A New Synthesis of Yoga as a necessity to overcome the impasse of modernity - Skype - Track 306 (12 September 2008)

Existentialism takes up this phenomenal logical emphasis on the ego while it omits the phenomenological emphasis on the universal and underlines the importance of the individual. It’s an analysis of the individual and the experience of the individual as the individual, the freedom of the individual. These are the important things which phenomenology of existentialism affirms. Pragmatism finds one criterion of the truth, a rational proposition is true and is rational, if it produces the effect which is intended to be produced. Successful result of a proposition can apply, is the mark of truth. A true proposition is a proposition which must succeed, if it true it must succeed, it must be useful, practicable, it must result in consequences if they are intended. A rational proposition is a proposition which is pragmatically successful. Honesty is good because it pays. Religious belief as William James, one of the greatest pragmatists says: ‘religious consciousness creates healthy mindedness, and healthy minded is very good, therefore whether God exists or not it does not matter, if belief in God gives you help in your mind, you allow and nurture belief in God pragmatically. You can never decide whether there is God corresponding to religious consciousness but you can know this much that belief in God produces healthy mindedness, therefore you can say the proposition must be true because it is successful, creates healthy-mindedness, or even if that proposition is not true for practical purposes you should take it that it is true.

Now post-modernism combined all these movements – of logical empiricism, of phenomenology and existentialism and pragmatism. It adopts the proposition of language and the emphasis on language from logical emphasis, he takes the proposition of the individual and the freedom of the individual, phenomenology and existentialism. It adopts the criterion of pragmatism and comes to the following conclusion. You take this subject on which I want to hear Debashish today and therefore when I will speak of it, I am only speaking like a small child because I am not such a scholarly when we speak of post-modernism, but whatever I have understood, I will tell you this that post-modernism maintains that rationality consists in ascertaining that whatever is knowledge, whatever is true should be expressible in language, there should be an expression, all knowledge is something that can be derived from texts. Secondly, every individual when he encounters a fact, he encounters it as a free individual and therefore he understands the text in which it is specially individualised in himself. Therefore his understanding of the text is something individual and thirdly in so far as he finds what he understood is successful, it is true. The net result of post-modernism is that there is no knowledge, affirmation of any knowledge which is not textual, not reducible to text. Secondly that all textual knowledge can be interpreted and this is the whole development of what is called hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. Everyone is free as an individual to interpret the text, the consequence is that there is no possibility of making any statement valid for all. There is no possibility of stating that any knowledge is certain but every piece of knowledge is good for himself according to what he understands. But he should allow others also to reason whatever is understood by him or by her, is true for him and for her. Reason according to post-modernism cannot go beyond this, it cannot know what is ultimate reality? Cannot know if there is any ultimate purpose in life or an aim, no utopia can be formed. The world is what it is and every individual is free to understand this world through texts in which rational knowledge is translatable. Now only reason therefore you cannot erect any moral ideal, nor rational ideal and you can find actually speaking that all the four movements which are today, basically are incapable of giving any rational, mental ideal or moral ideal. And if we are therefore to remain only there, it can go round and round, uncertainty, relativism, agnosticism, scepticism of various kind and freedom for every individual to do what he thinks is right, is all that can be proposed. Therefore there is no presence in the present scenario of any ideal which can lift man, what Sri Aurobindo says therefore becomes so meaningful and I would like to repeat again, he says: “…. if there is no high and strenuous mental and moral ideal controlling and uplifting the vital and physical man in us and no spiritual ideal liberating him from himself into his inner being.” and this is exactly what has happened and that is all around us, then the only consequence will be economic life, perfection of material life, huge structure of buildings structures and resurgence of barbarism in human civilised society is inevitable. This is the impasse and this is where we stand today. And fortunately however I would like to end my statement by stating the following, what Sri Aurobindo said in The Ideal of Human Unity and there is a similar statement in The Human Cycle. I shall only refer to these two statements and conclude for the present because these two propositions give us what in Sri Aurobindo’s own terms that humanity will not be arrested and something else will happen and that possibility is dependent upon the following. I read on page number 555 of the vol. no. XVI, where Sri Aurobindo says: “But the higher hope of humanity lies in the growing number of men who will realise this truth and seek to develop it in themselves, so that when the mind of man is ready to escape from its mechanical bent, – perhaps when it finds that its mechanical solutions are all temporary and disappointing, – the truth of the Spirit may step in and lead humanity to the path of its highest possible happiness and perfection.” And what is that higher truth which humanity can hope to realise? And that is what Sri Aurobindo states, just in the paragraph above it. And it says that truth is the truth of oneness and I read it: “A spiritual oneness which would create a psychological oneness not dependent upon any intellectual or outward uniformity and compel a oneness of life not bound up with its mechanical means of unification, but ready always to enrich its secure unity by a free inner variation and a freely varied outer self-expression, this would be the basis for a higher type of human existence.” And to connect it with the question of Auroville I will say, this is what is proposed for Auroville. So I conclude here but if there is any comment I will be happy to hear a few comments in the remaining time. Thank you.