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
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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).

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