Friday, December 25, 2009

The secret meaning of death

Man's paradoxical relation to death is that he sees the fact of death all around him, yet lives as if he were immortal. He may struggle to understand, wandering from the material scientist to the mystic in search of the secret meaning of death. In this book the author examines the complex questions on the nature of death, and follows Sri Aurobindo's deeper vision behind the veil of death to find the answers to some of the most perplexing ethical and existential problems related to death,...
From Man Human to Man Divine Jugal Kishore Mukherjee 
Sri Aurobindo: The Smiling Master Jugal Kishore Mukherjee 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Universal philosophy, universal design

Accessible Auroville
Report of the 3-day workshop held from 30 October 2009 – 1 November 2009: This workshop led by Samarthyam, National Centre for Accessible Environments, Delhi based organization's access experts Ms. Anjlee Agarwal, Mr. Ashwani Kumar and Mr. Debabrata Chakravarti. [...]

Visit to Sadhana Forest
The team went to visit different places in Auroville like Bharat Nivas, Savitri Bhavan, Sadhana Forest and Matrimandir and in each of these places appreciated the different details, but also offered valid and pertinent suggestions as part of their access audit exercise. The fact that the Government of India has brought out various laws and regulations for building guidelines regarding accessibility, it was urged by the Samarthyam team that it would be best if Auroville could also develop its own guidelines (some Codes on essential accessible elements in the buildings) in the near future.

That Auroville is envisaged as a city with a universal philosophy that encompasses all aspects of society and culture, having an environment accessible to its entire people, is also part of the universal design concept – including people who have reduced mobility due to various reasons or with specific disabilities. Also physical barriers can always be removed or changed, but the main blockages from mental barriers through our own attitudes are what we will have to address before looking at the physical barriers – to asses our own sensitivities to barriers. Susmita New Abilities Link - Accessible Auroville Home > Health > Accessible Auroville Matrimandir access audit report Town Hall access audit report

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Auroville Foundation purchased 7.40 acres while 5.91 acres were secured by way of land exchange

Thoorigai Written by Miriam Tuesday, 17 November 2009
On Saturday the 14th of November in Gallery Square Circle at Kala Kendra an exhibition of Tamil artist Anbazhagan was inaugurated. The event started with a short performance by Mohanam Sound Crew. Thoorigai is the title of the artist's opus focused on his own symbolic world and life. In English the word means something like “Journey Toward Colorful Soil”, and on beautiful, mostly oil on canvas paintings, we can clearly see India in its rich textures. From the soil to the fine ornaments of daily life, from people in their motions to vast symbolism. Interview with Anbazhagan is in Tamil. To download the magazine clich here

A Guest Shares Her Experience Written by Radio Team Monday, 16 November 2009
Today's news features an interview with a guest from Belgium, who shares her impressions, what she has experienced and what she feels. Also there's a notice from the newly formed Entry Service which has been processing a great number of pending Newcomer requests since its re-opening two weeks ago. Plus news of an Auroville International Meeting which will take place in Bhubaneswar, Orissa 1st to the 6th of February 2010. To download the news cick here.

Resources & education Written by Radio Team Monday, 16 November 2009
On 19 September Vikram, Martin and Harini presented the results of a socio-economic survey conducted over the last year. The focus on this survey was mainly on youth of Auroville and on commercial activities. Part of the research also centered on the expectations of young Aurovilians residing in the city and the capital need to implement projects in order to create new job opportunities. The important role of education and to achieve higher standards was one of the results of this research. In the second part, an interaction between the researchers and the audience made this presentation rich in answers as well as in unanswered questions.Can a survey made on 12% of the commercial units give a precise figure of Auroville's actual economy? That may or may not be the case, but the value remains as an important research completed. To download the presentation click here for the part one, here fort the part two.

Land Annual Report Written by Radio Team Sunday, 15 November 2009
During the period under review, Auroville Foundation purchased 7.40 acres in the planned township area while 5.91 acres were secured by way of land exchange with the unutilized land outside the planned township area. Of the total 13.31 acres that were secured during the year, 11.86 were in the Green Belt and 1.45 in the City Area of Auroville. An amount of Rs. 46,72,695 was received by way of offerings and donations from friends and well-wishers of Auroville as well as from guests and residents of Auroville. Cick here to downaload the full report as pdf.

Harmony, peace and unity Written by Miriam Saturday, 14 November 2009
Second meeting of Asian Unity was held at Pitanga, and as East Asian traditions are, it started with excellent tea, and quiet conversation of arriving guests. From the first meeting in September things started to move for Asian community, and many plans are in the progress. On 17,5 acers of land in Iternational zone proposed for Asia, idea came up to sart to build at least small Tea pavillion with which they could establish Asian zone, and could been used as a place for meeting, for meditation and tea ceremonies. In Asian culture tea ceremony is important part of the culture, it's related to art in general; important part of it is spritual passage without religious projections. To download this program click here.

Rainwater, Lake Water Written by Marlenka Friday, 13 November 2009
Today's news presents first a few words from Sauro of l'Avenir on water: the proposed water body on the grounds of Matrimandir. And an announcement from Auroville's Youth Centre, also known as Peaceful City, which is in the planning stage of holding a youth event in Auroville this coming March 2010. Anima Mundi (Latin for cosmic breath, the world soul, the life force, the spirit of nature) is the name of the Auroville World Youth Event. To downlod the news click here

A vision for Universal Design Written by Rose Thursday, 12 November 2009
The first and second day of a three-day workshop focusing on Universal Design, the emerging global trend which aims to create environments with greater access for people with special needs. Topics for discussion include the different challenges faced by those with disabilities in Auroville today, and how existing designs should be adapted to make our surroundings more user-friendly. Also on the agenda are Professional Access Audits, which judge the accessibility of existing structures. Introduction with music, followed by a Q&A session. Hosted in association with the National Centre for Accessible Environments, New Delhi. o download the day one click here.To download the day two click here.

Land, Housing in the Monsoon Written by Marlenka Friday, 06 November 2009
Today's news includes several topics: the housing situation still in crisis mode, lands required to fill in the existing city-in-the-making not yet acquired, interfacing happening with PondyCan (Pondicherry Citizens Action Network) to find solutions to the rapid erosion of the beach at Quiet and, a joint offering by the University of Human Unity and the educational program 'Living Routes―Auroville' offering an Integral Sustainability Seminar Series on various sustainable practices in Auroville, with the topic Nutrition: organic farming, agricultural activities, Foodlink, Holistic Food Systems and Raw Food Philosophy on offer this week. To download the news click here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Racialism was compatible with the ideologies and policies of imperial liberalism

Medicine, Race and Liberalism in British Bengal Symptoms of Empire
By Ishita Pande

This book focuses on the entwinement of politics and medicine and power and knowledge in India during the age of empire. Using the powerful metaphor of ‘pathology’ - the science of the origin, nature, and course of diseases - the author develops and challenges a burgeoning literature on colonial medicine, moving beyond discussions of state medicine and the control of epidemics to everyday life, to show how medicine was a fundamental ideology of empire.

Related to this point, and engaging with postcolonial histories of biopower and modernity, the book highlights the use of this racially grounded medicine in the formulation of modern selves and subjectivities in late colonial India. In tracing the cultural determinants of biological race theory and contextualizing the understanding of race as pathology, the book demonstrates how racialism was compatible with the ideologies and policies of imperial liberalism.

Medicine, Race and Liberalism in British Bengal brings together the study of modern South Asia, race theory, colonialism and empire and the history of medicine. It highlights the powerful role played by the idea of ‘pathology’ in the rationalization of imperial liberalism and the subsequent projects of modernity embraced by native experts in Bengal in the ‘long’ nineteenth century. ISBN: 9780415778152 Published November 09 2009 by Routledge.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Excavation of hidden sources to understand the complex history of both human personality and culture

Anthropology, the aspiration to place knowledge of humanity as a whole on a rigorous footing, has been through three phases corresponding roughly to the last three centuries. In each case its object and method reflected the movement of world history when seen from a European perspective. Anthropology grew out of the critique of the old regime of agrarian civilisation as part of a search for the universal foundations of democratic society.
Locke, Rousseau and Kant wished to found the social contract on human nature and to that end their method was philosophical reasoning, supported by the best information available on the uncivilised peoples of North America and the South Seas. Indeed Kant was the first to use the word “anthropology” in anything like its modern sense; but you will not find references made to that in today’s courses on the history of social anthropology.
The 19th century put the spirit of democratic revolution firmly behind itself and addressed a world brought into being by western imperialism, an imperialism powered by mechanisation. The question Victorians asked was how they were able to conquer the planet with so little effective resistance. They concluded that their culture was superior, being based on reason rather than superstition, and that this superiority was grounded in nature as racial difference. Their perspective on world society was inevitably one of movement, so that the racial hierarchy they found there was understood to be still evolving. The object of 19th century anthropology was thus to explain the origin of the continuing inequality between the races of mankind; its method was evolutionary history based on widespread comparison of examples linked by an assumption of human psychic unity. In other words, they could become like us once they submitted to an appropriate form of government and education by us.
In the 20th century anthropology took the predominant form of ethnography. That is, individual peoples, studied in isolation from their wider context in time and space, were written up by lone ethnographers whose method was prolonged and intensive immersion in their societies. Nowhere was this project pursued more rigorously or exclusively than in the British social anthropology of Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown. By the end of the century, most professionals in social and cultural anthropology around the world pay at least lip service to this ethnographic ideal, although in the other imperial centres (the United States, France, Russia, India etc) the methods employed are more varied. And within Britain the basic model of functionalist ethnography has been undermined from numerous quarters for several decades now. [...]
Rivers went on to compile The History of Melanesian Society in two volumes (1914) which sought to explain cultural variation within the region in part as the result of successive waves of migration. He eventually aligned himself with Eliot-Smith and Perry whose revival of diffusionist world history featured Egypt as the source of a widely distributed cultural complex (an echo of the Lost Tribes of Israel discourse of the previous century). There is no doubt that Rivers and his colleagues generated some pretty wild stuff in reconstructing the history of human movement along lines unconsciously imitating the British imperialism of the day (“navigators in search of precious metals” and so on). And this provided a convenient target for the functionalist ethnographers.
Malinowski published his functionalist manifesto in a series of short pieces which came out between 1922 and 1926: the introduction to Argonauts, two papers in Nature and an encyclopaedia article. It boils down to this. Culture is something people everywhere generate as a vehicle through which they live their everyday lives. It has to work for them on a daily basis and that includes the requirement that the different parts add up to something reasonably coherent. It does not matter where the bits of culture come from; what matters is the integrity of the pattern expressed in everyday life, in the here and now. It is worth recalling that 1922 was the year when audiences everywhere queued up to watch Flaherty’s movie, Nanook of the North. After the slaughter of the trenches, confidence in western civilisation was shaken. The resilience of an Eskimo pitted against nature underscored the message that ways of life we may once have dismissed as primitive had their own legitimacy and might even be a source of inspiration for a West on its knees. [...]
It is paradoxical that British anthropologists often wrote of African peoples as if they lived in bounded, timeless units outside the currents of modern history, on metaphorical islands, as it were, to set against the real historical islands that Haddon and Rivers studied. For the ethnographers of the interwar period were also heavily engaged with the problem of social change (which they called “culture contact”). Without exception they were forced to come to grips with the concrete realities of their colonial field situation, even as they also constructed insular laboratories detached from the movement of 20th century society. It is notable that the principal source of their funding, by Rockefeller, went under the rubric of “Social change in Africa”. Even more than most, these ethnographers had to struggle with the contradictions of doing intellectual work in the modern world. It is convenient, but lazy to typify them as just one thing. They themselves recognised that they were trying to reconcile at least two things — hence the double descent mythology personified by Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown.
If ideology is classically the attempt to derive life from ideas, the British school sought to derive ideas from life, devising a special style of writing in which concrete descriptions of live activities were used to support generalisations whose debt to western intellectual traditions was never made explicit. In the hands of Malinowski this could be a romantic literary exercise, linking individual actors and concrete events to a self-conscious narrative. Radcliffe-Brown’s influence was aimed at professional consolidation, the promulgation of a scientific ethos, objectifications of structure, abstract conceptualisation. The truth is that the functionalist ethnographers had to mediate between contrasting social situations — their own isolation as individual fieldworkers exposed to the lives of exotic peoples and their collective reproduction in an academic milieu as a caste of professional experts. They were pulled in two directions: towards joining the peoples of the world and back into the insularity of academic bureaucracy. [...]
Rivers between anthropology and psychology
William Rivers started out as a physiologist and had already established the first two experimental psychology laboratories in England before joining CAETS to which he contributed both studies of perception and the genealogical method. As a result of his neurological experiments with Head, he developed a two-stage model of nerve regeneration, the protopathic and the epicritic. He elaborated the sociological study of kinship and social structure. Took his ethnological enquiries in the direction of German historicism and beyond, into the wilder regions of global speculation. Became a psychoanalyst who applied Freud’s ideas critically. Served as an army psychiatrist in the war, finding in the treatment of shell-shock victims a new version of social psychology. He ended his life as a socialist politician and friend of progressive literary men. In the last few years before his death, 1917-1922, he appears to have had a personality transplant, the first stages of which are depicted by Pat Barker in Regeneration. Once a conservative member of the academic establishment, a recluse with a stammer, he became the very model of an outgoing public intellectual.
Now there is much more to this fascinating story than can be told here. But I wish only to point to the way Rivers approached the disciplines of psychology and anthropology (in which he included ethnology and sociology). His first preoccupation was to build up several academic specialisms of which he was a practitioner. Indeed he subscribed to the compartmentalisation of knowledge to the extent of serving as president of both the national bodies responsible for supervising professional practice in anthropology and psychology in Britain. He brought to these various enquiries a common methodological outlook which never sacrificed the active engagement of the investigating subject to an objectifying positivism which was taking root in the universities at the time. It is indisputable that he sought to separate the study of society from that of individuals, in much the same way that chemistry was hived off from physics. At this stage he seems to have made little of the fact that he combined these branches of study within himself.
Rivers’s war experiences changed all that. In the last five years of his life he produced some forty pieces of work, of varying quality and length, while maintaining a punishing regime of professional and public commitment. Inevitably he wrote these pieces off the top of his head, relying on whatever was stored in his memory from decades of specialist practice. In the process his method became more autobiographical and self-reflexive; the boundaries between disciplines became blurred in a synthesising drive to comprehend and influence individual experience of society.
In his posthumous book, Conflict and Dream (1923), Rivers recalls one of his own dreams whose preoccupation was with “Hidden Sources”. His initial explanation is that the dream referred to his frustration in not being able to reply to mistaken American critics of his kinship theories, because of overwork as an army psychiatrist. In a practical sense, but possibly more seriously, a conflict existed between psychology and ethnology. But, pushing the analysis further, Rivers concludes that the dream reveals the fundamental harmony between psychoanalysis and ethnology which are based on the same method, the excavation of hidden sources which help us to understand the complex history of both human personality and culture.
Armed with this integrated vision of self and society, Rivers came out of the war ready to change the world, not just to understand it.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

With the emergence of memes a new replicator enters the world, very different from genes. Memes or cultural ideas, symbols, and practices, are like genes in that they aim to get themselves replicated, however as unique replicators they do not act at the behest of genes. In other words, we now get what could be called a “conflict of the replicators”. Genes can struggle with memes. Memes can struggle with genes. Memes and genes can collaborate with one another. However, like all alliances, a collaboration of memes and genes is a temporary strategy to advance the replication of genes and the replication of the memes that can be dissolved when this relationship no longer advances one or the other. It is even feasible that memes, at some point, could dispense with genes altogether if they find new and more effective ways to replicate themselves, no longer requiring organic bodies like brains to be passed along. This, for example, is what is depicted in films like Terminator or The Matrix where the machines (and machines are memes) have been liberated from human bodies and strive to replicate themselves apart from humans. [...]
In this respect, we can think of memes as strategies for seducing brains. Some memes get themselves replicated by being useful for the organisms that host them. Others get themselves replicated by playing on the architecture of our brains in rhythmic and imagistic terms. Yet others get themselves replicated by playing on our worst characteristics such as envy, hatred, narcissism, and so on. [...]
Generally when we think of meaning we think of it as something that doesn’t have a geography or that isn’t located in time and space. No doubt this error emerges as a result of certain confusions surrounding the iterability of memes giving the illusion that memes aren’t localized in space and time. But insofar as memes must spread, insofar as they must be copied, memes have a geography or a geographical distribution which is, in principle, mappable. Indeed, this is part of what the ethnographer does implicitly when she does field work, investigating the unique practices, technologies, laws, morals, cosmologies, economies, etc., of a particular group of people.

Sociology is the study of one’s own society, anthropology is the study of other cultures

VIEWS FROM AFAR - Lévi-Strauss’s great gift was the gift of imagination
André Béteille The Telegraph > Front Page > Opinion > Tuesday , November 10 , 2009

The passing of Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009) marks the end of an era in the study of human culture. He was in his time the most renowned anthropologist in the world, and perhaps more renowned than any other anthropologist at any time or in any place. But he was much more than that. He was a pioneer of a whole intellectual movement that came to be known as ‘structuralism’, and his thought influenced scholars and writers in many different fields. My sense is that his standing as a man of letters in France will outlive his technical innovations as an anthropologist.
Lévi-Strauss’s first major contribution to anthropology was a work on kinship published originally in 1949. That work, entitled The Elementary Structures of Kinship, took time to secure worldwide attention since an English translation did not appear until twenty years later. To the English-speaking anthropologists who read it in the original, the arguments of the book appeared strange and unfamiliar, and its theoretical claims too sweeping. But it did secure a commanding position in course of time, and came to be much admired even by those who had little knowledge of the literature on kinship.
The Elementary Structures propounded a new approach to the study of kinship that came to be known as ‘alliance theory’ as against the ‘descent theory’ favoured by the British anthropologists who had dominated the field until then. Descent theory focuses on the transmission of rights and obligations across the generations, whereas alliance theory dwells on the chains of relations established by matrimonial exchange between bride-givers and bride-takers. An early proponent of alliance theory in the study of Indian kinship was Louis Dumont, the author of a magisterial work on caste.

Like other anthropologists before him, Lévi-Strauss assigned great significance to the incest rule, but gave a new twist to the interpretation of that rule. He argued that it should not be viewed only negatively, but also positively; not just as a prohibition, but, above all, as a prescription. A man is not told simply that he must not marry his own sister, he is asked to give his sister in marriage to another man and, in turn, to receive someone else’s sister as his wife. In his own words, “the prohibition of incest is a rule of reciprocity”. Exchange and reciprocity, which constitute the core of social life, follow directly from the incest rule, hence its great social significance. Lévi-Strauss would go so far as to say that it was that rule that provided the first foundation of social life among human beings.
Lévi-Strauss’s great gift was the gift of imagination, and he was a master of the art of interpreting symbols. As such, his best work was not his work on kinship, but his work on mythology. It was through a series of studies of the myths of primitive people that he gave free rein to his talent for demonstrating unsuspected, not to say startling, connections among symbols, and established his position as a structuralist. He was a rationalist who took a lofty, not to say disdainful, view of the empiricist bias in most of Anglo-American anthropology. If such a distinction is permissible, he always chose ideas over facts, and symbolic, as against utilitarian, interpretations.
Shortly before he launched on his massive enterprise on the study of myths, he published a brief study of totemism, which had been a favourite subject among anthropologists since the end of the 19th century. Earlier anthropologists, particularly in Britain, had been inclined to argue that among primitive people totemism fulfilled the function of ensuring the maintenance and reproduction of plant and animal species. Lévi-Strauss insisted that its primary significance was to provide symbolic markers for the differentiation of human groups through the differentiation of the natural world.

Lévi-Strauss saw himself not just as a rationalist but also as an explorer in far-away places among little-known people. Not long after his work on kinship, he published a book called Tristes tropiques in French and A World on the Wane in English. It is a fascinating and tantalizing book, part travelogue, part ethnography and part philosophical speculation. Because that book was translated into English before the book on kinship, and because of its richly evocative literary style, it received more attention than The Elementary Structures of Kinship. Lévi-Strauss’s many admirers in India should know that he has not always been well served by his English translators.
If his studies of kinship and myth bring out the rationalist in Lévi-Strauss, Tristes tropiques brings out the romantic in him. In it, he gives us glimpses into the lives of some of the forest-dwelling communities of the Amazon basin: the Bororo, the Caduveo, the Nambikwara and others. Their technological equipment might not be much to boast of, but their tattoos, their folk tales and their mythology show a richness and variety that is almost inexhaustible. Lévi-Strauss has done more than any other anthropologist to show that the poverty of material technology need not be an impediment to the proliferation of an exuberant symbolic life.
The standard method of fieldwork established by Malinowski and his followers came to be known as the method of ‘participant-observation’. It is respected, though not always faithfully followed, by anthropologist in most countries, including India. Lévi-Strauss has insisted on the maintenance of distance between the observer and the observed as an essential part of the work of the anthropologist. There is little place in this scheme of things for the anthropologist to go native. Perhaps this was his way of showing respect for the communities about which he wrote. On the other hand, the British anthropologists of his generation whom I knew, such as Meyer Fortes and Max Gluckman, had little praise for the quality and reliability of his empirical material.

The relationship between anthropology and sociology has been a subject of debate and discussion among students of society and culture throughout the world, and particularly in India. Few scholars have expressed themselves more clearly and consistently on the subject than Lévi-Strauss. For him, sociology is the study of one’s own society, in his case French (or European) society, whereas anthropology is the study of other cultures. As he sees it, what is distinctive of anthropology as a discipline is not any peculiarity of the communities it studies but the relationship of the investigator to the object of his investigation. In his own striking words, “The anthropologist is the astronomer of the social sciences.”
The natural tendency among students of society and culture in India has been to stress not the separation between sociology and anthropology, but their unity. This is as true of G.S. Ghurye as of M.N. Srinivas or S.C. Dube. N.K. Bose began his career by studying a small tribe of shifting cultivators in Orissa, and later made a masterful study of the social structure of his own city, Calcutta. For him, the unity of sociology and social anthropology followed directly from the belief in the unity of India. This presents a paradox to the Indian followers of Lévi-Strauss who have sometimes adopted the subterfuge of being sociologists at home and anthropologists abroad, where the study of Indian society, no matter by whom, is a part of anthropology, not sociology. The author is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, and National Research Professor

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Man is the most discontented, because he feels most the pressure of limitations

Sri Aurobindo Studies

Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga

Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga has enormous implications for the time we find ourselves in. As we systematically destroy the basis of life on the planet, and wall off one another through ultimate fragmentation, we are left with the stark contrast of choosing between survival and destruction, life and death, growth or decline. Sri Aurobindo recognizes the necessity of the individual within the context of the collectivity, universality and the transcendent consciousness of Oneness. The individual is the nexus or hub of the evolutionary urge, but not separate from nor at the expense of the life of the cosmic whole.

We also have a daily twitter feed on Sri Aurobindo’s studies at

We are systematically working our way through The Life Divine. The newest posts appear near the top. If you want to start at the beginning, go to the oldest post and roll forward until you reach the present day posts immediately after this introductory note.

You may also want to visit our information site for Sri Aurobindo at Sri-Aurobindo.Com

Sri Aurobindo’s major writings are published in the US by Lotus Press. Tags: , Posted in Introductory Leave a Comment »

Man’s Greatness Lies in His Discontent By sriaurobindostudies

Life brings to man the urge to exceed himself, while dealing with the colliding and conflicting whirl of energies that sweep him along and provide him the impetus and the impulse for self exceeding. Out of the conflict and chaos, some higher order or harmony needs to be worked out. Man’s role is not simply to recreate some kind of self-satisfied balance between life and being, avoiding conflict, and wallowing in the fulfillment of desires, but to seek a higher good, a more perfect being, the realization of an as yet unknown ideal. “But man cannot rest permanently until he reaches some highest good. He is the greatest of living beings because he is the most discontented, because he feels most the pressure of limitations.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 6, Man in the Universe

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Sri Aurobindo. for detailed and systematic study of The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo join us at daily new
5 hours ago
Sri Aurobindo. process involves moving from the sevenfold ignorance toward the sevenfold knowledge. this leads to an integral knowledge.
5 hours ago
ayurveda. kapha adjustment to motivate. pitta adjustment to reduce strain. vata adjustment to ground the body. 5 hours ago
Sri Aurobindo. physical, vital and mental levels are taken up and transformed as they are taken up by the spiritual energies at work.
1 day ago
ayurveda. hatha yoga should not strain, so physical condition needs to be evaluated & poses adjusted and extended over time.
1 day ago
Sri Aurobindo. process is heightening to achieve new realization, then widening and integralisation to make it stable for the lower levels
2 days ago
ayurveda. kapha benefits from hatha yoga that is warming and that adds flexibility, & supports function of lungs. such as bends & breathing
2 days ago
Sri Aurobindo. not sufficient to simply experience higher consciousness, to live in a state of bliss disconnected from life, but to live it
3 days ago
ayurveda. pitta benefits from hatha yoga that is cooling, supports the function of the liver and that reduces stress. such as corpse, fish
3 days ago
ayurveda. vata benefits from hatha yoga that provides balance and grounding and works on colon or intestines, such as backward bend, plow
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Friday, August 14, 2009

My Integral Praxis emphasizes the three-fold practice of transparency, choice, and accountability

My Integral Practice Daniel O'Connor Integral Ventures, LLC
In the context of personal development, an Integral Practice may be defined as an integrated set of developmental practices designed to enhance one's experience of life and support one's contribution to the world.

I first encountered the idea of an Integral Practice in 1993, in the final chapter of a veritable encyclopedia of human potential: The Future of the Body: Explorations into the Further Evolution of Human Nature by Michael Murphy. Based on a breathtaking variety of research accumulated over the years, Murphy outlined in considerable detail about a dozen different types of metanormal human capacities that appear to be latent in us all, awaiting development through various transformative practices. With these metanormal capacities in mind and evidently drawing inspiration from Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga, Murphy proposed a contemporary approach to personal development that would integrate physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual practices into what he called Integral Practices, flexibly self-designed to gradually awaken one's latent human potential.

This idea of Integral Practice and the research behind it was particularly appealing to me because, in 1993 at the age of 27, I had just completed an intensive wilderness sabbatical in which I engaged in my own self-designed Integral Practice of solo backpacking and mountaineering, journaling and reading in psychology and philosophy, and sitting and walking meditation. In fact, I could trace my experience with various approaches to Integral Practice all the way back to the age of 14, when I began training in Shaolin Kung Fu, one of the oldest forms of body-mind-spirit cultivation. Murphy's book gave me a language to describe what I had figured out for myself through a combination of intuition and experimentation. I have since then been engaged to varying degrees from one year to the next, during the many ups and downs of my life, in a slowly evolving Integral Practice that supports all my work in the world. For whatever it might be worth to those who read this article, I would like to share a general outline of the core components of my Integral Practice.

My Integral Practice
In one sense, my whole life is an Integral Practice, simply because there is no aspect of my life that I do not consider to be a field of practice or an opportunity for personal development. Nevertheless, what really matters in this context are those relatively few personal practices that are essential to my development as a whole person in every aspect of my life. [...]

In plain English, Yoga is a whole lot more than isometrics and stretching. It is a comprehensive practice of personal transformation and self-realization with enough diversity in specific techniques to suit the personal diversity of countless spiritual aspirants. In fact, it may just be the original Integral Practice, as my wife Karen so provocatively proposed in this wonderful introductory article.

While I have been inspired since 1994 by the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, the first teachings of which came to me through The Life Divine, I have found myself in need of far more body-mind Yoga discipline than Aurobindo might have required or desired. My first experience with the now-ubiquitous body-mind Yoga known as Hatha, was when Karen taught me some postures in 1995, when I was 29. I took to it rather easily and have practiced it regularly and intensively, meaning just about every day for nearly an hour, for roughly 7 of the past 14 years, and for about 15 minutes every day during all but a few of the remaining years. My experience with the more philosophical and spiritual dimensions of Yoga has been much the same, waxing and waning in multi-year periods, while always remaining in the background of my mind, as if it belongs there. Every time I return to intensive daily practice after some multi-year partial hiatus, I discover a new level of depth to this amazing discipline. [...]

With the gradual emergence of the real-time social web currently being led by Twitter and Facebook, the potential for world-wide, collaborative, experiential learning about a great variety of Integral Practices seems significant, to say the least. If nothing else, we may find that the increased Transparency, Choice, and Accountability of such Open Integral Practices helps each one of us maintain our respective commitments to ourselves while inspiring others to make and keep their own. It is in this spirit that I am beginning to open my own Integral Practice.

Post-Script: Further Reading on Integral Practice
Those of you who would like to explore the idea of Integral Practice might consult Murphy's The Future of the Body, particularly if you have some skepticism about the very prospect of metanormal human potential. Those looking for more practical guidance on the design of their own Integral Practices might appreciate the follow-up book Murphy co-authored with George Leonard, The Life We are Given: A Long-Term Program for Realizing the Potential of Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul, in which they present a trademarked approach called Integral Transformative PracticeTM. More recently, Ken Wilber and his colleagues at Integral Institute designed their own trademarked approach called Integral Life PracticeTM, which can be explored through the book Integral Life Practice: A 21st Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening, co-authored by Ken Wilber, Terry Patten, Adam Leonard, and Marco Morelli. Posted by Daniel O'Connor on August 13, 2009 Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Health & Healing in Yoga

Techniques for Health [pranayama] - words from the Mother...
Posted by kalpana on August 9, 2009 at 8:56pm View kalpana's blog

The Mother and Sri Aurobindo never endorsed any particular techniques, as They did not wish their Yoga to become a rigid system, or for their disciples to promote any techniques in particular. They prefered to discuss questions of health on an individual basis, oe within the system of Ashram Education.

However, with this caution in mind, if one reads carefully, widely and deeply, one will find some practical suggestions for physical health and how to train mind/body. Of course with techniques such as pranyama, a qualified teacher is important. Having said that, calm, slow deep breathing does steady the mind and boost the health.

There is an excellent little book called Health & Healing in Yoga, compilation of the Mothers answers to particular questions related to health, the consciousness of the body, ways of relaxation etc. Tags: cautions, mother, pranyama, satprem, suggestions

Silensing the mind 6 Replies Started by Mamata dash. Last reply by kalpana 1 day ago.
is man free? 7 Replies Started by Mamata dash. Last reply by Violette Ruffley Aug 6.
Cremation 11 Replies Started by Jordi Valero. Last reply by kalpana Aug 6.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A horse and a crocodile

Although we often refer to our brains as a single, solid unit, it is clear that this is not an accurate description. Rather, our brains consist of a conglomerate of various sub-brains and sections, all interconnected. Dr. Pau! D. MacLean, a prominent brain researcher, has developed a model of brain structure which he calls the "triune brain." In other words, humans have not one brain but three. (Actually, even this is an oversimplification; but this model has the adVantage of displaying our evolutionary heritage.) MacLean states that the human brain amounts to three interconnected biological computers," with each biocomputer having its own special intelligence, its own subjectivity, its own sense of time and space its own memory, motor, and other functions." Each of the three brains corresponds to a major evolutionary development and are categorized as follows: the reptilian brain the old mammalian brain and the new mammalian brain. MacLean illustrates this point facetiously when he points out that when a psychiatrist asks his patient to lie down on the couch he is asking him to stretch alongside a horse and a crocodile.

According to the triune model of the brain, evolution has simply added new sub-brains to preexisting ones like a man who keeps building additional structures onto an old house However, to continue with the analogy, with each new addition to the house the physical structure of the older components were altered or modified to some extent. In other words the reptile brain m humans is not exactly the same as the brain of a lizard. That is not to say we haven t retained any reptilian functions in our brains; we most certainly have. MacLean has shown that our reptile brains play a major role in our aggressive behavior, territoriality ritual and social hierarchies.


Thinking Animal Thoughts - TIME One medical theorist. Dr. Paul D. MacLean, has suggested that when a man lies down on a psychiatrist's couch, a horse and a crocodile lie down beside him. People, according to MacLean's theory, have not one but three brains: neomammalian (the human), paleomammalian (the horse) and reptilian (the crocodile). Certain primitive tribesmen make no distinction between human and animal life but assume that all life is roughly the same. It simply takes up residence in different forms, different bodies. Higher cultures do not make that organic assumption; they are haunted by the animal in man, by the idea of animals as their lower nature, the fallen part, the mortal. The clear blue intelligence of civilization, they think, is imprisoned in the same cell, the body, with its Caliban, the brute undermind.

That assumption is a bit of a slander upon the animal kingdom, of course. It arises from an egocentric and spiritually complicated habit of mankind. People use animals not only for food and clothing and scientific experiment and decoration and companionship, but also, most profoundly, for furnishing the human mind with its myths. Victor Hugo wrote, "Animals are nothing but the forms of our virtues and vices, wandering before our eyes, the visible phantoms of our souls." We become those elaborately varied creatures, we take their forms. Odysseus' companions were transformed into swine, but in the metamorphosis, their intelligence remained human, unaffected. In reality, when men are transformed into beasts, for whatever reason (anger, greed, lust, drugs), their intelligence is usually very much affected, for the worse. Unlike Odysseus' men, they keep their human forms but assume the character of beasts.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Heideggerian critical philosophy of technology provides a useful counterbalance

Thinking about the moon landings, I can't help thinking about the space race, the arms race, the Cold War, and the massive technologization of society that followed world war two... But I also think about how the photographs have affected people on a deep, and not only conscious, level, making it that much more possible for us to think of humanity as a single entity, and more importantly, of the earth as a single interconnected set of living processes. anotherheideggerblog Saturday, July 25, 2009
Interview with Adrian Ivakhiv
Our latest interview is with Adrian Ivakhiv, Associate Professor of Environmental Thought and Culture with a joint appointment in the Environmental Program and the Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. He is also runs one of my favorite blogs over at Immanence.

Heideggerian pessimism regarding technology, including that represented by the moon landings, is a perspective that has influenced me, and it's one I continue to consider important for any future environmental or ecological thought. Along with the writings of a more Marxist-influenced kind of geography (such as Denis Cosgrove's work on environmental and global visuality), a Heideggerian critical philosophy of technology provides a useful counterbalance against those in the environmental movement for whom the photos of Earth from space are nothing but a positive cultural touchstone in the movement toward global environmental awareness. Thinking about the moon landings, I can't help thinking about the space race, the arms race, the Cold War, and the massive technologization of society that followed world war two. In fact, I think of a television ad that played some years ago for "Tang," the orange flavor-crystal soft drink that made its name when it was used by NASA in its Gemini flights. In the ad a couple of animated "moon men" come to Earth bearing rocks which they want to trade for Tang, the drink they apparently gained a taste for when astronauts brought it to the moon. So I think of the moon landings also as part of the commercialization of massive technological enterprise - a way to get the American people on board in something much larger, and much less salutary, than the "one small step for man" that Neil Armstrong famously referred to. [...]

There is a strong resonance between Heideggerian thinking and deep ecology (or biocentrism). Many of the influential thinkers associated with the deep ecology movement - Arne Naess, Bill Devall, George Sessions, Neil Evernden, Dolores LaChapelle, among others - refer to Heidegger at least in passing. Some, like Evernden and LaChapelle, have worked with Heideggerian ideas fairly extensively. And ecophilosophers including Michael Zimmerman, Bruce Foltz, Laura Westra, and Ingrid Leman-Stefanovic, while not necessarily identifying themselves as "deep ecologists," have brought a fair bit of refinement into the environmental application of Heideggerian concepts.

The key Heideggerian ideas that have been taken up within biocentric writing are, first and foremost, his critique of technology, i.e. its essence as Gestell, the disclosure of things as raw material for human use, and, secondly, his notion of Gelassenheit (commonly translated as "letting things be"). Heidegger's later writings on poetry, art, and language as the "house of being" have also influenced a certain subset of ecocritics (ecologically oriented literary and cultural critics) including Jonathan Bate, Greg Garrard, and Kate Rigby.

That said, Heidegger has been critiqued (rightly, I think) for a residual anthropocentrism and human-animal dualism, and his involvement with Nazism has negatively affected the extent of interest among environmentalists in his philosophy. In the end, I would say his philosophy has been one among several sources, often taken up somewhat superficially (as in the influential 'Deep Ecology' text co-written by Devall and Sessions in the 1980s) though at least occasionally with a fair bit of rigor, but it has been a crucial one only for a limited subgroup of biocentric thinkers, and less so for activists. Deep ecology, it should be mentioned, evolved in constant conversation with the activities of movement activists, including the radical wilderness activism of Dave Foreman and other founders of Earth First! and the more broadly political work of later Earth First! activists and related groups. Its theoretical positions have also been refined and developed in dialogue with those of social ecologists, ecofeminists, postmodern and poststructural ecologists, pragmatist ecophilosophers, more mainstream (rights based, etc) environmental ethicists, and perhaps most closely with Buddhist and process-relational environmental thinkers (some of whom, like Joanna Macy and Freya Matthews, identify with the "deep ecology" label and others of whom do not). Within this broader field of critical environmental thought, Heidegger is one of many reference points, but he does constitute an important link between ecophilosophy and continental philosophy. [...]

(I also find Bakhtin's emphasis on the dialogical nature of meanings useful; without Heidegger, there'd be no Derrida, no Foucault, and perhaps a different deep ecology as well. But then Heidegger makes room for all these things; he just didn't analyze technology with the nuance and refinement that we can apply in a post-McLuhan, post-Latour, and indeed post-Heidegger world.) ... Posted by Paul Ennis. Labels: , , , , ,

*** Heidegger and Asian Thought: Graham Parkes: Books
S_Mir (Pala) - See all my reviews Furthermore, it has also been claimed that a number of elements within Heidegger's thought bear a close parallel to Eastern philosophical ideas, particularly with Zen Buddhism and Taoism. An account given by Paul Hsao records a remark by Chang Chung-Yuan claiming that "Heidegger is the only Western Philosopher who not only intellectually understands but has intuitively grasped Taoist thought."

Friday, July 24, 2009


Digital Individuations from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

I have often argued that the task of philosophy is to think the present. In my recent interview I observed that philosophy cannot proceed without its others. These two issues are interrelated. In striving to think the present, philosophy strives to think the differential of its time and of a life that requires new conceptual creations seeking to comprehend the real of reality. If there is a greatness to Marx and his historical materialism, it is in the manner in which he strives to think the present. When Marx analyzes, for example, the factory and the working day, the aim is not simply to engage in a moralistic exercise of denouncing exploitation.

No, Marx is no Luddite, nor is he a moralist. He is not a Luddite because his aim is not to return us to a prior form of pastoral social organization. He is not a moralist because he does not begin with a set of pre-defined, a priori normative values, but instead seeks to determine how particular sets of values emerge out of the organization of the historical moment. Rather, while Marx sniffs out forms of alienation and exploitation in these new forms of social organization, he also seeks to determine the affordances or potentials that have been rendered available as a result of how bodies are individuated or formed within these new machines.

For example, Marx argues that the factory disciplines the worker and forms a collective organization that affords the possibility of a revolutionary overturning current regime of production. The factory is not simply a site of alienation and exploitation for Marx, but is a milieu of individuation that forms a new type of body and subjectivity that opens the possibility of a new social order.

I think this sort of analysis is what is missing in a number of the conservative critiques of the new technology. Rather than lamenting the manner in which people are not good readers and writers in the way they were fifty years ago– which is much like lamenting the manner in which workers are not like feudal peasants, i.e., apples and oranges –we should instead seek to determine the new individuations that are taking place within this mechanosphere, the emergent forms of subjectivity, the new structures of cognition, and the new affordances for very different ways of living.

Thursday, July 23, 2009 Interview with Levi R. Bryant
Today we interview
Levi R. Bryant, author of Difference and Givenness: Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence and co-editor (along with Graham Harman and Nick Srnicek of the forthcoming The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. Many of you will also know Levi from his excellent blog Larval Subjects.

I thus think there are two Heidegger’s. There is the Heidegger that went very far in the deconstruction of ontotheology and what I like to call the “little demiurge” or the sovereign subject, but there is also this other Heidegger that seems to perpetually recoil from this destitution, striving to discover some new ground, meaning, or identity. This has led to a lot of mischief both in his own life and in subsequent engagements with his work. For example, technology studies have been pushed back a great deal as a result of his moralizing and Luddite attitude towards enframing. anotherheideggerblog

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Integral well-Being based on the consciousness perspective of Sri Aurobindo's teaching

The Institute Mirravision Trust Sri Aurobindo The Mother Our Guide Predecessors Our Mission Our Vision Integral Yoga Psychology

Mirravision Trust is formed with a professional group of psychologists, psychiatrists, social scientists along with spiritual sadhaks. The aim of the trust is to study, design and implement and encourage the implications of Sri Aurobindo's and the Mother's thought in the areas of psychology, mental health. Psychiatry, health and well-being, education and social sciences at large. The central aim of Mirravision is to bring into light Sri Aurobindo's and Mother's teachings to the professional world with a goal to implement it in academic as well as in applied fields.

Mirravision Trust is named after Mirra Alfassa, the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, who is the executrix of Sri Aurobindo's vision as well as his collaborator in the new evolutionary work that is to manifest the future models of human being. Mirravision Trust is being formed as a non-profit, public charitable trust encouraging education, training, research and deliverance of its applications to humanity at large, with a special focus on mental health. Mental health with its unique nature and complexities needs a novel approach. In fact, any approach to mental health remains incomplete unless it is integrates cultural, subjective and spiritual dimensions.

Mirravision will combine all the three dimensions to formulate a new approach with both conceptual clarity and practical applications. Keeping this in view, it would undertake an innovative understanding of the human psyche, designing of psycho-spiritual spaces (akin to ashram-based communities) that facilitate development of various dimensions of consciousness and provide training of people in personal growth, psychological perfection and transformation of consciousness. Besides sponsoring the Institute for Integral Yoga Psychology, Mirravision Trust also strives :

1. To establish specialized clinics, community centers, hospitals for the public and community rehabilitation centers for the mentally ill and psychosocially maladjusted, physically handicapped, mentally challenged and drug- dependent subjects based on Integral perspective.
2. To promote, develop, run, and manage specialized community spaces for practical programs of personality development, psychological growth , integral health, and integral well-being based on psycho-spiritual space approach with special emphasis on mental health.
3. To integrate community / Ashram life based on psycho-spiritual spaces into psychotherapy, counseling, and psychopharmacology with special emphasis on mentally ill and mentally challenged.
4. To promote the concept of Integral well-Being based on the consciousness perspective of Sri Aurobindo's teaching and develop appropriate curriculum, research, training program, professional net-work and practicing fields for the purpose.
5. To promote the cause of Integral health including mental health based on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother through research, action oriented strategies, social support system and liaison with other like-minded organizations/movements.
6. To help the aged, sick, helpless and indigent persons and set up special geriatric services based on dignity and values of living and dying.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Pride characterizes modern life

Nietzsche’s Prophetic Voice Still Speaks