This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

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Authenticity and self: Biographical accounts from a psychological perspective

Shivantika Sharad — University of Delhi, Delhi.

At the heart of Indian thought is the concept of all pervading Brahman, an absolute that makes us what we are. In our normal consciousness we are not aware of our true being, rather we identify with our outer being (body, life and mind) as our self, which gives rise to ego. Sri Aurobindo in Synthesis of Yoga states, “To arrive at freedom, mastery and perfection we have to get back to the real self and the soul within, and arrive too thereby at our own true relations with our own and with universal nature.” This is what authenticity means. In this paper description and definition of authenticity from the perspective of Indian thought has been examined. Also an attempt has been made to chart out the psychological attributes and experiences associated with the individual who strives for unity with the Divine, mapping their experiential terrains of leading a spiritual and an authentic life. For this purpose qualitative analyses of biographical and autobiographical writings about the lives of two spiritual masters – Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi, have been carried out and themes revolving around the dialectic between the inner and the outer world have been identified. The main themes delineated are: courage and strength of self, honoring the self (no compromise of one’s values and beliefs), continuous seeking of self-growth, experience of purpose and meaningfulness in life, calm and serenity in being and creativity and spontaneity. Based on these themes lessons have been drawn out for its implications on theory building and living.

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