Saturday, October 28, 2006

Outmoded Freudian view that religion is an escape into fantasy

Not to re-belabor the point, but the existence of God can be proved with metaphysical certitude. However, the atheists are correct in asserting that this does alone does not prove that God is good, that Brahma or Jehovah is the “real” God, or that God cares about us. Furthermore, while the jnani can prove the existence of God with pure metaphysics, this is cold comfort to the bhakta or raja yogi, who take the next step of loving or knowing (and therefore being loved or known by) God. One can actually prove that God--the necessary being--is necessarily good, but I don’t want to go there, for we’ll both just get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.
This is another way of saying that you can easily prove the existence of God to yourself--as billions have--but not to others who are not inclined to believe the evidence and who are not gifted with the intellect of the jnani. (By the way, another willful mischaracterization of my view. This is not to say that atheists are not “intellectual”--which they generally are--or that I am not impressed by the triple-digit IQ of the semitic lover of pork products. I use the word intellect in its traditional sense as that which may comprehend higher knowledge with metaphysical certitude, i.e., the nous, buddhi, or psychic being [in Aurobindo’s terminology]).
On to yesterday’s conference. As a way of dealing with the tedium, I took copious notes throughout, which should be good for several posts. Let me start with the good, because there were a few interesting points. You may have known that 96% of Americans believe in God. But perhaps you did not know that 87% are aware of a need for personal spiritual growth, and that 49% have experienced God’s presence in the past 24 hours.
Did you also know that 82% of psychologists say that religion is beneficial to mental health, and that they are right? There is a very high correlation between religion and mental health, just as there is a high correlation between mental illness--especially substance abuse--and an absence of involvement in religion or spiritual practice. (It is a truism that substance abuse is an illness from which one may usually only be saved by a spiritual experience.) It has been empirically proven again and again that the presence of religion is a “protective” factor and that its absence is a risk factor for mental illness (which demolishes the outmoded Freudian view that religion is somehow an escape into fantasy, since if that were true, we would see more general pathological processes in believers). For that matter, it has also been empirically proven that the absence of religion has serious health consequences, in that religious people live longer and healthier lives in general.
There was also some interesting information on what is called in the literature Quantum Change. As someone with a psychoanalytic background, I can tell you that this kind of sudden, dramatic, and permanent change--which happens all the time--is something that traditional psychological models can in no way account for. I would guess that most of my readers, like me, have been vouchsafed at least one of these “peak experiences” (which are also peek experiences, in that they involve a lifting of the veil and a peek into the larger reality from which we had been previously alienated). These experiences--documented ad nauseam in books such as Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism or William James Varieties of Religious Experience--are always accompanied by a powerful, instantaneous, and unchallengeable recognition of their truth...
One of the most famous “quantum conversions” was that of Pascal, which vividly demonstrates the difference between the jnani “God of the philosophers” and the God that shatters all of our little cognitive containers like a cheap birthday suit, whatever that means. posted by Gagdad Bob at 7:24 AM One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin 37 comments links to this post

Friday, October 27, 2006

Harried by religion

All religions suck ... except Jainism
Militant atheist Sam Harris has been making quite a stir lately with his best-selling polemics against religion and his in-your-face public appearances:
… [while] debating a former priest before a packed auditorium… he condemns the God of the Old Testament for a host of sins, including support for slavery. He drop-kicks the New Testament, likening the story of Jesus to a fairy tale. He savages the Koran, calling it “a manifesto for religious divisiveness…” [Link]
He goes beyond the usual attacks on fundamentalists to attack moderates for being “enablers” and apologists for more extreme actions:
Religious moderates, Harris says in his patient and imperturbable style, have immunized religion from rational discussion by nurturing the idea that faith is so personal and private that it is beyond criticism, even when horrific crimes are committed in its name. [Link]
He sees all religion as fundamentally dangerous, especially in the post 9/11 world:
… he demonstrates the behavior he believes atheists should adopt when talking with Christians. “Nonbelievers like myself stand beside you,” he writes, addressing his imaginary opponent, “dumbstruck by the Muslim hordes who chant death to whole nations of the living. But we stand dumbstruck by you as well - by your denial of tangible reality, by the suffering you create in service to your religious myths, and by your attachment to an imaginary God…” [Link]
The worst part, Harris says, is this: Because Christians and Jews cling to their “delusions,” they are in no position to criticize Muslims for theirs. And, as he italicizes it in his new book for maximum effect, ” most Muslims are utterly deranged by their religious faith.” [Italics his] [Link]
Despite his deep and abiding enmity to all religions, he finds one acceptable:
He endorses Jainism, a religion-philosophy from India that finds God in the unchanging traits of the human soul. But everyone who organizes his or her life around an ancient text that purports to convey the words and sentiments of God — Harris would like you to surrender your prayers, history and traditions. You are welcome to check out Jainism, but Harris recommends that you accept his conclusion, which is that we live in a universe without God. Deal with it. [Link]
Continued » ennis at 06:56 PM in Religion · 87 comments · Direct link · Email post

Zenith of patriotic ardour

A novel whose central message is so frighteningly obscurantist
Opinion > ASHOK MITRA The Telegraph Friday, October 13, 2006
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s first publication in 1856, when he was barely eighteen, was a slim volume consisting of both prose and poetry. Twenty years later, he published a volume exclusively of verse. He gradually moved away and concentrated on works of fiction. That marked the beginning, really and truly, of modern Bengali literature...
Vandemataram cannot be detached from Anandamath. The song is integrally linked to the novel; it cannot be considered without taking into account the central message the novel conveys. Bankim was one of the greatest writers this country has produced. His Bengali prose has an incomparable majesty. He deserves all the homage the nation is capable of offering to a writer of his stature. Even so, how does one tear oneself away from the horridness of the last chapter of Anandamath, where the messiah-like character commands the crusading sannyasi, Satyananda Thakur, along the following lines:
“Do lay down you arms. Your deed is done, the musalman rule has been crushed. There is no particular hurry to establish a Hindu raj immediately; that task could wait. It is a good thing the British have taken over; the Enlightenment their rule would bring is bound to transcend us to a state of beatitude which in turn would assist us usher in the sanatan Hindu dharma”?
Indians will have to make up their mind. A song associated with a novel whose central message is so frighteningly obscurantist is ill suited to unite a nation that professes to take pride in its diversity. It was, therefore, plain silly on the part of the ministry of human resource development to issue the kind of circular it did, which has been responsible for exhuming a long-buried controversy.
This is not to dispute the fact that Vandemataram as an invocatory slogan did lift hundreds of thousands of our countrymen to the zenith of patriotic ardour during the freedom movement: it had a tremendous relevance in that phase. Unfortunately, sections of the Hindu community debased its sanctity by using Vandemataram as a sectarian war cry from the late Twenties onwards to counter the Muslim orison of Allah-ho-Akbar during the communal riots in different parts of the country. What was once deployed to divide the nation cannot possibly unify it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The polyvalence of American society

Anti-Americanisms By Peter J. Katzenstein and Robert O. Keohane
American symbols are polyvalent. They embody a variety of values with different meanings to different people and indeed even to the same individual. Elites and ordinary folks abroad are deeply ambivalent about the United States. Visitors, such as Bernard-Henri Lévy, are impressed, repelled, and fascinated in about equal measure. Lévy dislikes what he calls America’s “obesity” — in shopping malls, churches, and automobiles — and its marginalization of the poor; but he is impressed by its openness, vitality, and patriotism.4 As David Laitin has noted, the World Trade Center was a symbol not only of capitalism and America but of New York’s cosmopolitan culture, so often scorned by middle America. The Statue of Liberty symbolizes not only America and its conception of freedom. A gift of France, it has become an American symbol of welcome to the world’s “huddled masses” that expresses a basic belief in America as a land of unlimited opportunity.
The United States has a vigorous and expressive popular culture, which is enormously appealing both to Americans and to many people elsewhere in the world. This popular culture is quite hedonistic, oriented toward material possessions and sensual pleasure. At the same time, however, the U.S. is today much more religious than most other societies. One important root of America’s polyvalence is the tension between these two characteristics. Furthermore, both American popular culture and American religious practices are subject to rapid change, expanding further the varieties of expression in the society and continually opening new options. The dynamism and heterogeneity of American society create a vast set of choices: of values, institutions, and practices.
America’s openness to the rest of the world is reflected in its food and popular culture. The American fast-food industry has imported its products from France (fries), Germany (hamburgers and frankfurters) and Italy (pizza). What it added was brilliant marketing and efficient distribution. In many ways the same is true also for the American movie industry, especially in the past two decades. Hollywood is a brand name held by Americans and non-Americans alike. In the 1990s only three of the seven major Hollywood studios were controlled by U.S. corporations. Many of Hollywood’s most celebrated directors and actors are non-American. And many of Hollywood’s movies about America, both admiring and critical, are made by non-Americans. Like the United Nations, Hollywood is both in America and of the world. And so is America itself — a product of the rest of the world as well as of its own internal characteristics.
“Americanization,” therefore, does not describe a simple extension of American products and processes to other parts of the world. On the contrary, it refers to the selective appropriation of American symbols and values by individuals and groups in other societies — symbols and values that may well have had their origins elsewhere. Americanization thus is a profoundly interactive process between America and all parts of the world. And, we argue here, it is deeply intertwined with anti-American views. The interactions that generate Americanization may involve markets, informal networks, or the exercise of corporate or governmental power — often in various combinations. They reflect and reinforce the polyvalent nature of American society as expressed in the activities of Americans, who freely export and import products and practices. But they also reflect the variations in attitudes and interests of people in other societies, seeking to use, resist, and recast symbols that are associated with the United States. staff of Policy Review

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The intellect corrupted by secularism, atheism is a post-civilized primitivism

Going Nous-to-Nous with Atheism: A self-acknowledged “leftie atheist” paid us a visit yesterday, leaving a comment that speaks for itself. If there is any pseudo-philosophy worthy of a priori dismissal, it is atheism, for it is naively self-contradictory at every turn. There is more wisdom in a single randomly plucked page of Aurobindo, or Eckhart, or Schuon than in the entire body of works of every atheist who ever lived. I hope that doesn't sound polemical or defensive, for I mean it literally, and I say it in the most relaxed and offhand manner. But it does sometimes need to be said...
The intellect corrupted by secularism will nevertheless come up with its own substitute wisdom, such as this little neo-Marxist bon mot by our post-civilized visitor: “Reinvention is key to the progress of the individual.” Er, wrong. The key to the progress of the individual is not “reinvention,” if for no other reason than we are not invented to begin with--at least not by ourselves. Rather, the key to progress--both psychologically and spiritually--is self-discovery...
For that is the key: atheism is a post-civilized primitivism, pure and simple. The comparatively narrow realm of evolution explained by natural selection is embedded in the much grander vision of an evolutionary cosmos that deepens and reveals its own truth to itself through the mysterious vehicle of human consciousness. Even if materialistic scientists imgaine that they have “explained” consciousness, they will never, ever explain how this consciousness may know absolute truth. For as J.B.S. Haldane observed, "If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motion of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true... and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms" posted by Gagdad Bob at 7:46 AM Tuesday, October 24, 2006 One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

No ascetic shrinking from the money power

You must neither turn with an ascetic shrinking from the money power, the means it gives and the objects it brings, nor cherish a rajasic attachment to them or a spirit of enslaving self-indulgence in their gratifications. Regard wealth simply as a power to be won back for the Mother and placed at her service. -- Sri Aurobindo [The Mother SABCL V25] posted by deepti 12:21 AM Deepti Panuganti Location:Mumbai

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Our mind receives the waves and transmits them

Re: The impact of our communication jayraj said Today, 8:51 AM: Hello Nina, Nice post. The words do have an impact on us. I would like to look at it from different angle. The words reflect our thoughts, feelings, emotions . if we are in the state of love , the words are beautiful ; if in anger , the words are harsh. So to control the words , we have to control the thing behind.
"Each thing manifested here has its principle , idea or essence somewhere in the subtler regions. This is an indispensible condition for the manifestation . And the importnace of the manifestation will always depend on the origin of the thing menifested.” – The Mother.
It is said, by Sri Aurobindo, a great saint of India , that our mind is an instrument to receive the ideas , just like radio which does not creat songs but it receives the waves and transmits them . There is a higher region where the IDEA exisits ; and that descends into the human mind and takes the form of thought.
If the mental instrument is in positive state , fully tuned , transperent , then it can receive and express the idea very well. It is a common experience that some idea strikes our mind and at the same time , same thought is expressed by somebdy else after some time. Not only the words have an impact on the surroundings but even a thought, without having been expressed , has an impact; it sends a kind vibration in the atmosphere. That is why it said that we must think good of everyone , eveything so that it will send the right vibrtaions in the surroundings. For the control over the words and thoughts, final solution lies in the surender of our mind to HIM , to keep the mind in a state of love and surrender . Love.

Broadband Revolution

Spreading the Broadband Revolution By WILLIAM E. KENNARD NY Times Published: October 21, 2006
WASHINGTON Television is becoming a two-way, interactive experience that offers viewers the digital agility of the computer, the display quality of a movie theater and content that can be summoned on demand. It will take us from what an F.C.C. chairman, Newton Minow, referred to 45 years ago as a “vast wasteland” to a vast interactive world of limitless content — a long way from our couch-potato past.
Any serious discussion of the future of the Internet should start with a basic fact: broadband is transforming every facet of communications, from entertainment and telephone services to delivery of vital services like health care. But this also means that the digital divide, once defined as the chasm separating those who had access to narrowband dial-up Internet and those who didn’t, has become a broadband digital divide.
The nation should have a full-scale policy debate about the direction of the broadband Internet, especially about how to make sure that all Americans get access to broadband connections.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sri Aurobindo and the Armistice

It is said of Sri Aurobindo that one day, he slapped his thigh and said, “It is over”, and that was the precise moment when the Armistice was signed, ending the World war II. It is a tradition among us that there are great personalities who are governing the destiny of this world...
Why then, are not changes coming into our society? Because we are holding in tightly to the past. This is another balance that we have to create, between the past and the present, so that the future may shine. posted on Friday, October 20, 2006 9:52 PM

Christianity was a religion that prided itself on its passivism

THE NEW REPUBLIC: JUNE 18, 2001 : 35 - 38 Lambs Into Lions By PAULA FREDRIKSEN Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance by H. A. Drake (Johns Hopkins University Press, 609 pp.)
MORE CHRISTIANS WERE persecuted by the Roman Empire after Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 312 than before. Within a century of that momentous event, bishops had become the impresarios of urban violence, directing the Christian mob’s destruction of synagogues and great pagan temples from Minorca to the edges of Persia, while the imperial government shut down traditional public cults in North Africa and in Rome itself. By the reign of the emperor Justinian, from 527 to 565, recalcitrant pagans risked crucifixion by the Christian state.
And yet Christianity was a religion that prided itself on its passivism, and on its ethic of an expansive love extended even to enemies; a religion whose spokesmen, during the long centuries of its own persecution, had tirelessly argued that true belief cannot be coerced; a religion whose founder, Jesus of Nazareth, had himself died by Rome’s hand. Why, then, did the emperor decide to throw his prestige and his patronage behind such a faith? And how did Christians come so readily to avail themselves of the powers of coercion?...
By concentrating on politics, which he calls “the art of getting things done,” Drake reveals how various Christians in the fourth century won agreement, mobilized support, and gained consensus both inside and outside the imperial government. In his pages, The Power Game: How Washington Works stands shoulder to shoulder with The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Saul Alinsky and Richard Nixon together illumine the near-solid murk of the Christological controversies; and Athanasius of Alexandria emerges as antiquity’s equivalent of a Tammany Hall boss. The result is a refreshingly original and powerfully argued re-conception of the issues and the forces at work in this period of the conversion not of Constantine, but of Christianity...
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH had been a political actor well before the conversion of Constantine, as the shift in public sentiment caused by Diocletian’s policy of persecution revealed. What changed after 312 was the emergence of the bishops as power players. The bishops were distributed throughout the cities of the empire, and linked across vast spaces by their commitment to “party unity.” They were in constant contact with their Own urban power base (the laity), and long experienced in organizing opinion and administering resources. Thus they represented a new and enormous pool of administrative talent.
Constantine, disgusted and frustrated by the clogged and corrupt mechanisms of imperial governance, turned gladly to this new cadre of talented men. The enormous resources of goods and power that he made available to the episcopacy, as Drake reveals, was not an ill-conceived lurching on the part of a theology-besotted monarch, but a deliberate and bold effort to create in the bishops an alternative judiciary free of the material biases that plagued and paralyzed “the system.” And by using the bishops to distribute newly available imperial largesse, Constantine gained a huge and relatively efficient welfare system.
So what wrong? As Drake presents it, Constantine, by ceding so much to the bishops, lost control of the agenda. Owing to their situation at the nodes of urban power independent of the emperor and not accountable to him, and owing to the longevity of their tenure (government agents, by contrast, regularly and frequently rotated in and out of office) and to their intimate contact with their flocks (or, less piously, their urban power base), the bishops were too powerful to be mere pawns in an imperial game. They had a program of their own. Constantine’s initiatives served only to enhance their power.

Power and authority in a variety of religious groups

It is a highly researched and well documented fact that a certain amount of power and authority circulates in contemporary societies. Govern­ment, local authorities and influential private organisations all struggle for their share in this power game. Looking at the case of Denmark, however, possibly due the fact that this country often is considered a highly secular society, little research has been made into the power structures, authority and hierarchies that nevertheless do exist within numerous religious groups in contempo­rary Danish society. Even less so has it been investigated how such structures interact with and influence the rest of society. This project, framed and conducted by a handful of researchers associated with the Centre for Multireligious Studies at Aarhus University, sets out to explore to what extent power and authority, theoretically and in real life situations, is present in a variety of religious groups in Denmark, including new spiritual groups, healers and so called ‘self-improvement courses’.

More information will be available according to the development of the project planning and implementation. Researchers: Viggo Mortensen, Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger, Lars Ahlin, Lene Kühle, Jørn Borup, René Dybdal Pedersen, Iben Egekvist Krogsdal, Inge Liengaard, Karen-Lise Johansen Karman, Charlotte Karlsen, Henrik Reintoft Christensen. Please contact.: Research Coordinator Charlotte Karlsen or mail to the Centre address:

Political marketisation of religion

Sangh Parivar exploiting religion for power: V.P. Singh
The Hindu National Tuesday, Nov 09, 2004 By Javed M. Ansari
NEW DELHI, NOV. 8. The former Prime Minister, V.P. Singh, has accused the Sangh Parivar of exploiting the Hindu religion to capture political power. In a free-wheeling conversation conducted from his hospital bed, Mr Singh said the Sangh Parivar's manoeuvrings on the temple issue amounted to "political marketisation of religion." The biggest threat to the great religion was from within its fold "from those who are using it merely as an instrument in their power game." Referring to the BJP's decision to return to its core issues such as Ram temple, Mr. Singh said it was evident that the party was getting ready to exploit the issue once again.
'Advani must apologise' To a question on the Ayodhya issue, Mr. Singh called on the BJP president L.K. Advani, to apologise to the nation for having "dragged the country through a burning cauldron," for over 15 years. "This was precisely what I had suggested to him as Prime Minister. He rejected the proposition and the whole country had to experience its disastrous consequences."

Barindra Kumar Ghosh in Cellular Jail

Vignettes from the Cellular Jail The cellular jail at Andamans is a legacy of Brutal Bitish imperialism. But is free india all that benign? by: shantanudutta on Jun 13 2006 11:27 AM in History
Construction of the Cellular Jail started in 1896 and was completed in 1906 ­ a massive three-storied structure, shaped like a starfish, seven wings radiating from a central watchtower, the standard design of most British jails, a facility where 698 souls could be kept in solitary confinement. The plaques bearing the names of those incarcerated in the Jail reads like a "who's who" of the freedom movement. Prominent among them are the names of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Barindra Kumar Ghosh (brother of Sri Aurobindo), Bhai Parmanand of the Ghadr Party, and many more, convicted in various 'conspiracy cases.' A 'must' on the itinerary of all tourists is the 'Sound & Light Show' every evening, which brings to life a dark chapter in the history of the Islands as a penal settlement.

Negationism in India

Negationism and the Muslim Conquests by Francois Gautier
The following is based on one of the chapters in the book Rewriting Indian History (Vikas). In this first part, the author argues that History books should be rewritten.
M.N. Roy, and Nehru in a lesser degree, represent the foremost current of negationism in India, which is Marxist inspired. For strangely, it was the Russian communists who decided to cultivate the Arabs after the First World War, in the hope that they constituted a fertile ground for future indoctrination. One should also never forget that Communism has affected whole generations of ardent youth, who saw in Marxism a new ideology in a world corrupted by capitalism and class exploitation. Nothing wrong in that; but as far as indoctrination goes, the youth of the West, particularly of the early sixties and seventies, were all groomed in sympathising with the good Arabs and the bad Jews. And similarly in India, two or three young generations since the early twenties, were tutored on negating Muslim genocide on the Hindus. In "Communalism and the writing of Indian history", Romila Thapar, Harbans Mukhia and Bipan Chandra, professors at the JNU in New Delhi, the Mecca of secularism and negationism in India, denied the Muslim genocide by replacing it instead with a conflict of classes. The redoubtable Romila Thapar in her "Penguin History of India", co-authored with Percival Spear, writes: "Aurangzeb's supposed intolerance, is little more than a hostile legend based on isolated acts such as the erection of a mosque on a temple site in Benares". How can one be so dishonest, or so blind? But it shows how negationism is perpetuated in India. Posted by Hindu at 10:38 AM

Islam and Christianity

Where Islam and Christianity agree By Kelland Ingram
St. Helena Star Thursday, October 19, 2006 7:59 AM PDT
Muslims and Christians are alike in one big way. In fact, what divides Muslims and Christians is a point on which they readily agree! Islam and Christianity will never join in one big tent because both emphatically hold to an important truth. They share a belief that is increasingly challenged in the world today. Their common ground is that truth about God exists and can be known...
Now about that common ground between Islam and Christianity: Both believe that truth about God can be known. Both believe that God has revealed Himself in words that can be understood. Both believe that truth about God can be communicated from one person to another. Both believe that the revelation in which they trust is the measure of other ideas and statements about God. It is because of this common understanding that Islam and Christianity will never be on the same page. Both believe in absolute truth about God, but they disagree as to what constitutes that truth.
Sure there are Muslims and Christians who see very little difference between the two religions. This idea is possible if one ignores the founding words of each or explains them away by round-about interpretations. The two religions are harmonized by violating the obvious intent of the Koran and the Bible. Short of departure from the clear meaning of these books, no one would conclude that the two religions are the same thing spoken in different ways.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Christianity contributed nothing

Response to the Pope October 16th, 2006 (posted by ray harris)
Christianity and Abrahamic monotheism has always had a conflicted and contradictory relationship with logic and reason. Far from creating an harmonious synthesis of faith and reason the Church actually held reason and scientific progress back. It is also true that some Abrahamic scholars (including Muslims) studied the classics, thus preserving the Greco-Roman tradition, but other scholars (and fanatics) also distorted and corrupted the GR tradition. Many important GR works were lost or intentionally destroyed. And even then the more fanatical followers of each of the traditions struggled against reason and science.
But the Pope is being disengenuous to suggest that the Renaissance and the Enlightenment was somehow fostered by the Church. Far from it. The sources of the Renaissance actually come from the influence of high Muslim culture. The Church may very well have had monks and scholars who could read Greek and Latin and therefore read the classics, but this knowledge was largely kept within the Church with the fist of blasphemy always hanging over proceedings. Contact with Muslim scholars undermined Church control and allowed the beginnings of the secular study of the classics.
It has always amused me that the very Church that suppressed the findings of Galileo and Da Vinci (particularly his studies of anatomy - stopped because some fuckwit thought he was practicing the witch’craft’ of necromancy) tries to make the claim that Christianity was a necessary component to the development of science.
But what of India? Was there no science in India? Anyone who has studied Indian philosophy knows that it developed reason and logic. In fact Indian culture has always had a genius for mathematics and science, a natural extension of Indian logic. And what of China? I just don’t buy it - Christianity contributed nothing, nix, nada. It was only ever (and still is) an impediment to reason.
The ‘theological’ development of a god of reason was the result of the power of logic and reason. Early Christian thinkers who understood reason and logic very quickly realized there were enormous problems with early Christian theology, enormous contradictions and inconsistencies. So what they did was change the nature of God and turn him from a capricious tyrant into a rational designer. The tail did not wag the dog - that is, Christianity did not modify reason, reason modified God.
I would add finally that by the time of Joshua the Nazorean the Greeks had understood that the gods were metaphors for the human condition. An early Greek criticism of Christianity attacks it for its ‘primitive’ literalism and its extraordinary irrationality (pointing out the glaring logical errors). Unfortunately the literalists eventually gained power and suppressed the more nuanced Greek view. So when ‘pscychology’ was first developed who did they turn to to explain the human condition? Why, the Greeks. ‘Psychology’ - psyche and logos, the ‘word of the psyche’. Christianity has offered f*** all insight into the psyche.
And why does science invariably turn to Greek and Latin to name theories, states, types and conditions? ie Homo Sapiens, homosexuality, the Oedipus complex, anima and animus? Even the name Jesus Christ is a bastardized Latin and Greek concoction (in English he should be called Joshua, the Messiah).
What Christianity has been very good at is inserting itself into the story and appropriating classical ideas. And this is exactly what Ratzinger is trying to do, make out that Christianity has something to do with the growth of reason. No, it happened despite the Church. Incidentally, the whole story of Joshua wandering the land with a group of disciples is a Greek idea. Rabbis did not collect ‘disciples’. Joshua, in dressing simply and taking a vow of poverty, was copying Greek mystery and philosophical schools such as the Pythagoreans and Cynics. Posted in Ray's Integral Blog 2 Comments » show comments »

Left vs. right Vs. up vs. down

In all seriousness, as I have had occasion to mention a jumble of tomes, I am not so much concerned with left vs. right as I am with up vs. down, i.e., the vertical. Any secondary political principles I espouse or embrace follow from my first principles, which are timeless, metaphysical, and I believe objectively true. If you want to attack me--which, of course, you are free to do--you cannot begin with my “conservatism” but with the principles from which my conservatism flows, for example, my belief in the absolute spiritual value of liberty over equality.
To the extent that I am a “Republican,” it is only insofar as the Republican party is subject to some small influence from the conservative intellectual movement. To the extent that I am part of that latter movement, it is only because I believe it best embodies the ideals of classical liberalism espoused by the American founders. And to the extent that I regard the American founders as political avatars charged with a divine mission, it is only because I believe they designed a system that is most compatible with the spiritual evolution that is my true concern. Everything actually starts with that: my politics follows from my metaphysics. Along these lines, there is an interesting piece on on the new phenomenon of “Red Letter Christians”: posted by Gagdad Bob at 7:08 AM 12 comments links to this post One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

Federations created by free association and popular affinity

According to Murray Rothbard, Zhuangzi was "perhaps the world's first anarchist"; Zhuangzi said, the world "does not need governing; in fact it should not be governed," and, "Good order results spontaneously when things are let alone." Rothbard says Zhuangzi was the first to work out the idea of spontaneous order, before Proudhon and Hayek.[1] Similarly, anarchistic tendencies can be traced to the philosophers of Ancient Greece, such as Zeno, the founder of the Stoic philosophy, and Aristippus, who said that the wise should not give up their liberty to the state [2]. Later movements – such as Stregheria in the 1300s, the Free Spirit in the Middle Ages, the Anabaptists, The Diggers, and the Ranters, – have also expounded ideas that have been interpreted as anarchist...
William Godwin, in An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice" (1793) wrote what became the core anarchist critiques of government, economics, and society; though he did not use the word anarchism, some today regard him as the "founder of philosophical anarchism" [4]. It's commonly held that it wasn't until Pierre-Joseph Proudhon published "What is Property?" in 1840 that the term "anarchist" was adopted as a self-description. It is for this reason that some claim Proudhon as the founder of modern anarchist theory...
Anarchist communists also propose large- and small-scale connections of communities, groups, and workplaces through federations and networks created by free association and popular affinity. Anarchist communists want direct worker control over production, and have decisions made through workers councils and assemblies. Communities would be organized through systems of direct democracy, and through various organizations and collectives to carry out various tasks. Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and most recently, groups like NEFAC (North Eastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists), have advocated various forms of anarchist communism.

When you read texts like these, you feel empowered

Makarand Paranjape Professor of English, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Gandhi’s idea of traditional Indian civilization was that it was self-sufficient and couldn’t really be improved. Some people might consider this a very limited and static view of human endeavour, extremely conservative. Again, Gandhi is a most complex figure. He had no use for several detestable and crippling aspects of Indian custom and tradition. These included untouchability and the oppression of women. He not only found no scriptural sanction for these practices, but he also went to extent of saying that if scriptural sanction were found, he would reject it. Gandhi’s self-sufficiency thesis was thus tempered by a stringent social critique and by an admiration for several qualities of Western culture. Between Rammohan’s insufficiency thesis and Gandhi’s sufficiency thesis may be placed most important thinkers of modern India, whether it is Bankim or Nehru, or Vivekananda or Tagore, Aurobindo or Ambedkar. Most of these thinkers advocated some kind of compromise between these two positions...
This is a constant refrain among not just the missionaries, but the British liberals as well. William Wilberforce openly stated in the British parliament that one of the missions of the empire was to Christianize India and to destroy it’s heathen civilization. Even Max Mueller’s private papers reveal this hidden agenda. So you have this utter and cynical disregard of Indian civilization on the one hand and then, on the other hand you have a person like Radhakanta Deb, again a very complex figure, who was actually a proponent of sati and several other “orthodox” customs. For instance, he was against the remarriage of widows and an advocate of child marriage. Today, most of us would find these positions both untenable and unacceptable. So there are complete capitulators and complete revivalists, both of whom are outside the spectrum of the Indian consensus. That is why we mustn’t think that we are making a new beginning. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There is a very rich and varied tradition of decolonization that is available to us. When we examine the parameters of this process of decolonization in India, we know how we can ideologically map all the major thinkers. For instance, you will find that some are more spiritual, while others are more materialistic or some are more militaristic while others are more nonviolent. Thus, you might argue that the Indian Marxists are more materialistic, while Tagore, Aurobindo, or Ramana Maharshi are more spiritual. While Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is more militaristic, Gandhi is are more non-violent. Again, some, like Dayananda Saraswati or Gandhi will use the language of tradition, while Dadabhai Naoroji or Nehru will use that of modernity. But both are opposed to British imperialism...
Take the case of our English syllabus. It’s so obvious that we have to change it. That this has already happened in several universities is heartening. We need to ask what it is that we are actually teaching, and why. Here we’ve been changing our syllabus, including new texts, but is anybody reading Bhartrihari? Yes there are some people, as we know only too well, but so few of them. That is why I said that we need to create a little tool kit for decolonizing the Indian mind. We can put in Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in it; in fact he uses this very phrase “decolonizing the mind” in his essay on the need to write in an African language. We can put Franz Fanon in this kit. But we also need to put Gandhi in it. As my friend Professor Satendra Nandan of the Australian National University says, how is it that the works of the man who led the largest struggle against colonialism in human history are excluded from every reader on postcolonialism? Or we might put in Sri Aurobindo’s Foundations of Indian Culture in our kit. When you read texts like these, you feel empowered. You feel that you have a surer grip, a firmer handle on this business of colonialism. This process needs to be effected in all our areas and disciplines of study. The content has to be changed constantly in keeping with our goals and needs. We simply can’t afford the sort of syllabi, which remain static for, literally, half a century at a time, as is still the case in India.

Competitive visions of how to see the soul of India

Indian Critiques of Gandhi Canadian Journal of History, Spring 2006 by Palsetia, Jesse S Indian Critiques of Gandhi, edited by Harold Coward. SUNY Series in Religious Studies. Albany, State University of New York Press, 2003. v, 287 pp.
Chapters four, five, and six analyze the critiques of Gandhi by important Indian religious and cultural leaders. Robert Minor examines Sri Aurobindo Ghose, a leader in the extremist wing of the Indian nationalist movement and a famous yoga teacher. Gandhi and Aurobindo never met each other, and the latter's critique emerges in letters to his disciples. Aurobindo believed in independence, but rejected Gandhian satyagraha or strategy of "truth force" and ahimsa or non-violence (p. 88).
TS. Rukmani addresses the relationship between the "Great Soul" and the "Great Sentinel." Rabindranath Tagore was a poet and Indian Nobel laureate in literature. The two men met once in March 1915. Tagore first applied the appellation "Mahatma" or "Great Soul" to Gandhi, but he disagreed with Gandhi over religion, politics, and personality.
Ronald Neufeldt discusses the Hindu Mahasabha's critique of Gandhi from the writings of V.D. Savarkar, the spiritual father of the group. The ideas of Savarkar, Aurobindo, and Tagore are part of Indian cultural nationalism that called upon politicized Hindu symbols and also adhered to violence as a political tool. Both Aurobindo and Savarkar's antagonism to Gandhi lay in their belief that Gandhi mis-represented and even derided Hindu culture and religion through an emphasis on ahimsa. Gandhi, to some degree, bridged cultural and secular nationalisms, emphasizing cultural and religious aspects of Indian identity while fundamentally adhering to non-violence. Gandhian nationalism earned the ire of the extremist Hindus, and members of the Mahasabha and the RSS ultimately killed Gandhi. All three of the above critiques reflect the competitive visions of how to see the soul of India.

Racial interpretation of the caste system

by: S. Aravindan Neelakandan on Nov 30 2004 12:00AM in Religion
Aryan supremacist ideology is a specific racist ideology. It is completely consistent with the Aryan invasion model. As Dr. Elst points out elsewhere David Duke with his KKK roots, is a passionate advocate of the Aryan invasion model. Indian nationalists have consistently rejected this model and often have criticized the very idea of an Aryan 'race'. Sri Aurobindo as early as 1914, while criticizing the Aryan race theory as an imaginary creation of philologists[23], made the following remark,
“I prefer not to use the term race, for race is a thing much more obscure and difficult to determine than is usually imagined. In dealing with it the trenchant distinctions current in the popular mind are wholly out of place.”[24]
Calling the Aryan invasion theory 'a philological myth', Sri Aurobindo considered that the so-called racial distinction between the Aryans and Dasyus, then advocated by British Indologists was based on 'flimsier character'[25]. He also warned with a keen insight of the dangers that could arise from treating a speculative race theory as a scientific fact. According to Sri Aurobindo:
“We are ready to accept all European theories, the theory of an 'Aryan' colonization of a Dravidian India, the theory of Nature worship…as if these hazardous speculations were on par in authority and certainty with the law of gravitation and the theory of evolution.”
“So great is the force of attractive generalizations and widely popularized errors that all the world goes on perpetuating the blunder talking of the Indo-European races, claiming or disclaiming Aryan kinship and building on that basis of falsehood the most far-reaching political, social or pseudo-scientific conclusions."[26] ...
Dr. Ambedkar stands along with Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda in rejecting the racial interpretation of the caste system. But Indian 'secularists', Marxists as well as British colonialists accept the racial interpretation of the caste system. It is an irony that the followers of E.V. Ramasamy who call themselves rationalists often share the dais with anti-evolutionist Christian and Muslim fundamentalists.
In fact, there is another crucial area where Dr. Ambedkar is nearer to the Hindu nationalist rather than to the pseudo-secularist. It is the case of Sanskrit. The attempts of Hindu nationalists to revive Sanskrit have often drawn heavy criticism from Marxists, pseudo-secularists and 'Dravidian' racist parties. In fact, 'Dravidian' racist parties like DMK, are followers of E.V. Ramasamy's doctrine that North Indians and Brahmins are racially different from Dravidians and that Hinduism is a Brahminical conspiracy to enslave the Dravidian race*. Thus, in these circles Sanskrit is often abused with all sorts of epithets – most of which are unprintable and obscene. But it so happens Dr. Ambedkar went even one step forward than the Hindu nationalists who accept Hindi as the national language and want only to revive Sanskrit. Comments (19)

Aryan invasion etc.

An Interview With Koenraad Elst By Dr. Ramesh Rao
[The interview first appeared in on 19 August 2002]
I’ve always disliked Sri Aurobindo’s symbolic interpretation of the Vedas, and he was an AIT critic but now the same stratospheric approach is taken by the AIT defenders! At any rate, people can only think up a metaphorical ocean after they have seen the real thing, so either way the Vedic people were not cowherds belonging to a landlocked Central-Asian habitat. In my reading, the Vedas contain plenty of down-to-earth historical information, and it includes familiarity with seafaring as well as a movement from India to Afghanistan, not the reverse. That information obviously argues against the AIT, but not definitively: it could still be compatible with an Aryan invasion at an earlier date, or perhaps another as yet unsuspected scenario. From the beginning, I have been puzzled by the immense certainty on both sides of the debate. To me, it’s an open-ended search...
In my book Gandhi and Godse, I have shown how most of the arguments against Gandhi given by Godse in his speech in court were in fact very common in his day. Gandhi’s erratic policies were criticized by his contemporaries like Annie Besant, Sri Aurobindo, Bhimrao Ambedkar, and many others. And none of them went out to kill Gandhi, so there is nothing murderous about these arguments per se. They correctly predicted that under his irrational leadership, the strategy of mass mobilization and “non-violence” would yield very bitter fruits, as it did during the Khilafat riots circa 1922 and again during the Partition. Indologists like Alain Daniélou and historians like Paul Johnson have also demythologized the Mahatma. One of the perverse effects of the murder was precisely that in India this criticism of Gandhi suddenly became taboo, and that the myth of his centrality in the achievement of independence became unassailable.

Sri Aurobindo tried to bring about a synthesis

Chapter Six: The Indian Renaissance. In this chapter we will examine four of the principles discussed in the earlier chapter in relation to the Indian context. (The principle of balance is discussed in a separate chapter.)
Ambedkar was not alone in seeing the incapacity of the Indian mind to break away from the dead letters to the living word. A very important thinker in that direction was Sri Aurobindo, whose thought is often compared to the Catholic[?] thinker, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Aurobindo who was known to the British as a fierce freedom fighter, retired from active politics and spent his efforts to bring the Indian mind back to the creativity for which it was once known. The difference between the two essentially was that Ambedkar connected resistance to change to as arising from the caste system which was sanctioned by the sacred texts. Ambedkar was himself a Dalit and knew the bitterness of caste. Aurobindo was a Brahmin[?] and was himself deeply rooted in the Brahmin tradition.
Sri Aurobindo, while admitting the deadening of the Indian mind and Sprit could not identify its cause as the Hindu theological views imposed through its caste system. Aurobindo tried to bring about a synthesis of Hindu and Western liberal views. However, these two worldviews were contradictory as the caste system implied theoretical rejection of liberty, equality and fraternity, which were basic notions on which liberalism rested. The attempt to revive the creativity of the Indian mind without forcing it to come to terms with causes of its paralysis was an artificial one. For Ambedkar who was existentially too deeply rooted in caste as a victim, it was not possible to separate creativity from oppression and Indian creativity from India's ordinary people. Asian Human Rights Commission Back to [Demoralization and Hope]

What Ambedkar has done for the freedom struggle

In his book, Worshipping False Gods, Arun Shourie challenges Dr Ambedkar's contribution to Indian Independence. The book has already run into controversy and several dalit organisations in Maharashtra want it banned.
Ambedkar's public life begins in a sense from a public meeting held at the Damodar Hall in Bombay on March 9, 1924. The struggle for freeing the country from the British was by then in full swing. Swami Vivekananda's work, Sri Aurobindo's work, the Lokmanya's work had already stirred the country. Lokmanya Tilak had passed away in 1920. The leadership of the National Movement had fallen on Gandhiji. He had already led the country in the Champaran satyagraha, the Khilafat movement, in the satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act, against the killings in Jallianwala Bagh and the merciless repression in Punjab. This National Movement culminated in the country's Independence in 1947.
In a word, a quarter century of Ambedkar's public career overlapped with this struggle of the country to free itself from British rule. There is not one instance, not one single, solitary instance in which Ambedkar participated in any activity connected with that struggle to free the country. Quite the contrary--at every possible turn he opposed the campaigns of the National Movement, at every setback to the Movement he was among those cheering the failure. Excerpted from Worshipping False Gods by Arun Shourie, ASA Publishers, 1997

Spirituality and Religion

In the Wednesday session on "Spirituality and Religion", Mr. Sraddhalu Ranade of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram (SAA) said that every religion began with someone who had profound inner experiences. The disciples, in their aspiration to have similar experiences, adopted the external forms or activities of the founder and clung to them. Differences among religions surface when people talk of forms. "We forget we are all interested in God, not the founder."
Since religions were unable to give the followers the experiences the founder had, "almost every religion offered salvation after life." This, Mr. Ranade said, was a "practical compromise" that all religions have had to make. Maintaining that religions often ended up emphasizing one or the other aspect of God's realization, he said that man should seek to realize all aspects of God's realization. Spirituality, he pointed out, was everywhere, if only one chose to see it. Aurov i l l e Ou t r ea ch April 2005

Sri Aurobindo and Value Education

by Ranjana Bhatia
Sri Aurobindo had suggested Indian Renaissance to deal with the problem of value erosion in the society. According to him, ‘the recovery of the old spiritual knowledge and experience in all its splendor, depth and fullness is its first most essential work. The flowing of this spirituality into new forms of philosophy, literature, art, science and critical knowledge is the second. An original dealing with modern problems in the light of Indian spirit and the endeavour to formulate a greater synthesis of a spiritualized society is the third and most difficult. Its success on these three lines will be the measure of its help to the future of humanity.’
Value theorists are still debating whether values are subjective, objective, relational, and absolute or relative etc., whether or not there is any primary value, and if there is, which value is primary and which is secondary. Unless these debates are settled, - and there does not seem to be a chance of their being settled in the near future, - we cannot prepare, they say, a scheme of value inculcation, or plead for inculcating this or that value, through an educational programme. This is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of philosophical theories of value and of philosophical disagreement.
The disagreeing theories do not question the importance of a value, or the importance of value inculcation. They present different, alternative, accounts, plans for comprehending, or analysis, of our discourse about values. To use disagreements among them as a ground for suspending all attempts to prepare a concrete plan for enabling our educational practice to perform its natural role of value inculcation is like using philosophical disagreements about the correct analysis of visual perception for suspending the activity of seeing anything until disagreeing epistemologists sort out their differences. Those who think this way, forget that a philosophical theory operates on a level different from the level on which an activity like inculcating a value, or perceiving a thing, does. An educational practice is naturally predisposed to inculcate some values, positive or negative. Therefore, we cannot afford to be indifferent to the way it is anytime conducted.
• Value Education, a handbook for teachers, September 1997, Central Board of Secondary Education• Philosophy of Value Oriented Education: Theory and Practice, an article by Sunil Kumar, Director, Vivekananda Centre for Holistic Management• Value Education, an article by Mamota Das, University News, 42(16), April 19-25, 2004• Value Orientation in Teacher Education, a resource paper by A.N. Maheshwari, Chairperson, National Council for Teacher Education• Report of National Seminar-cum-Workshop on Value Education (September 7,8 and 9, 1995), Central Board of Secondary Education• Value in the context of Learning, chairman’s remarks at the Indian Council of Philosophical Research seminar on Value Education, New Delhi, January 18, 2002

This paper was presented in National Seminar organised by H.N.B garhwal University, Srinagar, Garhwal. This entry was posted on Thursday, October 19th, 2006 at 3:27 pm and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Developing Leadership Quality in Women TEACHER EDUCATION AND CHALLENGES OF CHANGE

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Unsatisfactory Sify and uncaring Airtel

Sify broadband is a trusted name but their renewal system is very erratic. My request for renewal three days back is yet to be attended and I am highly inconvenienced as a result. Then they ask utterly unrelated questions like my car number or the nature of my profession each time, which is irritating. Contacting them over phone is also a Herculean task.
Silika got a new Airtel connection from the MobileAsia fair on 14th with the assurance that it'd be activated the next morning. But alas! after three days and repeated calls to them they have failed to respond. When will the actual customer care of our Companies match their sleek advertising?

Transcending essentialism

Paradoxes and Problems in Indian Historiography[1] Peter Heehs [published in History and Theory 42 (May 2003), pp.169-195© Wesleyan University 2003 ISSN: 0018-2656]
Chakrabarty has been criticized for giving an opening to religious obscurantism, even for providing aid and comfort to the religious Right. The entry of religious discourse into Indian politics has done the country a great deal of harm, it is averred. If it is allowed to enter academic discourse as well, would not things become much worse? This line of thought is not without justification. Much of the political and social tension in contemporary India is due to the misappropriation of religious discourse by political parties. Politicians incited people to destroy the Babri Mosque and justified the act by saying that Hindus believed that the mosque stood on the site of a temple that marked the place of Rama’s birth. The mosque needed to be destroyed to make way for a glorious temple, the erection of which will usher in the Ramarajya or earthly Kingdom of Rama. The terms are those of religious discourse, but the methods and motives are political. The anti-mosque movement would never have succeeded without anti-Muslim hatred being whipped up by religio-political organizations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Samaj and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).[106] [p.195>] And the anti-mosque movement played an important role in the rise to power of the BJP, which now controls the government in New Delhi.
If religion can be put to such perverse use, would it not be better to ban it from intellectual discourse – unless indeed it is rendered harmless by viewing it in the framework of historiographical or anthropological theory? This is what reductive and critical orientalists have tried to do for the last few decades, and they have failed. Now they are being challenged by reactionary “new historians,” who embrace religious discourse but lack training in critical historiography, and so contribute little of value. The same reactionary historians have tried to appropriate the work of nationalist writers like Aurobindo, Tilak and Gandhi,[107] and critical historians have let this go unchallenged or even helped it along by writing of the nationalists as proto-reactionaries in scholarship as well as in politics.[108] This is unfortunate both because it misrepresents the positions of the nationalists and because it fails to make use of those parts of their work that are of lasting scholarly value and that might be of help in establishing the dialogue that is needed to arrive at a viable reinterpretation of Indian history.
A return to nationalist orientalism is hardly the way to resolve the outstanding problems in Indian historiography. The approach of the nationalists was a product of their age, and much of it is obsolete. Their essentializing of the Indian soul, for instance, is unjustifiable on historical or anthropological grounds, and politically dangerous. On the other hand, the dissolution of all cultural distinctiveness in the name of political stability, which Said seems sometimes to propose,[109] would also be bad social science and would not provide a solution to our political problems. Writers like Chatterji, Tagore and Aurobindo laid stress on India’s distinctiveness because it seemed threatened by absorption into a universalized Europe. But they were also internationalists who knew and respected Europe and worked for intercultural understanding.[110] Their defenders and detractors lay stress on their essentialism, but they themselves went beyond it, contesting the validity of Eurocentrism without promoting an equally imperfect Indocentrism.

Tilak, Gandhi, Subhas, and Sri Aurobindo

Lokmanya As The Mahatma’s Precursor Subrata Mukherjee The Statesman Oct 16,2006
A major strength of Tilak was his willingness and flexibility to align with any group and use any means to achieve his means. On the question of ends and means, Tilak was nearer to Subhas than Gandhi and the former had a marked preference for Tilak and Sri Aurobindo rather than Gandhi...Tilak was aware of the serious limitations of the nature of the early Congress which was merely a deliberative assembly with its three-day annual convention, characterised by Sri Aurobindo as the “three day tamasha” as the only significant activity.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Is Democracy part of a Christian legacy?

Andy Smith Says: October 11th, 2006 at 2:53 pm Here it is: Socrates or Muhammad? Joseph Ratzinger on the destiny of reason. by Lee Harris 10/02/2006, Volume 012, Issue 03 To the memory of Oriana Fallaci
On September 12, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an astonishing speech at the Uni versity of Regensburg. Entitled “Faith, Reason, and the University,” it has been widely discussed, but far less widely understood...
Edward Berge Says: October 12th, 2006 at 12:31 pm And then of course there are historical and context dependent complexities added to the mix. For example, the Yahoo Habermas discussion forum is going over how the Habermas/Pope dialogue is being used by some religious groups to show Habbie’s conversion from secular humanism. This is the post from Kenneth McKendrick dated today:
I think Habermas has not been particularly clear on this point, and the confusion has apparently been picked up on used by religious adherents for their own private interests… saying that democracy is part of a Christian legacy - one that can only be found within Christianity - is a tangled claim. Democratic ideals formed both within and in reaction to Christianity. Its ancient roots can be found in Greece but they can also be found in the Islamic conception of consensus. There is no clear-cut relation between modern democratic ideals and Christianity, or any form of religious thought. Democratic ideals were motivated and inspired by shifting forms of economy and commerce, trading patterns that were limited by existing religious affiliations. Legal systems tied to church law became cumbersome ways to negotiate contracts…
If anything, outside predomination religious norms people, perhaps even independently, began to recognize the importance of toleration and recognition, reciprocity and respect. Within the Christian tradition, for example, people began to recognize that the Christian Scriptures (the New Testament) doesn’t have anything at all to say about everyday life. We have four gospels and a handful of letters. The four gospels each tell (more or less) the same story and the letters are mainly exhortations to have faith and avoid being discouraged. This isn’t exactly the kind of collection of writings that one can create, maintain, and manage a modern economy with. In effect, once the Reformation took hold (the Reformation being a serious misnomer - the “reformers” weren’t reforming anything, they simply thought the end of times had arrived) people began to think differently, about a lot of things. With the centralized authority of the church abandoned, many of the tradition remained the same but reproduced themselves locally (death rituals, for example, are almost identical but leave out the prayers of intercession).
This meant a great deal of creativity and spontaneity in local practices… explanations for events - capitalizing on developing technology which reduced the religious sphere and scientific forms of analysis which by default reduced it further - left people with a kind of religious vacuum. You didn’t need an angel for your crops because you have an irrigation system. You still needed the crystal ball, because the cell phone wasn’t around yet, but you let go of the angels. Secularism does emerge through these complexities. It is a combination of crystal balls, technology, and new forms of social relations (trade, commerce). Is it “Christian?” - that’s a very awkward and simplified statement… it might be more accurate to say that the diffusion of authority and civic responsibility created conditions that prompted new patterns of living together…

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The old Aryan idea, limited monarchy

Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Bande Mataram Volume-01 > The Early Indian Polity of kingship is the old Aryan idea, it is limited monarchy and not the type of despotism which is called by ... ished institutions for the most absolute form of monarchy as soon as they had become a great Empire; and d ... ion which favoured the growth of absolutism. The monarchy of Chandragupta and Asoka seems to have been of ... Last Modified: 28-Aug-2006 Document Size: 10,410 View Matches in this Document
Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Social And Political Thought Volume-15 > Forms Of Government - as the symbol of their unity. Either then the monarchy can only survive in name, - as in England where ... ???? Monarchy has thus fallen or is threatened almost everywhe ... t character. But in Asia no less than in Europe, monarchy has been a historical growth, the result of circ ... Last Modified: 04-Oct-2006 Document Size: 31,534 View Matches in this Document
Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Social And Political Thought Volume-15 > 1919 combination of the remnants of the old spirit of monarchy and feudalism now stripped of all its past justi ... toms of aristocracy and survivals of aristocratic monarchy which still lived on in an increasingly democrat ... Last Modified: 04-Oct-2006 Document Size: 13,740 View Matches in this Document
Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Social And Political Thought Volume-15 > The Drive Towards Economic Centralisation dividuals and classes who constitute the nation. Monarchy in its impulse towards a despotic centrality has ... e English people fixed, in the struggle with the monarchy, upon this question of taxation as the first vit ... sorption of this control was the strength of the monarchy; it was its inability to manage with justice and ... Last Modified: 04-Oct-2006 Document Size: 19,433 View Matches in this Document
Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Social And Political Thought Volume-15 > The Formation Of The Nation-Unit–The Three Stages onary China to convert itself into a new national monarchy may be attributed quite as much to the same feel ... free variation. In England, the period of the New Monarchy from Edward IV to Elizabeth, in France the great ... blood the personal and national ambitions of the monarchy. But all this powerful structure and closely-kni ... Last Modified: 04-Oct-2006 Document Size: 42,759 View Matches in this Document
Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Social And Political Thought Volume-15 > The Drive Towards Centralisation... ccessfully resolved and removed. The centralising monarchy, brought to supreme power by the repeated lesson ... not reverse but rather completed the work of the monarchy. An entire unity and uniformity legislative, fis ... ly to fruition what was slowly evolving under the monarchy out of the confused organism of feudal France. ... Last Modified: 04-Oct-2006 Document Size: 33,623 View Matches in this Document
Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Social And Political Thought Volume-15 > The Drive Towards Legislative ... Thus eventually the State or the monarchy - that great instrument of the transition from t ... o longer obliged to convoke it, -like the French monarchy with its States-General summoned only once or twi ... is that in engrossing the legislative power the monarchy has exceeded the right law of its being, it has ... Last Modified: 04-Oct-2006 Document Size: 29,993 View Matches in this Document