2023 Sri Aurobindo Conference

The following is information on the Sri Aurobindo conference that is happening at the California Institute of Integral Studies immediately prior to the 2023 Gebser Annual Conference:


Sustainability and Contemplative Civilization: The Integral Vision of Sri Aurobindo

Namaste Hall, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, September 23 and 24, 2023.


More information and registration can be found here directly at the CIIS website.

Whereas the contemporary imperative of sustainability seems undeniable, innumerable approaches towards it have been (and are being) suggested, each with its own implications for practice and future consequences. Most of these may be classified as pragmatic patchwork solutions that envision resource reduction or replacement while continuing modern human aims and lifestyles of global production, distribution, persuasion and consumption. A few identify the problem of sustainability as inextricably linked with human aims and lifestyles, a scaling down of the human footprint with its excessive production and consumption; and peaceable co-existence with the non-human and non-living entities of the earth viewed as the desired direction. Such visions often veer towards a technophobic return to nature, a rural or primitive nomadic romanticism opposing the narrative of modern progress, seen either as an anti-civilizational anthropological future or as alternative societies of intentional exile. In most of these cases, the boundaries of the human are taken for granted, even when there is a refusal of human exceptionalism or anthropocentrism.

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was a modern Indian teacher of a form of yoga philosophy and praxis, which he named integral yoga, and whose aim was a realized redefinition of the human based on a self-exceeding leading to an expanded identification of the self with cosmos and beyond. Whereas Sri Aurobindo left his body in 1950, before the impending planetary crisis we are acutely aware of today, he expressed his vision of a “gnostic society” and transformed conditions on earth in his texts of praxical and social philosophy. His spiritual partner and collaborator (in yogic parlance, Shakti) Mirra Alfaassa, aka The Mother, lived till 1973 and gave practical form to some of these ideas in terms of more contemporary concerns of ecology, technology, culture, policy and economy in the international habitus for individual and collective transformation she founded in 1968, and named Auroville. Auroville continues as an experimental utopian community in-the-making with many problems both internal and external, but the Mother conceived of it as a “model” or “symbolic” town for a sustainable civilization of the future based on human redefinition and transformation and it may hold an ideal for praxis that is worth considering in relation to the problematics of our times. In the 150th year since Sri Aurobindo’s birth, this two-day hybrid (onsite and online) conference hopes to engage with the possibilities, problems and potentia related to a sustainable civilization based on contemplative praxis of deep relationality and extended identity as implicit in the vision and teaching of Sri Aurobindo and as explicit in the experimental community of Auroville.

Please submit 150-200 word abstracts for reading papers of 20 minutes each by July 15, 2023 and final drafts by August 30, 2023. Papers may be presented on any aspect of a sustainable contemplative civilization as related to the integral vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Themes may include:

  • Problematic of modernity and the integral yoga community as an intentional community
  • Individual and collective yoga
  • Ecospirituality and the integral yoga
  • The human in relation to the nonhuman and the nonliving in integral yoga
  • Relationality in integral yoga communities
  • Integral education and sustainability
  • Integral education and cyberspace
  • Global capital and integral yoga communities
  • Technology in integral yoga communities
  • Culture in integral yoga communities
  • Cultural relations and universality in integral yoga communities
  • Translation in integral yoga communities
  • Cyberspace, connectivity and algorithmic profiling in integral yoga communities
  • Sustainable architecture in integral yoga communities
  • Fascism, representative and participatory democracy and anarchism in integral yoga communities
  • Agriculture and biodiversity in integral yoga communities
  • Cultism, fundamentalism and the integral yoga
  • Religion, atheism and integral yoga communities
  • Place and space in integral yoga and its communities
  • Cosmogenesis and transindividuation in integral yoga communities