Human Spiritual Structure: Yogic Psychology
Notes in progress © 1998-2002 Alan McAllister  

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Vedantic Psychology

As summarized in Yoga and Psychotherapy, Vedantic psychology (developed as part of Jnana Yoga) divides the mind into four parts, three conscious and one unconscious:

These first three working in an integrated fashion make up the normal waking conscious mind of everyday life (kamamaya kosa). They do not have separate "personalities" as may the components of the standard western mind; the id, ego, and superego.

Finally there is, above all this, the Atman.

Raja Yoga Psychology

The Sutras of Patanjali (as summarized in Yoga and Psychotherapy) approach psychology more from the point of view of practice than theory.

This is based on a slightly different conception of the vrttis as thought forms. They are classified as being 1) accurate perception or cognition, 2) inaccurate perception, 3) fantasy or imagination, 4) memories, and 5) sleep. His yoga is aimed at recognizing that we are separate from the vrttis, and from this separate stance they may be controlled, the mind stilled and our true consciousness perceived.

It is noted that Patanjali the conception of Citta is broader, likely including the vedantic manas as well. In this case it probably comes close the that of Sarkar.

This school of yoga psychology may not go into the detail about the unconscious mind that western psychologies do, but there is a great deal more said about how to clear it out and keep it clear.

In yoga psychology it is the clinging to a limited, fixed, ego, or model of self and reality, that produces "mental illness", and naturally holds one back from the goal of spiritual growth. This limited sense of self (asmita) is one of the five kleshas or causes of misery given by Patanjali: 1) avidya (ignorance), 2) asmita, 3) raga (attachment), 4) dvesa (aversion), and 5) fear of death. These are said to be the sources of all fear anxiety and depression, i.e. all suffering, and they are the obstacles that must be overcome on the path towards the full Self.

The Integration of the Chakras

It is said that each of the chakras presents a polarity which is integrated in the process of sadhana. This results in a whole and balanced person. These are: good and bad are integrated at the muladhara chakra to give a solidity to the character, which raises it beyond the fear and aggression of a black and white world; male and female are integrated at the svadhisthana chakra to bring both male and female aspects of the self fully into consciousness; control and submission are integrated at the manipura chakra allowing the person to act forcefully and dynamically in the world from a basis of cooperation, beyond authority and aggressive or passive stances; the higher and lower aspects of the self are integrated at the anahata chakra leading to empathy, compassion, and selfless love; mother and child are integrated at the vishudha chakra allowing creativity to unfold, both externally and internally, the later being the evolution of the soul towards God; right and left (the ida and pingala) are integrated at the ajina chakra, opening the third eye and the susumna, giving access to the full intuition and inner sight; self and Self are merged in the sahasrara chakra giving full cosmic consciousness. [Y&P]

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Created February, 1998.
Last updated March 14, 1998. AHM.
© Alan McAllister

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