored for him. The right gravity, the right masses of particles, the right universal constants are the new gods who have uploaded man into the system. “Like Baby Bear’s porridge in the story of Goldilocks,” says Paul Davies, “the universe seems to be just right for life.” But the strange thing is, all this talk is without knowing the origin of the laws of physics. In any case, man becomes the product of the laws of physics. Too daring a conclusion perhaps, to be proper or acceptable.
  • Are the laws of physics absolute and universal?
  • But could it not be that this is just a hang-over of the philosophical monism of the past, the inertial mind sticking to the old in one manner or the other?
  • And who can answer such a question when we don’t know their origin, notwithstanding the mighty Stephen Hawking?
  • Add to that Martin Rees’s many universes. And perhaps we have a total mess as far as our concepts and ideas of the fundamentals are concerned?
  • In fact, the question could be, can science really talk anything about it?

Its success, an astounding success in one area does not entitle him to speak of things which do not fall in his domain. Einstein speaking of religion is quite equivalent to Tagore speaking of science—and the fact is, they both did it. In the Brief History of Time we have the poser, if the singularity of the Big Bang disappears in the formulation of the imaginary time, then what need of God? Universe had always been there and will continue to be there.

But let us get back to Davies who thinks that our lack of understanding of the universe can go back to religion and science. Both religion and science consider the cause of whatever is, is outside it, the physical universe as we can observe; that is, the laws come from elsewhere. “Just as classical Christianity presents God as upholding the natural order from beyond the universe, so physicists envisage their laws as inhabiting an abstract transcendent realm of perfect mathematical relationships.” But this is building up another theology. Paul Davies of the Arizona State University maintains that we must find the answer from within nature, and not beyond it. The universe cannot be fixed from outside.
There is however a problem. If we make the laws of physics extremely precise then, at the moment of Big Bang, there was so little available by way of determining factors that any precise formulation could rule out the kind of developments that took place later. Which means, the parameters required for man’s appearance could not be specified in any detail of the universe at the near-zero moment in the history of time.
“If a law is a truly exact mathematical relationship, it requires infinite information to specify it. In my opinion,” says Davies, “infinitely precise laws are an extreme idealisation with no shred of real world justification. In the first split second of cosmic existence, the laws must therefore have been seriously fuzzy. Then, as the information content of the universe climbed, the laws focused and homed in on the life-encouraging form we observe today. But the flaws in the laws left enough wiggle room for the universe to engineer its own bio-friendliness.” Paul Davies article may be accessed at
In any case the upshot is, we live in a world that has grown out of fuzziness. Not a very edifying situation. This could be contrasted with the notings in the Record, for instance, as we have in the above. RYD

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The flower garden receives no water, while the banana fields are continuously nourished

Jewish Musicism By: Doni Joszef Published: Friday, June 22, 2007
So, maybe the fact that some secular songs touch us in a deeply meaningful way is just an unfortunate result of modernization and unhealthy exposure. Maybe Jewish music is inherently perfect, while English music is inherently evil, and it is we who have the problem. Or… Maybe we’ve left out an important ingredient of the mix. Perhaps Jewish music has the potential to be deeply inspiring—yet, something is missing. It is that something that so many of us are looking for in Jewish music. This missing ingredient is the key to all artistic beauty, and when it is lacking, the soul remains untouched. The following parable may better illustrate the point.
Imagine two fields. One field contains the seeds for a beautiful garden with magnificent flowers. The other field contains the seeds for banana trees. Clearly, the garden filled with the seeds for stunning flowers should be far more pleasing to the senses than the banana field. Nevertheless, if the flower garden receives no water, while the banana fields are continuously nourished, there will be no comparison. The flower garden will remain desolate while the banana field will be flourishing with life. In the same way, Jewish music has the potential to be Divinely thrilling and inspiring—far beyond the realm of secular music. Nevertheless, if it lacks the key artistic ingredient, it will remain flat and dull. So, what is this missing ingredient? Before we continue, allow me to clarify several terms under discussion.
I realize that phrases such as secular music and Jewish music are extremely vague and require a more definitive qualification. As we know quite well, the term secular music can include an endless variety of genres—spanning from 16th century symphony compositions to horrific heavy-metal screeching to a Barney-the-Dinosaur theme song to a Beatles love song. And, similarly, the term Jewish music can include anything from a Chassidisheh niggun, to a techno-remix rendition of Hava-Nagilah, to the classic kiddy-version of Ma Nishtanah, to a Sephardic drum-beat. Indeed, the realm of music is truly endless. It is, thus, difficult to use such broad terms when discussing the matter at hand. I will qualify my usage of the term meaningful secular music to songs that speak to the soul rather than the body. When I discuss a type of secular music that moves us deeply, I don’t refer to hip-hop or techno beats which are meant to move the body into a groove that originates in clubs and bars.
I obviously don’t refer to the monstrous noises of heavy-metal bands and alternative rock stars. Again, these beats and (so-called) tunes are meant primarily to move the body into rage or aggression. I surely don’t refer to the teeny-bopper boy-bands and poster-girls who are merely pop-icons for teenagers to adore. For the purposes of this essay, the types of secular-music that are deemed moving and meaningful are those that stem from the soul for the sake of entering another’s soul. (“Dvarim hayotzim min halev, nichnasim el halev!”). Chazal (Midrash Rabbah Eichah 2:13) clearly state: ‘Chochmah bagoyim taamin’—There is wisdom among the goyim. Whether or not we want to acknowledge it, the truth remains that, although the outside world has not been blessed with the gift of Torah [Torah bagoyim al taamin], they have certainly been blessed with poetic and artistic wisdom. Indeed, we find numerous songs of pure poetry that touch on some very personal truths of human nature.
I, personally, am very inspired by so-called jam bands. These are artists who truly live in the moment of creativity. They jam—they don’t rehearse the melodies or rhythms beforehand. They simply play from the heart—following the lead of the music. It’s been said that true artists allow the painting to paint them—they don’t know what the painting will become until the final brushstroke. In the same way, a jam band has no clue where their songs will lead them—they let the song write them. This genre of music has been an ongoing source of inspiration for PHP—as our most powerful musical moments have been those that were least planned.
By no means do I intend to categorize secular musicians as major league stars while demoting Jewish musicians to little league amateurs. Chas v’shalom! In actuality, the emes is quite contrary. As illustrated in the above mentioned banana-tree analogy, Torah-based art has the potential to touch the soul in a way no other means can. A talmid once approached the Chazon Ish, zt”l with an interest to read psychology literature so that he may better understand the dynamics of human consciousness. The Chazon Ish told him to trash the psychology books and open up a Chumash. “If you learn Chumash with Rashi in the right way, you will discover every psychological insight there is to find!” Today, many of us read self-development books—not because they are more insightful than Torah, rather, because we have lost the ability to see through the smokescreens of modern-day distraction to discover the true pearls within the wisdom of Chazal.
In the same way, if we understand the Torah’s approach to music, we will, bezrat Hashem, gain the ability to tap into the wellsprings of this Divine art in a way no secular source can. If we want to discover the beauty of Jewish music we certainly must identify what exactly is Jewish about music. The root of this entire issue involves one of the most sacred facets of avodas Hashem: CREATIVITY. We mustn’t underestimate the centrality of this Divine koach in Judaism. We often associate art and creativity with bohemian, hippy lifestyles—dwelling in solitude—living on herbal tea and forest berries, meditating in the fields, wearing a tie-dyed shirt, hemp-pants, and a worn out pair of hand-made moccasins. Far from the typical yeshiva bocher or magid shiur. This is simply because we have a misguided perception of the nature of creativity.
To understand the dynamics of this special koach, let’s identify the Torah’s ultimate artist persona. At first glance, the paradigm artist would surely be Dovid HaMelech—a musician whose poetic portraits continue to touch the deepest realms of every one of us. In truth, however, Chazal tell us that there is an artist whose masterpiece is on an entirely exalted level—Hashem! The Gemara (Berachos 10a; Megilah 14a ) tells us: “Ein TZUR k’Elokainu, ain TZIYUR k’Eelokainu”—‘There is no rock (tzur) like our G-d—There is no artist (tziyur) like our G-d!’ The ultimate artist is HaKadosh Baruch Hu. His creativity is the epitome of all creativity. His masterpiece is the paradigm of all masterpieces.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The most distinguishing feature of the Indian character is transcendence

Twice, in our long history, India was almost overwhelmed. Once by Islam. And then by Christianity. But India’s heritage has within it an inexhaustible power for self-renewal. It rises like a phoenix. Organiser Home June 17, 2007 Page: 15/33 Home > 2007 Issues > June 17, 2007 Think It Over India: On the quest of its destiny By M.S.N. Menon
What has the future in store for India? I am not sure. The future is still hidden from us. But is there a purpose in the life of nations, in the life of the universe? On this, we know even less. But a universe without a purpose makes everything meaningless. Today, we come to the end of our life without knowing why we have lived!
There is, however, one consolation: That we are only at the morn of human history. True, we have gained greater control over nature, but not over ourselves. When we see the great contrast between what science has been able to achieve and the crudeness, cruelty and vulgarity of our lives, as we live them, we are driven to despair.
Carl Gustav Jung warns: Misguided development of the soul must lead to psychic mass destruction.” Today, men face multiple threats—of climate change, pollution and a new flood. If we escape these calamities, we are threatened by another—the slow cooling of the planet. Is mankind then doomed? It is still too early to say. The earth is no more than a place of sojourn in most religions.
The Hindu says: We are here for a short stay and that we are to go back to where they came from—only to start a new cycle of birth and death. We Hindus are happier. Others fry in hell for eternity. But there are other views.
Darwin says: Life is evolving into higher and higher forms. The appearance of life, mind and consciousness, one after the other, has been the greatest miracle of nature. Many more such miracles are awaited.
Man has a long long way to go. Man is not final, says Sri Aurobindo, the great Indian mystic. Man is a transitional being, he says. Beyond him awaits the “divine race, the superman”, with super-consciousness. Aurobindo sees a progressive divination of the human race. We are actors in this cosmic drama that is unfolding before us, not mere onlookers.
The Gita says: Ceaseless action is the lot of man! But the ways of the world differ. Europe has chosen one way, we Hindus have chosen another and the Muslims have their own way. Each has its merits. They must be left free to seek their different ends. We must not force on the world one way as the Christians and Muslims are trying to do. Why? Because their way is not perfect. They are full of absurdity.
Prof. Max Mueller, an authority on ancient India, says: “I do not deny that the manly vigour, the public spirit and the private virtue of the citizens of European states represent one side of the human destiny.” But surely, he says, “there is another side to our nature and possibly another destiny open to man.” And he points towards India—leading the meditative, reflective way. The two ways are not hostile to each other. They are in fact complementary.
Life in India may be dreamy, unreal, impractical, Max Mueller concedes, but, he asserts, India may look upon European notions of life as short-sighted, fussy and in the end most impractical because it involves a sacrifice of life for the sake of life.
The most distinguishing feature of the Indian character is transcendence. The Indian mind is intuitive, bent on transcending the limits of empirical knowledge. But not all is right with the way the West has chosen. Aurobindo calls the commercial civilisation of the West “monstrous and asuric” (demonic). That the way to the morsel will take us to fulfillment is a misplaced hope.
An insatiable desire for increasing satisfaction is at the root of this tragedy, the very thing the Buddha identified as the root of human misery. But is this tragedy inexorable? Not necessarily. Because we all can be guided by reason.
Say Dr Radhakrishnan: “It is the good fortune of India that every time there is great spiritual confusion, exponents of authentic religious thought spring up to remind us Hindus of the fundamental truth of Indian culture.” Such was the case with Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi.
Twice, in our long history, India was almost overwhelmed. Once by Islam. And then by Christianity. But India’s heritage has within it an inexhaustible power for self-renewal. It rises like a phoenix. And its people, for long in their slumber, are wide awake today. In about sixty years, India has come to be recognised as a great power. It may even occupy the third place among the great powers in the not too distant future. But are we preparing for this day? Organiser Home

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Each of these bear as many repeat reads as a lifetime could muster

Where to begin? Posted by Matthew
A while back, a couple of friends told me that my “classical artistry” and now “Great Artistry” project I’ve been developing makes sense to them as artists, especially the aspect that deals with being familiar with the Great Ideas found in the Great Books, as part of the literacy of being an artist (or, the grammar, of being an artist). Their question was, ok, I get you, no, what should I read? Where should I begin?
At some point, I’ll write up a short essay to go into the whys of my particular choices, and the “choose your own adventure” aspect to the Great Books that never ought be forgotten (cuz that is part of what makes the whole thing fun).
In the meantime, here’s what I’m working on as the absolute basic reading list. If I were to choose three authors, I would choose Plato, Shakespeare, and (um) the peeps who wrote the Bible. Of course, each of those amount to enormous volumes. To get going, here’s the particular works I chose as the literary part of “Great Artistry 101″:
  • Bible (3): Book of Genesis, Book of Job, and Book of Ecclesiastes
  • Plato (4) : Charmides, Meno, Apology, and Crito
  • Shakespeare (1): King Lear

The reason I choose these is that each are relatively short and are indisputably influential. Taken together, these could be read quickly in a month, or slowly over a summer (or any season). Each of these bear as many repeat reads as a lifetime could muster. Further, these bring up many Great Ideas, for consideration not only as content for works of art, but for actual artistry, and what kind of values might be central to being an artist. The dialogue, Meno, for example, asks “Can virtue be taught?” and that can easily be adapted to “can artistry be taught?” Which, of course, is one of the most pertinent questions the artist can face, and I think, should face. If only to save thousands of dollars in potentially regretted college loans for that completely awesome art degree. This entry was posted on Monday, June 11th, 2007 at 3:58 pm and is filed under Reading, Wisdom. « Tango for Children of Exile « Home » About the Authors Great Artistry, a manifesto Great Quotes Polysemy, a manifesto