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A Christian Critique of Sri Aurobindo's Teaching Login/Join
 
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Actually, the title is Knowledge, Consciousness and Religious Conversion in Lonergan and Aurobindo, by Michael T. McLaughlin 2003.

You might also consider it, in broad terms, the Christian paradigm/spirituality versus the monistic Eastern paradigm/spirituality (including writers like Wilber, here, who is close to Aurobindo on many topics).

- See http://books.google.com/books?...%20aurobindo&f=false to read it online via Google. I've purchased a copy.

quote:
. . . we see that the differences on the questions of creation, grace, immortality, eschatology, the nature of good and evil, not to mention the possibility of an incarnate God in the traditional sense, are very great. In using Lonergan's conceptualization, it would seem that the inner word does not take us very far in the direction of a God whom both Hinduism and Christianity would recognize. We would have to drop too many central elements of Christianity to make the God of Jesus Christ recognizably similar to Aurobindo's Sacchidananda. This can be said even if we allow for the fact that Aurobindo, from his side, often has a rather superficial understanding of Christian theology.
- p. 294

This section was very good in its emphasis on the importance of an "external word" (religion, exoteric tradition) to develop/form the inner word or human spirit's sensitivity to God.

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Posts: 3579 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm still going through this book slowly, and processing it with a friend who has a deep knowledge of scripture, metaphysics and church history.

I was generally familiar with Aurobindo's work, but now feel better informed about it. Mostly, I'm impressed by the depth and insight of his explanation of human nature and spiritual transformation. Once one becomes familiar with the terminilogy (similar to most yogic systems), it's easy to relate what he's saying to a Christian perspective.
e.g., Supermind = Word/Logos; manas = dimension of the soul encompassing body and psyce; buddhi = higher dimension of the soul (intellect, will); divine shakti = Holy Spirit, etc.

The one problem I have with it is his monism, which seems to be an a priori bias he brings to his explanation. For Aurobindo, as for many Easterners, there is a different view of creation than we find in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Everything is the divine extending itself into different realms, then convoluting its own consciousness so as to form what "appear" to be creatures. The life/awareness/energy existing behind these convolutions/knots appear to be real, individual, distinct, separate, etc., but, in the end, they are naught but the divine playing hide-and-seek with itself. Nevertheless, Aurobindo takes human life and individuality seriously, and encourages one to live it fully, as the divine delights in this experience (as does the individual).

Aurobindo's metaphysical system meets all the requirements for "good explanation" -- coherence, congruence, comprehensiveness, etc. His biggest problem (as with all monists) is that of moral evil. If all is God, then why should there be evil? Either God must not be good, or, taking the broad view, evil must not really be evil, but must be a means to some higher good (Aurobindo's position). It is difficult to adopt the latter view, however, as some acts are so morally reprehensible as to be simply unacceptable as a means to greater good. One thinks here of torture, human trafficking, rape, abortion, etc. The Judeo-Christian explanation places responsibility for evil on the misuse of intellect and will by the human, preserving the idea of God as all-good and, hence, One we can turn to for forgiveness and healing.

Also, the resurrection clearly reveals the survival of human individuality in the afterlife. The doctrine of the Communion of Saints affirms the same. Ultimately, Aurobindo cannot make such affirmation as, eventually, even the spiritual individuality he recognizes must come to be annihilated in the divine. I am not sure why he believes this, however, as it would seem Hinduism has nothing like the resurrection upon which to base its metaphysics.
 
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To understand Aurobindo, whom Wilber holds to be the "greatest Hindu philosopher sage," is to understand the person Wilber leans on most for his integralist approach.

I am still not sure why Aurobindo adopts a monistic panen-theism, as he affirms the integrity of the "psychic individual" and even its perdurance in unity with Supermind (at least for awhile, as noted above). Here he differs with the Buddhists and advaitans, and is closer to Christianity's understanding of union (Supermind being similar to the Word, as I noted earlier). McGlaughlin, who seems very up-to-speed on his Aurobindo (way more than I am), is unrelenting in his contention that, ultimately, everything we call a creature is, for Aurobindo, the divine extending itself into space and time, and convoluting its connection with the "creature" so as to be able to relate to itself as "other" -- short of a game it plays for its own delight and purposes (it's own evolution?).

When it comes to humans, it seems that, for Aurobindo, our metaphysical situation is more like what Christians consider to be that of Jesus -- that what we call human nature subsists in the divine, which is, ultimately, the Person and principle behind its actions (albeit human nature mediating this expression). All fine and well for Jesus, whose human nature was fully transparent to the Word, but what about the rest of us, who obviously distort the divine saccitananda, which is supposedly our true situation? Aurobindo has a problem accounting for evil, and cannot really do so except to say that it somehow serves the divine's "big picture" and that ultimately all things will work out.

Somewhere in all this, common sense perception needs to connect with any metaphysics or theology we formulate. I.e., we KNOW we're limited, fallible, with mixed motives, and yet also REAL and individual. Aurobindo seems to acknowledge as much, only there is his theodicy problem, at least as far as Christians are concerned. But even for non-Christians, it does leave a bad taste in one's mouth if, ultimately, the divine is the One who is raping and torturing and waging war against other extensions of Itself. Who needs such a God?
 
Posts: 3579 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil wrote :
quote:
... Supermind being similar to the Word, as I noted earlier..


No, the supermind is NOT the WORD ! , or something similar to it.

If you want compare the WORD with something from Hinduisme, it is rather OM, or better written: AUM .

The Supermind is a link between Sat-Chit-Ananda
and lower regions, (especially the higher minds and earth-consciousness) . In the Supermind the individual consciousness is replaced by a Oneness , a common consciousness among them, which has nothing to do with the individual mind mind anymore. One surpasses the individual mind.

According to the spiritual companion of Aurobindo, the Mother, Aurobindo and the Mother have succeded somewhere in 1953 to "open the gate" for the Supermind, so that now the Supermind is able to flow down into the earthly atmospheres, and thus it is easier for the fellows of Aurobindo to get in touch with the Supermind. A consequence of this is, that the human race is not the last member in the evolution. A new species will be created, according to Aurobindo, which is far supperior to humans. They live here on earth in the supermind, they have a common consciousness, and they are connected by the supermind directly with Sat-Chit-Ananda, a certain appearence/still nonpersonal aspect of God itself. Thus this new member of evolution are a perfect instrument of God here on earth.

I do not see there big similarities to the teachings of the catholic church. I would rather say that a hundred years ago, or so, this kind of teachings would have been banned by the church, who still has problems to diggest the "evolution" .

a new species of beeing will be created by the evolution on earth.

Then, somewhere above, you said that the Shakti is the Holy Spirit ! No ! The Shakti is the global creational power of God. Not to confuse , - but it is somehow related - with the "individual shakti, whis is the Kundalini.

I dont think that Aurobindo is the wisest sage in Hinduisme. He maybe is the most intelectual one (altough most of his writings are done by "automatic" writings. I rather think that the wisest (i.e. closest to God) Hindu sage is Ramakrishna.

Ah, yes, you said above that you miss the resurrection at aurobindo or Hinduisme , and thus have no proof of an afterlife in Hinduisme ! Hehe !. There is ! Ramakrishna for instance appeared after his death in a human body to Swami Vivekananda, his principle disciple. And even this Vivekananda appeared after his death to Aurobindo (when he was in prison), teaching him certain aspects of jnana and supermind.


Just my few humble remarks.
Please respect, i do not want follow this discussion further.
 
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Hi Bliss. I do respect your remarks, but don't understand why you no longer wish to follow a discussion you've just participated in significantly.

Note that I didn't say that Supermind was the Word, but that it is similar to the Word -- metaphysically, that is -- as the medium between Satchitananda and manifest creatures (which aren't really creatures, but extensions of Supermind into space/time.)

I'm no authority on Aurobindo, however. Michael McGlaughlin is, and so I'm just going by what he's written. I've never come acress Aurobindo's work being an outcome of "automatic writing." McGlaughlin notes that he speaks from experience, which is not unusual for a mystic.
quote:
The Shakti is the global creational power of God.

That could certainly be considered one of the attributes of the Holy Spirit as well, no?
quote:
A new species will be created, according to Aurobindo, which is far supperior to humans. They live here on earth in the supermind, they have a common consciousness, and they are connected by the supermind directly with Sat-Chit-Ananda, a certain appearence/still nonpersonal aspect of God itself. Thus this new member of evolution are a perfect instrument of God here on earth.

You don't see parallels here with Christianity's emphasis on resurrection and the continuance of the species as being one in Christ? At a metaphysical level, the ideas are very similar; at a theological level, there are significant differences.
quote:
Ah, yes, you said above that you miss the resurrection at aurobindo or Hinduisme , and thus have no proof of an afterlife in Hinduisme ! Hehe !. There is ! Ramakrishna for instance appeared after his death in a human body to Swami Vivekananda, his principle disciple. And even this Vivekananda appeared after his death to Aurobindo (when he was in prison), teaching him certain aspects of jnana and supermind.

Not sure why the Hehe, but I don't think we should be surprised that anyone who dies can influence the living -- even "appear" to them in some manner, as in a dream, or as an image of some kind. As Catholics, we believe that the souls of the dead live on and can continue to be involved in the affairs of this world. Our doctrine of the "Communion of Saints" affirms this. But this is not the same kind of encounter as resurrection. Aurobindo's communication with the deceased Vivekananda is similar to Joan of Arc's visions and communications with Catherine of Siena and St. Margaret, for example. Many other Christian mystics, saints and ordinary folk have reported this, but we do not say that Catherine of Siena or our deceased parents have resurrected because we have had communication with them.

As for Ramakrishna, his body was cremated, and Vivekananda reported encountering him as a "luminous figure." I'm not doubting that this encounter took place, but this manifestation is not the same as Jesus' resurrection, where even his deceased physical body was taken up and transformed. Ramakrishna's appearance seems to be more of an apparition, which is not at all uncommon in religious literature.

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Posts: 3579 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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There has been significant discussion of Aurobindo on this forum at the bottom of the page linked to below, and on the following page:
- http://shalomplace.org/eve/for...765/m/6244036838/p/3

See also A Christian looks at Sri Aurobindo, which echoes some of the themese found in McLaughlin's book.
 
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Sr. Aurobindo said: ( http://overmanfoundation.wordp...nilbaran-roy-part-3/ )
quote:
The Greeks had more light than the Christians who converted them; at that time there was Gnosticism in Greece, and they were developing agnosticism and so forth. The Christians brought darkness rather than light. Afterwards the Arabs brought life to Europe.

Uh huh! Roll Eyes

I've been reading other notes I've taken through the years, especially concerning Aurobindo's influence on Wilber.
- see http://www.kheper.net/topics/W...er_on_Aurobindo.html

Considering Wilber's enormous influence today, it's good to understand the Aurobindo/Wilber connection.
quote:
Wilber seems to be an important channel for the expression of the Aurobindo thought-form in America at the moment. Sri Aurobindo is too obscure for many people, because he uses too many words and it puts people off; to say nothing of the subtlety of his concepts, which fall outside the pop-guru paradigm. But Wilber has a knack of simplifying, and this then means that - through Wilbers own very widely printed works - Sri Aurobindo becomes better known and respected. Unfortunately, for all Ken's good intentions, he often misinterprets those teachings he writes about.

Not too surprising, as Wilber does the same regarding Christianity.
quote:
Wilber's spiritual guru Adidam, who advocates an Advaitan-Mahayana-inspired monistic worldview, slots Aurobindo in his fifth stage of life because he finds it inconceivable that anyone could strive after having attained limited (6th stage) or complete enlightenment (7th stage of life). In a somewhat similar manner (albeit differently argued), Wilber claims to have gone beyond Aurobindo's philosophical teachings. In Eye of Spirit, he refers to his earlier ideas as the Tibetan/Aurobindo/Wilber II model, or the Aurobindo/Wilber II model, or sometimes simply the Wilber II model. He claims that he is going beyond the understanding of previous thinkers on the evolution of consciousness, including Sri Aurobindo, who didn't have the benefit of modern psychological research. But in fact he is just revealing his own limitations, and adherence to Da-friendly monism.

Of course, Aurobindo places his own teaching above that of Christ, Buddha and other great founders of world religions. Wilber seems to agree in his own schema. But Adi Da, who had profound influence on Wilber, places himself (and only himself) in the highest stage.

You gotta love the way these guys try to put other great teachers in their place -- something Jesus and Buddha never did.
 
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Phil

I stopped reading Aurobindo's philosophy a long time ago.
I do however pick up his poetry once in a while. I guess I like
the universality of it. For instance, I have never had visions
of Jesus, Mary, the Angles, or the Saints. I have had visions of
this Supreme overpowering Light, and experiences with the "I AM".
I have seen Pure Beings in some of my dreams. I've experienced
the Hoy Spirit, (which I call it), decending like a ray above and
entering into me and filling my heart. If I would have seen, or experienced
Jesus, Mary, or any of the Saints in my visions ect., then I would have
certainly not explored any other avenue of thought concerning my own personal
experiences.
The rise of the K is the perfect example. I could not find it in our church
doctrine. I had to look elsewhere. Eventually I realized that I had to keep my
eye on the Prize regardless of the workings of the K. I have also experienced
Cosmic consciousness. Try and find that in the church teaching, as it seems to
be a consciousness free of any teaching. John of the Cross addresses it
in his poetry, "esstasy experienced in high contemplation". (that's my favorite
poem). His drawing of MT Carmel can cross any line. The Buddha, Hindu, and the Sufi
would certianly understand John's peotry, etc..
Aurobindo's poetry has this same type Universal Light Quality, if you will, that
presents a large picture. It's kind of like looking at the night sky and realizing
that this universe we live in,is boundless.
 
Posts: 33 | Location: california | Registered: 30 May 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mark, there are Catholic mystics who have definitely experienced kundalini, cosmic consciousness, samadhi-like states, and so forth. Exalted states of consciousness have never been the goal of the Christian life, however, so that's why you don't read such a big deal being made about these kinds of experiences. Even psychic gifts (siddhis) have not been taken to be a sign of holiness or divine union; St. John of the Cross actually discourages getting caught up in them. My book on kundalini addresses these sorts of topics and gives many examples.

Fwiw, I don't think John of the Cross's poetry resonates very much with Buddhist and Advaitic mysticism. He's speaking of a love relationship, and that's not their paradigm.

- - -

Back to Aurobindo and a Christian connection . . . he was very fond of the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, the great Jesuit theologian, mystic and poet. There are similarities between their evolutionary vision, but important distinctions as well, mostly owing to their differing theological perspectives.
- see http://www.kheper.net/topics/A...and_SriAurobindo.htm

Teilhard had a generally negative view of Eastern philosophy and mysticism, considering its beliefs in pantheism, karma and reincarnation to be fatalistic.
- see http://www.spiritualityandprac...xcerpts.php?id=22034 for a sample of his thought.

See http://shalomplace.org/eve/for...135/m/6684015038/p/1 for a discussion we've had here about Teilhard de Chardin, including a graphic I developed to illustrate his vision.
 
Posts: 3579 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil

Good writings you posted. Small world, being that Teilhard de Chardin,
and Sri Aurobindo were so very close in proximity while in the early stages
of developing their spiritual insights.
Perhaps both are correct. I myself have experienced this possible collective
ascension of consciousness, as well as the individuation process (enfoldment) of the soul
which seems to be a complete in and of Itself. At this point in my life, I would lean
more towards Chardin's philosophy. Both of these individuals are attempting to solve
a Large Universal riddle that seems to be written in the core of the human being, and the
Soul of humankind. Right now I suffer with my own perplexities, so it is difficult to
conjure up an interest.
We have to remember that the western and eastern mentality is so very different.
Well, maybe not anymore, as Walmart and Micky D's (the big mac) is everywhere now.
I think. Phil, it is time for the catholic church to address these stages of growth,
and soul enfoldment so as to not lose souls that are going through many of these
experiences. Most Catholics have zero idea of how rich their faith is. When many catholics
experience something out of the norm, and cannot find an adequate answer from their
parish priest, they look elsewhere. I like your webpage here, but you too draw lines
in the sand. Yes, I feel this Fatherly Presence, this Christ essence that is directing
my soul, and no matter how deep I go into meditation, prayer, worship, etc., I cannot bring forth this most High Love. It comes and goes when IT Wills. But I am not bold enough to
say that my way is the right way, or only way, I would rather reach, (like Merton),
and listen to other ways with an unconditional Love, which translates to me, without
judgement. I discern, but never judge.
 
Posts: 33 | Location: california | Registered: 30 May 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mark, Catholic spiritual directors are usually trained to be familiar with a variety of ways of understanding spiritual development. Even if they don't themselves experience these fully, they can at least help to validate the kinds of experiences their directees are presenting.

This is not a topic that ordinary parish life needs to address, however. Parish life is for general catechesis, public worship and encouraging a few basic spiritual disciplines. Beyond this, there are retreat centers, universities, religious orders and so forth to assist people in deeper growth. It's a big Church.

- - -

The standard I use to evaluate what the fully human, fully divinized life looks like is Jesus Christ. I don't believe anyone has walked the planet who was more "evolved" than Jesus. Writers like Wilber always situate Christianity at a lower level than Eastern, non-dual spiritualities because that is their bias. But Jesus never stopped relating to the Father as Other; even on the cross he prays to the Father. He will also say, "the Father and I are one," and "he who sees me, sees the Father." Jesus and the Father were one in the Spirit, one in mission, and one in nature. Duality and non-duality co-exist in Jesus, and he reveals this to be our future as well. The doctrine of the Communion of Saints affirms the same.

Through the years, I've seen many, many Christians read Eastern mystics and writers like Wilber and gradually move away from their Christian faith into an Eastern paradigm. They do so because they believe that the Eastern is more evolved than the Christian, forgetting that Jesus Christ is the standard, not the writings and experiences of anyone else. Often, Jesus become understood as but one among many avatars, world teachers, visitations from God. This might seem "fair" and "inclusive," but (to me) mostly gives evidence of intellectual laziness and an unwillingness to consider the significance of the real distinctions that exist among these teachers.

For the Christian, Jesus is Lord. This does not mean that we cannot learn from others and other religious traditions, only that we consider their teachings and disciplines in the light of Christian revelation and church teaching. As Thomas Merton put it, one ought not dabble in another world religion unless one knows what one is doing, which means, minimally, that one knows the teachings of one's own tradition very well, and is rooted in its teachings and practices. Far too often, this is not the case. Christians, in particular, often have a very superficial understanding of their tradition, which is unfortunate. But the fault is their own, as any small amount of searching (especially in the Internet age) will bring them to encounter a wealth of writings that go very deeply into theology, mysticism and spiritual practice.
 
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I havent written on the forum for quite some time, but have been following all the various threads, and appreciating everyone's experiences and points of view. These have all been food for my soul. However, I wish, like Facebook, there is a 'like' button, or even a dislike button, as I havent had the energy to write, or comment particularly in relation to Kundalini Issues, as I have been in the throes of a fairly active K process (again) for the past 2 years. However I just want to say Phil, you have put this very well in relation to Christianity and how many people when disappointed with their church begin to search through the smorgasboard of other, mainly eastern, religions and spiritual philosophies and thus miss the wealth of mystical writings and experiences within Christianity. I too, am a Spiritual Director, and Primal Integration FAcilitator, and my ministry is grounded in Christ, as I never found anyone to 'match' him down through my own many years of searching when I was a young woman. Yes he experienced a non-dual state and lived and died in this stage, but so many christians havent accessed the wealth of information there is to confirm his status as Son of God. I have a lot of reservations about my own church, but as my friend John Martin, in his book Man is More than Religion, said in relation to religions, "All religions are like wombs and were inspired by God so that we might give birth to God in ourselves, however all religions have become tombs with the various dogmas etc., keeping us at a mythic stage of growth, so that we are locked in. Those of us who have realised in our lives that we hold an extraordinary treasure in our bodies and souls need to roll a few stones away.
 
Posts: 64 | Location: Ireland | Registered: 18 March 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil

Jesus is my stardard, and I agree, He is One. This is amazing if one
allows him/her self to dream into this Miracle.
I would not call it, "intellectual laziness". The story of Christ is a grand
mystery, and one has to be made ready to embrace this sublime information, Otherwise
you could be following and worshipping nothing but a tradition, hoping in the end to greet
ST. Peter at Heaven's gate. In my personal story, I was raised a catholic but found
it to be soooo very boring. For me, I had to travel many anvenues, and explore many
ways until I was ready to embrace this Grand story we call Christ.
"He reveals this to be our future as well". Agreed, but does this mean we must be
a christian? This is the Absolute, the One Life expressing through a man named Jesus.
Jesus said that we too would arrive at this state of being if we but follow him. How
do we follow him? By attempting to live our life according to his teachings. Some
will go further by living their life by way of His example. "Teaching", I think is
the key word here.
Does a soul fall short of the mark because they are of another faith, or follow
another way? It's an age old question that the church still discuses. Rome in recent
years has opened their door a little wider as to try and get a larger view. I think
many catholics are also questioning, and to question is good as this is how most
of us grow and learn.
Yes, "Two distinct, division none". Daulity and non-daulity coming together.
Opposites uniting. The unitive power of this Christ Love.
When I read Aurobindo's "Savitri" I think not of these things. My mind is completely
opened to wonder. I become like the child that is simply smiling. This is when
"intellectual laziness", is good.
 
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Thanks for contributing to the discussion, Clare. As you noted, so many christians havent accessed the wealth of information there is to confirm his (Jesus's) status as Son of God. That's what I meant, Mark, by "intellectual laziness." Any small amount of research into the origin of the Christian religion will lead one to consider the resurrection and its meaning. Nothing else can adequately explain why a group of ordinary Jewish citizens became the heroic founders of a new spiritual/religious movement, nor why they all died rather than renege on this message.

Of course, if that's all about what happened way back when, then it's of little relevance to us. But the message of Christ's resurrection implies an invitation to relationship with him today -- that he lives, and communicates his life to us through the Spirit. He also gives himself to us through the community of believers, and through the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

I'm not sure why you found all this to be "boring," Mark. This is an age that expects to be entertained, and that goes for church worship as well. It sounds like you're making vital connections now, however. What do you think the church could have done differently that would have been helpful to you?
 
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It can also be noted that Jesus was the long awaited Jewish Messiah. He was not just an individual who happened to attain non-dual consciousness 2000 years ago.

His coming meant something very specific to the Jewish people - at least those Jews who had ears to hear and eyes to see. His Messianic Kingship is still part and parcel of the gospel to this day. Jesus must be understood in a thoroughly Judeo-Christian context.
 
Posts: 715 | Location: South Africa | Registered: 12 August 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I wonder, though, if being bored is more an expression of the church's failure to address modern sensibilities and a spirituality that is increasingly immersed in the reality of culture and nature as it's expressed in this day and age (which I actually think is moving beyond post-modernism into an integral, dare I say "new" age) -- rather than a need to be entertained. There's just something missing with church practise and teaching when viewed through a contemporary spiritual lens. Something's out of sync. Maybe this is partly why Aurobindo, Wilbur and non duality are so popular -- because they address a spiritual climate, post 1960s revolution/awakening, which feels more relevant, regardless of intellectualism.

And I'm actually thinking very differently, Jacques -- that Jesus needs to be viewed away from a narrow Judeao-Christian perspective, in a way which is more global, universal, cosmic.
 
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I read the same point in one of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's books. I believe it was in his Introduction to Christianity, first published as long ago as 1968, but I've been unable to find the passage again. What he said, in only a sentence or two, was that if the Gospel is going to speak to people, it has to speak to them in their own language -- not attempt to impose a new language on them.
 
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My experience is so different Stephen, I come from a background of emergent and charismatic worship that seeks to be endlessly creative, modern, connected, entertaining etc. I responded well to those settings and still enjoy aspects of them...but the Mass just doesn't compare, in fact some of the newer innovations in the Mass sometimes distract from its' meditative and contemplative dimension. The Mass is only boring if you consider it empty ritual and don't have eyes to see the substance or ears to hear God speaking through it. Jesus also encountered many who could not hear or see.

Jesus cannot be seperated from the Judeo-Christian Narrative...we get non-negotiable dogma from this narrative. Of course this narrative communicates easily across cultures, as is evident in the use of Greek philosophy in the early church. But no good will come from seeking a universal Christ apart from the historical Jewish one.
 
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These are all good points! Smiler

As one who has worked in Christian ministry on an institutional level for many years, my sense is that the greatest need is not liturgical reform (we did that through the 70s) or spiritual renewal programs (70s and 80s) but adult education. The old saying is that Jesus played with children and taught adults, but we have done the opposite in the church (Catholicism, that is). Most adult Catholics (and from Protestant traditions as well) have only a superficial understanding of Christian teaching and are very much in need of theological updating. Their minds are weak, and so there's little conviction to motivate them to spiritual practice, or to avoid getting caught up in the tidal wave of secular materialism that's swept through the world (especially the West) during the past five decades or so. When someone comes around who teaches them a meditation technique that produces energy fuzzies or expanded awareness, they think that's the real deal and begin to move away from Christianity.

This is just anecdotal, but it's been my experience that whenever people begin to read Eastern literature and practice Eastern meditative techniques, their Christian faith is weakened, and in the majority of cases they leave the church. During the process of writing the God and I book, I came to see just how often the Easternish pathways minimize or even denigrate intellectual life, which is an essential aspect of our spiritual consciousness and our most trustworthy "truth-barometer." Once "expanded awareness" displaces truth and love as the goal of the spiritual life, this throws wide open the door to the East. This kind of non-reflecting (i.e. non-dual) consciousness is not a bad thing per se; quite the contrary. But it's clearly not the end to which the Christian spiritual life must be oriented. A re-integration between God, Self and Ego needs to take place, and will eventually unfold of its own accord on the Christian spiritual pathway.
 
Posts: 3579 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
non-negotiable dogma


...is the kind of authoritarian approach to spirituality which is totally antithetical to the spirit of liberation and awakening I'm talking about, and is turning people off who want and need to be turned on.

I'm not really interested in conventional forms of public worship anymore, Jacques. They don't resonate (with the exception of Eucharist, however that's expressed). Newly emerging or re-emerging spiritualities require new forms of expression.
 
Posts: 538 | Registered: 24 June 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Here's the thing:

I don't really want to be told to be in a certain place at a certain time to do something we call worship, when, in reality, if I walk about my neighbourhood and meet people spontaneously, with an open heart, and open to deep encounter, I'm more in the flow of things, the way of things and that feels more deeply spiritual and worshipful, more attuned to God's will than any fixed form of worship I've ever experienced.

But this has nothing to do with Aurobindo.
 
Posts: 538 | Registered: 24 June 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I can understand that. The church of today is undoubtedly a more institutionalized being than the church of the first century. The fallacious syllogism goes: The church is a good thing; the church has become institutionalized; therefore institutionalization is a good thing.
 
Posts: 934 | Location: Canada | Registered: 03 April 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Loved your post Phil!

Stephen, I'm sorry that you find it so hard to resonate with the historical Faith that I love, the Faith 'once handed down to the saints' and lovingly tended for 2000 years by faithful disciples.

The truth that I hold as dogma is not truth that I invented or even truth that immediately resonated with me the first time I encountered it. It is a truth I began to submit to, little by little over the years, as Christ drew me deeper and deeper into the mystery of His Body, The Church.

Paul tells us we are free, but not so that we can do our own thing, or find where we resonate, but we are free to submit to a new master, submit to Christ and His Church. The opposite of Christian liberty is enslavement to sin, to our own pride and willfulness, in which we demand to create a religion in our own image, "We Will Be Like GOD!".

I think kundalini is probably a natural part of our spiritual makeup, but I also think that it is succeptible to sin. If we simply follow kundalini without regard to the spiritual authority Christ gave us in His Church then we will simply reassert the age old sin of Adam and Eve and claim that we are the ones who get to decide what is good and what is evil.

You know Stephen it seems just about everybody is acceptable to postmodern Christians except those darn "Traditionalists", so outdated, so limited.

I love the Mass because the Mass is the context for our communal participation in the Sacrifice of Christ. We consume the Flesh and Blood of our Saviour and become partakers of the Divine Nature. Christians have been doing this for centuries and it cannot get old because it is more than simple ritual, it is substantial and sacramental grace. It is a sharing in the Life of God. How can the penitential rite get old, we will always have sin to confess; how can the great liturgical prayers get old, they are drawn from the very Word of God, the Spirit rises in us as we pray and confess our belief and worship in the very God breathed letters given us through the prophets and apostles; how can the Eucharist get old, it is the very food of immortality?

I don't want to offend you Stephen, but your disregard for traditional, dogmatic, biblical, and Christ-filled Christianity offends me.
 
Posts: 715 | Location: South Africa | Registered: 12 August 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Maybe I'm a Taoist now (I'm not). The world is changing rapidly (it is). How does that offend you, Jacques?
 
Posts: 538 | Registered: 24 June 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil,

I'm not sure that intellectual response to wavering faith is what's needed today. People are dry, thirsty, stressed, oppressed. Most people are mentally ill.

We need healing, intuition, softness, feminine beauty.
 
Posts: 538 | Registered: 24 June 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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