The coming of the subjective age



The following letter was posted to Auroconf, an e-mail discussion group that examines issues related to Integral Yoga. To subscribe, send e-mail to Leave the subject line blank. In the body of your message, type subscribe auroconf.

I In his chapter "The Coming of the Subjective Age" in The Human Cycle, I believe Sri Aurobindo is talking about the present time. He refers to many areas of life, including philosophy, psychology, art, and poetry, and goes on to tentatively suggest politics and economics; in each of these areas he identifies the signs of the dawning of a subjective age.

What I understand by "subjective" is the beginning of a real awareness and willingness to explore the subliminal -- the subtle physical, the inner vital and mental; the beginning of an understanding of the meaning of the universal vital and mental; perhaps vague glimpses of the significance if not the experience of the psychic; and an understanding of a mental faculty beyond the intellect, namely, the higher mind.

Here are some relevant passages from Sri Aurobindo.

The first essential sign [of the subjective age] must be the growth of the subjective idea of life, -- the idea of the soul, the inner being, its powers, its possibilities, its growth, its expression and the creation of a true, beautiful and helpful environment for it as the one thing of first and last importance. The signals must be there that are precursors of a subjective age in humanity's thought and social endeavor.

These ideas are likely first to declare their trend in philosophy, in psychological thinking, in the arts, poetry, painting, sculpture, music, in the main idea of ethics, in the application of subjective principles by thinkers to social questions, even perhaps, though this is a perilous effort, to politics and economics, that hard refractory earth matter which most resists all but a gross utilitarian treatment. [This is being done, and has been for at least the last ten years. -- DS].

There will be new unexpected departures of science or at least of research, -- since to such a turn in its most fruitful seekings the orthodox still deny the name of science.

Discoveries will be made that thin the walls between soul and matter; attempts there will be to extend exact knowledge into the psychological and psychic realms with a realisation of the truth that these have laws of their own which are other than physical, but not the less laws because they escape the external senses and are infinitely plastic and subtle. -- The Human Cycle, pp. 23334

T here are many individuals, psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers, physicists, biologists, economists, painters, and composers today who are explicitly exploring and articulating what I believe Sri Aurobindo portrays as manifestations of the subjective age.

The fact that Nobel laureates in neuroscience and cognitive science correspond on the Journal of Consciousness Studies online group, and the number of them who at least privately cite Krishnamurti, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharsi, and others as inspiration, may further confirm that the signs of the subjective age are present.

When mainstream physicists form an organization for the exploration of subtle energies -- naming, among others, Taoist Alchemy, Sri Aurobindo, Siberian Shamanic traditions, and so on as sources of information for the scientific exploration of the subliminal;

When Duane Elgin writes Voluntary Simplicity (about spiritual economics) and Jon Kabat Zinn writes Full Catastrophe Living (about applying a meditative perspective to the management of physical pain;

When Charlene Spretnak writes States of Grace (about spiritual politics) and Roger Walsh writes Paths beyond Ego (a psychiatrist writing about spiritual psychology);

And when Alan Wallace writes Choosing Reality (about understanding how a close examination of the metaphysical assumptions underlying science inevitably lead to an elimination of the materialistic perspective and the opening to a spiritual perspective);

... it seems to me they are doing exactly what Sri Aurobindo is pointing to in the above passages.

Can anyone explain to me why this is or isn't so?

-- Don Salmon,

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