Friday, July 28, 2006 Experience in an integral way Towards a Larger Definition of the Integral: An Aurobindonian vision and a critique of the Wilberian paradigm, Part One: Historical and Comparative use of "Integral" M. Alan Kazlev kheper.net integralworld.net
The Dutch spiritual psychologist Joseph Vrinte, a long time student of Sri Aurobindo and resident of Auroville, the universal village dedicated to his teachings, presents an intriguing attempt at a comparison of Sri Aurobindo and Wilber in his book The Perennial Quest for a Psychology with a Soul. As yet I have only glanced at, and not read, the book, so I cannot presume to write any sort of review, so it may be that many of my comments here are totally in error. If so, I welcome feedback and corrections.
Dr Vrinte's methodology and conclusions apparently differ radically from my own, because (so it seems from my cursorary review) he only looks at Aurobindo from the mental level. In his book, Vrinte presents a sympathetic but scholarly intellectual overview of both Aurobindo and Wilber's integral worldviews, both of which he is clearly familiar with, and taking care not to unduly favour either. In fact he is among the few students of Sri Aurobindo's teachings to present Wilber in a highly positive manner (even if he does ultimately come out on the side of Sri Aurobindo as the greater thinker). His conclusion is that while both have much that is worthwhile to say, ultimately neither is perfect; Sri Aurobindo views need to be modified to accommodate present-day knowledge (this is Wilber's critique too – see sect 3-i), while Wilber's current integral views may well likewise come to be seen as naïve.
Not withstanding the goodwill and sincerity in Vrinte's work, and the interesting material it contains, I cannot agree with this methodology of mental comparison, or with these conclusions, simply because they is limited to the intellectual plane of understanding, and this just doesn't work once you start looking at things like spiritual revelation. And while it is doubtless true that Sri Aurobindo's interpretation of, for example, Freudian psychology is dismissive, and his coverage of subjects like, say, sociology, minimal, the point is that, unlike Wilber, he is not interested in presenting an intellectual “theory of everything”.
Rather he, along with the Mother, are providing a visionary revelation, in which words are just the gateways to a deeper spiritual awakening. This sort of “integral” is not intellectual, but yogic. And of course this is the same with spiritual and mystical teachings in general; if you approach them even in a sympathetic intuitive intellectual (let alone a more sceptical rational-intellectual!) manner, without the actual experience, the participation mystique as phenomenologists of religion like Mircea Eliade would call it, it is impossible to appreciate what is being described.
I had to myself let go of my attachment to intellect before I could realise this and experience it in an integral (sensu Aurobindo) way. In fact this very recent realisation (not just in a merely intellectual way which I had before, but in a more complete way) has been one of the main turning points of my own intellectual and spiritual development, and forced me to completely revise the central thesis and argument of my present book in progress (currently tentatively titled Evolution, Metapmorphosis, and Divinisation). // posted by Tusar N Mohapatra @ 6:37 AM
Friday, December 02, 2005 le surhomme, the transitional being Review of Beyond Man by Georges Van Vrekhem By Carel Thieme from The Awakening Ray, Jan/Feb 1998, p. 34-35
If any persons from India's political history, philosophical thought and spiritual greatness can be labeled as The Great Unknown, they are Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Few indeed know about Sri Aurobindo's role as one of the leaders of India's early independence movement; or of his theory of evolution beyond mankind; or of his and The Mother's occult action on world events. Even less is their true mission known: to bring down on earth a higher level of consciousness, called by Sri Aurobindo "the Supermind", in order to make a divine life on earth possible. For, says Sri Aurobindo, "Evolution is not finished; reason is not the last word nor the reasoning animal the supreme figure of Nature. As man emerged out of the animal, so out of man the superman emerges."
The book comes as an unexpected, agreeable and timely surprise, in this 125th year of Sri Aurobindo's birthday and the 50th anniversary of India's freedom, to which not only Sri Aurobindo but also The Mother have contributed so much. While reading, one starts to realize how much outward facts are determined by interventions from other levels of consciousness, for which those facts are only the external appearances and signs. The writer has presented us the biographical material in this context, for instance when explaining Sri Aurobindo's and The Mother's occult action on world events.
In Beyond Man, the importance of the transitional being, called in French by The Mother "le surhomme" is stressed. The Mother, announcing the descent of the consciousness of the 'surhomme' in January 1969, explains that, just as in every other great leap in evolution, this time too transitory beings or races will appear. They, born like all of us from human parents, but manifesting a certain degree of a supramental consciousness, will in turn find the key for the creation of the supramental beings. This important element in the evolution, first described by Sri Aurobindo in 'The Supramental Manifestation Upon Earth' and afterwards time and again elaborated upon by The Mother, has rarely been given due attention. It is one of several illuminations in this important book.
It is unavoidable in a book of this magnitude that some prevailing standpoints and opinions on the life and work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother are being put into question. But Van Vrekhem's comments are always restrained and worded in a language of moderation. He clearly has been writing in a spirit of understanding, inclusion and construction. His guiding idea seems to have been to consider all Aurobindonians as one family. So doing, Beyond Man shuns no important point or argument, but it is never polemical. Beyond Man is being published by Paragon House in fall 1998 under the title Beyond the Human Species: the Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother // posted by Tusar N Mohapatra @ 11:00 AM