In 2008 the biography, 'The Lives of Sri Aurobindo' by Peter Heehs was published by Columbia Press and proceeded to create great controversy in the Integral Yoga community. I wrote an article titled 'Peter Heehs' Betrayal and an Ashram in Upheaval - Two Sides of the Same Mistake' which discussed the nagging central flaw in both sides of the brouhaha, noting that each of the prominent sides of the argument 'have belittled the full scope of the yoga and blocked the true flow and essence of [Sri Aurobindo's and the Mother's] Work'. The following article by Robert E. Wilkinson deepens this line of thought and expands on the idea that Peter Heehs' biography of Sri Aurobindo has been a catalyst to expose the lack of true center in Auroville and in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram since the Mother's passing in 1973.
Stop Scapegoating Peter Heehs
by Robert E. Wilikinson
by Robert E. Wilikinson
Alok Pandey’s thoughtful article about the Heehs imbroglio brought up a number of important points but his burning questions about HOW and WHY this dispute occurred in the first place remain unanswered. To understand the HOW and WHY behind the Heehs controversy, one must be willing to stop the scapegoating and go deeper into the origins of the ignorance and confusion from which Heehs’ literary heresy came into being.
Since the Mother’s departure in 1973 both Auroville and the Ashram have suffered and continue to experience the eroding effect of incompetent leadership. Instead of forming around a common Soul and a Supramental knowledge, which was the Mother’s avowed intention, Auroville and the Ashram have formed around a Collective Ego. Instead of a true spiritual community guided by Realized Beings, the seat of Sri Aurobindo’s work was taken over by the Indian government and is now run by Philosophers and Politicians who, the Mother warned us, would be the very last to be transformed. This is the polluted soil from which Heehs' book emerged and the noxious influence that nursed his iconoclastic attitude.
The most important causal factor behind the Heehs’ controversy, completely absent from these discussions, and apparently quite unknown to Alok and others, is the existence of and the occult effect of a true collective Center or Soul. In the parlance of the Integral Yoga it is called the ‘Psychic Being’. It is the ordering and unifying principle of any collectivity and if it were truly present in the Auroville and Ashram community, the bitter controversies, legal disputes and polarization of devotees upon racial and other lines would have been a virtual impossibility. The community of devotees would know this if they had bothered to acquire a direct lived experience of the Yoga and the Vedic ‘Skambha’ instead of the lifeless mental orthodoxy that has been offered in its place. Indeed, one need only look at the ongoing disharmony and chaos in Auroville and the Ashram to know TO A CERTAINTY that there is NO CENTER. William Butler Yeats, himself a realized being, eloquently describes this occult phenomenon in the first lines of his poem ‘The Second Coming’.
‘…Turning and turning in the widening gyreYou could not find a better description of how Alok Pandey and others have experienced Peter Heehs’ destructive influence but what they fail to realize is that Heehs is not the CAUSE of this ongoing controversy but merely one of the SYMPTOMS of the CENTERLESS condition that exists today in Auroville and the Ashram. To someone who SEES, the situation and its errors have an almost formulaic precision to it producing a mathematical result when something essential is left out of the mix. It may be compared to G.W.H. Hegel’s famous three part dialectical formula known as Hegel’s law. If you apply the principles of Thesis and Antithesis but reject the Third principle of Synthesis, the formula is fractured, true unity cannot be achieved and an integral understanding becomes impossible…
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.’
The same principles apply to the Supramental formula. Sri Aurobindo explained to us that the Divine is not only Transcendent but also Cosmic and finally Individual – Purusha, Prakriti and the Individual Soul. Its power and force must be brought down into the world in order to effect any real transformation in the earth-consciousness. As we know, Sri Aurobindo’s work dealt exclusively with the Transcendent Plane. The Mother’s work and her Vedic Temple is an incomparable translation of the Occult-Cosmic Plane. But it isn’t until you get to the Third Level and Thea’s work that you come upon the Synthesizing principle of the Psychic Being or Individual Soul. Naturally her field is represented in the Mother’s temple architecture as the GLOBE or CENTER of the entire structure that unites the Transcendent and Cosmic planes in an integral perfection. But as we know, the Philosophers and Politicians who rule Auroville and the Ashram have rejected the Third along with her knowledge of the Mother’s Inner Chamber. As a consequence, they have consigned themselves and innocent students like Alok to a partial, dis-integrated and order-less mental dogma which cannot be brought down and applied in the earth-field. Through this disgraceful and deliberate act of omission, the usurpers in Pondicherry have reduced Sri Aurobindo’s work to what he called ‘a pompous farce’.
In my opinion, Alok has unfairly placed the Heehs’ controversy at the feet of the Ashram trustees who he believes chose to ignore the signs of an impending disaster. He does so while crediting others like Amal Kiran, and R Y Deshpande for raising a timely alarm. But what he fails to understand is that they too are complicit, if not more so, in creating the long-standing foundations of this problem. I have discussed Amal Kiran’s shameful behavior in another article* so I will not repeat my comments here. But I would like to extend this discussion of a Soulless Centerless cosmos to R Y Deshpande and his Mirror of Tomorrow blog. Here again we find with mathematical precision, the cause of the errors and shortcomings in Deshpande’s commentaries on Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri. For what is Savitri but a story of IMMORTALITY and the SOUL? How on earth can anyone presume to put themselves forward as an authority on Savitri without a lived experience of the Soul and the Vedic scriptures upon which this epic is based? Absent this, Deshpande’s authoritative musings and imaginings of Sri Aurobindo’s poetic verses are simply misleading speculations which serve only to divert the students’ attention from the real and essential purpose of this epochal work. Moreover, because he presents only a dismembered or partial view of the line of Supramental descent from the Transcendent to Cosmic, leaving out entirely the Individual Soul, Deshpande consolidates the erroneous view that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother failed in their mission. It cannot be otherwise. As Thea explains:
‘It is a fact that every publication issued from Ashram and Auroville sources, Heehs’ included, passes on to the public – though the intention appears to be other – that both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother failed in their missions. Not one publication can factually prove otherwise; and since there is no one in your circles who can state the contrary and receive the accepted ‘imprimatur’, this is the result: both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother failed ‘to deliver’. Or if they did, we mortals are not qualified to prove what stands beyond human comprehension. And since this is your belief, you must accept full responsibility for spreading the idea that they seemed to have failed.This then is the HOW and WHY that eludes Alok Pandey and others who concentrate on the EFFECTS instead of the CAUSE. If they are ever to resolve the underlying problem, they must embrace the Third and the SOUL within which She is. Only then will their vision clear to reveal the true meaning of Sri Aurobindo’s birth and rebirth as the apotheosis so exquisitely described in his epic poem.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Not only did they complete their missions, they did so beyond our wildest expectations. You can be sure that Supermind would not leave the fulfillment of its descent and establishment on Earth to the ‘belief’ of anyone: it is its own irrefutable proof.
This has been fully documented, the only existing book [The New Way] to not only prove the victorious completion of their missions but also it is the only irrefutable documentation of the fact that they are Vishnu’s Emanations – i.e., Evolutionary Avatars who come yuge, yuge, just as the Gita states, proven as only the Truth-Consciousness can do.’
– Thea, Letter to the Board of Trustees,
Sri Aurobindo Ashram, December 26, 2008
Robert E. Wilkinson
*AuroExpose - Reflections on the emerging 'Aurobindonian Orthodoxy', it consequences, its antidote by Robert E. Wilkinson, April 2006
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