My Response to Our Windy Hindi
The Windy Hindi objects to my seemingly uncontroversial statement that "only a fool would mingle lies with truth and label it 'integralism.'" Instead, he vouches for the wisdom of conflating the two, even citing an isolated passage by India's most celebrated 20th century sage, Sri Aurobindo, to support his unorthodox view:
"The rejection of falsehood by the mind seeking after truth is one of the chief causes why mind cannot attain to the settled, rounded & perfect truth; not to escape falsehood is the effort of [the] divine mind, but to seize the truth which lies masked behind even the most grotesque or far-wandering error."
I would like to see the total context of this passage, in part because Aurobindo said many things in many different contexts and from diverse planes of consciousness, often revising them -- if he had time -- from the standpoint of later understanding. His ideas evolved over the years with new realizations, and his work was left unfinished when he died. Very few of his works were edited by him before their publication, so this or that particular statement must be taken with a grain of salt. However, what he considered his most important work, the epic poem Savitri, was completed just prior to his death. You could say that it is his "last will and testament," spiritually speaking.
Still, I see no objection to the general view that we do not attempt to "escape falsehood" so much as embrace the truth, which is fully consistent with the esoteric meaning of Jesus' statement about not resisting evil. I have written any number of posts on this subject -- the idea that falsehood is a reaction to, shadow of, or parasite on, truth, so that where there is falsehood there is truth. In fact, ironically, I wrote this just yesterday! As I have said on a number of occasions, only the lie requires the thinker, as Truth is anterior to man.
In this regard, it is certainly possible to "seize the truth which lies masked behind even the most grotesque or far-wandering error." For example, I am perfectly willing to concede that most leftists, although engaged in "grotesque or far-wandering errors," are nevertheless motivated by a misguided desire to do good.
I think the Windy Hindi would have to live in America to see how it is the opposite of what he describes: in general, conservatives think that liberals are decent people, just misguided; but liberals truly think that conservatives are evil and have consciously bad intentions. I have many liberal friends. On the other hand, as I have written before, we have longstanding friends who have dropped us as a result of discovering that my wife was conservative -- even though she rarely if ever spoke of politics with them, and she is about as gentle a soul as you could imagine!
For example, at my office party the other day, a liberal woman casually stated that the "real reason" President Bush went into Iraq was to try to convert them to fundamentalist Christianity. I can't imagine saying something morally equivalent of liberals, say, that the real reason they are in favor of abortion is because they wish to commit genocide against blacks, being that blacks undergo a disproportionate number of abortions.
WH then goes on to suggest that "The undivided Ishwara is behind all points of view, all ideologies and all philosophies. If something seems horrible to you, it only means your own vision needs to be adjusted. This is the great play of masks, the Lila of the Divine, and only those committed to a life of love and courage over and above all petty human ideologies can embrace it."
This is frankly just half-digested gibberish with no metaphysical foundation. I don't want to get too pedantic here, but Ishvara is basically equivalent to the personal God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. You might say that Ishvara is the face that the unKnowable ultimate reality, Brahman, shows to humans. It is manifestly false to say that "Ishvara is behind all points of view," for it denies the fact that the divine involution extends through many hierarchical planes between God and matter, or O and ( ).
True, as Schuon puts it, one of the "possibilities" of God is his paradoxical negation in the nothingness of evil, but it is perverse to then say that evil is actually from God. Evil must exist if there is to be a creation separate from the Creator: "there is none good but the One." It is heterodox in the extreme to suggest that God therefore wills evil just because he wills creation.
WH then says that "Some day, I'd like to see you have the courage to call Sri Aurobindo and the Mother 'counterfeiters' too." No, they clearly weren't counterfeiters, even if clearly imperfect. I reserve the term "counterfeiter" for obvious frauds such as Deepak and his ilk. However, I would not hesitate to point out where I differ from Sri Aurobindo or anyone else, as there is no right superior to that of Truth.
WH says that "if you've ever interacted with the Integral Yoga community in America and elsewhere in the world, you would find Sri Aurobindo and the Mother incorporated many, many aspects of what you would consider 'leftism' into their philosophy and their ideals of community life."
This is just false. I have no objection to people engaging in communitarian living if that is their choice in the micro arena. After all, we're all communists in our home life, are we not? We have neighbor kids who wander in our house at any time of the day and snatch something out of the fridge without having to ask. It's another thing entirely to force this system on a whole nation, which Sri Aurobindo never advocated. I mean, here in the slackatoreum, what's mine is Future Leader's, and what's his is his. We all share and share alike, only some of us share more than others. Namely me. But it's my choice. It would lose its virtue if I were forced against my will by the state to do this with total strangers.
Another important point is that Aurobindo turned away the vast majority of people who sought him out to become disciples, as spiritually unfit for his path. Doesn't sound very egalitarian to me!
WH then makes a statement with which I could never agree under any circumstances, that "yoga and morality are totally different things." Truth is pointless unless it results in real virtue. Virtue is the prolongation of the consciousness of vertical truth into the horizontal plane, so an unvirtuous sage is, in my opinion, a contradiction in terms. A real sage will veritably radiate goodness.
WH claims that "Truth transcends all ideologies and all moral/ethical systems." Here again, I agree, with the caveat that there are gradations and degrees of truth, and just because only ultimate Truth is true, it hardly means that everything else is absolutely false. This contradicts his previous statement that our task is to mine the truth behind the appearance of falsehood. In fact, this was one of Aurobindo's key points, that the world is "maya," or illusion, but not only illusion. Rather, it is a "projection" of ultimate reality, so it partakes of the mystery of divine immanence. This is no different than Christian teaching.
WH says that he has "no personal stake in the silliness of human politics, whether in America or elsewhere." I consider this just plain silliness, for to avoid choosing is a choice. Perhaps if he were one of the people murdered in Mumbai, he would realize that he does have a stake in politics. He is naive to suggest that Aurobindo had no interest in politics, as his early life was dominated by the issue of India's independence. Only after he clearly saw that India's independence was secure did he retreat from the movement. But even then, he took an intense interest in World War II, not to mention the communist threat to India. He felt that his spiritual work would end if Hitler or Stalin were to triumph.
WH says that "I would suspect, frankly, that even Traditionalists, most of all Schuon himself, would probably also object to how their work has been chopped up to fit into an ideology on your blog." Yes, there is no question about that. I have many differences with the Traditionalists. Then again, Schuon was a severe critic of Aurobindo, so there you go. And most Orthodox Christians could never accept much of what Schuon has to say. Again, for a Raccoon there is no privilege higher than Truth. We're not so concerned with the specific personalities who help to convey it, which is why any form of creepy Bobolatry is a non-starter.
"I call your scholarly and spiritual integrity into question." Regarding the former, I'm way ahead of you there. As for spiritual integrity, I don't know what to say. I'm just a guy who tries to have a little fun helping people, and that's it. I am always surprised and touched to hear that some people benefit from the blog. I don't try to help people who don't want my help, and I would never say in advance that I could help this or that person, because it's obviously not really my doing anyway. It's all spontaneous, with no other agenda than that. I would certainly never recommend my blog to anyone. I only offer it.
Perfect timing. My little Marxist is up and whining for a handout.