New Dimensions of Research in Psychology

May - Jun 2003

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Introduction: "Mana Eva Manushyanama Karanam Bandha Mokshayo"----
 this scriptural quote conveys the essence of human psychology i.e. mind is the cause of our bondage as well our freedom. The state of mind directs the thoughts and actions and thereby determines the ultimate state of the life of an individual. Everybody experiences the immense power of mind in day-to-day life. It is indeed the mind, which, depending upon its samskaras (inherent tendencies), leads the individual self towards either a life bound by the materialistic attachments and agony of unlimited desires or a life that is free and glowing with divine blissfulness.

Malice, animosity, anger, jealousy, or the soothing sentiments of love and compassion, originate and grow in the domain of mind. The inherent qualities and tendencies of the mind are reflected in the character of a person and make it agreeable or disdainful as per their original instincts. Nothing could be analyzed or judged about a human personality without deciphering the human mind. Intensive research into different aspects of the science of mind is essential for an in-depth understanding and glorious development of the human life. A thorough study of all aspects of human life in general and human psychology in particular, becomes feasible by a comprehensive study of the interrelationship between the human mind, the Nature and the Omnipresent Consciousness.

A quest for the elucidation of this relationship has been the center of attention for great seer-thinkers of all eras. The dedicated scientific approach to spirituality, pioneered by Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya, has offered new directions for comprehensive and practically feasible research in this area. A noted saint, scientific spiritualist, scholar and social reformer, Pandit Shriram Sharma devoted his life for the realization of human life as an excellent and perfect creation of the Supreme Creator. His fundamental insights have offered detailed knowledge about the physical, psychological and spiritual components of human life.

He has not only considered the subtlest features of the human mind but also presented the solutions for eliminating its ailments and awakening its latent divine qualities. His missions of "Vichara Kranti", "Yuga Nirmana" and "Pragya Abhiyana" are aimed at practical implementation of his findings for an overall elevation of the human society towards the creation of a bright future for everyone. His vast literature (comprising of over 3000 books in Hindi) stands as a masterpiece of excellence in almost all branches of knowledge associated with human life and Nature, encompassing religion, philosophy and science.

This distinguished thinker had always conveyed through his writing and speeches that scientific spirituality is indeed an advanced and comprehensive science of human psychology. In the present times of conflicts and crisis, everybody has, to some extent, realized the importance of psychology. It is now well known that the physical health of a person is largely controlled by his psychological health. The corruption of emotions and thoughts manifested in corresponding actions is indeed the generator of complicated problems at personal and the social levels.

The quality and the end-result of every action, every kind of work depends upon the mental status of the subject who performs this action or task. The internal desires, convictions and emotions, though implicitly, play the most important role in conditioning of the mind. Having realized that the roots of evil actions lie in the evil instincts of the mind, we must first look for the treatment of the sick human mind in order to heal the ailing state of humanity today. It is not sufficient to study only the science of behavior because that is simply a manifestation of the status and activities of the mind. The real focus should be set onto the root cause, the innermost tendencies, which impel the mind.

But, "What is mind"? What could be the comprehensive science of its structure, functions and control? How could this science be used for the awakening of divinity in human life? Search for the answers to these queries has been the focus of the theoretical and experimental research at the Brahmvarchas research centre, established in Hardwar, India by revered Gurudev Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya in 1978.

The Indian schools of thoughts and some of the western, mainly the American and European schools, occupy recognized places in the history of the development of knowledge in the field of psychology. The research activities in the laboratories of Brahmvarchas are novel in the sense that they are focused at those fundamental issues that somehow were not considered by the modern researchers and experts in this field. The domain of research at Brahmvarchas is so structured that it encompasses the western as well as the ancient Indian theories in a unified way. Likewise the broadly open, logical and comprehensive attitude followed in the development of various branches of modern sciences, the science of emotions and thoughts also needs a multidimensional integrated approach.

It is rather unfortunate to note that extensive research in psychology has so far not given due attention to the findings and implications of the research work done in ancient India. In order to carry out research in a truly comprehensive manner, it has become necessary that we re-investigate the ancient scriptures and bring out the essence of their insights for the solution of our problems of present times. Studies at the Brahmvarchas Research Centre have been proceeding ahead to meet this objective.


The Place of Soul and Consciousness in Modern Psychology:


          Scientific research at large has done excellent work in elucidating and utilizing the jada (inanimate material forms) component of the Nature. The remaining half, viz., the cetan (consciousness) manifested in the individual is yet to be explored scientifically. Beginning of this search has been trapped in the study of sentient systems in general and is focussed only at the presence of consciousness in terms of organic functioning in the animals. It should be noted that the amount and quality of the basic element of consciousness existing in a human being is well-nigh unlimited as compared to that in any other organism. Apart from its magnificent functional manifestation in the finest instruments of the human body and brain, the enormous reservoir of consciousness contained in the human mind and the core of emotions itself is infinite like the cosmos.

Its subtle power and functions at the spiritual levels are indeed beyond reach. The advanced developments in the material realm would prove to be futile or obnoxious unless the possibility of their uncontrolled wastage and misuse is checked. It is therefore necessary to realize the importance of the consciousness part of human life and give it due focus in the scientific research. Gurudev Sriram Sharma, a great scholar, an authority in the science of spirituality, was the first spiritual master and scientist par excellence who had spelt out the need for an integrated scientific research in the field of consciousness and spirituality and inspired an easily executable, viable and useful line of research accordingly.

This line of research is what could be termed as "Total Psychology". Several M.Phil. and Ph. D. degrees and research papers, dealing with different facets of Gurudev's philosophy and scientific insights, have been awarded during the past one decade. The introduction to the projects at Brahmvarchas as cited in these dissertations and the support offered here for the corresponding Ph. D. research works have been well received by the intelligentsia in the associated universities. Many distinguished experts feel surprised to note Acharya Sharma's strong hold on diverse disciplines of science and the originality of his research foundations. Guidance and support for Ph. D. and D. Lit. research-projects on the topics pertaining to Gurudev's literature, his theories of socio-economic development for global welfare, his philosophy of human religion, his comprehensive teachings and writings on the science of mantras, the science of spirituality and the great knowledge of Gayatri has become an integral part of the activities at Brahmvarchas.

However, this is only a small component of the agenda here. The real focus is on intensive research in Total Psychology vis-a-vis the spiritual core of human beings. A large number of books and theses on psychology have been published in the western countries, some of which do mention about the conscious component but without an in-depth analysis. George S. Brett's authentic book entitled "History of Psychology" was published in three volumes. In the 18th chapter of the first volume, he talks about the Indian theories of psychology. He has highlighted the treatment of human psychological aspects, as discussed in the Vedanta, Sankhya, Vaishashika and the Buddhist philosophies.

His attempt was a good initiation to introduce other researchers to the ancient Indian schools of thoughts in psychology. Similar attempts were made by the editors Herald I. Kaplan, Alfred M. Friedman and Benjamin J. Sadock in "Comprehensive Text Book of Psychiatry". The first chapter of this book discusses the foundation of psychiatric healing referring to the Vedas, Upnishadas, Bhagvad Gita and the six Darshanas.

A brief but intense analysis of the elements of human psychology is presented here in the context of the Indian Philosophy. Dr. George Moore (1852-1933) elucidates on the further analysis of these elements of the history of psychology. He notes that the western philosophers basically deal with the philosophy of Nature; Chinese philosophers are contemporary thinkers and the Indian philosophers are the philosophers of human psychology. Dr. Moore's conclusions (cited in his book entitled "Historical and Theoretical Trends in Psychiatry") indeed recognize the vast knowledge of the Indian rishis pertaining to the hidden folds of human psychology.

However, it is unfortunate to observe that no significant contributions were further made in this series of literature on the history of psychology. The modern trends of short and fast and popularity oriented publication had even affected the later editions of the above mentioned books. The compact compilation of Brett's treatise in a single book by R. S. Peters (MIT Press, Cambridge 1962) did not contain any mention of the Indian philosophy of psychology. Similar was the case with the condensed edition of the book by Kaplan and Sadock. When they compiled the "Comprehensive Book of Psychiatry" in two volumes they had somehow missed the portions dealing with the Indian theories of Human Psychology.

The ignoring of Indian Philosophy by the followers of Freud, the founder of modern school of psychology, may be quite natural, but most disheartening is the fact that the Indians, the successors of the rishis, have also chosen not to bother about their own heritage. In today's India, studies in psychology are confined to the western theories and models only. How many of the Indian psychologists or psychiatrists are today familiar with the details of original Indian theories of psychology? These devotees of the western schools try to escape the blame by doubting whether there was any contribution to psychology in the ancient Indian schools?

They argue that whatever is regarded as the Indian school of Psychology simply deals with Indian philosophy and religion and has nothing to do with psychology as such. They believe that the field of psychology is a creation of the research of modern times only. The above assertions of the blind followers of western theories are based on the considerations that philosophy and psychology are two distinctly different subjects. We do not want to enter into any etymological debate on classification or nomenclature here; it would be sufficient to look into the history of the trends in philosophy in this context. Until the past few decades, psychology was indeed given significant place in philosophy in India and outside as well.

However, the gradual shift in the lifestyle and culture of the human society towards materialism has weakened the linkage between human psychology and the philosophy of life. The so-called scientific development of psychology as a behavioral science gradually eliminated its philosophical foundations. Ancient developments in psychology had emerged from the realization of the soul and spirituality was its principal focus. After several centuries, the subject matter of the soul was discarded as being a part of religious philosophy alone. Then onwards, psychology became a science of activities of the mind alone, without any basis or comprehensive idea of the origin and the development of mind.

The popular quote, used out of fun --"What is mind? Never matters. What is matter? Never mind", does convey the shallowness of the modern considerations. It is well known that mind is not a material form. Then what is it? What should the psychologists investigate about this unknown entity? As no satisfactory answer to this query was available, the materialistically oriented, modern psychologists described the focus of psychological research as the study and analysis of the behavior. That behavior could be observed and characterized according to scientific methods oosted the idea of studying psychology in terms of behavior.

This approach to modelling and analysis in psychology gave rise to its different branches, such as Systematic Psychology, Behavioral Psychology, Creative and Applied Psychology etc. In this series of developments, a student of psychology became a student of zoological behaviour. Instead of focusing on the different faculties of mind and its realization as a spiritual component, the scientific study in today's psychology has become confined to the collection and analysis of data on different reactions and manifestations of mental conditions of the living body. There is no consideration of the deeper levels of consciousness in the human beings.

The propagators of Gestalt Psychology did attempt such a study of consciousness but at a superficial level. When Freud threw light on some of the conscious and unconscious faculties of mind, the behavioral scientists-cum-psychologists had no escape. They had to give due place to the other roles of human mind rather than its mere manifestation in the behavior of the body.A new term "Psychosomatic" was coined to define the collective study of the body and the mind. Here the word "psyche" represents the conscious and subconscious properties of the mind and "soma" means the physical body.

Thus, the history of studies in psychology has had variations in its trends since the beginning. Apart from the psychosomatic research, a new dimension has now been added to the field of psychology which attempts to resolve some basic issues associated with the expansion of mind or pertaining to the quest for "what is beyond mind?" This new branch is named Parapsychology. Researchers of this branch have also tried setting scientific experiments to analyze the ESP (extra sensory perceptions). Dr. J.B. Rhine's book "New Frontiers of Mind" (first published by Farrar & Rinehart, 1937) throws pioneering light on ESP and related topics.

His earlier article published (during 1948-1970) in "The American Weekly" describes his ideas and initial attempts on finding scientific ways to understand the mystery of life after death. The conclusion of his research states -"that there is no life after death has not been proved by science". As mentioned in his articles and books, Dr. Rhine has obtained several evidences of the existence of life after death and he is trying to prove them scientifically. In this connection, he writes that "so far he does not have appropriate methods and facilities for conducting scientific experiments; it appears that he will have to adopt an entirely new approach".

Research at the Brahmvarchas Research Centre:


             The exploration of new methods still remains a distant reality. Apart from the objectives set by Dr. Rhine, there are many other domains of mind and the human consciousness, which need to be addressed scientifically. With the support of the unique guidance of its founder, the Brahmvarchas research centre has accepted this challenge. Scientific experimental methods are being developed here to study the higher levels of consciousness existing within and beyond the human mind. The approach based on the novel concept of total psychology adopted here is promising in this regard. The philosophy of revered Gurudev, the founder father of Brahmvarchas is the latest in the tradition of the ancient Indian rishis.

He always considered philosophy as a field of manifestation of spirituality in all walks of life rather than just a subject of intellectual exercise. He had acquired the true knowledge and experience of even the subtlest aspects of human consciousness through his dedicated and intense sadhanas throughout his life and had successfully awakened the divine potentials of the cetan component of life. His comprehensive approach to spirituality and psychology has laid the basis for research projects at Brahmvarchas. The research projects at Brahmvarchas have emerged from the following fundamental points of his theory and experiences: The original nature of every human being is spiritual. He (Gurudev) accepted the principle of evolution but not its Darwinian version.

According to him, evolution is an expression of the higher levels of consciousness; evolution in the physical bodies or functions of the living beings is a manifestation of the former. Higher dimension of the human consciousness begins at the level of divinity. In order to keep pace with this natural evolution, the human society today will have to adopt those value-systems, ideals and deeds in life which behooves the dignity of divine children. Among the external (dealing with the physical world) and the internal (pertaining to emotions, inner convictions and latent tendencies) domain of human life, the ancient Indian adepts of psychology had given importance only to the internal realness of consciousness whereas the western psychologists are concentrating on the external behavioral part. Brahmvarchas has recognized the relevance of both.

Adoption of ideal behavior and altruistic deeds in day-to-day life are given equal importance along with the spiritual experiences of self-realization, awakening of supernatural powers, etc. The findings of its research work completed so far indicate that as the inner self of a person gets purified, balanced and uplifted, it is reflected in his external life, in his responsible and generous contributions for the welfare of the family and the society. The measure of one's qualities and potentials should not be based on intelligence alone.

Gurudev Sriram Sharma has emphasized the importance of the quality one's emotional being along with the intellectual and other creative talents in making an assessment of a personality. He has predicted that the future era will be built by people endowed with noble sentiments and characters; it will be an era of the evolution of altruistic emotions of compassion, kindness, love and caring. Intelligence without spiritual awareness or uplifted humane sentiments cannot bring about real peace and progress in the world. Intellect alone, without any control of the inner self, would rather create harmful effects and be engaged in misusing the knowledge and talents gained by intellectual efforts. Recent developments in psychological research indicate that even in the west, frontline researchers have begun to realize the significant role of emotions in human life.

Daniel Goleman's measure of emotional quotient is a good evidential example of this trend. In the experiments of total psychology, carried out at Brahmvarchas, methods and analysis are based both on introspection and intuition both. The western trends seem to have given more importance to introspection and the ancient Indian theories have focussed more on intuitions. In the comprehensive approach selected here, both the faculties of mind are utilized in a creative manner.

The research work at Brahmvarchas deals with the multifaceted expansion of the conscious component of human mind. Each aspect of human consciousness is classified into several fields and sub-fields and experiments are designed to focus on each of these components in detail. The sadhakas, who participate in different programs of spiritual training and personality development organized at Shantikunj, the parent organization of Brahmvarchas, are the subjects for these experiments. A large data has been collected so far and a thorough analysis of the impact of various spiritual sadhanas and practices conducted under the Yug Nirman mission of Gurudev on total psychology is currently under progress. Revered Gurudev has also invented a method of integrated psychological development of mankind via a system of education that focuses on the art of living from the platform of religious philosophy.

The applicability of this method is most relevant in the context of the present way of life where man has become ignorant about him and is overwhelmed by a multitude of problems. In this era of scientific advancement, whatever knowledge a human being has gained about the individual self via scientific research is negligible as compared to what he has yet to know. It is because of this incompleteness of knowledge that the learned psychologists like Freud, who advocated gratification of all tendencies of mind for the fulfillment of its sensual urges, could not comprehend the real import the Yoga Philosophy stated in the quote "Yogashchittavratti Nirodhah".

The true interpretation and significance of this statement, in the context of the highest state of healthy human body and mind, can be seen in research laboratories like Brahmvarchas. The research work being conducted here also takes into account the fact that the method of investigation and analysis should be compatible with the nature of the entity under study. It is well known that measuring something in terms of volume will not give appropriate observations if the object of interest happens to be a mass or weight. Similarly, it would be unscientific to insist on recording all facets of human mind with the help of physical instruments only. Some of its properties are so subtle that they can only be identified or analyzed by the knowledge of the inner self and through spiritual methods. The theoretical research at Brahmvarchas deals with an in-depth study of the ancient Indian and other oriental philosophies, the Western philosophies, the oriental and occidental theories of

Psychology and Psychiatry and Ayurveda, along with the vast treatises of Gurudev Pt. Shriram Sharma Acharya on the topics related to "Total Psychology". This method of experimental studies is unique and has given promising results. Considering the request of the readers of "Akhand Jyoti", glimpses of these research findings would be serially presented in this magazine for general information. Detailed description of the research planning, methodology, data, analysis and results etc would require publication of comprehensive books and journals; this will also take place in due course.

The research activities initiated at Brahmvarchas will expand further and open up the ways of liberation of humanity from the bonds of evil tendencies like prejudices, malice, selfishness etc. After realizing the inherent elements of total psychology, our mind would become a source of divine revelation and blissful liberation rather than a battlefield opposing desires, attachments, cravings, pulls and pressures.

Notes:

1.Jada and Chetan: Jada refers to the material based or perceivable entities; Chetan implies what pertains to the omnipresent subliminal existence of consciousness and its expression in the living beings

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