Author Topic: yoga psychology and consciousness  (Read 9409 times)

Susanna

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yoga psychology and consciousness
« on: February 23, 2007, 05:57:43 PM »
I'm so glad you have this topic on board since I had just finished reading a book on yoga psychology which deals with consciousness.

From EMOTION TO ENLIGHTENMENT by Swami Rama and Swami Ajaya:

As is written in the book,  "there is only one consciousness...though on various levels":



"According to Vedantic psychology the body, breath and conscious mind are distinguished from the Self because they are impermanent and are left behind at the time of death. The Real Self and the unconscious mind remain. The unconscious is the storehouse of past impressions (memories). As long as one remains identified with the impressions in the unconscious mind he must return again to the world in order to bring the latent desires and identifications to fruition and experience their effects.

Through this process these identifications are dissolved and one realizes his identity as the Self or pure consciousness without the limitations of any personal history. Since the unconscious remains with the Real Self through the course of evolution until the final stage when all becomes conscious, these two together are sometimes referred to as the individual-self, jiva, or in Western terminology, the soul. This is to be distinguished, however, from the Real Self, Atman, or Brahman which remains after all else is left behind."

From the UPANISHADS: (the purpose and goal of yogic science in leading us to the consciousness of Self)

Lead us from the unreal to the real
Lead us from darkness to light
Lead us from mortality to immortality

**************
I enjoyed the book because it was written for laypeople to understand. The authors pointed out that the problem with Western psychology is that Western psychologists might help someone to "fix" this particular problem or that particular problem in one's life, but, unlike yoga psychology, Western psychology doesn't delve into the common root of ALL our sufferings/unhappiness, into our false identifications which permeate everything we have a relationship with... It is through the expansion of consciousness that we can free ourselves from our attachments whether they be physical, mental or emotional so we can eventually realize who we really are. To become one with the center of the mandala.

Susanna

Tom Foolery

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Re: diagram & consciousness
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2007, 05:18:02 PM »
I like to think of the body as part of the Self.  Although diagrams can't give us the genuine picture, I like them because they give us someplace to start.  A favorite diagram of mine relating to the self is below, where the body is part of the ego, or our consciousness of our-self.  So consciousness has to do with our understanding of our body.





Tom
« Last Edit: February 27, 2007, 05:19:36 PM by Tom Foolery »

Sealchan

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Re: yoga psychology and consciousness
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2007, 01:47:50 PM »
Quote
Through this process these identifications are dissolved and one realizes his identity as the Self or pure consciousness without the limitations of any personal history. Since the unconscious remains with the Real Self through the course of evolution until the final stage when all becomes conscious, these two together are sometimes referred to as the individual-self, jiva, or in Western terminology, the soul. This is to be distinguished, however, from the Real Self, Atman, or Brahman which remains after all else is left behind."

Does individual-self = jiva = soul = Jung's ego?  and Real Self = Atman = Jung's Self do you think?

Quote
The authors pointed out that the problem with Western psychology is that Western psychologists might help someone to "fix" this particular problem or that particular problem in one's life, but, unlike yoga psychology, Western psychology doesn't delve into the common root of ALL our sufferings/unhappiness, into our false identifications which permeate everything we have a relationship with... It is through the expansion of consciousness that we can free ourselves from our attachments whether they be physical, mental or emotional so we can eventually realize who we really are. To become one with the center of the mandala.

I wonder if there is a trade off here between yoga and Western psychology and one related to a difference in how spiritual power is understood as explained by Joseph Campbell.  What I get from Joseph Campbell is that between East and West we have a main distinction in how God is perceived.  In the West we have Yahweh, the Father and Allah, basically personifications of God.  In the East we have dharma, atman, Tao and other what are basically elemental forces when thinking of the ultimate spiritual powers.  The Gods in the East are just vehicles for the description of the expression of these elemental spiritual forces.  In the West the God is the power and there is no greater referent.  "I am who is" as God says when he introduces himself to Moses.

In the West then, we may deal with our suffering in terms of the personification of forces, by projecting the source of those forces in our life onto others in our experience.  Gradually in dealing with the particular issues, Jung invites us to develop a relationship with an inner pantheon of sorts focused on the trinity of ego-shadow-anima/us with an integrating fourth Self.  In the East, perhaps, we have a more abstract system of measurement which removes the projection onto personality and addresses more directly basic sensory and intuitive experiences that can be identified and acknowledged and coordinated with those spiritual practitioners who have gone before. 

In my "binocular" way of looking at things, then is one way East or West altogther better than the other?  Or, perhaps, does each approach have their relative merits?

Sealchan

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Re: yoga psychology and consciousness
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2007, 01:53:53 PM »
Quote
So consciousness has to do with our understanding of our body.

Perhaps this is one of the virtues of yoga, it directs the practitioner to focus on the nature of their body (although I think there is such a variety of yogas that this is variably true) to an extent that the full spiritual meaning of the body is addressed.

I also wonder how our personality typology affects our perception of body as spiritual or mundane.

Susanna

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Re: yoga psychology and consciousness
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2007, 06:08:34 PM »
Hi Tom,

I present the diagram I did so to give one Eastern view of the Self. I see it explaining man’s essence in relation to what man is not. For example, according to yoga psychology man’s true nature is not his body.  I see your diagram  as explaining man’s incarnation on this planet, our existence as a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being.

The differences between the 2 diagrams reflect 2 different consciousnesses. Your diagram also seems to follow Jungian thought.

Hi Sealchan,

I’ve read that Jung believed in 2 personalities. Below is one explanation of how Jung sees the Self differently from Eastern views.

From THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS by Reb Yakov Leib HaKohaim:

Quote
"The Self is a quantity that is supraordinate to the conscious ego. It [the Self] embraces not only the conscious but also the unconscious Psyche, and is therefore, so to speak, a personality which we [the ego] also are." ("Two Essays on Analytical Psychology," C. G. Jung Collected Works, vol. 7, par. 274)

It is also at this point that Jung's spiritual paradigm parts company with those of the East such as Hinduism and Buddhism. In the latter traditions, the goal of the ego is to become reabsorbed...back into the Self from which it comes, to lose itself, as it were, in the "Ocean of Bliss" of which it is merely a wave on the surface. Jung, however, postulates that such a dissolution of the ego defeats the ultimate ambition of the Self, which is to enter human consciousness and "become" man. In other words, mankind is the Self's gateway into the world of creation, and the human ego -- reawakened to its connection to the Self...is the Keeper of that Gate.

Therefore, Jung suggests, were the ego to dissolve into the Self ... it could not function as the mediator between God and His creation, which He yearns to re-enter through man. Thus, what Jung proposes is that rather than "returning" to and being reabsorbed back into the Self, ... the ego better serves its own goals and those of the transcendent archetypes, by remaining at Stage 7, where it sustains a dialogue with them through an "ego-self axis" as Edinger calls it. (See Edward F. Edinger, The Evolution of Consciousness.)

You write:
Quote
Does individual-self = jiva = soul = Jung's ego? and Real Self = Atman = Jung's Self do you think?

According the writing above, as I see it, Jung does not regard the Atman in respect to the Eastern view. I  have not read much on Jung, so cannot speak of him in a knowledgeable way, sorry.

And I offer more on Consciousness from the book, THE RAINBOW BRIDGE:

Quote
All units are conscious. We define consciousness in that which is below us in evolution as being the apparently fixed reactions to environment. It is also called the subconscious. For ourselves, we say the self-conscious. For above, super, or Soul-consciousness. Beyond that, identification or Monadic or Logoic consciousness, and so on.

The word consciousness relates to the relationship between spirit and matter, or between a higher and a lower unit, the higher being nearer the spirit and thus partaking of its nature, and the lower unit being relatively nearer the nature of matter.

Spirit    —    Motion   —    Matter
Life   —    Quality   —    Appearance
Life    —     Consciousness    —    Form

[The above] are all synonymous, but require some explanation to show the broad application from the mineral kingdom to God. Life as space is everywhere. Form is relative to environing conditions, for example, ice, water, steam. Consciousness is the relation of life to form, expressed in movement and behavior.

We use the word consciousness in the sense that [Madame] Blavatsky  used it — time is a succession of states of consciousness.
***********************************

So, consciousness is a process of evolution. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’direction/movement, it just IS what it is, where one is at a given moment.

You write:
Quote
I wonder if there is a trade off here between yoga and Western psychology and one related to a difference in how spiritual power is understood as explained by Joseph Campbell. What I get from Joseph Campbell is that between East and West we have a main distinction in how God is perceived. In the West we have Yahweh, the Father and Allah, basically personifications of God. In the East we have dharma, atman, Tao and other what are basically elemental forces when thinking of the ultimate spiritual powers. The Gods in the East are just vehicles for the description of the expression of these elemental spiritual forces. In the West the God is the power and there is no greater referent. "I am who is" as God says when he introduces himself to Moses.

In the West then, we may deal with our suffering in terms of the personification of forces, by projecting the source of those forces in our life onto others in our experience. Gradually in dealing with the particular issues, Jung invites us to develop a relationship with an inner pantheon of sorts focused on the trinity of ego-shadow-anima/us with an integrating fourth Self. In the East, perhaps, we have a more abstract system of measurement which removes the projection onto personality and addresses more directly basic sensory and intuitive experiences that can be identified and acknowledged and coordinated with those spiritual practitioners who have gone before.

In my "binocular" way of looking at things, then is one way East or West altogther better than the other? Or, perhaps, does each approach have their relative merits?

I wonder if Westerners, in general, see God in THEIR image rather than understanding that we are made in GOD’s image, and therefore, due to THEIR perspectives we have such personifications of God and gods in Western culture? So, there is much emphasis on the physical body, human attributes and literalization of feats when, in my view, mythological heroes and zodiac signs and such, are all metaphors for conduct with virtuous conduct/aspirations being the means toward self-realization/individuation?

I am presently reading THE PLANETS WITHIN: THE ASTROLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY OF MARSILIO FICINO by Thomas Moore. I think this book was written prior to CARE OF THE SOUL. Ficino was a Renaissance man with interesting insight into the Soul. Thomas Moore presents Ficino’s ideas well, and , of course, I am interested in Ficino’s writings of the planets’ roles in regard to the Soul.

Susanna

« Last Edit: March 03, 2007, 06:10:05 PM by Susanna »

Maria

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Re: yoga psychology and consciousness
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2007, 07:31:23 AM »
(Dear Susanna,

Quote
"According to Vedantic psychology the body, breath and conscious mind are distinguished from the Self because they are impermanent and are left behind at the time of death. The Real Self and the unconscious mind remain. The unconscious is the storehouse of past impressions (memories). As long as one remains identified with the impressions in the unconscious mind he must return again to the world in order to bring the latent desires and identifications to fruition and experience their effects.

What I like in yoga (as I understand it) is that it does not deny the importance or existence of matter, neither gives the body negative attributes like the "devil's gateway to the soul", as my (fanatic) catechism teacher used to say during that few years of my teens when I was interested in Catholism. The separation line is not between good and evil, but useful or useless (as measured from the eternal's point of view), and it is in this way very pragmatic.

So it was not at all surprising that after getting rid of the obsession of sin and evil, it was a great and liberating experience to attend yoga classes in high school.

Quote
Through this process these identifications are dissolved and one realizes his identity as the Self or pure consciousness without the limitations of any personal history. Since the unconscious remains with the Real Self through the course of evolution until the final stage when all becomes conscious, these two together are sometimes referred to as the individual-self, jiva, or in Western terminology, the soul. This is to be distinguished, however, from the Real Self, Atman, or Brahman which remains after all else is left behind."

I have always thought that the ultimate goal of yoga is not to have an "identity", because everything one can recognize as constructing one's identity does not belong to the Atman. I imagine yoga a bit like homeopathy, to be able to get in touch with the Atman, and to be in touch with It for a longer and longer period is like diluting agents more and more, until no physical particles of the original material are present, only the "essence" or "information". This information, however does not belong to our identity, but that of the Atman. Matter, or the body, is just another "matter", not different from our personality traits like I am an introvert, etc. Body, too, carries a sort of "essence" or "information" that belongs to the Atman, but in a more concrete form, which probably needs different methods to "dilute".

In Western culture, the ego has a distinguished, emphasized, highlighted position or importance, while in Eastern culture it does not.  ??? ??? ???

Love,

Maria)
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I am that merry wanderer of the night."

(Puck)

Matt Koeske

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Re: yoga psychology and consciousness
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2007, 03:13:11 PM »
In Western culture, the ego has a distinguished, emphasized, highlighted position or importance, while in Eastern culture it does not.  ??? ??? ???

I have been wondering about this difference between the cultures recently.  I fall decidedly on the Western side of this division.  I believe the ego is essential to humanness.  But I also see it as an added complexity in that humanness . . . one that can impede it at times. 

As an evolutionary thinker, I find it important to consider why the ego is evolutionarily adaptive, and yet also complicates humanness at times even to the point of undermining human libido.  Is it a flawed adaptation?  Perhaps.  There are many organs in many species that are "flawed" in this way.  That's the nature of evolution, after all.

But in contrast to some Eastern philosophies, I believe the ego is inextinguishable.  In fact, I even suspect the impulse that courts extinguishment or dissolution of the ego is in some way "shirking the duty of living".  I.e., that it is an immoral act, because it creates a sense of attainment or betterment by effectively denying or becoming unconscious of the myriad complexities of human existence.  In a more Jungian way, I see the mystical or spiritual goal of human consciousness as the construction of the ego that is able to navigate the complexities of human culture while also navigating and abiding by the libido demands of the Self.

Which is to say, I remain unconvinced of the spiritual value of longterm asceticism and hermeticism.  They can so easily become "cop-outs".  It isn't that hard to feel wise and self-assured when you live in a monastery (or cult) and have no contact with the rest of the world.  In this practice I see no moral achievement . . . and it is my belief that the goal of mysticism is, at its farthest extent, wholly moral.  It is not bliss or "oneness" that the mystical progression moves toward, but active ethicalism.  In other words, I see the "point" of mysticism as "worldly".  The bliss to me is a midpoint.  It's the feeling-emotion of numinousness that is part of the ego's reorientation to the Self.  It marks a major value shift.

On the other hand, periods of depression, withdrawal, meditation, and dissolution are natural and essential to the process of individuation.  I merely see them as stops along the Road rather than Edens or heavens to be basked in eternally.

Jung himself was fairly adamant about the need of the individual to steel himself against dissolutions and descents.  Here I disagree with Jung's ego-development theories.  I see these periods as part of an ebb and flow, a natural process.  I don't think we can pursue the Work without drowning and dissolving at some point.

In any case, I think ego-psychology has many fascinating theories behind it . . . and I'd like to see them explored.  Perhaps in another thread.  I had a long-term plan to embark on a pursuit of my religion/science coniunctio writings with an essential "definition" of the ego and the Self with emphasis on differentiating the two.  But it might be better to open up topics in the Analytical Psychology board . . . one topic dedicated to each.  And then we can all add our observations theories, and questions . . . and see what we can cook up.

I'll go start those now.

Yours,
Matt
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Sealchan

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Re: yoga psychology and consciousness
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2007, 04:57:31 PM »
Quote
I also wonder how our personality typology affects our perception of body as spiritual or mundane.

As an interesting note here, Jung in Chapter VII of Psychological Types, argues that in aesthetics (per a thinker in that field whose name I forget) is guided by two principles, abstraction and empathy.  Jung maps these terms as follows: abstraction = introverted thinking and empathy = extraverted feeling.  He also sees in the East, the aesthetics as favoring abstractioin while in the West it favors empathy.

Also, your stress on the ethical as the goal of spiritual development strikes me, in the light of comments that Joseph Campbell has made, as a distinctly Western outlook or, perhaps, Christian in that good deeds are a preferred way of knowing one has improved one's self or that one should be considered spiritually developed.  In the East, the introverted thinker's escape from an overwhelming world of confusion (illusion) via the abstraction of cosmic principals seems to be preferred over the West's extroverted feeler's suffering in the form of a loss of personal meaning in an impersonal, valueless world which requires one to need to constantly relate to a personal God behind/within it all. 

Jung uses Eastern concepts to resolve some Western dilemna's in the history of thought as he traces it in various ways in Psychological Types.  I can't help but think that certain dilemna's in Eastern thought are also resolved by ethical considerations.  From a Jungian view, we might see a collective attitudinal-functional bias behind these two broad spiritual traditions.

Matt Koeske

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Re: yoga psychology and consciousness
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2007, 05:17:28 PM »
Also, your stress on the ethical as the goal of spiritual development strikes me, in the light of comments that Joseph Campbell has made, as a distinctly Western outlook or, perhaps, Christian in that good deeds are a preferred way of knowing one has improved one's self or that one should be considered spiritually developed.  In the East, the introverted thinker's escape from an overwhelming world of confusion (illusion) via the abstraction of cosmic principals seems to be preferred over the West's extroverted feeler's suffering in the form of a loss of personal meaning in an impersonal, valueless world which requires one to need to constantly relate to a personal God behind/within it all.

Actually, I don't think this is innately Western.  I have to run in a second, but I recommend Karen Armstrong's book, The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions.  Armstrong writes about the development of "Axial Age" religious traditions (pre-Christian).  All of the Eastern Axial religious traditions began with extremely ethical/ascetic foundations.  The social/ethical obligations of these systems were often more developed than their abstract/philosophical aspects.

I think you'd enjoy the book, Chris.  It's very informative, but maybe a bit dry at times.  Still, some kind of survey of how our religious traditions began has to qualify as an "essential read" to anyone interested in religion.

-Matt
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Sealchan

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Re: yoga psychology and consciousness
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2007, 01:32:29 PM »
I will add it to my wish list...so many books to read, so little time! 

Thanks!  :)