Sri Manoj:

I am writing to you because of my concern about the personal attacks and threats towards Peter Heehs because of his book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. You probably do not know of me, but I have been involved in this Yoga since meeting the Mother in 1970, which later inspired me to join Auroville, with her blessing, and live there for 7 years in the 1970's. Afterwards I remained active in the USA as the editor of the journal Collaboration, was one of the founders of the All USA Meeting (AUM) and a member of the board of the Foundation for World Education.

The kind of self-righteous vilification, name-calling, and calls for Peter's expulsion from the Ashram remind me all too much of what happened in Auroville during the 1970's when the majority, under the influence of Satprem, persecuted a small minority (called the neutrals) and attempted, with physical and psychological violence, to drive them out of the community. Many did leave, and a division between the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville was created that continues to exist. The current campaign, including the Orissa court case, against Peter is doing the same thing, causing yet more divisions in the Yogic community around the world. For many of us it goes against the openness that was once characteristic of the Ashram.

To many outside the Ashram these abusive behaviours are more characteristic of a religious community where doctrine, not spiritual aspiration, is sacred. I do not mean that The Lives of Sri Aurobindo should not be discussed or argued about; but too many have not read it and, inflamed by others, have reacted as though they've been personally attacked. When I finished reading the book I was overwhelmed with a new appreciation of what Sri Aurobindo accomplished with his incredible will power and spiritual force. There are many ways to praise and there is much in the book that would help readers understand their relationship with Sri Aurobindo.

I admire you for standing up to this threatening, emotional wave. I couldn't do it during the Auroville-Society feud in the 70's and have never quite forgiven myself. The malevolent force was simply too strong. The great danger is that this kind of force will prevail in the Ashram and many supporters from around the world will turn away. I urge you to use everything in your power to stop this wave of anger that threatens to engulf us all.

Gordon Korstange