Friday, March 30, 2007

'Topless' Tower of Tokyo

Thursday, March 29, 2007 A haven of hedonism's days are numbered By BRETT BULL Special to The Japan Times
As any good street tout will tell you, high foot-traffic is the key to success. Sure, he might toss out his chest, flash his best smile and smoothly sell you an explanation for the apparent contradiction between the shapely, high-class ladies he promises and the remarkably low entry price to his establishment, but even a true charmer will not be effective talking to a sidewalk of empty concrete.
OL Bombers "hustle" pub BRETT BULL PHOTO
So it is conceivable that with the opening of Tokyo Midtown, Tokyo's newest mixed-use, high-rise complex, lucrative business opportunities will be abundant for the throng of hustlers roaming the pavement of Gaien-Higashi- dori just west of the intersection with Roppongi-dori. Or will they?
Standing a mere 50 meters from the doors of the project one recent chilly Tuesday evening, a Nigerian tout turned his gaze upward -- not at any of the development's hulking towers lurking overhead -- but rather at a domed security camera that he said had been installed two weeks before.
"Private Eyes closed," he huffed of the strip club a few blocks behind his business. "Velfarre shut down." He then pointed to no less than three other new security cameras in the immediate area.
My new friend, who wished that he and his club remain nameless, didn't spell it out, but his roundabout message was that Roppongi, one of Tokyo's sleazier burghs for Japanese and foreigners alike, is being made respectable.
Some of the first rumblings can be traced to a year ago, when a crackdown on all-night dancing began. Though rarely enforced, the Adult Entertainment Business Law stipulates that clubs cannot operate beyond 1 a.m. Velfarre had its application for an extension of business hours rejected by the Metropolitan Police Department on the basis that foreigners were responsible for much of the criminal activity in the area. In November, a half-dozen other clubs, including multiroomed nightspot Vanilla, also felt the heat from the police. Velfarre wound up spinning its last disc in December. The Lexington Queen, known as much for being a dive as the foreign models it attracted, closed earlier this year.
In addition to clubs and bars, Roppongi is rife with operations classed mizusho- bai (hostess businesses). On any given evening, hundreds of ladies in their best high heels, bouncy hair, and tight clothing clip-clop to work beneath the crusty sign above Roppongi crossing that bizarrely announces "High Touch Town Roppongi." The tout later told me that hostess club One-Eyed Jack also had closed.
Inside the police station at the Roppongi intersection, one police officer, who also wanted to remain anonymous, claimed that the security cameras, which have sprung up in front of various businesses on the east side of the intersection (Hard Rock Cafe and Excelsior, to name two), had nothing to do with Midtown's imminent opening; rather it was simply a continuation of a protocol set in Shinjuku. "We've had a lot of problems with fighting in the streets lately," he explained.
Yashuhiro Ogahara tends bar at a watering hole near the Shinjuku Ward Office in Kabukicho. That legendary center of sketchy activity also is under pressure to clean up, with Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara leading protests. Veter- ans there sense that Roppongi's days as a hedonistic haven are similarly numbered. "Business is dying," said Ogahara. "Sometimes customers will roll in here at 2 or 3 a.m. because various clubs in Roppongi have closed." His conclusion is that the sudden squeeze is due in part to the government's belief that corporations are better sources of tax revenue than shifty entertainment proprietors.
The battle lines between corporations and smut are being drawn. In what might be a first for corporate Japan, a blue-chip company, technology giant Fujifilm, will house its headquarters at the edge of a group of sex businesses. Just sand-wedge-distance from their offices at Midtown will be a gentlemen's club whose sign reads "Topless Topless" and another, OL Bombers, whose emblem is a young lady bending over seductively to emphasize her rear end.
Furthering the creep of credibility is Roc Mon, the complex near coffee shop Almond. With Outback Steakhouse as a tenant, it is backed by industrial giant Nippon Steel. Providing fortifications to the north side is the high-end residential and office complex Izumi Garden Tower.
The stuffiness doesn't end there. "Art Triangle Roppongi," which a decade ago might have been assumed to be the title of a porno film by a director with avante- garde aspirations, is the promotional moniker for the National Art Center, Tokyo, the Suntory Museum of Art (in Midtown) and the Mori Art Museum of Roppongi Hills, which when it opened in 2003 was one of the first waves of decorum to strike the area.
Given that the author of the "high touch" motto was more than likely seeking a "high class" notion, he is proving to be eerily prescient. The question now is this: what will remain once the dust settles?
"There are rumors, rumors, rumors," said the Nigerian tout of the uncertainty of where the invisible hand will land next. "I am here now. You can see other guys on the streets as well. But for tomorrow, I have no idea." Related stories:Globalization made manifest at Midtown Third point of Roppongi

Joss Brooks from the Pichandikulam Forest Consultants of Auroville

The Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited (TNUIFSL), the implementing agency, is working on a communication plan to let the public know about the vision for the Adyar Creek. It is co-ordinating the Adyar Poonga Trust the Government has set up to execute the project. The Adyar Poonga is proposed next to the Ambedkar Memorial off Greenways Road.
"The project should become a model of how Chennai sees its water, of how it can be cleaned up over the next decade," says Joss Brooks from the Pichandikulam Forest Consultants of Auroville, who has been commissioned for the project. "The scene only looks idyllic. The water here is terribly polluted." A master plan is being prepared for restoring the Adyar Creek. The dilapidated building in the fenced area adjacent to the Ambedkar Memorial now houses unfinished signboards. A. Srivathsan and J. Malarvizhi The Hindu Friday, Mar 30, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sri Aurobindo is an outstanding star in the firmament of Indian Philosophy and literature

Monday, March 26, 2007 Sri Aurobindo: The Return of Rishi Dhirendra Mishra
In our thoughts, we hopelessly confine to think in terms of the exterior world. Often we tend to believe just what we see and not what is real, for our senses have by nature its own limitations. Therefore, we are usually left unaware of the forces and influences, which are really at work at subtler levels. The education we get produces only mechanical beings. The focus has now shifted from the development of man to the developments of means; hence, man of today is reduced to be an educated illiterate.
In such uninspiring atmosphere, Sri Aurobindo looks as an outstanding star in the firmament of Indian Philosophy and literature. Any account of his luminous life, reveals but a fraction of divinity and glory he lived, realised, and taught. Truly to quote him: “Neither you nor anyone else knows anything at all of my life; it has not been on the surface for a man to see”; and to say the least this little attempt by its virtue stands insignificant to sketch his majestic life and works. However, this is merely a tribute to the Divine Master on his birth anniversary on 15th August.
Sri Aurobindo’s birthday makes the birthday of free India even more special occasion. In addition, there is more than obvious significance of the coincidence and the relation between the two. He had foreseen the Indian Independence almost three decades ago. In N. A. Palkhivala’s words Sri Aurobindo “after stating that the birthday of free India and his own was not a fortuitous accident, but represented the sanction of the Divine force that guided his steps in all his life-work, he dealt with the evolution of mankind and India’s role in the future”. As the profounder of Integral Yoga, the prophet of Life Divine, fighter for National liberation, critic of life and literature Sri Aurobindo ranks among the supreme masters of not only our age but of all ages.Sri Aurobindo grew up in entire ignorance of India, its culture, people and religion, for he was sent to England early for education and remained there till twenty years of age. Before he was twenty years of age, had mastered Greek and Latin, English and French and had acquired some familiarity with German & Italian.” It is not a surprise that he learned his mother tongue only after his return from England.
Though he was cut off from his Homeland and was brought up under strict instructions by his father that he and his two brothers should not be allowed to make the acquaintance of any Indian or undergo any Indian Influence. But, the born mutineer was destined to play an indomitable role in every sphere of his country; and the first role he decided for himself at an early age when he was in England-was to liberate his own nation. Young Aurobindo then started taking interest in Indian Politics of which he was utterly ignorant, and by the time he joined the secret society-“Lotus and Dagger”-while in England. It was a first society of its kind by Indian students in England at that time when Indian Politics was lackluster and spineless.
It was Sri Aurobindo who firstly intended to propel the entire nation to the ideal of Independence, which was at that time regarded as impractical and unrealistic, impossible and illusory by the then distinguished peoples in politics and outside. He focused his revolutionary ideas and activities mainly on three objects. First, start an action for armed insurrection with the help of a secret revolutionary-organization. Second, arouse in public fervor to the ideal of Independence of the country. Lastly, carry out united opposition and detest towards the foreign rule through continuous non-cooperation and non- violent resistance.Sri Aurobindo believed Peace is a part of the highest ideal, but it must be spiritual and if attempted on any other basis even on the gospel of Ahimsa for that matter, it will not yield the intended results and may leave things worse than before. Non-violent resistance adopted by him for a time being as a policy and not as a part of moral ideal of Ahimsa. To carry out his political vision he started a paper, Yugantar, in which he wrote himself and published series of articles preaching open revolt against the British rule.
Sri Aurobindo represents “the return of Rishi.” He is the prophet of peace and evangelist of Nationalism; one who believed that his Yogic pursuit could manifest itself in enhancing his task of liberating his motherland from the clutches of cruel foreign rule. A master and inspirer of all works and actions, he always preferred to remain on back of the scene and not let all the credit go to him alone.
In 1906, he was appointed for the publication called Bande Mataram. He was imprisoned in 1908 for one year under the suspicion of conspiracy in the famous Alipore Bomb case. It was in jail where Lord Krishna blessed him with His Vision, the moment when he attained the fulfillment of his Sadhana with the blessing of Sri Krishna Himself. He also heard the voice of Swami Vivekananda giving him direction on his Yoga practice.When he released from prison, thereafter a new and far higher resolve and greater motivation worked through him. The ideal of Independence now mingled in the word Evolution: a path of spiritual emancipation of the humankind. The most valuable contribution of Sri Aurobindo to us is his enormous body of writings dealing with the escapade of consciousness and man’s unwavering search for Supramental. What he believed the evolution of man to a higher consciousness would unravel the perplexities that have vexed the society since it came into existence; and would ultimately result in the individual perfection, and hence in perfection of the society.
After few more years of fiery political activity, he decided to leave the active politics, not because he was not interested in it anymore but because he assumed something superior and subtle role for himself. To quote him “I didn’t leave the politics because I felt I could do nothing more there; such an idea was very far from me. I have cut connection entirely with politics, but before I did so I knew from within that the work I had began there, was destined to be carried forward, on lines I had foreseen, by others and that the ultimate triumph of the movement I had initiated was sure without my personal action or presence.” Moreover, what next for him he said “I came away because I did not want anything to interfere in my yoga and because I got a very distinct adesa (divine order) in the matter. We got freedom though not exactly in the way, he wished but on the lines, he had foreseen.People look at him for various purposes and inspirations but what we find is mere a tip of an ice-burg; for he himself once said “It would be only myself who could speak of things in my past giving them true form and significance.” Truly, he was one of the greatest men that ever lived. Posted by Dhirendra Mishra at 7:00 AM

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Arya are using Hindu nationalism to reconstruct India in their image

Ray Harris, February 2007 Harris lives in Australia and can be contacted at: Ray has written about Christianity (see his essay "Christianity: The Great Lie") and Islam (see: "The Many Faces of Islam", among many others in the Reading Room), this time he addresses Hinduism. 1:00 PM
Before Islam and the British, India was a collection of waxing and waning kingdoms. Some of these kings turned to other sects. The Mauryans were Jains, Asoka was Buddhist, other kings were Shaivite, and so on. The British adopted the laws of Manu as a guide for all Hindus, thus legitimising Brahmin authority. They turned to the Aryan caste system because it resembled the British class system and the Aryans certainly understood 'class'. In many ways the Aryan ideology blended quite well with the British system and many Aryans became Anglophiles, even when they supported independence.
This is the curious thing about India – there is a retro-romantic view of the British Empire with Brahmin and particularly Kshatriya, often being more British than the British. It's an imagined Britain and it shows up in the most peculiar places, sometimes as a very formal 'posh' Anglo-Indian accent, with old English colloquialisms tossed in at odd moments. But perhaps the most surprising adaptation, especially considering the 'other' India, is a Victorian moral code. The Aryan conservative is extremely prudish. integral world

Both secularist and subalternist histories have contributed to misunderstandings of Sri Aurobindo's political thought

Volume 4 Issue 01 - Modern Intellectual History (), 4: 129-144 Cambridge University Press td An Intellectual History for IndiaArticles THE SPIRIT AND FORM OF AN ETHICAL POLITY: A MEDITATION ON AUROBINDO'S THOUGHT 1 SUGATA BOSE a1a1 Harvard University Article author query bose s [Google Scholar] Abstract
This article elucidates the meaning of Indian nationalism and its connection to religious universalism as a problem of ethics. It engages in that exercise of elucidation by interpreting a few of the key texts by Aurobindo Ghose on the relationship between ethics and politics in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Both secularist and subalternist histories have contributed to misunderstandings of Aurobindo's political thought and shown an inability to comprehend its ethical moorings. The specific failures in fathoming the depths of Aurobindo's thought are related to more general infirmities afflicting the history of political and economic ideas in colonial India. In exploring how best to achieve Indian unity, Aurobindo had shown that Indian nationalism was not condemned to pirating from the gallery of models of states crafted by the West. By reconceptualizing the link between religion and politics, this essay suggests a new way forward in Indian intellectual history.
Footnotes 1 An earlier version of this essay was given as the Sri Aurobindo Memorial Oration at the Centre for Human Values, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, on 12 August 2005.

The Sanskrit language is being victimised. Our priceless legacy is being destroyed

Therefore, the formulation of national policies in the country should be to protect our national interest based on our wisdom and traditions. Bharat has achieved partial and fractured political freedom, but Hindus feel that their Dharma and culture have not got liberation. Maharshi Aurobindo had predicted that we might achieve political freedom on August 15, 1947, but to achieve cultural and religious freedom, we would have to wage even a greater struggle. Home > 2007 Issues > April 01, 2007 By Ashok Singhal

Monday, March 26, 2007

I see the standpoint of immanence as intrinsically secular

Why not be more ambitious... Organize, get things out there in the public sphere, publish outside of academic journals like Zizek or Dawkins or others. Begin to build a very vocal collective movement. Lobby heavily for legislation that outlaws homeschooling and forms of public organization that allow for isolation of religious communities from the rest of the symbolic space. The aim shouldn't be to convert or change those who are already deeply attached to fundamentalist, extremist, religious movements, but to rally those on the fence, the children of fundamentalist believers, and to create a sort of symbolic or common sense that increasingly marginalizes these groups such that eventually their positions come to seem absurd in the public eye in a way that they aren't even entertained (in much the same way that no one debates whether the world is round today). By this I don't mean academic voices, but voices that are out there very visibly in the public eye. Whatever else one might think about their work, this is beginning to change a little bit with folk like Dawkin's, etc. So much of any change, I think, is simply getting it on the table of public discourse.
You're right, of course, the reason can always be reified into authority through cults devoted to certain thinkers or scientific claims. However, these claims can always be revisited, scrutinized, discarded, and subjected to critique. With revealed religion I can either accept or not. There's not much in between due to the manner in which it's based on narrative.
Discard, by immanence I simply mean an ontology that admits no appeals to anything transcendent to the world or material field. Thus, yes, I see the standpoint of immanence as intrinsically secular. Posted by: Sinthome March 24, 2007 at 02:45 PM

Leftism is only the will to power dressed up as ideology

One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin
In fact, neo-Marxism is a collective demon by its own standards, since it is a wholly materialistic philosophy. Being such, it is only the will to power dressed up as ideology. This is why there is a fundamental incoherence at the root of all forms of leftism, which affirm their own ideological truth in a cosmos where truth is strictly impossible.
I call any philosophy "of the left" if it denies the transcendent truth under- and overwritten by the logos of the One, because once the One is denied, all paths lead to leftism, whether it is materialistic scientism or the kind of slack-jawed atheism promulgated by phobOsophical k-lowns such as Sam Harris or Daniel Dennett. Just as all paths of truth lead to God, the denial of Truth is the "final common pathway" to leftist hell on earth.
This is also why all philosophies and institutions that are not explicitly conservative (by which I mean embodying the principles of classical liberalism rooted in Judeo-Christian metaphysics) sooner or later descend into leftism. Moreover, this is why it is no mystery that the Republican Party should fall into a form of "leftism light," because very few Republicans are explicitly conservative -- which is to say, they may be "conservative" as adjective but not "Conservative" as noun. Thus, when given power, they govern like slightly less intoxicated leftists...posted by Gagdad Bob at 3/25/2007 07:12:00 AM 37 comments links to this post Sunday, March 25, 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Learn humanities, social sciences, languages, the arts

IGNOU VC’s call to use technology From Our Bureau DIBRUGARH, March 22 – At least a hundred colleges affiliated to the Dibrugarh University are likely to be taken into the fold of the Directorate of Distance Education (DDE) under the Union HRD Ministry. This is will go a long way in digitally empowering these educational institutes. Speaking as the chief guest at the eleventh convocation of the Dibrugarh University today, the Vice-Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Prof VN Rajasekharan Pillai, dwelt at length on emerging academic trends, centreing around technology and electronic communication. He is also the director of DDE and assured the Dibrugarh University that its proposal to rope in as many as a hundred colleges under distance education would be actively considered.
"The need of the hour is to advance the reach of the education delivery mechanism with the help of technology," he said and added that positive exploitation of the massive global repository of knowledge is the key to remain afloat in the present times. “For this, we need a seamless integration of technology and communication, and for this, technology has to be made available at a cheap price,” he opined. He mentioned of a UN effort to develop a laptop computer which would cost the customer US $ 1, to drive home his point. While he congratulated the graduates and above for achieving their academic credentials, he said one will have to thank the teaching community and the parents of the scholars for this. “But you should not rest on your laurels, and one will have to keep seeking knowledge and information for the betterment of society for all times to come,” he advised.
He quoted Sri Aurobindo to say that for every learner, the first lesson he/she has to learn “is to unlearn” for better comprehension and conceptualization of what he/she has been taught. He said that a person must be ready to say that I know only this much, and I need to learn further, and that this humility makes the individual to learn ever more. Prof Pillai said that the recent phenomenon of greater stress on sunrise academics like IT, biotechnology, etc., at the cost of conventional streams like humanities, social sciences, languages, the arts, is an undesirable development. He called for a greater integration of academics to glue in the modern and the conventional. He said a solution towards this could be the emergence of multi-disciplinary, multi-faculty varsities. assam tribune Home

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A habit of mind favourable to devout observances

Why are women so religious? Tyler Cowen Here is a passage from Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class:
...the effective middle-class congregation become a congregation of women and minors. There is an appreciable lack of devotional fervour among the adult males of the middle class...
This peculiar sexual the fact that the middle-class women are in great measure a (vicarious) leisure class. The same is true in a less degree of the women of the lower, artisan classes. They live under a regime of status handed down from an earlier stage of industrial development, and thereby they preserve a frame of mind and habits of thought which incline them to an archaic view of things generally...For the modern man the patriarchal relation of status is by no means the dominant feature of life; but for the women...confined as they are by prescription and by economic circumstances to their "domestic sphere," this relation is the most real and most formative factor of life. Hence a habit of mind favourable to devout observances and to the interpretation of the facts of life generally in terms of personal status. The logic, and the logical processes, of her everyday domestic life are carried over into the realm of the supernatural, and the woman finds herself at home and content in a range of ideas which to the man are in great measure alien and imbecile.
That's from chapter XII. The implication is that women in the work force should be less religious, adjusting for income and education. Is that true? Here is Bryan Caplan on said topic. Here is another article. Here is another comment. Here is my previous post on Veblen.
So why are women more religious than men? Is it just greater risk-aversion? March 16, 2007 at 05:34 AM in
Religion Permalink Comments (47) marginal revolution

Monday, March 19, 2007

Well-defined and widespread property rights are part of the democratic matrix

EDITORIAL: Social Contract The Times of India 19 Mar, 2007
Most Indians are disenfranchised in property terms. That means few Indians have a stake or sense of participation in the system. Part of the problem may be that Indian socialists and other champions of the aam aadmi haven't looked at property rights closely, since in their eyes property is an abomination. One-man one-vote is a necessary condition for empowerment of people but it may not be sufficient, if well-defined and widespread property rights aren't part of the democratic matrix as well.
In their absence protest movements and riots are likely to grow in India as they have in China. At Nandigram, villagers are resisting government acquisition of their property. In Chhattisgarh and other areas, Naxalites can draw on large armies of the dispossessed to wreak havoc. As pressure on land grows, this could be the trend of the future. But much of the violence could be forestalled if property rights were reinforced by sanctity of contract, and if the government were to facilitate private deals under which land and property change hands voluntarily.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The great reformer Ram Mohan Roy (1772–1833), was a product of madrasa

Inside the Madrasas by William Dalrymple (NYRB) by Rich on Sat 17 Mar 2007 04:25 PM PDT Permanent Link Inside the Madrasas By William Dalrymple
The debate about the alleged links between madrasas and terrorism has tended to obscure both the madrasas' long histories and the differences among them. Throughout much of Islamic history, madrasas were the major source of religious and scientific learning, just as church schools and the universities were in Europe. Between the seventh and twelfth centuries, madrasas produced free-thinking luminaries such as Alberuni, Ibn Sina, and al-Khwarizmi. They also produced America's bestselling poet throughout the 1990s, the thirteenth-century Sufi mystic and poet of love and longing, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, who, it is often forgotten, was trained as a Muslim jurist, and throughout his life taught Sharia law in a madrasa in Konya. It is true that Rumi rejected the rigidity of thought and spirituality characteristic of the ulema of his day, but he did so as an insider, from within the system.
None of this should be a surprise. In the entire Koran there are only about two hundred verses directly commanding believers to pray and three times that number commanding the believers to reflect, to ponder, and to analyze God's magnificence in nature, plants, stars, and the solar system. The oldest and greatest of all the madrasas, the al-Azhar university in Cairo, has a good claim to being the most sophisticated school in the entire Mediterranean world during the early Middle Ages. Indeed the very idea of a university in the modern sense—a place where students congregate to study a variety of subjects under a number of teachers—is generally regarded as an innovation first developed at al-Azhar.
In The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West, George Makdisi has demonstrated how terms such as having "fellows" holding a "chair," or students "reading" a subject and obtaining "degrees," as well as practices such as inaugural lectures, the oral defense, even mortar boards, tassels, and academic robes, can all be traced back to the practices of madrasas. It was in cities not far from Islamic Spain and Sicily—Salerno, Naples, Bologna, and Montpellier— that the first universities in Christendom were developed, while the very first college in Europe, that of Paris, was founded by Jocius de Londoniis, a pilgrim newly returned from the Middle East.[7] Throughout the Middle Ages, Christian scholars such as Adelard of Bath would travel to the Islamic world to study the advanced learning available in the madrasas. Alvaro of Córdoba, a Mozarab, or Christian living under Muslim rule, wrote in the fourteenth century:
My fellow Christians delight in the poems and romances of the Arabs; they study the work of Muslim theologians and philosophers, not in order to refute them, but to acquire a correct and elegant Arabic style. Where today can a layman be found who reads Latin commentaries on Holy scripture? At the mention of Christian books they disdainfully protest that such works are unworthy of their notice.
When the Mongol invasions destroyed the institutions of learning in the Islamic heartlands, many learned refugees fled to Delhi, turning northern India for the first time into a major center of scholarship. By the time of the Mughal emperor Akbar in the sixteenth century, the curriculum in Indian madrasas blended the learning of the Islamic Middle East with that of the teachings of Hindu India, so that Hindu and Muslim students would together study the Koran (in Arabic), the Sufi poetry of Sa'adi (in Persian), and the philosophy of Vedanta (in Sanskrit), as well as ethics, astronomy, medicine, logic, history, and the natural sciences. Many of the most brilliant Hindu thinkers, including, for example, the great reformer Ram Mohan Roy (1772–1833), were the products of madrasas.
However, following the collapse of Islamic self-confidence that accompanied the deposition of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, in 1858, disillusioned scholars founded an influential but narrow-minded Wahhabi-like madrasa at Deoband, a hundred miles north of the former Mughal capital in Delhi. Feeling that their backs were against the wall, the madrasa's founders reacted against what they saw as the degenerate ways of the old elite. The Deoband madrasa therefore went back to Koranic basics and rigorously stripped out anything Hindu or European from the curriculum.[8]

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Deep culture is the culture that’s coded into ones world view

Black is a color. Race is a social construct. Neither has any NATURAL connection to ones genetic blood line. The only things that come close are culture and ancestry. So right away, if we are to be honest and clear thinking, one can’t be “Blacker” than anyone because color and race are really meaningless. One can be more melanin challenged, but that’s a consequence of natural genetics and they are tricky little bastards. However giving agency to culture and ancestry is not tricky if one can accept facts on their face value and not propaganda.Now that I have hopefully brought into question the notion of color and race being a criteria for owning a “Blacker than thou Card, let me address the only things left, culture and ancestry.
Culture is formed by a particular group living for a long time in a particular environment. In my view there are different levels of culture. I’d call them in descending order, pop culture, nominal culture, and deep culture. Pop culture is the most fluid. It borders on fad. Nominal culture is that which is dictated by a dominant society and enforced as the standard. Deep culture is the culture that’s coded into ones world view. Examples of each would be Hip Hop, the Ballet, and Communalism.
The aspect of culture that is most difficult to detect is its Deep Culture. In scientific terms, it would be akin to detecting the evolutionary biology of our brain.* If humans can give agency to the traits from our early evolution, why can’t some of those traits be cultural as the following essay suggest...AFRICANVOICE.COM

The deranged definition of “legal person” gave to capital and property the rights of men

Christopher Ketcham Atlantic Free Press
Perhaps most disturbing to proponents of disestablishment like Professor Hamilton – who, it should be noted, prays “every day,” being a devout Presbyterian – was the passage in 1993 of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, drafted as the organized response of the religion lobby to the Supreme Court’s “peyote case” of 1990. The peyote case determined, rather reasonably, that religious motivation is no defense to illegal conduct, such as the consumption of hallucinogens (in this case by American Indian peyote cults). The interpretation pushed by the religion lobby was that the peyote case spelled the beginning of the end of religious liberty – because believers would now have to obey the same law as non-believers.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act restored the allegedly lost religious freedom by expanding the license of religion to in fact break the law. Under the RFRA, believers could challenge the jurisdiction and application of any and all neutrally applicable laws (meaning the statutes that apply to everyone, such as the injunctions against homicide, rape, embezzlement, car theft, etc.). Prosecutors would not be free to apply those neutral laws to believers unless it showed the law was passed for a “compelling interest” with regard to the believer—that it was the most narrowly tailored law possible for the believer. The loopholes under RFRA were such that religious prisoners demanded the right to engage in sex acts before female prison guards; a father on a New England commune demanded exemption from child support because his money went to the benefit of religion on the commune. “Totally nuts,” says Hamilton, who on behalf of the tiny city of Boerne, Texas, challenged the RFRA to the Supreme Court, and got portions of the law thrown out in 1997 as unconstitutional. The religion lobby in answer birthed an ugly cousin of RFRA, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which preserves an important feature of the RFRA. Under the RLUIPA, land use and zoning laws in the nation can be challenged literally because God may be directing the challenge, ie God wants that parking lot re-zoned for a 40-foot residential tower etc. The legislation pivotally places the burden of attorneys’ fees in RLUIPA cases on local governments trying to enforce an otherwise equitable law.

There is in all of this a kind of perverse self-satisfaction and narcissism that appears to have jettisoned some pretty basic Judeo-Christian values. “In effect,” writes Marci Hamilton in God vs. the Gavel, “religious entities have lobbied for the right to hurt others without consequences. That is a severe attack on the rule of law, which is supposed to guarantee that no one becomes a rule unto himself.” Havens for economic and social and political outlawry, whether they are hurting township tax rolls or colluding in child rape and murder or illegally abetting the election of a criminal president (who makes war and spies on citizens as a rule unto himself), the ecclesiastical corporations, whose existence Madison so lamented, today are helping to fashion a social order that fetishizes religiosity but also has with no regrets unmoored religion from that strange old notion of loving thy neighbor. Prof. Hamilton calls this achievement a triumph of “possessive individualism” – the secret sidecar to “ownership society” – and a “triumph of the urge to power, in Nietzche’s sense.”

Moreover, that the ecclesiastical corporations have secured and expanded power by the cynical application of law and a creative sympathy in the judiciary indicates their effectiveness indeed as corporate players. It should be remembered that modern American corporations, conceived by lawyers in the Gilded Age as the grotesque offspring of the 14th Amendment, transformed themselves into “legal persons” by similar courtroom machinations. So the corporation gained the rights of a person – among them, due process and equal treatment, the right to sue, hold property, borrow money – but none of the obligations. “Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience,” Edward Thurlow, the 18th century lord chancellor of England, remarked, “when it has no soul to be damned, and no body to be kicked?” The history of the business corporation has in fact been the systematic lobbying for the removal of all regulatory constraints to its operations – in effect, as Professor Hamilton writes, “lobbying for the right to hurt others without consequences.”

The greatest corporate successes in this effort, the founding moments in corporate wealth and power, rest in the 50 years of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that enshrined the deranged definition of “legal person” and gave to capital and property the rights of men while relieving the men behind the money of their liabilities. Similarly, the church looks for the fundaments of its own kind of legal exceptionalism in the three pivotal decades of the Burger Court. If corporations are mere business machines that the courts have mistaken for a person, then churches are mere corporations that the courts have mistaken for godliness. Still, corporations must pay their taxes, however they try not to, and, in the end, they must answer to the marketplace. The corporate church answers apparently only to God.

Asura and the Avatar

HITLER & HIS GOD Author : Georges Van Vrekhem
Hitler remains an enigma in spite of everything that has been written about him. Historians like Alan Bullock, Ian Kershaw and HR Trevo-Roper confess their perplexity openly. How was it possible that an unknown, solitary and futureless front-soldier in 1918 became, some years later, the Leader and Messiah of the German people? How could a nullity unleash the most destructive and deadliest war humanity has ever known? Academic historians give countless reasons because the essential reason keeps escaping them; fantasy writers find the most bizarre occult explanations, disregarding the historical facts.
Georges Van Vrekhem is a Flemish speaking Belgian. He has translated into Dutch several books of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Satprem, as well as selected writings from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata . He is also the author of Beyond Man - The Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo.

Religion of an older, traditional form is increasingly returning to fashion

Despite the nightly impression given that news of Islamic religious fervor dominates the mass media in the West, the figures tell a different story. The Vatican is winning the religious media war hands down! ... By Ron Fraser
While the mass media of the West fixate on the rise of Islamism to the detriment of Western society, another major religion is rapidly gaining ground in terms of its appeal to youth in particular, and more worryingly, its political clout. The plain fact to which Western media have yet to awaken is that secularism is on the way to becoming passé. The liberal socialism that morphed out of a combine of godless German rationalism, child of the 18th-century period that historians label the Enlightenment, and its clone, godless communism, so long the mentor of our campus intelligentsia, is on the back foot. Religion of an older, traditional form is increasingly returning to fashion.
The arm-waving, foot-stomping, stupefyingly hyped-up emotionalism of so much of the evangelical Protestant movement that captivated a generation in Anglo-America seeking to fill the spiritual gap left by the three decades of experiments in social engineering during the 1960s through the ’80s has had its day. A powerful force is rising across the Atlantic, destined to pale all religious competition into relative insignificance. It’s centered around a highly intelligent and articulate personality holding an office of increasing political significance. It has an annual budget founded upon assets that make it the richest institution in the world. It has greater command of media than any single one of its competitors. It’s simply the oldest religion in the world, mother of them all, an imperial power in its own right...
Having witnessed the powerful influence of Nazi propaganda during his days as a member of the Hitler Youth, Pope Benedict xvi is well aware of the mind-controlling power of effective communications psychology...“During his Friday audience the pope took note of the important changes in the media industry, including the rising power of the electronic media and the waning influence of print. He pointed to the concentration of media ownership as a matter for concern, and the spread of the Internet, which ‘has opened up a world of knowledge and learning that previously for many could only be accessed with difficulty, if at all’” (ibid.).

Man-made ideologies have failed to brush aside religion from our lives

On 9 December 1905, a law was passed in France separating the church and the state. This law was based on three principles: the neutrality of the state, the freedom of exercise of religion, and public powers related to the church. The law states: "The Republic neither recognizes, nor salaries, nor subsidizes any religion."...
Sociologist Vincent Gissiere said the new poll is drawing a line between a "secular country" and a "spiritual society." "True that the state succeeded in secularizing its entire institutions, but its secular polices have had little effect on French society, which is still longing for spirituality," he told IOL. Gissiere said the French elite were mistaken in believing that secularism could replace religion. "They wanted to make secularism the state religion," he said. "But they did not realize that secularism is an institutional system to regulate society and state institutions."...
"If past is any indication, man-made ideologies have failed to brush aside religion from our lives no matter how powerful and liberal such ideologies are," priest Michel Le Long told Tuesday, March 6, commenting on the results of the recently released survey. "Religion, unlike secularism and other man-made ideologies, meets our spiritual needs and provides us with answers to questions about this life, the hereafter, destiny and fate."...
Long said the communist Soviet Union had tried in vain to get rid off all religious beliefs once and for all. "But this ideology (communism) proved futile, and places of worship were re-opened once again," he said. "By the same token," added Long, "the French Revolution (1789-1799) came to oppress in an unprecedented way the Catholic clergy, but gave in in the end of the day to the powerful religion and reconsidered its anti-religion campaigns."...
"Secular" France Favors Religion Islam Online Wednesday , 14 March 2007

People act based on their value systems and needs, some/many of which by the standards of what is labeled rational are deeply irrational

Why Foreign Aid fails Chris Dierkes Indistinct Union: Christianity, Integral Philosophy, and Politics Tuesday, March 13, 2007 Just finished reading William Easterly's book, White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good.
The book lays out a distinction between what Easterly calls "planners" and "searchers". The planners represent the dominant position in foreign aid since WWII. Planners are those who believe that foreign aid can be planned from top-down. A planned economy/aid system in other words. Planners also tend to emphasize exterior-only causes and solutions. In integral that is they emphasize only right-hand solutions to problems.
Interestingly this consensus tends to reach across both right and left parties/political philosophies. Right-wing elements tend to emphasize military unilateralism and national security/occupation while left wing talk of "Ending poverty." Jeffrey Sachs new book is titled just that. He is the most recent incarnation of the planner mindset.
The problems with the planners are legion but a few of the key ones:
1. Un-democratic and non free-market. Groups like NGOs, UN, etc. are given these tasks.
2. Such groups are not accountable and therefore like all bureaucracies exist to further their own power.
3. They dis-empower local peoples to not to responsibility, to not buy in. It does not assume wisdom on the part of local peoples. It is in a sense neo-imperialist (whether or left/right varieties).
4. Utopian unachievable goals which are not then met and leave greater donor fatigue, depression.
Easterly who has had years of experience in this field argues for the searcher model. The searcher model works not on ending world poverty but doing some good in the world with the people who actually will live in these places, raise children, and be the ones who must take ownership.
Easterly has a strong libertarian bent. His criticism of planned foreign aid is an application of Hayek and Missus' critiques of planned economies both of the Soviet communist and the Welfare state Liberal worlds (see Road to Serfdom). But he also points out that there are more radical left wing elements who can line up with libertarians interestingly against foreign aid but for different philosophical reasons. [I've often thought it would be interesting to explore a relationship between Hayek and Marcusse though they have massive differences as well. But specifically in the notion of one-dimensionality and road to serfdom. I guess the difference becomes their respective cures but often similar/same diagnoses of the illness.]
It is part of the postmodern world's insight of the criticism of the impartial modernist observer. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Godel's Mathematical incompleteness theorem, Wittgenstein's language games, all point to the idea that an observer in some way or another affects and changes the scenario which is observed. [This is not to say that such influence is total and dominant a la postmodern narcissism.]
Because of the incompleteness, the inability to predict and plan from above, and the existence of people on the ground changing the situation, planners fail. Not to mention they are dealing in integral terms with at best half of the universe. Godel's incompleteness theorem states that no mathematical theorem can cover all of math because it could not account for itself. Just so, a planned foreign aid economy does not plan for its own insertion. Sachs falls into this trap.
Easterly talks about opening up the free market to foreign aid. If left wing advocates of liberal internationalism so strongly free trade to build up foreign countries and right-wingers in the States so strongly support free trade domestically, why is it neither promote the idea in foreign trade circles.
I think ultimately the libertarian bent can only be one of many. Particularly (in my conservative streak) the question of international security. Globalization brings trans-national and cross-national entities into relationship but without some oversight there are no rule sets. The libertarian mindset I think is often far too naive about how destructive cultures and nation can and do become. It assumes individuals working in their own self-interest, usually defined as rational. But that is in many ways not the case.
People act based on their value systems and needs, some/many of which by the standards of what is labeled rational are deeply irrational. The irrationality is to assume people are always working in their own rational self-interest and that such rational self-interest even if achieved across the board automatically brings harmony to the parts. But that only partial critique aside, it is a deep work. posted by CJ Smith @ 8:04 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Luciferian ideas as the perennial trick of the left

One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin
As Polanyi has written, this is the perennial trick of the left: to deny the traditional moral order that is "set in the stars" and to replace it with an unhinged moral impulse that rampages through postmodernity like a wildfire. We see it in the appropriately named "environmental movement," which replaces the moral order of the heavens with the fanciful imperatives of the earth, another way of destroying the possibility of man. (I hope everyone watched this documentary, which has Petey's Good Denkeeping Seal of Approval).
"Private property is public theft." "To each according to his needs." "Living wage." "Income gap." "Poverty causes crime." "Israel causes terror." "Dissent on global warming is Holocaust denial." "A baby is distinct from a woman's body only if she doesn't want to kill it." "Homosexuality is no different from heterosexuality." "Group rights." "Diversity." "Racial quotas." "Moral relativism." "The designated hitter." Each of these luciferian ideas in one way or another denies the human blueprint and overturns the order of the cosmos, especially that last one. "American" League my a**...posted by Gagdad Bob at 3/12/2007 07:59:00 AM 19 comments links to this post

Auroville education

Oxford and other essays on education This book was composed in the year 1984 and contains autobiographical recollections of my years at Oxford. The other essays deal with my educational activities and experiences. One article sums up my establishment of a secondary school in a remote village in the South of India. There are also articles summing up my visits to French schools, my interaction with educator at Auroville, Pondicherry and also my interaction with a public school student from Eton College,UK. V.Isvarmurti :: Mar.12.2007 :: Uncategorized ::

Monday, March 12, 2007

For EU membership, religion is not among the criteria

Interviews [MONDAY TALK] Islam is and will be a European religion
The birthrate among Muslim immigrants in Europe is three times higher than that of the non-Muslim European population. According to Sweden's consul general in İstanbul, Ingmar Karlsson, if this trend continues, the Muslim population will be doubled by 2015, while Europe's non-Muslim population will decrease by 3.5 percent. Some estimates indicate that in 30 years the number of Muslims in Europe could be as high as 65 million.
The outspoken consul general, who is a doctor of divinity and the author of more than 10 books on the subjects of Europe's relationship with faith, terrorism, Islam and minorities, has said that the trend towards a multi-racial and multi-confessional Europe is unstoppable; therefore, Islam must be recognized and regarded as a "domestic" European religion.
Karlsson, whose latest book will be available in Sweden today, titled "Europe and the Turk," said that Turkey's membership in the European Union would demonstrate the falsity of the argument that Islam and democracy cannot mix, also helping to bring about favorable changes in the Islamic world's attitude towards Europe. "There is nothing which intrinsically prevents a Muslim from being as good a Swede as a member of the Pentecostal Bretheren or an adherent of the Jewish faith, nor is there anything that prevents mosques from becoming as natural a feature of Swedish cities as churches have always been in İstanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, Mosul or Cairo," Karlsson said. .
For EU membership, religion is not among the criteria, therefore, refusing Turkey's admission on religious grounds would send a dangerous signal, especially after Sept.11, 2001, Karlsson noted, adding that Turkey's rejection by the EU would have a radicalizing effect both in the Muslim world and in Turkey itself. .

Other claims to priority have been put forth for China and South Asia

Peter J. Lu of Harvard University noticed the intricate geometric patterns, known as girih, used in Islamic architecture while traveling through Uzbekistan. Back home, he searched through photographs for evidence of quasicrystal (aperiodic) patterns in Islamic decorations and came across images of the Darb-i Imam shrine in Iran, built in 1453. What he found was evidence of Penrose tilings some 500 years before they were studied by Roger Penrose in the West.
Of course, this is hardly the first time that priority in mathematical developments has been contested. Debate has raged for decades concerning the contributions of Mesopotamia and Egypt to Greek mathematics; a debate fueled, in part, by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who asserted in his History that geometry was invented in Egypt and that basic geometric knowledge was passed to Greek visitors. Herodotus’ assertion has often been pointed to in claims that later Europeans have denigrated, and even concealed, the accomplishments of non-Europeans.
As historical research on mathematics has improved, other claims to priority have been put forth for China and South Asia. Among the most interesting stories concerns the Indian mathematical school in Kerala, along the Malabar Coast. This region has been associated with the spice trade for thousands of years. Vasco da Gama arrived in India in 1498, and European traders were soon accompanied by Jesuits (after the order’s formation in 1540) intent on exchanging scientific knowledge—in particular, knowledge about navigation and how to reform the increasingly inaccurate Julian calendar. Among the most famous visitors was Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit missionary instructed in astronomy and mathematics, who is best known for his 30-year sojourn in China.
Less well known are the events of his two-year stay in Cochin, Kerala. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the mathematical discoveries of the school of Madhava in Kerala, such as infinite series (hundreds of years before Europeans would even consider infinity) for trigonometric functions, may have been transmitted through Jesuit reports, which were disseminated throughout Europe. Some Indian scholars go further, claiming that the calculus was actually discovered in India and that the priority dispute between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz is therefore moot. While the latter is stretching the evidence pretty thin (see, for example, Indian Mathematics: Redressing the balance), it is true that people everywhere throughout recorded time have pursued and contributed to mathematics, the truly universal language. Britannica Blog

The aim of pedagogy should be the formation of free men and women or self-directing agents

Every Child Left Behind ~ by larvalsubjects on March 12, 2007
Of late I’ve occasionally grumbled about education reform here in the United States. Given the sort of readership I have, I suspect that some look at me sidelong when I go on these rants wondering why I get so worked up. After all, there are much sexier issues to discuss like global capitalism and empire. Nonetheless, I think the No Child Left Behind act has been an unmitigated disaster and I am filled with cold chills whenever I think about it. I wish some talented Foucaultian would come along– you know the type, those that don’t simply talk about what Foucault himself wrote, but continue the project of rigorously studying forms and organizations of institutional power such as, perhaps, the way the DSM-IV functions and so on –and analyze the sorts of subjectivizations produced as a result of these agendas. These are the contemporary forms of micropower. Are they being studied and strategized?
What will the minds of Americans be like ten or fifteen years from now, after these children have grown up and entered the work world? Apparently this movement isn’t restricted to the secondary schools, but now there are entire groups of university administrators who believe this would be a good idea at the college level as well. In my cynicism I might not be surprised to hear of community or junior college administors pursuing such reform…
But administrators at four year institutions with graduate programs? Now whenever I hear some well meaning person speak of “rubrics” and “performance outcomes” I shiver and dig my heels in, terrified that this is what is lurking right around the corner. I have a dirty confession to make: I passionately believe in traditional liberal arts education and the formation of critical thinkers that do not simply repeat but that are capable of posing problems and creatively generating solutions. The aim of pedagogy should be the formation of free men and women or self-directing agents. This is not accomplished by producing good test-takers. Indeed, listening to the horror stories of the pressures that are placed on students to perform well on these tests, it’s difficult to escape the impression that the very aim of this program is to thoroughly destroy any love of learning so that we might have a perfectly docile populace. The minute I hear words like “rubrics” and “performance outcomes” I suspect that the person using them has little or no understanding of what pedagogy is. At any rate, if you’re in the mood to be outraged, read this and this.
These are prime examples of what I have in mind when I speak of forms of action and policy arising out of stupidity, where the dimension of mediation has been ignored. In the development of this legislation teachers have systematically been cut out of the process as there’s been a working assumption that teachers are the problem and that the businessmen and lawyers that make up Congress know better what is required of education than those who teach. The first stupidity then lies in reducing education to a simple exchange of information, memorization, or “facts”. The second lies in the belief that the source of our education problems are the result of poor teachers. In both cases these are the results of “thingly thought” that pitches problems in terms of abstract immediacy, failing to appreciate the broader network of relations embodied in its object. I’m thoroughly baffled that parents and teachers everywhere aren’t filling the streets and marching with torches as a result of these disgusting policies. I get so angry thinking about this and what I’m seeing in my classroom from students freshly out of highschool that I can hardly even pull together words to say anything of value on the issue.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Respect for reason and the individual's right

In the past, contends Hirsi Ali, the Christian world too was equally close-minded and suffocating, but the revolution ushered in by the great thinkers of the Enlightenment - Kant, Spinoza, Voltaire, Mill, Locke - brought about a separation between the church and the state, and a new respect for reason and the individual's right to choose his or her own way of life. "The Enlightenment," writes Hirsi Ali, "cut European culture from its roots in old fixed ideas of magic, kingship, social hierarchy, and the domination of priests, and regrafted it onto a great strong trunk that supported the equality of each individual, and his right to free opinions and self-rule - so long as he did not threaten civic peace and the freedom of others.
"In her opinion Islam, too, needs a similar Age of Reformation. She is critical of the way in which Western governments and intellectuals have become nervous about this right to freedom of speech, of free debate and criticism, out of respect for the pieties of multiculturalism and a fear of being called racist. She herself defied those pieties by collaborating with the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh on a short film sharply critical of the treatment of women in Islam...Chandrahas, 8:17 AM Saturday, March 10, 2007 On Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel 2 Comments:
The debate at signandsight (which I have been following for a few weeks now) is really quite interesting. Hirsi Ali makes me very uncomfortable though. She does raise important questions no doubt but I just find her entire approach not just a bit offensive but also eventually pointless. She comes up with such blanket generalisations that you really cant take away much of any use. Plus she has a very biased and unidimensional take on Islamic history that is disappointing to say the least. Szerelem, at 12:11 PM, March 10, 2007

Perfection of Sanskrit

"Sanskrit is the greatest language of the world” said Max Muller. Sri Aurobindo said “Sanskrit language, as has been universally recognised by those competent to form a judgment, is one of the most magnificent literary instrument developed by the human mind”.
These are only a few mentions of the innumerable glories of the wonder language Sanskrit sung by people throughout the world and through the ages. It is difficult to recite all the praises of Sanskrit that people in India and abroad have sung. Because of the great height of Sanskrit, people generally desist from making a comparison of Sanskrit with any other language whether Indian or alien. But whenever there is a comparison, Sanskrit is always placed at an exceptionally high place in comparison to other languages. For example Prof. Boop, a great scholar, making a comparison of Sanskrit with Greek and Latin said “It (Sanskrit) is more perfect and copious than Greek and Latin”. Sir William Jones while referring to the perfection of Sanskrit said “We (Europeans) are still behind in making even our alphabet a perfect one”.
Organiser Home > 2007 Issues > March 18, 2007 Reaction: Insult of the wonder language - Modern day mandarins scoff at Sanskrit even as they promote Persian, Urdu and Arabic By Dr. Indulata Das

The more specialized and varied the jobs, the richer the economy

Today, we have an electronically networked world that demands new skills of us. A new economy driven by a global workforce is rewriting the rules of survival of the human species, in terms of access to biotic and abiotic resources and their utilization. The need for a new version of a school that will equip us with suitable tools to survive this new economy is sorely felt.
According to Jeff Sachs, author of The End of Poverty, the more specialized and varied the jobs, the richer the economy. If we were to take that as a guideline to see how we can connect people with what they need to learn so that we can provide a wide spectrum of jobs, we hit a new wall - the relative value of a job based on the demand/supply rule and the "niche" that determines the monetary value of work compensation...
India has been the home for many educational models. From the oldest Gurukula system to monasteries, from state-funded madarsas under Islamic rule to missionary colleges, from village schools to universities, there have been several streams and philosophies that have intertwined and created a unique amalgam of school designs. Bold experiments by great thinkers such as Swami Dayanada Saraswati, Sri Aurobindo and J. Krishnamurthy have essayed new ideas in education. The apprenticeship in many trades has also been kept alive for centuries to ensure proper transfer of knowledge from one generation to another.
The people of India have survived for centuries despite hostile economic and political conditions owing to this faithful transference of knowledge. That is one great asset that we have - hopefully it is not too late. Now, it is a matter of legitimizing that knowledge source in a formal manner...March 10, 2007 Blokesablogin Blokes aka Meenakshi enjoys writing along with being a mom, a school teacher, a musician and an Art of Living teacher (of meditation and breathing) Like this article? +

Friday, March 09, 2007

Every month sees thousands of protests across China by poor farmers

The Economist print edition China's next revolution The party's decision to enact the law in spite of that resistance is a great symbolic victory for economic reform and the rule of law. Clearer, enforceable property rights are essential if China's fantastic 30-year boom is to continue and if the tensions it has generated are to be managed without widespread violence. Every month sees thousands of protests across China by poor farmers outraged at the expropriation of their land for piffling or no compensation...In the short term, however, do not expect too much. The latest law is only one step in the slow trudge China is making out of the blind alley of Maoism. Mar 8th 2007
The National People's Congress is considering property rights at its annual meeting. The People’s Daily, a state newspaper, gives background information on the proposed property law and has an article on the amendments to the constitution. America’s Congressional-Executive Committee on China has information on China's property laws. (see article)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Unconditional love and expecting nothing in return

Christians oppose proselytization The Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue (BIRD), in an open letter addressed to the President and Prime Minister of India, opposed conversion by all means. The following is the text of the letter. The letter was signed by 700 Christians.By P.N. Benjamin Organiser Home > 2007 Issues > March 11, 2007
As Indian Christians, we believe that the best and perhaps the only way we can bear witness to our faith, is by extending our unconditional love to our neighbours and expecting nothing in return as Jesus Christ showed us. As such, we are against aggressive faith marketing by any religious group because such efforts discredit India’s tradition of respecting all religious thought and also runs counter to the true spirit in which the Constitution grants people the right to profess, practice and propagate their faith. We are Christians. Some of us were born into Christianity others freely chose to embrace it. We also believe that the Great Commission in the Gospel according to Matthew unequivocally calls us to witness Christ in a pluralistic setting without violating the right of the other to preach, practice and profess his/her faith. Witnessing Jesus cannot in any case be done by questionable means, whether by exploiting people’s socio-psychological vulnerabilities or by running down other religions. Furthermore, we believe the Christian injunction to make disciples of all nations in today’s context is best honoured by the bearers of the Good News living exemplary Christian lives and showing respect for the nation’s commitment to pluralism, for the larger public good in a civil society. Conversion of faith, given its life-changing nature, stems from a considered personal experience and is less likely in this day and age to be the stuff of dramatic immediacy.
When India’s Supreme Court ruled, in 1977, that a citizen’s right to “profess, practice and propagate” one’s religion does not include the right to convert another it was merely reaffirming both tradition and the Constitution. We believe that every nation should give primacy to maintenance of public order by ensuring safety and security to the life and property of its citizens. India’s all-encompassing culture and secular Constitution allows not only its citizens but also visitors the freedom of religious practice. But, Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees that right also, subjects it to the maintenance of “public order, morality and health” of the citizenry. We therefore call on the Government of India and all secular countries to seek an amendment to Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights by expanding it through the addition of a second sentence: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
However, no individual or organisation may seek to convert an individual or a group of individuals, including minors or individuals of limited cognitive abilities, formally or informally, from one religion to another by offering financial or other material incentives; through physical, mental or emotional coercion; or through threats or intimidation of any kind.” While we decry the attempts of religious leaders and fundamentalists of all varieties to convert and re-convert, we pledge to work diligently for inter-faith amity in the best traditions of Indian culture. We hereby call on all Indians to join in our efforts to preserve a pluralist India founded on secularism and religious inclusion and governed by a Constitution that guarantees all its citizens all freedoms vital to the functioning of a modern democracy.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Western weaknesses

Think it over Is western leadership reliable? By M.S.N. Menon This is what Aurobindo meant when he talked of the evolutionary failure of Western civilisation. And it has continued to act as a powerful agent of disaster and oppression throughout the world. Organiser Home> March 11, 2007
Is western leadership reliable? No. It is not. Why? For a number of reasons:
1) Because the West does not believe in the brotherhood of men,
2) Because its religious and cultural life is in shambles,
3) Because (Max Mueller says) while the Western man is born active, the Eastern man is meditative and reflective,
4) Because while the kingdom of God is outside the Western man, it is within the Eastern man.
Western dualism began with the Greek belief that their God stood above the world and directed it. To the Greeks spirit (God) was active, and matter, passive. This false theory has of late been rejected. Spirit, scientists say, and matter (mass) are the same. There is no substance, the Buddha had said 2,500 years ago. For 2,000 years, the West held on to its beliefs with disastrous consequences to the evolution of humanity. The Eastern image of the divine was of a principle that controlled everything from within. To wit, the atom was revealed to contain Light, Sound, Heat and Movement when it was exploded for the first time in 1945. Indian philosophy reached its apogee of Advaita-non-dualism—even in the Vedic Age.
Newton made the separation of matter and spirit the basis of classical physics. Naturally, it led to the creation of an all-powerful monarchic God. All the Semitic faiths followed this belief. The mechanical conception of the world was, however, found wanting. By the time of the Age of Reason, people began to question the need for God himself in a mechanical world. Nietzche said God was dead. With the advent of the Quantum and Relativity theories, the two basic theories of modern physics, the old mechanical world of Newton had to be abandoned. In other words almost the entire scientific past had to go.
This is what Aurobindo meant when he talked of the evolutionary failure of Western civilisation. And it has continued to act as a powerful agent of disaster and oppression throughout the world, says Albert Schweitzer, the philosopher. Why? Because the God of the West continues to sit on high and direct the world! The West refuses to go with scientific findings. How do you explain this failure? According to scientist Fitj of Capra, Western civilisation is male dominated. The female principle is absent. Western societies have gone for individualism, not integration; analysis, not synthesis; rationalism, not intuition; competition, not cooperation.
This one-sided development has reached a crisis of social, ecological, moral and spiritual dimension. That is why the West can no longer lead the humanity. And yet with the demise of the socialist system, there was a feeling of triumph of the Western system. It was said that it had come to stay. But they were wrong. History never comes to an end. In fact, very soon, the Islamic world was in revolt against the West. Islamists say they have an “unfinished business”, namely the conversion of the world into Islam. He asserts that if you do not accept Islam, you are standing in the way of history. There is no exit from the trauma of history, says Samuel Huntington. He thinks the West has gone weak because of its cultural suicide and political disunity.
These weaknesses have become manifest in anti-social behaviour, drug abuse, violence, decay of family ties, high divorce rates, illegitimate births, teenage pregnancies, weakening of work culture, personal indulgences, decreasing commitment to learning and intellectual activity. What still drives Western societies is their insatiable desire for material things. So, desires keep multiplying and man’s capacity to satisfy them fall behind. But did not the Buddha warn that desire is at the source of human misery? He did. But it fell on deaf ears. On the deaf ears of Hindus and Buddhists, too.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

R. K. Talwar retired with his wife to Sri Aurobindo Ashram

R. K. Talwar: A banker ahead of his times S. Parthasarathy Business LineTuesday, May 07, 2002
Talwar's tenure as SBI Chairman was also coincidentally a period when the trade union movement was getting to be aggressive and confrontational. This was particularly true of the unions in the banking system. The bank saw quite a few confrontations, strikes and agitations, as a consequence.
Talwar's equations with the RBI were always excellent. Because of his strikingly original and thought-provoking policy insights, he was always consulted by the RBI's top brass when it formulated important banking policy. Talwar was the SBI's first technocrat Chairman. Prior to him, SBI/IBI Chairmen were invariably appointed either from the ICS/IAS cadre or from the top management of the RBI. He, therefore, had to prove himself and demonstrate the stuff of which bank managers were made of.
He retired with his wife to Sri Aurobindo Ashram to lead a simple and quiet life. When the Ashram was getting to be a bit uncomfortable with internal squabbles, he moved out to a small sparse portion in a street house in Pondicherry.

Natural incense sticks from Sri Aurobindo Udyog Trust in Pondicherry

Spriha, ITC's premium brand, is priced at Rs 20 for 20 sticks in Sambrani and Nagchampa fragrances. They are manufactured in the traditional `masala' method, using natural ingredients such as charcoal, jigat and extracts from flowers. Nivedan (in Sandal and Bouquet, Rs 10 for 20 sticks) and Ashageet (Rose and Jasmine, Rs 7.50 for 20 sticks and Rs 4 for 10 sticks) are positioned as puja accessories, while Spriha, which, according to Rajasekharan, means aspiration, will be positioned as something that imparts tranquility. He says that the prices of Nivedan and Ashageet are comparable with those of the good quality brands in the market. Spriha, he points out, has the quotes of Aurobindo Ashram's Mother on its pack. The POS and print campaign has started but the TV campaign will take shape once a certain level of distribution is reached, says Rajasekharan. O&M is the ad agency handling the advertising. Sravanthi Challapalli Business Line Thursday, Jun 05, 2003
ITC launches `Spriha' brand of agarbattis KOLKATA, Feb. 21 ITC Ltd, which had recently set up a strategic business unit (SBU) for agarbattis, today launched its 'Spriha' brand of natural incense sticks, manufactured by Cottage Industries, a unit of the Sri Aurobindo Udyog Trust in Pondicherry. According to an official release by the company, the launch was on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of "The Mother'' of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The company will market Spriha in two fragrance options — `Sambrani' and `Nagchampa', and as a premium brand, Spriha is priced at Rs 20 for 20 sticks. Our Bureau Business Line Saturday, Feb 22, 2003

Prof C.L. Gupta of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry

Will hydrogen be the future energy source? Ch. Prashanth Reddy HYDERABAD, Dec. 28 THE Murugappa Chettiar Research Centre (MCRC) of Chennai, after a decade-long study of photolytic bacteria, has developed the process for production of hydrogen sustainably from spent distillery wash, sago waste and whey in the laboratory, according to Prof C.L. Gupta of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.
Prof Gupta, who is the Vice-President designate for Solar Energy Society of India (SESI), said that a pre-commercial pilot scale plant using distillery waste as substrate has been commissioned and tested at a factory site. The hydrogen produced at the place was used in an exploratory trial to operate a fuel cell. The Hindu Business Line Saturday, December 29, 2001

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sri Aurobindo's concept of nationalism was riven with contradictions

In The Name Of Nationalism By K.N.Panikker 16 March, 2004 Front Line
The appropriation is not limited to cultural tradition alone; even political and intellectual leaders of the past are being turned into Hindu nationalist icons. Ancient and medieval rulers, even if they had followed the principles of secular governance, are claimed as Hindu. So are those who fought against colonial rule. Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, Velu Thampi, Nana Saheb and Kattabomman are being made into Hindutva's cult figures. Similarly, Hindu religious reformers of the 19th century, such as Dayananda Saraswati, Vivekananda and Aurobindo, who gave much importance to the universalist spirit in all religions, are celebrated as the progenitors of Hindu nationalism. But their ideas of inclusive nationalism are completely overlooked. Vivekananda, for instance, had argued that the union of Hindu and Islamic civilisations offered an ideal solution for India's regeneration. Aurobindo's concept of nationalism was riven with contradictions and at any rate he did not subscribe to a Hindu denominational nationalism in which the followers of other faiths had no place. Even Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh are in the process of being co-opted into the Hindutva fold!