Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sri Aurobindo is singing on every page of The Life Divine

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2015 Don Salmon says:
we're looking at about 3 to 4 months to FINALLY get our music and videos up on our website - - and I'm trying to limit my online activity (except those dreaded Lynda videos were I"m learning about equalization and low shelves and compression and all that).

Hope you understand. Hope to see you over there some time (or just as likely, some other thread on mysticism/astral travel/panentheism/socialist-anarchist-liberatarian-communitarianist-unitarian-Buddhism!


Darn! posted that then had another thought. I hated Aurobindo's writings when they were first recommended to me in 1975. Thought he was a hopeless intellectual who understood nothing about spirituality (evolution! Who cares about that!! just BE!!!). Somehow I stuck with it, and the next year I found Sat Prem's "Adventure of Consciousness' (available for free online). By the time I got to the chapter on Consciousness, I got it. Haven't found anything in the world on psychology, by the way, as good as that. Any chapter of Satprem's book is worth all the volumes of Ken Wilber (and even to say that is a slur on Sat Prem - it took me a few years after I stopped reading Wilber back in 2000 to let go of all the incoherent contradictions I had picked up from reading him).

The thing that's misleading about Sri Aurobindo is people think because he was educated at Cambridge and studied in the late 19th century that he was a victorian intellectual. Couldn't be further from the truth, though it took me a long time to "get it." 

One thing that helped was a friend who was a Greek scholar. he said that the long winding sentences in Life Divine had the same rhythm as many of the pre-socratics he read. 

The other thing was almost 20 years of not quite accepting Aurobindo. The turning point was at a retreat in northern England, Tibetan Buddhist. I spent 4 or 5 10 hour days intensely studying Nagarjuna. I finally got it and went the next week to dive into the Life Divine and it was like reading a different book from the one I had struggled with for 20 years. Suddenly every line was music. Aurobindo is singing on every page. He always insisted he was never a philosopher, always a poet. It's true.

Finally, people think he wrote a lot. Actually, he wrote about 6000 pages between 1914 and 1921, 64 pages a month, chapters for 5 or 6 books at a time. He never actually wrote a "book" - he just wrote for the Ashram journal. After 1921, he stopped, and mostly the only stuff he wrote were isolated very short essays, thousands of letters answering questions about yoga from his disciples, and the epic poem Savitri. And The Life Divine is the only "book" he ever wrote on philosophy (and it's not really Philosophy in the modern sense; it's really a translation of his yogic experiences into "the language of the intellect". Though his other 1914-1921 books are written in complex language, none of them are really "intellectual" in the same way - maybe you could think of his political writings (the book on this page) as somewhat intellectual, but if you read them simply as theorizing, you won't get what he's aiming at. Even the Human Cycle and the other 2 parts of the trilogy are translations of a vision, not a "thinking out" of some "idea." Permalink

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