Teaching Indian psychology

Indian Psychology attempts to be a consciously treaded and systematic journey of self-development, which, on progressing, enriches one’s understanding of oneself and consequently one’s interactions with the world; it’s systems and processes are built on this basic premise.

Taking consciousness as the fundamental basis behind all operations, it would lend itself most effectively when taught with an underlying faith in the contagion and interaction of the consciousness of all involved. Teachers and students thus come together to create an environment for individual and collective growth through mutual exchange in which sessions become more like an external support to carry out this deeper process.

Much of this depends on the active participation of the course facilitators, asking in a sense for a merging of personal and professional boundaries. Participants naturally feel a far greater comfort with one who is himself / herself walking the path and a greater authenticity in the teaching given by one who is living by example, the knowledge he / she is propagating.

While the source of these teachings dates back to the Vedas, the content and relevance of which is undoubtedly eternal, texts should be re-adapted in ways that speak more easily to present generations. Many are looking for answers but amongst these too many wouldn’t turn to the scriptures or spiritual gurus. Centering then, texts around concepts that at once hit home for all human beings, for instance, love, commitment, jealousy, anger, suffering, loss, death and fundamental questions such as “who am I and why am I here?”. Along the same lines, simple storytelling with easy-to relate-to characters and examples has often shown itself to be an effective way of imparting profound knowledge. Suggesting open-ended questions and exercises and encouraging a free spirit of inquiry, all with the intention of initiating within participants a journey that will lead them to a greater awareness of themselves and their surroundings.

A basic principle: that this approach is for all, none excluded; that each has their own way and pace and must be worked with accordingly. Starting with each individual from wherever they are at and whatever is personally occupying them and encouraging accordingly, free expression without any fear of judgment. Practising this asks for an openness and universality on the part of the facilitator; a possibility only when one genuinely takes oneself to be a co-traveller on a path of endless development, applying all that one has learnt this far while simultaneously being, humble, patient and curious for all that is yet to be discovered.

Primarily an experiential knowledge-system, there is little value in participants engaging with concepts merely at a mental or intellectual level. Enough space should be provided to explore teachings and come upon insights and findings through one’s own journey, in the absence of which it is likely that sessions will crumble into a bunch of dry words and distant instructions to be followed.

The process calls for an intimacy of the participants with themselves at minimum. Certain practices that help bring this about: maintaining a regular self-reflective journal as a private space for release and self-observation; along with this, first-person research projects on self-chosen topics create a multi-purpose space to deconstruct concepts by deconstructing oneself, experience the knowledge personally within one’s own life and mark and assimilate one’s progress in an organized manner. Sharing one’s personal insights on favourite topics and discussed concepts in the form of weekly presentations and group discussions, practical exercises such as concentration and meditation and short workshops on related systems (Ayurveda, Buddhism, Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Awareness Through Body etc.) would further enrich and widen ones scope. All of this, without tampering with the uniqueness that each individual carries within him and allowing always, the freedom of choice.

While Indian Psychology truly holds an infinite scope for human development, stressing on the sincerity and honesty with which it is spread is a far greater priority than the speed and numbers in which it is done.

2 thoughts on “Teaching Indian psychology

  1. Hi Don,thank you for sharing the video link . Insightful. I really liked the wheel of awareness concept and how all your videos combine theory with practical. Great work.

  2. Hi Navni and Aditi:

    Jan (my wife) and I have been developing a website the last several years – http://www.remember-to-breathe.org – in which we try to present the insights form Indian psychology in a practical, contemporary form. You might be particularly interested in the video we just put up on what we call the “core” – which is closely related to what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother refer to as the “psychic being.” http://www.remember-to-breathe.org/The-Core.html

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