Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Is Buddhism a Religion, a Philosophy or a Psychology?

On first encountering Buddhist teachings many Westerners wonder whether they are actually dealing with a philosophy or a type of applied psychology, rather than a religion.
Certainly Buddhism has strong elements of both philosophy and psychology.
Buddhist philosophy Buddhist teachings do not require a suspension of the intellect by demanding a belief in
scientifically implausible creation myths.
There are no 'revealed truths' (ie doctrines which come from out of the sky and must be believed on the basis of faith rather than reason). Buddha encouraged his students to test his teachings against their own reason and experience. Only by thoroughly challenging the teachings can one gain confidence in their truth.
One of Buddhism's main philosophical components is its ontology - the study of how things exist. A
common misunderstanding is that Buddhists believe that 'things don't really exist' or that 'nothing exists'. In fact Buddhists believe that nothing exists by its own nature. All produced phenomena exist in dependence upon other phenomena - every cause is itself an effect of another cause. A table does not exist by virtue of it's innate 'tableness'. It exists due to the timber and the joiner, and its possessing a flat surface, a certain number of legs etc. It also exists by identification with the 'tableness' that is present in the minds of the observers (but not in the table itself!).
Tracing things further back, the timber exists in dependence upon acorns, soil, sun, rain etc, and the joiner exists in dependence upon his mother, father and the midwife.
In Buddhism, relationships such as cause and effect, structure and components, observer and observed are regarded as more fundamental aspects of existence than actual 'things'. Even the mind is not a thing or a substance. The technical Buddhist term for the mind is the 'Mental Continuum'. In western terminology we would regard Buddhism as a
Process Philosophy.
Buddhist psychologyBuddhist psychology is intended to be used for improving our state of mind. It is an applied science and is not usually presented as an abstract or academic discipline, because in order to understand it Buddhists are supposed to 'walk their talk'. Practices include meditation, visualisation and mindfulness throughout the day.
When nineteenth century Europeans first studied Buddhism they were impressed by the rational aspects but were perplexed by some of the powerfully emotive and sometimes disturbing symbolism and visualisations. They ascribed these 'tantric' aspects to the corruption of a rationalistic philosophy by later mixing with primitive folklore and Shamanism.
Then along came Freud and Jung.
Buddha had recognised the importance of the subconscious activities of the mind, both individual and collective, 2400 years before the founders of Western psychology. He knew that purely rational arguments were insufficient to motivate a deep and lasting transformation of the mind. The practitioner also needs to harness and redirect the powerful emotional currents which well up from the depths. Jungian psychologists discovered that the
vivid symbolism of tantric art and visualisation involved the use of 'archetypes' - ancient patterns and symbols in the human subconscious which can be invoked to produce powerful emotional responses.
So why is Buddhism regarded as a religion?The reason Buddhism is regarded as a religion rather than a form of humanism is that it is primarily concerned with the long term future of the mental continuum rather than with just this single limited lifetime. Buddhists do not believe that the mental continuum is dependent upon physical 'things' such as the body or brain for its existence. In fact many Buddhists would turn this view on its head and claim that the way that physical things exist
is dependent upon the mental continuum of the observer.
Cited from:http://www.aboutulverston.co.uk/Buddhistlinks.htm,dated:०५-११-2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Integral Yoga and Indian Psychology

Dr. Panch. Ramalingam,
UGC – Academic Staff College,Pondicherry University, Pondicherry
Integral yoga psychology is union of all kinds of yoga principles and methodological practices related to human psychology। The contents of the course structure are to be distributed in terms of integral yoga and Indian psychology so as to introduce in the school /college curriculum.
Exploring the existing literature in ancient scriptures on Indian psychology
Exposition of various types/ school of thought in Indian psychology
Development of practical application of Indian psychological approaches into practice
Exploring the existing practices in yogaExposition of various types of yoga
Development of practical application of yoga therapy into practice
Understanding the inner spirit of the problems and proper application of yoga therapy
Exercises on yoga therapy
To achieve the above objectives, the researcher tried to study the related literature prescribed in the contents of the school/college curriculum. In order to meet the challenges and opportunities of teh world , we have to play a major role by introducing appropriate curriculum at the school and college levels. The integral approaches will help us in designing the curriculum by open learning system. The course structure may have one to one interactive classes, seminars, symposia and presentation of assignments related to the prescribed curriculum.
The learner can also spend sufficient time with scholars/ yoga practitioners to understand the traditional values system and cultural ethos in addition to class room learning.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Triguna Theory of Personality with Special Reference to Samkhya System

Lakhwinder Singh, M.Phil. (Psychology), Dept. of Psychology ,K.U.K
Desh Raj Sirswal, Research Scholar(ICPR-JRF),Dept. of Philosophy, K.U.K.
With the increasing realization that many of the Western psychological concepts and methods lack relevance to different cultural systems the need for developing indigenous psychologies was recognized all over the world (Kim & Berry,1973). In recent times more and more researchers have taken active interest in indigenizing and developing indigenous Psychology (Misra & Mohanty, 2000; Paranjpe,1999; Srivastava, 2002).the structure, nature and evolution of human personality are elaborated in these sources with special reference to the concept of Triguna. More than 40 books have appeared in Indian Psychology (Mathew,2004).
The present paper is attempts to look at the personality from the Indian perspectives as presented in the Samkhya System। Paper explains the philosophical basis of samkhya system and its empirical implication in personality psychology as the concept of Triguna।The concept of triguna mentioned in Atharveda. However, it is in the Samkhya system, that this concept has gained prominence as a major explanatory construct. Samkhya is a dualistic philosophy, which postulates two interdependent, simultaneously existing realities purusha (Consciousness) and prakrti (nature or matter).Apart from the purusha, which forms the inner core of the personality, everything in the universe, physical and psychological, including the mind, are regarded as originated from prakrti, which is constituted of three gunas viz. sattva, rajas and tamas. These gunas act together and never exist in isolation. They interact and compete with each other resulting in the preponderance of one over the others. The degree of predominance of one guna determines the individual’s personality type. Based on the above understanding, personalities are categorized into three viz. sattvic, rajasic and tamasic types(Rao,1966).
Discription of Triguna
• Sattva is that element of prakrti which is of the nature of pleasure, and is buoyant of light (laghu), and bright or illuminating (prakasaka)। Pleasure in its various forms ,such as satisfaction, joy, happiness, bliss, contentment, etc. is produced by things in our minds through the operation of the power of sattva inhering in them both.
• Rajas is the principle of activity in things. It always moves and makes other things move. It is of the nature of pain, and is mobile and stimulating. It helps the elements of sattva and tamas which are inactive and motionless in themselves, to perform their functions.
• Tamas is the principle of passivity and negativity in things. It is opposed to sattva in being heavy (guru) and in obstructing the manifestation of objects. By obstructing the principle of activity in usit induces sleep, drowsiness, and laziness. It also produces the state of apathy or indifference (visada). Hence it is that sattva, rajas and tamas have been compared respectively to whiteness, redness, and darkness.
• The gunas are in the state of both conflict and co-operation with one another.
• The gunas are in the state of both conflict and co-operation with one another. They always go together and can never be separated from one another. Nor can any one of them produce anything without the help of other two.
• The nature of things is determined by the predominant guna, while the other others are their in a subordinate position. The classification of objects to in good, bad and indifferent, or into pure, impure and neutral, or into intelligent , active and indolent, has reference to the preponderance of sattva, rajas and tamas respectively.
• The theoretical expositions on triguna and their manifestations in human nature have attracted the attention of Indian psychologists.The concept has been examined theoretically (Boss,1966; Misra et al.,2000; Rao.1971) and empirically (Das,1987,1991;Kapur et al., 1997 ; Marutham ,Balodhi & Misra, 1998 ; Mathew.1995; Mohan & Sandhu,1986;Sebastian & mathew,2002 etc.).
Mathew’s Poorna Chakra
• It is model of personality and development of consciousness rooted in concept of triguna.• It is the extent to which the qualities of mind vary(sattva) called as stability; rajas called as activation and tamas called as inertia) help differentiate an individual’s mind from the other minds.

Note: This paper presented entitled “The Triguna Theory of Personality with special reference to Samkhya System” in National Conference on Community Mental Health; Issues and Challenges, held on 15-16 Feb.2008 at Department of Psychology, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Human Destiny and an Ethical life

Dr. M.S. Valiathan

38th Founder Memorial Lecture 2002
Shriram Institute For Industrial Research, Delhi
The Yoga Vasistha insisted that our fate is in our hands and all our experiences could be controlled by a determined effort of the human will. This view or Paurusheya claimed that human will was all-powerful, and fate could be overcome. At the other end of the specturm, several schools held that fate (daiva) controlled our actions and human destiny was no more than its plaything. Charaka took an intermediate view which was novel in Indian philosophy. According to him, while the effects of acts of enormous wickedness could not be prevented by good conduct, those of all others could be countered or modified by conscious action based on good conduct. An illness which resulted from one’s improper Karma could be prevented or cured by non-moral actions such as proper health care. One could not contend that relief from illness under those circumstances had nothing to do with health care, and that it was a consequence of one’s past good deeds. If the effort of the patient and the physician could achieve nothing and the entire course of life was predestined, the endeavour of Ayurveda would lose purpose and significance. It was reasonable to claim that ‘fate’ came into play only when one’s best efforts failed to arrest the consequences of abominable actions. Vagbhata too echoed the Ayurvedic belief in the possibility of the triumph of human action over fate.
The motivations of all human actions are the desire for long life, the desire for wealth and the desire for the future life. In adopting this clear-cut view, Charaka differed from the traditional systems of Indian philosophy. The Vaiseshika looked upon the attraction to pleasure and aversion to pain as the motivations for human action; Nyaya went beyond attraction and aversion and traced their mutual source to delusion (moha); yoga of Patanjali held that virtuous actions arose from the tendency towards emancipation and sinful actions from ignorance and egoism; Advaita Vedanta insisted that all actions arose from ignorance (avidya). Charaka departed from all these views which identified false knowledge as the cause of all our troubles and upheld the realisation of the higher truth as the ultimate answer to the pain of existence. He urged that evil and suffering arose through our errors in judgement and imprudent conduct (Prajnaparadha) which had no philosophical significance. It was entirely within our non philosophic capability to give up errors and adopt virtuous conduct (Sadvritta). Ayurveda – the science of life – was always more than medicine and spoke of life which is good (hita) or bad (ahita), happy (sukha) or unhappy (dukha). A good and happy life is nothing without good health, but it is far more: it demands prudent and virtuous conduct that is conducive to the good of the individual, his surroundings and the society of which he is a part.
At the experimental level, what are doshas which constitute the central doctrine on which diagnosis and treatment are based in Ayurveda? Charaka says in no uncertain terms that doshas are substances. As they have never been chemically identified, there have been suggestions to regard them as concepts. This may be a mistake and giving up on an ancient doctrine too soon. Plant formulations which oppose the properties of the three doshas are well known and used regularly for Ayurvedic treatment. If the plants with properties opposed to each dosha could be characterised in terms of biological activity – antimitotic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immuno-modulatory etc., and they showed characteristics fingerprints, the first step in identifying the doshas might have been taken. These are merely examples of the kind of exciting work which calls out to be done in what could be called Ayurvedic nosology and biology.
For detail of the article go to:India’s Medical Legacy

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Aspects of the Classical Indian Psychology

Psychology is a social institution which incorporates many of the values and demands of its surrounding society. This course will explores the traditions of India that are concerned with the broadly termed concept of mental health and healing. The essence of so called Indian psychology (mano vidya), its principles, methods and aims will be disscused. Students should learn theoretical foundations of Indian psychology and how traditional Indian therapeutic efforts combine elements from classical Indian philosophy, religion, medicine (Ayurveda), aesthetics, astrology, alchemy, tantra, various mystical-spiritual Hindu and Buddhist practices. The aim of this course is to investigate the general speculation in Indian literature regarding the nature and levels of consciousness, states and functions of mind, emotions, abnormal perceptions, the theories on the nature of deams and the concept of unconsciousness. Special attention will be given to the relation between traditional psychology and religion, development of the main psychological concepts, typology of mental diseases, validity of yogic percepcion, importance of meditational practices. Also will be discussed how some of the modern Western psychologists (mainly psychoanalitical and humanistic schools) recognize and interpret the different sophistication of of ancient Indian psychology and incorporate various of its aspects into their theories and even clinical practises.
Reading list:
1. Singha J. Indian Psychology, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1986, Vol. I-III.
2. Bhattacharya D.C. Aspects of Indian Psychology, Narendrapur, W.B., 1988.
3. Ross Reat N. The Origins of Indian Psychology, Berkely, California, 1990.
4. Safaya R. Indian Psychology, Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1976.
5. Kakar S. The Inner World. A Psychoanalytical Study of Childhood and Society in India, Oxford University Press, 1981.
6. Kakar S. Shamans, Mystics and Doctors. A Psychological Inquiry into India and Its Healing Traditions, Oxford University Press, 1982.
7. Vigne J. The Indian Teaching Tradition. A Psychological and Spiritual Study, D.K.Publishers, Delhi, 1997.
8. Bepin Behari Myths and Symbols of Vedic Astrology, Passage Press, USA, 1990.
9. Coward H. Jung and Eastern Thought, Sri Sat Guru Publications, Delhi, 1991.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Yoga: as a Psychological Discipline

Dr. Sandhya Ojha,Lecturer in Psychology,
Sri Agrasen Kanya (Autonomous)
Post Graduate College Varanasi

The rapid change of traditional and cultural values, due to the drastic influence of westernization as well as sense of forwardness, leads to several problems. In these modern times, no one is free from conflict, stress and obstacles. Our mental health can inversely influence the ability to handle day-to-day problems and enjoy life. A true and meaningful life is one which has come in terms with all sides of personality and become integrated on the basis of a spiritual insight. Therefore the relationship between mental health and physical health has been a topic of keen interest to the psychologist which can be studied in Yoga Psychology. Yoga literally means "Yuj" i.e. to yoke or bind together. Yoga thus stands for union and control. It is the union of mind with the innermost centre of one's own being, the self or 'Atman', the union of the conscious mind with the deeper levels of the unconscious. It also implies self control and self discipline. Yoga thus constitutes psychophysical, moral and spiritual training which aims at building the totality of man. Psychology is an important aspect of yoga dealing with the contribution of clinicians or therapists who try to give relief from the human sufferings related particularly to behavioural or mental problems. Psychology covers a wide range of treatment procedures whose common characteristic is that it deals with psychogenic illness by psychological method rather than by the use of medicines and other somatic procedures. The yogic discipline consists in moving forward slowly but steadily towards the goal of moral and spiritual perfection. Just as there cannot be any spiritual discipline without mental discipline, so there cannot be any mental discipline without body discipline. Finally both Yoga and Psychology play an important role in educating man and integrating various aspects of the human personality. Thus Yoga Psychology includes the study of mental and physical illness, its cause and prevention along with treatment.
Email the author: "Dr. (Mrs.) Sandhya Ojha"

This paper was presented at theNational Conference onYoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002
Cited From:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

How many Purusas? As many as moments?

By Alfred Collins

I have Ph.D.s in both clinical psychology and Indic studies (Sanskrit literature). A clinician an important question in early samkhya is how many purusas there are. Upanisadic atman = brahman thinking might well suggest only one. Nevertheless, in order to account for the fact that we don't all share the same karmic burden or own the same psychophysical personality, samkhya concluded that there are as many purusas as there are sentient beings ("from Brahma to a blade of grass"). These purusas own different endowments but in their essential nature all amount to nothing more than consciousness. In the terms of Peter Pesic (in his book Seeing Double, MIT Press) the purusas are similar to elementary particles like electrons that are the same in all essential respects, and share "identicality." Some Buddhist thinkers (see Matthew Kapstein, Reason's Traces, Wisdom publishers) claim that there is a givenness of self-reference moment by moment that amounts to nothing but the momentary event of consciousness. In a sense there is something like purusa in each moment but a purusa that does not carry over to subsequent moments. Nevertheless there appears to be an "identicality" of consciousness in these moments that is very similar to one that applies between purusas in samkhya. An identity of "nature" between the consciousnesses within different moments seems implied in Buddhist concepts such as the Zen talk of "seeing eye to eye with the Buddha and patriarchs." The essence of liberation in samkhya is to see that the consciousness in all moments of experience is this completely selfless essence, and not an ahamkara (hence the recognition of "I am not" (naham) at Samkhya Karika 64). This is similar to Buddhist realization which also sublates the ahamkara (ego). The apparent difference is that samkhya ends with a permanent purusa and Buddhism with an endlessly repeated experience of momentary consciousness. That repetition is what I call culture, and I have argued that samkhya, rightly interpreted, implies the same thing (paper at AAR/DANAM, 2006).

Cited from:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What is Indian Psychology?

Indian psychology is an approach to psychology based on the Indian ethos, the characteristic spirit of the Indian civilization. One could also say that it is a psychology rooted in Indian philosophy, yoga and their life-affirming spirituality.
All three terms may need some clarification:- with philosophy we mean a complex group of interrelated ideas about the fundamental nature of knowledge and reality used as a guiding principle for life in all its facets;- with yoga we mean a systematic effort to become consciously one with the Divine, not only in its passive, transcendent aspect, but also in its manifest, dynamic presence;- and with a life-affirming spirituality we mean a spirituality that accepts the world and human nature as a field for the Divine to manifest, as a "work in progress", as a reality that needs to be transcended in order to be transformed.
It may also help to clarify what we do not mean by some of these terms: - with Indian Philosophy and Indian Psychology we don't mean the academic disicplines as practised in modern India;- with Indian philosophy we also don't mean just the six darshanas: we mean the basic worldview underlying the entire Indian culture, its literature, oral traditions, arts, folklore and social dynamism;- with Indian Psychology we definitely don't mean a psychology specifically or exclusively suitable for people living in the Indian sub-continent, or of Indian origin: we feel that the Indian tradition can make valuable contributions to the psychological understanding of all human beings, irrespective of their descent or cultural background.
We feel that Indian Psychology can make a crucial, and urgently needed contribution to the entire global civilization that is evolving around us.

Cited From:

http://ipi.org.in/second/whatisip.htm Dated:१९-०३-2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

भारतीय मनोविज्ञान

भारतीय मनोविज्ञान पिछले कुछ दशकों से दोबारा चिंतन का विषय बन चुका हैं। प्राचीन ग्रन्थों जिनमे उपनिषद, सूत्र, चिकित्षा ,दर्शन आदि सामिल हैं , मे बहुत कुछ ऐसा छुपा है जिस पर अच्छा कार्य हो सकता है।वर्तमान की जरूरतों के अनुरूप हमे अपने जीवन मूल्यों को भी दोबारा से मुल्याकन करके देखना जरुरी होता जा रहा है..