Being and Becoming

Recently I came across a YouTube video of Andrew Cohen's 'Being and Becoming' workshop. He is standing in front of a colorful circular diagram teaching that spirituality based solely on the Being [the Immobile, Stable Absolute] are outdated and that 'God is Being ... and God is Becoming.' The goal Cohen posits, is to 'become God in his or her manifested form. That's what the authentic self is.... God is the creative impulse ... the energy and intelligence that initiated the creative process and also this Ground.' I was impressed by the way Cohen handled participants whose idea of spiritual enlightenment or progress was to disregard, escape or detatch oneself from the 'Becoming', i.e. from the evolving, ever-changing material expression of the One Self in Many varied forms and expressions. He comments that the enlightenment teachings of Adya Shanti and Eckhart Tolle are 'outmoded, a premodern interpretation of Enlightenment .... It will help individuals to feel better, it will help you to feel better, help me to feel better. But I don't really think the point right now is me feeling better or you feeling better.'

I agree with Cohen as to the 'outmoded interpretation of enlightenment' that is presented by teachers whose foundations lie in Buddhist teachings which frame the material and temporal realities of our existence (the Becoming) as an illusion to be transcended so that one can rest or disolve oneself the Immobile Absolute (Being). My first introduction to the Divine as simultaneously Being and Becoming (also 'One and the Many') came from the writings of Sri Aurobindo. He made it explicitly clear that a realization of the absolute Being, blissfully disconnected from the material, temporal field of Becoming was not the true goal of the spiritual quest. Further studies of the Supramental Descent, including the teachings of the Mother and Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea) thoroughly convinced me that Buddhism and Buddhist-flavored teachings of spiritual 'enlightenment' were just as outdated, OLD and mis-representative of the Divine Self and the potentialities of material existence and consciousness as all other religions that our modern civilization has inherited from the Age of Pisces (234 B.C.E - 1926 C.E.) The Purna Yoga or Integral Yoga Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Thea has been relentlessly aimed at dismantling the negative relationship with and view of our material existence, the negative view and experience of our Becoming within the confining framework or womb of time and space. Seperately and as a triadic consciousness-force and action in the world they have reminded humanity that the Vedic Journey or evolution towards a fully divine material existence is a reality ... not a superstition or primitive myth at all, but rather the natural unfolding (Becoming) of the One Self of All Selves (the Being).
‘We are the river, the flame of the Buddhist illustration. But there is a supreme experience and intuition by which we go back behind our surface self and find that this becoming, change, succession are only a mode of our being and that there is in us which is not involved at all in the becoming. Not only can we have the intuition of this that is stable and eternal in us, not only can we have the glimpse of it in experience behind the veil of continually fleeting becomings, but we can draw back into it and live in it entirely, so effecting an entire change in our external life, and in our attitude, and in our action upon the movement of the world.…

‘The pure existent is then a fact and no mere concept; it is the fundamental reality. But, let us hasten to add, the movement, the energy, the becoming are also a fact, also a reality. The supreme intuition and its corresponding experience may correct the other, may go beyond, may suspend, but do not abolish it. We have therefore two fundamental facts of pure existence and of world-existence, a fact of Being, a fact of Becoming. To deny one or the other is easy; to recognize the facts of consciousness and find our their relation is the true and fruitful wisdom.’

- Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 86
So Cohen seems to be at least somewhat on the right track in his new teachings, trying to wean people out of a negative relationship with the Becoming; but regretably nowhere in his talk did he refer to those who have preceded and informed his own conception on the matter. He has paid little true respect to those who through their difficult yoga made epic, heroic and fruitful efforts towards restoring in our modern times, the Vedic conception and consciousness of a divinely intertwined Being and Becoming. Rather when discussing the question of the relationship between Being and Becoming (the Absolute and the Relative), which many have come to think of as somehow seperate, he says:
'This teaching I have is really the only, in terms of the enlightenment teachings, is the only clear, unambiguous answer to the question, because as I was saying before, God is Being ... and God is Becoming.'
Perhaps by saying, 'in terms of the enlightenment teachings', Cohen feels that he is not misleading his students. Regardless, he is well-aware that the yoga of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Thea has thoroughly addressed and shed much needed light on the unified nature of Being and Becoming and the Divine Harmonies that flow from this arrangement. But somehow he does not consider, at least in this particular video, their answers and extensive teachings on Being and Becoming to be worth mentioning to his students who it is his mission to guide and enlighten. It is curious to say the least and actually disturbing to people who know that the question of the true relationship between Being and Becoming has been exquisitely addressed by teachers whose consciousness and integrating force far exceeds that of Cohen. Perhaps elsewhere in his work Cohen gives credit where credit is due with regard to the Vedic foundations of the Being and Becoming teachings and the progress made by Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Thea towards exposing the incompleteness of the multitude of spiritual paths inherited from an Age gone by which focus on attaining oneness with the Immobile, Absolute Being (a Divine Being or God removed from Earth's movements and evolution) and ignoring or negating the Divine nature of the spacial and temporal flow of the Earth and Cosmos. If this is the case, I'd love to know about it.

In the 'Being and Becoming' workshop, Cohen mentions the need to 'pull ourselves out of this narcisistic nightmare' which is our normal state of consciousness. To me 'his' teaching, which discounts and disconnects from the deeper thread of the Being and Becoming as presented in the Vedic texts and in the Supramental Yoga and Cosmology, is in itself a 'narcisitic nightmare'. The supramental dynamics, harmonies, geometries, consciousness-force and sanatana dharma of the unified field of Being and Becoming have been taught with astounding depth, accuracy and precision over the past hundred years or so by Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Thea. I have yet to see any work of Cohen's that is anything but a distant and distorted echo of the tone set by these mahayogis; and if our civilization succeeds in waking up from its narcisitic nightmare I am fairly certain it will not be by listening to such underwhelming and superficial approximations of the true logic and conscousness-force and harmonized Being/Becoming of our Transencent, Cosmic and Individual Divine Self.

One of my friends has had Buddhist leanings for decades. We would always get a bit rowdy when talking about Sri Aurobindo's teachings on the limitations and errors of Buddhism. He had never read anything of Sri Aurobindo's and would defend his experience that Buddhist teachings and philosophies were helpful to him in terms of dealing with the stresses and struggles of life. I would try to explain Sri Aurobindo's higher and wider view of things and usually the conversation was aborted because my explainations of Sri Aurobindo's higher and wider view did not transmit the actual experience of Sri Aurobindo's higher and wider view. Seeing this, all I could do was say that until I read Sri Aurobindo's writings, I too thought Buddhist teachings were 'good food' for the spiritual quest. After reading Sri Aurobindo's writings, Buddhist thought seemed no longer appealing. Just as if I had been use to eating canned or fast food and one day discovered fresh and high quality food and from then on out had no more interest in the canned or fast food. It was like that.

Many years later my friend is now spontaneously and diligently reading his way through his first Sri Aurobindo book, The Synthesis of Yoga. He is aglow with inspiration and love of knowledge. 'It is such good food for the soul', he has commented. He did not remember my food analogies from years gone by. He simply saw for himself that Sri Aurobindo's view of the Whole and All-Encompassing Triadic Self (Transcendent, Cosmic and Individual) was better spiritual sustainance for him, for his soul, than the Buddhist teachings with which he was so familar. The transmissions he recieves from Sri Aurobindo's truth-consciouness-force occur to him as inherently more true, more positive, more uplifting, more luminous than the Buddhist teachings to which he had previously been so accustomed and attached to. It is always a rare treat for me to witness someone in my circle of friends and acquaintences who (after all that I have written and communicated about the matter) finally takes the time to explore the Supramental and Integral Yoga and Cosmology, and instantly begins to widen their perspective and to raise their view point, consciousness and their understanding of the Divine Self which expresses its unity and consciousness through all forms.

I relate this experience because I am convinced that thought the 'food' or teachings offered by Andrew Cohen maybe slightly 'better' (i.e. closer to the Truth of Self ) than those who continue to disregard the importance of the Becoming or the evolution of the Cosmos and the Individual, it is still remarkably substandard or 'canned' in comparison to what has presented by Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Thea on matters of evolutionary spirituality, Being and Becoming, cosmology and the divinization of the Individual. Perhaps some readers will be offended by my assessment of the quality of their spiritual food. But there is really no reason to get upset. If one likes one's spiritual food and has no interest in exploring a sincerely offered tip that their is better food for the soul offered outside their religion, current field or arena of interests, then that is that. Enjoy your food. If one is, on the other hand, curious as to whether or not Sri Aurobindo's Supramental Decent and Integral Yoga actually represents a wider, truer, more unifying, more integral, more conscious, more all-embracing, more sustainable and more luminous view of existance than previously offered by the world's major religions or spiritual trends, then one should read and see for oneself whether or not one feels illuminated or fed.

When I first told my friend about my experience that the Supramental and Integral Yoga was superior 'food' to what he was use to 'eating', he was offended, mad and thought I was being a jerk ... presumptuous ... off base ... stubborn, etc. Now he's just delighted to be eating better spiritual food.


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