Reply To: The Experience of Art

  • Don Salmon

    June 22, 2023 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Mike:

    Yes, I’ve seen that video and am familiar with the points you raise.

    I just wanted to raise a concern. One can play with words in all kinds of ways. Going beyond duality and nonduality is one way of putting it, which you might say, if you wish in the dialetheistic way, both wrong and right.

    But at some point we have to put the words down and just ‘taste the mango.”

    This is not meant to be anti-intellectual but just being very very very cautious with our concepts.

    Here’s perhaps a sign of my pro-intellectual, pro-complexity bona fides:

    Sri Aurobindo distinguishes 4 levels of knowing beyond the ordinary thinking mind (beyond all that I’m aware of that Iain describes as right hemisphere thought – each level implies that one has both realized and become established in and AS the Self, the Atman, the infinite, all pervading underlying pure Awareness.

    HIGHER MIND: All thought now is occurring with Pure Awareness as substrate. This does not necessarily occur with the initial realization of Pure Awareness. One comes back from the pure awareness state and uses the thinking mind as usual. The higher mind involves a complete transformation of thought – but still as “thought.”

    ILLUMINED MIND: One no longer thinks in the same way (the identification with the thought process has gone long before). There are flashes of illumination – perhaps remotely like the insights that occurred to Einstein as he was performing his ‘thought experiment’ of riding on a beam of light, only Einstein showed, in his conversations with Tagore, that he understood little if anything about the Self.

    INTUITIVE MIND: This is a seeing SO different from our ordinary way of thinking that it is very difficult to put in words. In fact, I’ll leave it there. Sri Aurobindo adds the “overmind” – which he says has been realized by perhaps a handful of yogis over the millennia.

    And the core of his teaching is what he refers to as Mahat, or Gnosis (not the gnosis of Plotinus or the ancient mystics), the “Supramental consciousness.” The less said about this, Sri Aurobindo warns us, the better. He has a few chapters about it in The Life Divine, but warns at the start (something his followers tend to ignore almost altogether) that the mind cannot understand anything of it – not even the Overmind, much less our LH OR RH)

    I’ve always found if I can’t say something in a way the average 13 year old can understand, I probably don’t understand it.

    Now, as a 45+ year reader of Sri Aurobindo (and writer about Sri Aurobindo), who wrote what is probably the most intellectually complex literature on spirituality in the past 150 years, I don’t think I can be said to be anti intellectual. But Sri Aurobindo also pointed out fundamental errors in virtually the entire world of spirituality, East and West, since the Vedic age over 3000 years ago.

    So given that so many of us have been misunderstanding (at least potentially) nonduality and spirituality in general for millennia, I always find it helpful to take great care when I put these things into words.

    I often like to refer to walking in nature, talking with a dear friend, playing basketball, in moments where things happen spontaneously, as a way of pointing to the Presence of God, the surrender to Her Will, the sense of all pervading Silence, Stillness, Spaciousness, etc. Sometimes that can be a lot more powerful than getting overly complex.

    I’ll close again by saying once again, I LOVE intellectual discussion. I just like it to be cautiously balanced with simple everyday language, childlike if possible. I guess I should add, I got a LOT of pushback on this from my friends in the Sri Aurobindo community, most of whom feel whatever can be said in 5 one-syllable words can be much better said in 82 5-8 syllable words!

    I like both, you know, Nondualism and all that good stuff:>))