8 Oct 2008

Page 246: Freudian Analysis of Spirituality

Peter deliberately ignores the numerous examples of Sri Aurobindo’s experiments from the Record proving many of these powers. He dismisses as “hagiography” and “hero-worship” the thousands of documented records and objective verifications by numerous first-hand and contemporary observers. He reduces all of Sri Aurobindo’s experiences and realisations to mere “claims”. Then on Pages 245-248 he presents these spiritual experiences as the result of psychological instabilities. Here I will analyse not so much the details of his text but the background of his justification for the discussion.

After showing the sadhana in the Record as unstable and inconclusive through selective quotations, Peter offers as mere “claims” a long list of magical “powers and experiences” of Sri Aurobindo. By misrepresenting quotations on the one hand and offering no proof for the powers on the other hand, he compels the reader to disbelieve these “claims” and almost forces us to accept instead his “rational” and Freudian explanation of mental imbalance. For this purpose he quotes lengthily from reductionist and Freudian psychoanalysts, ignoring the numerous developments in modern psychology that not only accept the reality of mystical experience, but also use them successfully in modern psychotherapy. He relies heavily on Varieties of Religious Experience by William James to justify his thought process. He tries to deceive us by referring to the 1961 edition of the book, when in fact this book was first published in 1902 and represents an outdated psychological thinking. In developing his perverse agenda, Peter throws quotations and references at us without concern for the quality and relevance of the authorities he relies upon.

The other work that Peter quotes extensively is The Analyst and the Mystic by Sudhir Kakar. This book is Sudhir’s primary plank for world-wide fame and notoriety where he attempts a Freudian psychoanalysis of Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Penguin India which is due to publish Peter’s book promotes Kakar’s book as:

Going beyond the traditional psychoanalytic interpretation of Ramakrishna's mystical visions and practices, Kakar clarifies their contribution to the psychic transformation of a mystic and offers fresh insight into the relation between sexuality and ecstatic mysticism.
Peter has been supported by and is in close contact with Jeffrey Kripal whose claim to fame is also a Freudian analysis of Ramakrishna Paramahansa that declared him a homosexual with perverse relationship with Swami Vivekananda. (He was a student of Wendy Doniger who is known for her Freudian analysis and sexualisation of Puranic stories.) The same Jeffrey has been asked by Peter to promote this book and is quoted extensively on the blurb. The choice of Jeffrey Kripal, a known right-wing Christian and a notorious anti-Hindu and anti-Indian writer, as primary reviewer reveals the darker intentions behind Peter’s defamation of Sri Aurobindo. It puts Peter in the lineage of Jeffrey and Wendy, and puts his book in the same category as their writings in the public eye.

Jeffrey has now joined Michael Murphy in financing Peter Heehs and Richard Hartz to analyse Sri Aurobindo’s Record of Yoga for the Esalen Institute. Jeffrey’s intentions here can be inferred from the fact that his only fields of specialisation are “comparative erotics and ethics of mystical literature”. Jeffrey himself describes Esalen as a “metaphysical synthesis of sensuality and spirit”, and a review of Jeffrey’s book on Esalen criticises him for being “too intent on seeing everything that happens at Esalen through the mystical lenses of tantra”. The point here is not so much of Esalen’s intentions but of Jeffrey’s perverse mind now targeting Sri Aurobindo with Peter’s help; or perhaps is it Peter’s perverse mind now targeting Sri Aurobindo with Jeffrey’s help!

Jeffrey’s fawning review of Peter’s book declares that:
“His text humanizes and problematizes a historical figure whose complexity has been more or less lost to us via hagiography, piety, and now Hindutva apologetics.”

Note his inbuilt biases. Note also his glee at humanising and problematising Sri Aurobindo, and his eagerness to complexify him. The word problematising means “to propose problems”, “to pose problems”, “to make into or regard as a problem”. This is the intention of Peter in writing this book as revealed through his chosen reviewer, close personal friend, financier and partner in research on Sri Aurobindo!

Peter’s strong connections to and reliance on attackers of Ramakrishna Paramahansa exposes his darker intentions. The strong sexual bias in interpretation of mysticism in Kakar and Jeffrey explains Peter’s obsession with themes that would support a similar interpretation of Sri Aurobindo. Clearly, the numerous deceptions and mis-representations in Peter’s book are not accidental. They are meant to be used as primary sources for more forceful scholastic attacks to follow from his academic associates questioning the nature of Sri Aurobindo’s spirituality and his personal integrity, along the patterns already established. Peter is not alone in this. He is supported, funded and publicised by these people.

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