Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The harmony of the teachings of Sri Ramana and Sri Aurobindo

Practicing Maharshi's yoga has been an interesting experience. Previously I followed the path of bhakti, now I am again (after some 25-odd years) attempting the path of Jnana, realisation of the Self.

The usual idea is that Jnana is difficult because it is all self-effort and doing; Bhakti is easy because it is non-doing. I have actually find the opposite to be the case.

With Bhakti one consciously aspires to the Supreme, and consciously offers upo everything to the Supreme. That is the path of "doing". The goal is to attain teh Supreme (the Mystical Ascemnt) or be transformed by the Divine (mystical descent)

With Jnana one simply tries (even try isn't the right word) to realise what one always is, including at this very moment. One simply abuides in the consciousness of the now. It is the supreme non-doing, not striving, not becoming anything you are not, just stepping back and watching and being the nonduual Conscoiousness one already is (albeit without getting caught up in the dramas of the surface consciousness)

But as I have said, ultimately these two paths and these two revelations are complementary, and non-exclusive.

And while Sri Aurobindo did instruct his devotees to follow the path of devotion centered on The Mother (as they were having difficulty with the pure path of gnosis and ascent to Supermind), his opus Synthesis of Yoga follows the Gita in integrating all three yogas and margas - Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana, These are reconciled in the fourth, the Integral or Purna (full or complete) Yoga.

There is another thing worth mentioning. According to Sri Aurobindo, his yoga ends where all the other yogas begin. I never truly realised what this meant until now.

Anyway here's a relevant passage from the Life Divine (here I tried to break the quote from LD into thematic threads).

Experiencing both the revelation of Sri Aurobindo and that of Sri
Ramana in a non-contradictory way, feeling the two blending, realising the two Teachers as great Enlighteneed masters and avatars, a true Integral and Integrative Spirituality, is nothing new. In an email, Rick Lipschutz provides an iunvaluable historical anecdote and quotation:

Sri Kapali Sastry (1886-1953), a noted Sanskritist of the twentieth
century, born Tantric and a noted Vedic scholar, was a disciple of Sri
Ramana before becoming a disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and
following their sadhana. Sri Kapali composed among many other works
the Siddhanjana, a commentary on the first ashtaka of the Rig-Veda
where he differs considerably from Sayana and provides a solid
scholarly underpinning for Sri Aurobindo's interpretation of the Veda.
Yet even after become an ashramite Sastry continued to produce
commentaries of considerable interpretative merit on Sri Ramana's
teachings. Kapali's student, the prolific and peripatetic M.P. Pandit,
writes, in a diary containing spoken observations of his longtime
mentor published on p. 238 in Volume III of the 12-volume collected
works of T.V. Kapali Sastri (available from Sri Aurobindo Ashram):

"Sri Maharshi's path and the path of Sri Aurobindo differ in this way.
In the former, apparently, it is you who are to work out your sadhana.
In the latter, you count for little; you cannot do anything much; it
is they [Sri Aurobindo and The Mother] to whom you have to surrender
yourself completely who can and will work out the sadhana.

"But we must also note that when the Maharshi says, 'It is you who
have to look within yourself and work out your sadhana,' he puts in
the needed influence, anugraha, to help you proceed and do the

"Similarly, here, when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother say, 'Surrender
everything of you to the Divine and be free,' they put in you the
necessary force which enables you to carry out your indispensable
individual effort for surrendering all that you have and are.

"In the Maharshi's teaching, as indeed in all yogas of ancient India,
the problem to be solved is the problem of the individual. In Sri
Aurobindo's teaching, it is the problem of man in his total being and
the meaning of his existence on the earth that is sought to be
discovered and worked out. The problems are different and so are the
solutions. 17-11-48."

For more on subject, see my posting on Open Integral on the need to go beyond literal interpretations to the inner esoteric understanding and revelation. It is on that level that the teachings of Ramana and Sri Aurobindo are seen and appreciated as non-contradictory.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ramana and Sri Aurobindo

As mentioned on my Zaadz blog, a week ago I saw Gangaji, who I had only recently discovered in a local free New Age newspaper Living Now (Nov 2006; Vic issue no.90).

I was quite impressed by her talk published in the issue of Living Now; it reminded me a lot of Da Free John in the subtle wording (note: superficially these two gurus couldn't be further apart!!!!), implying that like Da, Gangaji had attained the Intermediate Zone. Since very few do (and far far fewer actually go beyond to become a sadguru), and since she was talking just up the road from me, i decided to go along. I decided that I would sincerely aspire to receive what Light I could. And indeed I did! My summation of Gangaji is here. The amazing thing is that through this transmission of presence, I was able to access Sri Ramana Maharshi's Light and revelation. And that was and is simply amazing!

I had previously heard of and respected Ramana, but wasn't very interested in him, because his teachings were of the "old school" whereas I was and am more interested in the "new yoga" of integral transformation and supramentalisation taught by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. It took a direct (or indirect, via Gangaji via her guru Papaji who was a devotee of Ramana) transmission for "the scales to fall from my eyes" and for me to realise Ramana's status as avatar and sadguru.

Interestingly, the way I received Ramana's Light is very different to how I received Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's Light. I was first connected to the twin integral avatars via my uncle, who mentioned them in a letter to my mother when I was only 12 or 13, although it was to be some years before that realisation would flower. With Ramana I was already much more spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually mature, and so when Gangaji presented the transmission I was able - through great aspiration (although not really as great as it should have been, because of ego and desire) - to receive it.

A few days later I went down to the local Theosophical Bookshop and bought two books on Ramana; reading them and looking at his photo further strengthened the connection.

Intellectually, Ramana and Sri Aurobindo could not be further apart. Ramana rejects the Aurobindonian position; Sri Aurobindo's teachings include and transcend Ramana's nondualism.

Spiritually, once one gets beyond these words, which includes even getting beyond even Maharshi's and Sri Aurobindo's respective words, one feels that both are equal facets of the Supreme. Both are avatars and light bringers to this world of countless beings enmeshed in samsara. Mentally, there is a contradiction, and a limitation. Spiritually, there is no contradiction, only totally complementary revelations of the same Supreme.

For me there is no contradiction between the two. And what I am interested in is showing how their revelations - not their mental or spiritual-mental teachings, but their Revelations - converge and harmonise, for the purpose of the Enlightenment of the World.

And therein lies the key.

Links: The Power of the Presence Part One: - Ramana had little interest in Sri Aurobindo's philosophical teachings.

Generation Sit » Blog Archive » Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo - a sensitive and insightful appreciation, presented from the perspective of Wilberian Integral Theory

Integral Spirituality - Exploring the Connection of the Sages Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo by Charles Ismael Flores. - "This article includes an imaginary interview in which the author compares, based on published quotes from Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo, what each of them might say to questions posed by a spiritual Seeker who is learning about the Indian tradition of Kevalya Advaita and Integral (Purna) Yoga. The article sheds light on the distinctly different spiritual approaches of these two masters."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My new essay - Integral Esotericism

I've been referring to my essay in progress for a while now. It's gone through a number of name changes in the process of writing it. The final title I decided on is Integral Esotericism: A new Integral paradigm in theory and practice. Part 1 has just appeared on Integral World. If you don't want to wait for all eight installments I can send you the whole thing in either Open Office or Word Document format.

In a sense this essay continues the previous one, and hopefully concludes my critique of current Wilberian Integral theory and the mainstream Integral movement, while proposing an alternative approach. But it is also in a sense an independent work, since my ideas have continued to evolve and develop since I finished the first essay.

Consistency-wise, this second essay is nowhere as good as it could have been, but I submitted it because I just got sick of constantly adding to, revising, and rewriting it. One needs to bring things to a closure so one can start on new projects.

As a result (and much like my Kheper website as a whole), Integral Esotericism contains layers of development, a sort of archeological or stratigraphic succession of ideas, with the newer ideas plastered on top of older ones, and the sections of older ideas only incompletely revised and updated. The result has a sort of patchwork or collage-like feel.

I now want to turn my attention to writing books; although these books will still incorporate a lot of my previous internet published material. The advantage of a hard copy book is that it can reach many more people than the internet can (but also, vice versa!) and it has a permanence about it that helps ground that thoughtform in the physical world. I already have an outline for a book on my website but after working in these two long essays my ideas have again changed so I will probably end up either writing other books first, or else dividing the material I already have among or into several books. When the books are written the material will also form the basis for the integral theory on the website. Ideally book and website should supplement each other; Shambhalla does this quite well with Wilber's books and essays.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wiki, essay and book

I haven't posted anything for a while, because I've been very busy with several different projects.

One is the Palaeos org wiki, which is shaping up nicely, even at this early stage. But it requires a lot of input to keep the momentum going (just like Orion's Arm when i was getting it started).

Another is my essay on "Integral Esotericism" (previously called "An Integral Metaparadigm"), for Frank Visser's Integral World website, as a follow-up of my Aurobindonian essay and critique of Ken Wilber. This essay is just becoming bigger and bigger, almost turning into a monster, or at least into a full length book. It's currently at 143 pages, and the problem is it is very uneven, because my perspective and even motivation for writing it changed in the course of writing it. Short of rewriting the whole thing from scratch, it would be very difficult to really smooth it out. So I decided rather than waste any more time on it, I'll just send it in as it is, to see what sort of feedback I get.

Then I can be free to take material from these two essays and make them into a book, to be titled, of course, Integral Esotericism. This book will be less polemical than the essays, and will basically present a radically esoteric and Aurobindonian version of Integral theory and practice, or alternatively an integral version of Esotericism.

Hopefully the book (and maybe the current essay) will help the integral movement break free of its current exoteric Wilberian gridlock.