Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Vol. 13 No. 1 Jul 2017

Special Issue Introduction

Bahman A. K. Shirazi

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The Modern Knowledge Academy, Vedantic Education and Integral Education

Debashish Banerji

The early Upanishads provide a model of education which Sri Aurobindo drew on for his system of education, which has been called “integral education.” Yet, having himself been educated in some of the canonical institutions of the modern knowledge academy, Sri Aurobindo’s views on education did not adhere to a nativist or essentialist interpretation of indigenous knowledge. This article will consider the critique of both modern knowledge as well as of nativist approaches to knowledge acquisition and dissemination implicit in Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s vision of integral education; and if or how that can be implemented in a post-secular global society.

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A Complete Integral Education: Five Principal Aspects

Jeremie Zulaski

This article reviews the five principal aspects of a “complete integral education” envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra Alfassa and elucidated in their writings. This innovative, learner-centered pedagogy encourages holistic development through acknowledgment and cultivation of the five dimensions of a human being—the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic, and the spiritual. The article suggests that a complete integral education contributes a potentially corrective alternative to outmoded orthodox methods that privilege intellectual proficiency over the holistic knowledge potentially present, given authentic engagement of learning communities.

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The Value of an Integral Education: A Mixed-Method Study with Alumni of the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies

Heidi Fraser Hageman

This sequential mixed methods study examined alumni’s perceptions of an integral education in the East-West Psychology (EWP) program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), and explored how they connected their unique, integral educational experience to personal and professional development. The findings revealed that their experience and understanding of integral education in EWP is mostly in alignment with the ideals of CIIS; namely, honoring multiple perspectives, the multidimensionality of being, and multiple ways of knowing were identified as key aspects of an integral education. The results of the study also point to the areas where the EWP program is doing well in terms of the education students expect and what they actually receive, and to the department’s or Institute’s learning edges. The most significant findings are the revelations of the need for: (a) more professional development, (b) more practical application opportunities, (c) more community/ mentor support for students’ personal psycho-spiritual unfolding, and (d) more training regarding the language and expression needed to communicate the value of an integral education effectively with scholars/employers outside of CIIS.

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Women’s Spirituality at CIIS: Uniting Integral and Feminist Pedagogies

Alka Arora
This paper articulates an educational framework termed integral feminist pedagogy, based on the author’s experience teaching in the Women’s Spirituality program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Integral feminist pedagogy unites the principles and practices of both the integral and feminist traditions. The strength of integral pedagogy lies in its focus on the inseparability of an individual’s mind, body, and spirit. However, integral pedagogy is often understood today in a way that divorces individuals from their social and political context. Feminist pedagogy, on the other hand, excels in raising students’ awareness of social and political context, but may neglect individuals’ psychospiritual realities. This paper argues that integrating the two traditions helps each better fulfill its vision of social transformation. In order to illuminate the core premises of integral feminist pedagogy, specific examples from classrooms in the Women’s Spirituality program are explored.

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The Divine Feminist: A Diversity of Perspectives That Honor Our Mothers’ Gardens by Integrating Spirituality and Social Justice

Arisika Razak

While spirituality has often  been separated  from  feminism, this  essay  suggests that a number of prominent theorists in the diverse fields of Africana Studies (Amadiume, 1998; Badjo,1996; Teish,1994); Chicano Studies (Anzaldua, 2007/1987); Indigenous Studies (Harjo, 1991; Mehesuah, 2003); Islamic Studies (Wadud, 2006); Queer Studies (Grahn, 2009); and Women’s Spirituality/Women and Gender Studies (Brooten, 2010; Walker, 1983) have all linked empowered roles for women and other oppressed groups to contemporary and historic liberatory spiritual frameworks and culturally specific Indigenous roles for women and other oppressed genders. The contemporary divine feminist, (a term coined by Professor Alka Arora) is one who walks the contested borderlands between secular feminisms, philosophy and religious studies, and ethnic/indigenous studies. They integrate diverse spiritual frameworks elaborated by people of color, liberatory theory and praxis supporting the empowerment of women and other oppressed genders with Euro-American academic perspectives, and contemporary disability and embodiment studies to develop new forms of activism, scholarship and alliance building that benefits the Earth and all sentient life.

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The Borderlands Feminine: A Feminist, Decolonial Framework for Re-membering Motherlines in South Asia/Transnational Culture

Monica Mody

This paper uses Gloria Anzaldúa’s borderlands framework to resignify and recover the marginalized, forgotten sacred feminine and, thereby, South Asian motherlines. The borderlands is conceived of as a new consciousness, an alternative to that which is written in history. It offers a radical synthesis of spiritual healing with anti-oppression work. Creating self-affirming, complex images of female identity, and making revisionist myths—while engaging the self in relation to culture— constitutes a decolonial practice. It enables South Asian women—as the Others of colonial modernity and brahmanical patriarchy—to renew their relation to an episteme of the sacred that liberates their voices, vitality, and authority. The post-secular sacred locates as essential a critical interrogation of all forms of oppression. The researcher enacts her decolonial recovery at the edges of her South Asian/brown postcolonial feminist subjectivity. The borderlands framework makes possible a profoundly relational, integrative onto-epistemological praxis that forefronts the grandmothers, the foremothers, and the experiences of women of color on their own terms.

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Chinmoyee and Mrinmoyee

Karabi Sen

Chinmoyee and Mrinmoyee are two different ways of looking at divinity in a feminine form. Chinmoyee emphasizes the attainment or realization or manifestation of higher consciousness as being divine while Mrinmoyee hugs the earth and brings home the deliberation that mrit or the earth is the mother of all being, including all forms of consciousness and deserves to be acclaimed as the deity. Mrit means earthen in Sanskrit and the earth is what all living creatures are made of. It is the spring, the sustenance of all life and also that to which life reverts back after a particular form of it ceases to function, to be regenerated as another form of life when the necessary conditions appear. Mrit, also called Mrittika in Sanskrit and “mati” in Bengali, is the mother of all life. It is etymologically connected to “matter,” “matre,” “madder” of the Indo-Iranian-European group of languages. Matter has been contemplated to be a lifeless substance by some philosophers but the term is essentially expressive of what we know to be the mother of us all—that from which we sprung, that in the womb of which we all came to be, slept and grew until we evolved further and that to which we return in final embrace until we transform into another being. Matter and mrit are viewed as lifeless by philosophers who try to preach ultimate divisions and the purpose of this paper is to overthrow such absolute dichotomies as false. The paper purports to establish that consciousness and matter are one and inseparable and hence Chinmoyee and Mrinmoyee an identical entity.

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