Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Response to Our Windy Hindi

Our intrepid Windy Hindi (see yesterday's comment @ 8:28 PM) says he would be willing to engage in a dialogue with me so long as I refrain from hurting his feelings, so let's begin. Being that I have a few moments between the time Mrs. G. leaves for church and Mini Me wakes up, I'd better hurry. Forgive typos and other barbarisms.

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.


walt said...

Gotta say, "Thanks, WH!"

Thus Sunday becomes the "Bonus Round" for Raccoons everywhere.

Joan of Argghh! said...

I think WH actually means well in a certain sense, but Raccoons are just destined (ho!) to reject the Integralist movement simply because it holds its tenets to be anterior to Truth. I know none of them think that's what they're doing, but it seems clear to me that, based on the ones who visit here, that "integral" is foremost and true Truth is subservient.

And I'm no scholar or pretender to any throne of "teaching." I'm just a shy, unassuming girl-Coon who remembers something older than thought itself.

The Truth is quite troubling to those who are trying to remember something new.

Joan of Argghh! said...

And yeah, yeah for a bonus day!!

Thanks, Bob.


hoarhey said...

Any video game programers in the audience?
Reading the thoughts of WH along with any and all "integralists" who have stained these pages through the years, the thought arose that with all the video games which project the player into a position of hero or conqueror or omnipotent ruler of the universe, with no effort beyond sitting on a couch and getting good with ones joystick, there may be a huge market for a game where the deluded spiritual aspirant automatically becomes one of the chosen in the inner circle of his/her favorite guru. There, the omnipotent integral yogist decides ultimate truth, the will of the Yogi, and how others will conform to them in thought and deed.
Hmmm, sounds suspiciously like the current U.S. Congress, and gaining speed with the advent of the incoming administration.

Van? You got game?

julie said...

"And yeah, yeah for a bonus day!!"

So in that sense, WH stands for "Woohoo!!"

Hoarhey - "there may be a huge market for a game where the deluded spiritual aspirant automatically becomes one of the chosen in the inner circle of his/her favorite guru."

The funny thing is, I bet if someone marketed such a game and based it on Truth, some people actually would benefit. But the downside is, if based on Truth it would probably be quite challenging. Pseudo-seekers would revile it, and serious seekers would probably see it as just a game and not worthy of attention, regardless of how well-designed it was.

I can totally picture Aurobindo's life as a Final Fantasy-style game, though. Hm.

debass said...

"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."
Why not? This is the reason Planned Parenthood was started. What does that say for gov. funding of PP?

julie said...

Debass, while that is true I think the vast majority of people these days have no idea. Including, the politicians of our nation (who often appear to be less knowledgeable than the average Joe). And while ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it, still it does not mean that they support Planned Parenthood because they favor genocide.

I have yet to meet anyone who holds Leftist views out of malice for mankind. They honestly think that their way is best for everyone.

Anonymous said...

"Our intrepid Windy Hindi (see yesterday's comment @ 8:28 PM) says he would be willing to engage in a dialogue with me so long as I refrain from hurting his feelings, so let's begin"

Well I had to read the whole comment, but Bob you really played into what he said right off the bat. You were accused of either not understanding the works of somebody else, and then you say something about that poster that wasn't even true.

You tried to insult him, and in doing so you simply showed you'll interpret and present somebody's words any way you like to progress your agenda, and that's exactly what he accused you of.

I saw this ridiculous video once of a guy who kicked a giant rubber ball at a wall only to have it come back and hit him in the face. I just imagined that right after I read that.

Anonymous said...

*I don't know why I said "of either," I probably was going down one track and changed my mind. Typo, didn't catch it.

ximeze said...

Damnitbob, now My little Marxist is gonna go round & round & round in my head all day.

Gagdad Bob said...


Please. I didn't call the guy a Windy Hindi to insult him, just to have a little fun with him. Don't assume he has no sense of humor until he has had the opportunity to prove it. Besides, he obviously thinks I'm a Loony Coon.

Anyway, if I had wanted to insult him, I would have called him the Rantin' Vedantin.

Anonymous said...

Also the attack about liberal friends leaving you because your wife was conservative, that's news to me, but at the same time I wouldn't be surprised to hear that on either side, you act as if the only offense is coming from the right.

But beyond arguing that point, "WH" wasn't trying to bring the argument to politics, and your representation of the political world is hardly one of a balanced truth, and he already called out your bias. That goes without mentioning that you threw in a red herring and I'd have to give that distraction a C at best as it doesn't really stay on topic.

I could pick apart your counter all day, but it was, pointedly, terrible. You're only going to convince your regulars here, but this is probably your worst. You didn't directly go for him, you just threw in distractions and shrugged it off. You might have well just said, "Ok you got me."

Anonymous said...

Essentially you didn't prove his accusations of your character wrong, nor did you prove what he said wrong(well you said it was, but you didn't support it with any real evidence like he did, at least he provided relevant quotes). You went in blindly swinging, but what he said about you, was just proven true by your approach to the counter.

Joan of Argghh! said...

'faith, Bob, you have been discovered yet again! It would seem your overt and oft-stated political bias has been discovered by this clever Anon!

How you must bend before this mighty passing of... wind.

debass said...


"They honestly think that their way is best for everyone."

That's the problem. All the great dictators of the world believe that also.

Anonymous said...

The anons are like the guy with the rubber ball.

I suppose the problem is, what is accidental to them is essential to us, and what is essential to us is accidental to them.

Great going, anons! You've disagreed with us, once again, because you have no idea what we're talking about!

You might as well describe the color yellow to a blind man, Bob. These reps have lost their spiritual eyeballs. Or perhaps they never grew them.

NoMo said...

windy hindi ho!
don't go away mad, just go
anonymous puss

Zoltan said...

The description I learned for what now appears to be called "integralism" is "superficial vedantha," in re which "Rantin' Vedantin" could be considered a phenomenological equivalent.

"Superficial vedantha" has the virtue of indicating something which sounds like something actual but is actually in the nature of a hollow egg.

My favorite example of superficial vedantha is the classic "We are all one.", a true hollow egg, usually thrown with condescending blame at one trying to penetrate a skein of lies, with intent to arrest that penetration short of success by throwing the inquirer back on themselves in a confusion of omni-directional self-doubt.

In his discourses with Arjuna, Krishna elucidates the phenomenon of superficial vedantha on more than one occasion, as I recall. I am not going to dig up the references.

When I was in India I did not visit Pondicherry even when the opportunity availed with great ease. I was aware of her and had been urged thither most earnestly.

The figure of the Christ in Christian trinitarian theology is comparable to the figure of Siva in Vedic parlance. Christianity is a Saivaite religion, despite not a few trying, unsuccessfully, to construe it as of a Vaishnava character.

Superficial vedantha is heard most often from Vaishnavites, which is not to disparage Vaishnava but to remark a proneness in it to hollow eggs. Thus, I am sure, Krishna's discourses to Arjuna on the subject.

Bob has done a splendid job in answering a superficial vedanthin. It is not easy!

Magnus Itland said...

So, sniper guest, in order to know for certain that Godwin's political views are biased, you must necessarily have access to an unbiased source of political valuation, namely:

walt said...

If some Raccoons haven't finished their Christmas shopping, there's still time to order these, which "will free you from the confines of the ego and help you experience your true essence as well as the true essence of the world." Or so they claim.

And as a complementary idea, what is more "timely" than a calendar?

Bob could look at these as "business models" for new One Cosmos product innovation. He needs to be ready for the 2009 Christmas buying frenzy.

Cousin Dupree said...

I like those cards. Not only are they elegant, but I can awaken to my life’s purpose, participate in global transformation, and end conflict and suffering throughout the world while splitting aces and eights or doubling down on a soft sixteen!

James said...


Hmmm... HA!HA!HA!HA!

.. wiping tears from eyes....


Nice one.

Anonymous said...

”I am always surprised and touched to hear that some people benefit from the blog.”

And I am always surprised of the commenter’s like WH, who are sent here, probably with the purpose to get you to writing posts like this. Very clarifying on so many points.



USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

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..."

And yet, he can't integrate anything from Bob's blog. Sounds awfully hypocritical to me, for an inty. I mean, if everything is cool why not just be happy to integrate? Why the drama? Why the bad acting, directing and poorly written screamplay?

bob f. said...

Don't try to teach pigs to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pigs.

marimoishe said...

Bob, you have touched upon the precise reason why Marxism works in families, but not in groups that are much larger. In order to successfully have all things in common, work for the greater good, bla bla Marxist claptrap bla bla, etc. the people participating must truly and unreservedly love each other. Since this requirement often obtains in healthy families, who care about and look after each other (with the occasional bicker and tussle to spice things up), it works pretty well.

When it comes to loving an amorphous crowd of strangers in precisely the same way you love your family... well, human nature being what it is, that's virtually impossible. And of course, the members of this crowd would likewise struggle with the idea of loving you with the same abandon, because you're a complete stranger to them.

In the early days of my own church (LDS) there was an experiment with Christian socialism called the United Order. It failed miserably. Even in a very close-knit community with a great deal of brotherly love manifest, the people who participated constantly worried about being cheated out of what they felt was rightfully theirs, or became concerned that they weren't ensured of getting enough to meet their needs.

Just because something is true in a limited context doesn't make it TRUE in the cosmic sense.