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Overmind, Supermind

Last post 02-06-2008, 11:04 AM by ambosuno. 4 replies.
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  •  01-20-2008, 4:52 AM 37009

    Overmind, Supermind

    all,

    Ken, if any label could be placed on him, is an integrater. This thread is devoted to the discussion of his integrating of the concepts Overmind and Supermind. In case you hadn't heard, in the recent call with Mike Murphy of Esalen here, From Frisky Dust to Poetry, Ken mentioned that, in addition to the Terrorism and Kosmos Trilogies, he is also working on two books with the titles, you guessed it: Overmind, the "lay-person's version," Supermind, more advanced and inclusive. What with Integral now spread so far throughout the intellectual landscape, for Ken to stick to this material seems very commendable. I cannot help but feel like he has just been steadily re-writing No Boundary for his whole career, refining and simply re-defining his ideas. I imagine these two works will be challenging to say the least (I hope). Overmind and Supermind are concepts that rest at the top of both Aurobindo's model and are obviously central to Ken's model, as he draws from Aurobindo in many of his works. Just as Ken's understandings and interpretations of most other's work is disputed, here are some links that discuss the two in conjunction:

    Wilber On Aurobindo

    I find this essay to be a bit simple. I would say it is 75% misunderstanding and/or inadequate reading of Ken (SES, I think, would clear up some confusion) with 25% hitting on some topics that would definitely be worth discussing. I've clicked around on his site, however, and there are some great resources and summaries, so if you're interested in Aurobindo's thought, give it a shot. Here is a more articulate perspective:

    Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo: A Critical Perspective

    I watch the weekly flux of material from Ken's calls, all of the work he must tirelessly be doing for I-I, all of the writing, how multi-faceted it it truly is... and I cannot help but chuckle that the argument most of these people make are claims about Ken worshiping Adi Da and that his theory is significantly limited by a monistic view of the world. I am not sure if this is due to A) a latching on to Ken's history (when we know Ken is not so debilitated) or B) a neglect of anything Ken has written since 2001.

    If you go searching for yourself on this topic, you will probably also find people saying that Ken's philosophy revolves around maya (illusion), around trying to totally transcend the world, essentially to escape from it. Now, for anyone who has read Ken for the purpose of spiritual seeking (rather than intellectual jockeying) knows that Ken's philosophy is not about escaping, but rather a fundamental appreciation for turning subjects into objects, until we reach the point of Suchness (state) and/or Supermind (stage), at which the Subjectivity of God is. Objectifying the subjectivity of experience is not an escape, but rather a dive-into (remember that one..). I want to show clearly why these people are misunderstanding Ken on this issue, and how it stems from the blind-spot of intellectual thinking. Simply, rationality will not grasp certain things--- non-dual things. He is criticized for this idea of transcendence of the world, primarily that Ken's theories point towards a emptying of the self until reaching the Self, Itself the Suchness void of any one identity, pictured as an Ascent-to. This is parcitularly brought up in this context to Aurobindo, in that his philosophy primarily involves a Descent-to the Divine. This divide is deemed irreconcilable, and as Ken's misunderstanding Aurobindo.

    As first proof against this criticism, I offer simply the title of a chapter in Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality, "The Way Up Is The Way Down." The Ascent-to the Suchness-Void of I-I as Self or Atman with No-Identity is the same as the Descent-to the Suchness-Superabundance of I-I as Self or Brahman with One-Identity. In ceasing the self-contraction in an advanced way, the small self becomes object to a greater self. It is both an negation of what was (the ascention above) and an affirmation of what is (the descent in to the ever-present, always-originating, One). This is how Ken can legitimately say he went beyond Aurobindo, but by "go beyond," he must merely mean expand, for Aurobindo's model was culturaly shaped as well (a fact over-looked by the critics). The criticism launched against Ken, attacking his monism (which is interpreted by critics as, "world-denying"), is supported by saying that his monism is supported by his own cultural upbringings as a Buddhist and such. Of course it is! There are no pre-givens. But as a critic focuses in on how Ken happens to live within the AQAL matrix, they miss the fundamental teaching of AQAL, and that is that Aurobindo lived in the AQAL matrix as well. Two quick points: 1) It is funny that they draw arguments for why Ken prefers to frame spirituality his way and don't explain why Aurobindo might have framed his, his way (I am no historian on Aurobindo, however) and 2) Ken's personal preference for Vajrana and Vedanta and the entire advatic system of belief is simply that, his. It has nothing to do with AQAL, nothing has anything to do with AQAL. You have to punch in a question in order to get an answer, and if I punch in Ken's coordinates, I get Ken, punch in Aurobindo, I get Aurobindo. AQAL lets us know that this isn't a surprise, but exactly what we should expect. AQAL lets us know how truly blessed we are to be able to have Aurobindo's Yoga, and Ramana's voice, Baba's Theme's, Ken's synthesis, Tolstoy's Gospels, how thankful we should always be for the Romanticist and the Idealists and the Deconstructionists because all had their place in stopping the mythic-dogmatic evils, how glad we should be that we are always situated in the hammock of our own AQAL positioning with Love as the threads and surrounding air. To recognize that all these voices spoke/speak with absolute certainty on their position is not to contradict each other but to, again, reaffirm the Divine Plan and the non-linear, organic course of that Plan.

    Those first two points are really only worthwhile if you think Ken and Aurobindo are talking about different things. What follows is to show that they are in "agreement." To me, what it amounts to, is that Aurobindo chose* to focus on the Divine Force as God, as Mother, and that in order to live a Divine life, our life's work was to dive into God, to descend into the Supermind. Perhaps it could be argued then, that Ken chooses to focus on the basic power of identity, how identity rules our lives until we truly transcend and include all the false identities. Ken wants us to know that we must empty our current notions of ourselves in favor of ascension towards the higher Self, that we might then be filled where no filling can happen. That Wilber, as a man, orients towards impermanence and emptiness; that Aurobindo, as a man, orients towards the eternal and "God" -- I-I does not only serve up bread and toast, but offers an endless menu of spiritual avenues to take. To say that Ken neglects the discussion of God, or that he denies the descending aspect of spiritual life, is just off base. All of it was in SES (which to me is so neglected, it is his most comprehensive work to-date). Now we have his newer, personal releases which show his faith in the Ultimate, however he concieves it to be. That the critics can't see God at work in Ken's work is, to me, a mistaking intellect for spirit, looking in the wrong places with young eyes.

    What appears like a contradiction is always an affirmation. Ken does not reference people and sources with the intent that he is making an accurate summary of their thoughts. Just recently, I was upset with Ken for taking so many liberties with the researchers, philosophers, and sage's words--- but why do you think we hear Ken say "Piaget" or "Aurobindo" all the time? He wants us to know it's all an amazon.com search away! Ken points, he does not direct. He says, "Here is Aurobindo. He loves God and he wants to teach you how to descend deeply into the Body of God." But he also says, "Here is Buddha. He loves You and wants to teach you how to ascend high towards the Vision of God." (On a personal note, I find unification of both of these themes in Christ... but growth before those words...).  What AQAL allows is for someone of a certain persuasion to take up meditation as a practice in emptying the bad, someone else to take up contemplative prayer as a practice in filling with good. But what AQAL also says is that we must be integral! We must always devote ourselves both to our self and to our Self, for we know we are not yet in a conscious union with Self/God.

    [*chose. what does this word possibly mean? we are discussing primarily the Divine Intuition. we are enacting primarily the Divine intutition. so not only must we always add the disclaimer to "choose," but we must compensate for both our self and our Self. A) Our self is a product of our genes, our environment, our cultural and social systems, our situation in the AQAL matrix--- so to say that "I choose" merely another self-contraction B) Self is a product of Self, an emanance which is beyond choosing--- and surely an adept like Aurobindo would agree that he lived his life in accordance with the Divine Intuition, likely doing very little "choosing" of "his own." I seperate this off as the pragmatic truth of my argument. Some people want to redefine the self and always choose to be the Self (ascent). Some people want to be the Self and cease to ever make a choice for them(small)selves again (descent). When we see that The Way Up Is The Way Down, we see that a religion like Buddhism which annihilates the small self is doing the same work as a religion like Christianity which aims to bring forth the One Self. Both point to the Supermind. So wow! We see the Supermind manifesting as a God-Man in two entirely different eras, the Buddha where collectivism reigns and the metaphor is to widen the self-sense towards the Suchness, the Christ where individualism would reign and the metaphor is ultimately to know that there is only One individual: Christ (or Self, or I-I, or ). The real truth is that all spiritual paths are necessarily a descent and an ascent. But back to the practical point. Both Ken and Aurobindo lived when they had to live, in a vital/physical body for as long as they had to/must-- to say Ken chose Vedanta or Aurobindo chose to develop his own integral yoga seems irrelevant in the face of the Divine Plan Which Chooses-Not, But IS. that One place where the Planner is always the Plan... So when we do settle down into a spiritual life, following a path we know is for us, who chose it? So chosen are We...]

    Here is where the Wilber-Combs Lattice comes in as the perfect metaphor and visual. We cannot neglect our self or our Self (and we wish not to be psychotic). Our self must raise itself from archaic though integral and past, towards Overmind and Supermind. Our Self (read: God) must draw us in to His embrace, enticing us first with the beauty of our wakeful life, towards the magic of subtle and causal, and finally into His embrace as Suchness. Our small self ascends the left axis in stages. Self draws us closer to Self by showing us states, literally showing us what it is like to be in Union with God. What is so fantastic is that, at this point, we totally forget which one is the ascent and which is the descent, because for an integral mind, these distinctions are unimportant. For Buddha embodied both the ascent and the descent, Christ, too. It is only how their legacies have been framed (likewise, how Ken's legacy is inappropriately framed) that makes us see ascent or descent over the other. The same can be said of Ken and Aurobindo. What is important is Fullness and Freedom and the Process. You can just as easily say that meditation is an ascent towards higher identifications as well as a descent into the depth of the One True Self. You could just as easily say that structure-stage work, shadow work (awareness...) is an ascent to superior levels of being as well as a descent through and out of the confines of our own self-contractions, as yet to be descended through.

    Unsurprisingly, Aurobindo would not have made any of these arguments against Ken. From the critics own website, here he recognizes clearly that "The Way Up Is The Way Down":
    "Above, the formula of the One eternally stable and immutable; below, the formula of the Many which, eternally mutable, seeks but hardly finds in the flux of things a firm and immutable standing-point; between, the seat of all trinities, of all that is biune, of all that becomes Many-in-One and yet remains One-in-Many because it was originally One that is always potentially Many." (Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p 125-126). The beauty of trans-rational thinking is that it dispels with intellectual grief an apparent contradition poses to the intellectual mind. The contradition of the One and the Many is really just an affirmation of them both, as Each Other. The contradiction is-not; Is is.

    I am not sure the aim of a book named Supermind coming from a man as unpredictable and cool as Ken Wilber. I do know that Supermind is a concept with the potential to clarify most things with regard to enlightenment. The question of, "Well how could a man 2000 years ago, before even integral consciousness or even rational consciousness had emerged, how could he be Spiritually One or "3rd-tier" (I hate those tiers, I really do.. ha)?" The answer is the Supermind. If you imagine two rays with one vertex, the Supermind is the vertex and the bounding lines, all else the area enclosed (there are triangle and circles all over that one). It's the area which is the maya, not because the area doesn't exist, but because all you have to do to make the area is draw the two rays! The area is there, not-there, all at once. It is just fascinating to me that his theory can reconcile that question by understanding that we all contain within us the Supermind, we are all manifestations of the Supermind. That there have been Avatars, from Buddha to Christ to Baba*, comes as no surprise once we realize that the activity of the Supermind is the activity of God; that throughout all those ages, the work of the Supermind was always-already encapsulated in the Creation, but also the work of the Supermind at times must be so specific that it must send a Man to do it's work. (Remember the line, "Our Father, who sent your Only Son..."). We are so incredibally blessed as sentient beings to be given the oppurtunity to truly realize the activity and consciousness of Mind. I say not Supermind because that is such a lofty goal, but of course that is what I mean. The life of the Supermind must be the life of All. There is no escaping It-- we are It!

    [*as to the "personal" identity of these folks. we all have to creep out of the archaic as infants. that there is a 'historical Jesus' would only solidify this fact. if there is not a 'historical Jesus,' history has shown that the Supermind did the work as Christ, regardless. Another fascinating topic under this Supermind heading is the amount of "identity" that remains with it. Mind/God sees a different man in Buddha than it does in Christ, but yet they are both united in the concept and reality of the Supermind, and as the Supermind. God embraces the personal history of the small self that precedes our re-Union with Him as Mind. Just another reason to always accept where you're at and who you are, and love the death out of your self and everyone else...]

    It truly is a liberating concept, and I hope in this short essay I've been able to articulate a rejection of Ken's critics as well as my vision of non-duality, "God," primarily ascents/descents and how that "back-and-forth" activity is and is of God. I await the release of Overmind and Supermind from Ken with huge anticipation. I really hope he does challenge us all in a way we'd never expect... I think the topic warrants it and allows for quite the expression. As always, any feed back is welcome, but discussion and engagement is warmly prayed for. Thank you for reading..

    to the Good, the Beautiful, and the True,
    all in God's blessings to you,
    Tim

    "identity which is not convulsive ceases to exist" ---breton

    Nine Ways Not to Talk about God
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  •  01-23-2008, 5:58 PM 37329 in reply to 37009

    Re: Overmind, Supermind

    Dear Tim:

    All the posts of yours I have read have been exceptionally thoughful, articulate, and generous.  Thank you.

    God bless..

    Bill

     

     

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  •  01-23-2008, 11:07 PM 37349 in reply to 37009

    Re: Overmind, Supermind

    Thanks, Tim, for the very fine riff. I would need to read it carefully and probably study parts to understand this material a lot. But just tracking it in the way that I am able now I get a lot. What most quickly gets my attention is the bringing of ascent and descent together in conversation. I do sometimes get caught up with the apparent directionality and my resistance to the seduction of upness, and the seeming deminishing of downness that does seem most obvious to me in, for example, heirarchy called holarchy. The directionality may be mainly being supplied by me and not the material as it seems, or not entirely. Your bringing this out in this review of Ken and Aurobindo helps me to disengage my fight to represent for down and against up - maybe the grips will loosen. I'm glad you are posting, here, in your variety. ambo

    Ambo Suno
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  •  02-02-2008, 12:21 AM 38118 in reply to 37349

    Re: Overmind, Supermind

    ambo,

    We weren't given a dualistic mind because God wanted to play a bad joke on us. It's role in the evolution (or involution :-) of consciousness is obviously imperative and necessary, crucial to the realization of Spirit-as-Being-in-the-World. That we have ascending and descending paths (further, that we can think of the ascent as a descent and vice versa if we wish) is only a testament to the mastery and multiplicity of Spirit, an image of how Spirit wishes to be known by us without preference to the path we take towards it. The short point I want to reiterate is that some wish to think of the spiritual journey as an ascent, others as a descent, and they are not exclusive, but rather amazingly inclusive. In a conference call with Jim Marion, he mentioned that Christianity added two relatively unique things to the spiritual world, one of which being the radical acceptance of the individual as legitimate. He went on to note that the eastern traditions tend to stress the dissolution of the self towards formless Self, while the western traditions build the self up, ideally until we can identify with God, Himself. I think its important to go which ever way Spirit leads us, personally, whichever way makes sense, whichever way feels right for our hearts (which of course could also just mean a healthy mix between the "two" approaches), and to be humble about our own approaches in light of there being so many paths up (or down?) the mountain. I just think it's pretty fascinating that we have a dualistic mind, and yet the ascent is the descent, so however we approach the journey, we are bound to meet up with the other axis, so to speak, bound to meet non-duality where the highest point of ascending towards the One meets the lowest descent into the eternal None.

    Tim.

    "identity which is not convulsive ceases to exist" ---breton

    Nine Ways Not to Talk about God
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  •  02-06-2008, 11:04 AM 38522 in reply to 38118

    Re: Overmind, Supermind

    Hi, Tim - I hope I get a chance to look at your post(s) here more. I can see that I'll need to spend a little more time with it, if I'm really going to engage it, dialogue with you. I am interested in how we tend to percieve duality at quite a primary level and so it must serve us survivally and probably more subtly in our functioning of discrimination/discernment/valuing. As I mentioned in another post somewhere, I really liked some comments by Tarthang Tulku as to how the implicate order (not his words) unfolded in a way that lent itself to our perceiving duality. I remember in school a few decades ago reading a book on, I think it was "opposition" and as opposition being a pretty fundamental perception arising out of biology and directionality, and now I'm maybe confabulating, but directionality of motivation and of our gravitational field. The relative symetry of some of our structural elements inevitably reflect some of these primary forces and dynamics. Well, I do want to consider more what you say about ascent and descent as related to spirit - spirit and the G word not being my strong suits of understanding. Thx, ambo

    Ambo Suno
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