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Voice of Yoga: The error of psychoanalysis and the yogic corrective

by on July 10, 2012

From Rishabhchand's "The Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo", Chapter IX, "The purification of nature"

This will to the reproduction of the glory of the psychic in the instrumental nature characterizes the follower of the Integral Yoga. He cannot be content with a surface polish and refinement of his nature, nor even with an ethical or religious modification of it, which leaves its roots untouched. He wants nothing short of a rebirth of the psychic in his active nature, dwijatwa, and that too’ only as a preliminary purification and transformation, leading eventually to the divine supramental perfection. In proportion as the psychic influence permeates the nature, and the consciousness of each part of the being is released from the toils of ignorance, a limitless love and devotion for the Divine grows in his being, and a corresponding insistence to purify the nature in all its elements. Identifying himself with the psychic being, as much as he can, he looks into his nature, as if he was looking into something outside himself, and is, therefore, much better able than the psychologist or the psycho-analyst to study it in all its protean moods and energies. It is in this identification with the psychic being that the Yogi scores over the psychologist, for it gives him a rare vantage ground, a secure poise, from where he can observe and deal with even the least movements of his nature. The psycho-analyst tries to study human nature from within it himself a part of it, and helplessly subject to its shifting modes. It is, as it were, a study of the sea by one who is himself buffeting with its waves,—a fruitless endeavour. But a Yogi is one who has taken his stand in consciousness upon the shore, and, away from the waves and whirlpools, can command a clear view of the sea in front. The psycho-analyst would do well to take a leaf out of the Yogi’s book, if he means to get beyond his tentative, empirical methods and shaky hypotheses. He cannot know human nature, discover its secret motor forces, and study the subtle interrelations of its parts, until he has himself struggled out of it and taken his stand upon something which is independent of it and yet its master and guide. What is gleaned by his present empirical methods, based upon the quick-sand of sense- data and imaginative and conjectural deductions is, even at its best, a cumulative experience of some of the more or less gross movements of human nature—an experience which is unavoidably conditioned by the bias of his mind and his limited faculties of observation, reasoning and imagination. His individuality enters so largely into his experiments that it is no wonder that Freud and Adler and Jung and others vary so vitally in their basic concepts and final conclusions.

It may not be long before the earnest students of human psychology discover, as a few of them have already begun to perceive dimly, that there are two indispensable pre-requisites of a faultless study of nature: (l) transcendence and (2) identification. One who has not transcended one’s own nature, which comes to the same thing as transcending human nature, cannot command a full and clear view of it; and it is not by the normal mental faculties, but by an inner identification that this study can be made to bear perfect fruit. The whole subtle machinery of human nature can best be studied by taking a stable poise beyond it, either behind or above, and projecting a part of one’s consciousness into it which, by identification, can precisely and accurately register all its fine and gross vibrations. The knowledge of the self or soul must then precede any true knowledge of nature. It is only in the light and the context of the infinite that the truth of the finite can be properly read. It is the Eternal alone that can explain and justify the temporal. That is why we find such an astonishing unanimity in the essential experiences and discoveries of the yogis and mystics, whose psychological researches proceed upon the granite basis of self-knowledge. If there are differences among them, they are due to their pursuit of different lines of knowledge, or to the differing scope and range of their experiences, but not to the fundamental elements of the experiences themselves. Take, for instance, the common postulates of Indian philosophy: the five material elements, the five tanmātrās, the three guṇas of nature and their intricate interaction, the infinity and immortality of the self etc. There is no vital difference of opinion in regard to these basic truths and realities of existence, because they are truths of universal experience, and admit of no doubt and denial. Most of the differences in regard to them are but differences of formulation, of intellectual expression and exposition. When we realise the essential truths, we realise them in the same way, and it is the light of these. truths that irradiates and reveals the reality of all things in the world. But the quintessence of all truths is the Self or Spirit, the sole eternal Reality; and it is only by knowing it, by knowing the omnipresent ātman, that all can be known—tasmin vijñāte sarvamidam vijñātam bhavati. This is the declaration of ancient knowledge, which no science or philosophy can ever challenge.

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