Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity
by Rich on Wed 13 Aug 2008 07:23 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link Although my article was posted under another train there is some relevance to this conversation on Sri Aurobindo and the Future.
Earlier I referenced another article concerning speech versus writing. I did this because I find this to be related to some issues Deshpande brings up in his comments on Deb's piece. Specifically, I am speaking of similarities in the drawing up of differences between the visible and the invisible as well as the privileging of the invisible -in this instance occult action- over the visible “the text” that Sri Aurobindo has given us. This brings to mind both post-structuralist discourse and that of some Sanskrit Grammarians of 1500 years ago regarding the privileging of speech over writing and of presence over absence.
The privileging of presence , the origin, the spoken word, over the absence, the copy, the text was until Derrida the major metaphysical premise of Western philosophy. Metaphysical premise may be signaled by an “Event” but since all metaphysical premises can only be communicated through the binary structure of language - be it today, in 1961, or in 500 B.C.E – they are condemned to “differance”, aka the infinite curvature of the linguistic universe of endless difference and deferral.
In demonstrating the the binary nature of language and the subsequent co-dependent nature of phenomena that rise to our level of cognition, Derrida elucidates, how every thing we name acquires meaning only because it differs from, and defers to, yet other names. Simply stated to know “black”, one must also know “white”, to know “bad “one must also understand what it means to be “good”.
When one forgets the nature of language and makes the claim that the Action, Event or Presence they ground their metaphysics in, is “language independent” some real problems can follow, because of the implied contradiction that the metaphysical presence they proclaim is inextricably joined in a relationship to the “metaphysical absence” that it replaces.
Although this is in no way an exhaustive exploration of Derrida, what I wish to show is how he was able to undermine 2500 years of Western Philosophy that exalted the self-referential presence, the originating action or the transcendental signified a.k.a that godlike thing which refers only to itself.
When RYD writes: Such possibly should be viewed as the Avataric action. Such possibly is the connotation of the Mother’s declaration dated 14 February 1961: “What Sri Aurobindo represents in the world’s history is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme.” ~ RYD
We are again confronted with a transcendental signified, this one takes the form of the “decisive direct action of the Supreme”. This originating action is then privileged over Sri Aurobindo's writings, which -although they may contain traces of this originating action - are seemingly determined to be copies derived from the originating experience of presence; the decisive action!
Unfortunately, due to the nature of language, transcendental signifieds can only be asserted and not proven. In this instance the belief of Avataric (Incarnate) action taking up terrestrial burdens in an act of spiritual transformation has structural similarities with a host of other myths and legends given to us in the worlds spiritual traditions.
To believe in this action is itself an action. It is an act of faith. And while I may share that faith, faith by itself has proven a deficient instrument for tackling what is perhaps Sri Aurobindo's clearest articulation of the world problematique, when he says "all problems are problems of harmony".
Historically, faith has proven itself an unworthy vehicle for harmonizing the world's ten thousand divisions which unfortunately are facilitated in large part by acts of faith.
When one refers to an originating action inevitably certain dates in history are provided , be they in 1961, 1956, 1926 and specific days take on a sacred nature that allows them to be honored annually as a reminder of a sort of eternal return of the same. These become Holidays, Darshan Days, or whatever...
Inevitably then what becomes important is the historical record, the date such and such happened, the time an originating presence appeared on the scene. The date of the Event. One then looks back at the past to confirm the future it promises. With the study of a text however, things seem to me to be just reversed. Yes, the text was authored on such and such a day, but each time we encounter this text, it presents itself in a new way, perhaps this takes the form of a fresh revelation, an new exegesis, a peeling away of levels revealing something new to us in every reading or by simply jarring our attention back to those places it wishes us to attend. In this way every new reading becomes a "re-creation" or another occasion to immerse ourselves in the depth and heights it awakens in us.
When Debashish refers to Sri Aurobindo's writings as an emancipatory vehicle of the future (if I may paraphrase) I interpret this to mean that in working with a text, with a language we all share, that we can supplement every new reading with an experience, or a new revelation found. The supplementary nature of language was one reason Derrida came to privilege writing over speech.
This is why the title Deb gives his piece is so appropriate given his concern for the Master's writing; Sri Aurobindo and the Future. It seems to me that reading a text that enables us to consistently derive new meanings, one that enlarges our comprehension on the occasion of every fresh reading is a much more suitable vehicle for Sri Aurobindo's continued action in the Future, then merely the honoring of certain historical events that are only accessible to us through acts of faith.
Now regards my piece on ideology. The problems are similar to ones that have crept up in this conversation between the worship of history's originating actions -the forms of the past- or the honoring that Future (L'Avenir) that can be revealed through every new reading.
But lets also be clear nowhere do I “blame” Sri Aurobindo for his yoga becoming a religion!
To blame someone means that that person was intentionally responsible. I do not think that either Sri Aurobindo or Mother wanted to create a religion, however I do see the unintended consequences of some of their actions as responsible for the religion of Pondicherry.
It is my belief that when one heralds the coming of L'Avenir and the new forms of a promised future in which the guru is located in ones heart, it is a contradiction (not simply a paradox) to hold on to the forms and ceremonies of past ages that externalizes the Guru for adoration. It is this central contradiction between heralding a new future while holding on to the rituals and the forms of the past which however unintended, in my opinion is responsible for the religion associated with integral yoga. This may have been inevitable, but I am not to judge, however I do have an obligation they have inspired in me, to adapt the spiritual principles in their teaching to my experience of the present and whatever is beyond that.
Finally, the quotation I used was from Peter's text however, it is a story I have heard from others, including prominent Indians who grew up in the Ashram under Mother. r Reply