Documents without annotations
Dear Spiritual Family,
In the current world crisis, the excesses of power, greed and religious extremism are causing profound upheavals. People are looking to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother for answers. Those of us who have given our lives over to their high ideals understand the Ashram and Auroville will be places where every problem facing humanity has to be confronted and solved.
Even with this perspective, I must admit a profound sadness from reading recent letters concerning The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. I have kept from speaking out with the deep hope that time and reflection would allow for some dialogue and exchange of ideas. Instead there rather seems to be a growing mob mentality looking to punish and avenge.
We all deeply share the anguish at the apparent split that seems to threaten the Sri Aurobindo Community. But may I ask who is responsible for this.
From two comments by Rick Lipschutz
(A possible reply to Alok's rebuttal of Julian)
I have read in full Peter Heehs's book, "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo," and met with him when he came to San Francisco giving readings and discussing his work. I found he added to my understanding and appreciation of Sri Aurobindo — not only in his life before Pondicherry, but after his great realizations: the Silent Brahman, the Cosmic Consciousness that he entered in the Alipur jail, the Parabrahman realization, the Overmental Realization and through the entire arc of his earthy life. I have a deeper sense now how Sri Aurobindo, by the power of yoga, transformed a human consciousness into an integral divine consciousness. And in respect to his Integral Yoga, which is my principal focus (I was recently co-facilitating a Synthesis of Yoga study group and plan to resume it) the book afforded me stronger hope that humans like myself can make progress on this difficult and thorny path. Sri Aurobindo struggled with human problems, family problems, national problems; found a way through Integral Yoga to surmount them for himself and even to bring into the world a greater force so that others individually and collectively and the nations and the earth itself have a more certain hope, or at least the main chance, to transform our ignorance and struggling lives into something divine. I venerate Purani's biography, I love and enjoy what I've read of Iyengar's, have deep respect for Van Vrekhem's, but I feel there is room for "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo." I feel his approach to a critical, scholarly work based on a great deal of research, directed to the scholarly and academic community, is a potent form of inoculation against inevitable intellectual attacks to come. After all, Sri Aurobindo and Mother are not only for devotees, and for much-needed karma yogis; they're also for intellectuals, those with a more mental bent — and an integral Yoga must include in it and integrate the heart, the will, the mind and more, in a "methodized effort towards self-perfection."
From: Obla Vishvesh
To: Peter Heehs
Sent: Fri, February 5, 2010 8:20:34 PM
Subject: Hello ...
I will introduce myself to you first. My name is Vishvesh Obla. I am from Madurai, Tamilnadu. I did a Masters in English Literature, but I am now working as a computer programmer in Albany, NY.
I was very much impressed by your recent biography of Sri Aurobindo. I had wanted to drop in a word of praise after reading it but I got your email ID only today. It is one of the finest biographies I have read and my respect for Sri Aurobindo has only grown more after reading it. I am entirely at a loss to understand the noise created by it.
I heard that you are from Rochester, NY. If that is so, I am a neighbor living not far from your hometown. I would love to meet you in person if you happen to visit your hometown.
I also have a question. How much of D.H.Lawrence did Sri Aurobindo read or know? I have read his observations on Lawrence from his collected letters. He finds Lawrence as ‘a Yogi who had missed his way and come into a European body’. I am curious to know if he was aware of Lawrence’s ‘Fantasia of the Unconscious’, since he makes a vague reference to the Solar plexus (which is a key word in that book).
I am curious since I am planning to work on Lawrence’s book, if possible as a Doctorate thesis, and also for the fact that this book has many realizations related with Yoga. There are quite a few other things too and hence I would greatly appreciate if there was anything apart from his published letters where has made a note of Lawrence, or if at least there has been dependable hearsays among his disciples.
I am also pasting a note that I made on your ‘Lives of Sri Aurobindo’ and sent to a few friends of mine. This was written four months or so before.
‘Lives of Sri Aurobindo’, by Peter Heehs
A month or so before I came to know about a controversy that was raging over a biography of Sri Aurobindo, written by Peter Heehs. Curious to know further, I found out that Heehs had written a new biography titled ‘Lives of Sri Aurobindo’ using hitherto unpublished material that he had access to as the person in charge of the archives of the ashram (he had earlier written a short biography). This book wasn’t allowed to be published in India!
Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure. Fundamentalism is, therefore, inevitable in an age which has destroyed so many certainties by which faith once expressed itself and upon which it relied.
— Reinhold Niebuhr
Posted to the SAICE (Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education) Yahoo! group on September 25, 2008. As of April 13, 2009, the group has 200 non-bouncing members.
Readers are cautioned that this unannotated document contains numerous false assertions. For an annotated email by Ranade see The Core Problem. For in-depth analysis of this and similar documents see An Outbreak of Fundamentalism?.
Whether someone reads (carefully or casually) or even glances through any piece of writing, it is for that particular person to choose. Such a person may even form an opinion and I have no quarrel with that.
But I would like to only add that if one simply flips through a book (that too one with more than 600 pages) and asserts and imposes an opinion after that flipping through, is it at least possible that the opinion may suffer from being a little too flippant? At least a possibility? …Is there maybe room for an iota of self-doubt?
dated 30 September 2008. Readers are cautioned that this unannotated document contains false assertions. For in-depth analysis of this and similar documents see An Outbreak of Fundamentalism?.
Email dated 1 October 2008. For in-depth analysis of this and similar documents see An Outbreak of Fundamentalism?.
"As an author I encountered some personality-cult behavior from Theosophists and Cayce disciples, and observed similar reactions within other spiritual movements toward those who write about their founders in less than hagiographic adoration. But nothing like the torrent of abuse that has been directed at Peter Heehs!"