Integral Yoga and Psychoanalysis - III

On Love

— Miranda Vannucci


Price: Rs 600

Pages: 151
Dimensions (in cms): 12x18
Soft Cover
Publisher: Miranda Vannucci, Italy

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About Integral Yoga and Psychoanalysis - III

The third book in a series suggesting possible points of contact between the disciplines of psychotherapy and the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, this volume addresses, from a psychological point of view, certain aspects of love. Chapters cover such subjects as the acceptance of the self, the confusion between sexuality and the sentiments of love, maternal love and unconditional love, the awareness and purification of the vital, the union of two beings, forms of love such as friendship, fraternity, and solidarity, and love as one of the universal forces. Numerous extracts from the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are used to elaborate the author's premise.


There is a certain kind of readership that would admit only that much of a new trend of thought as it finds clothed in terms and symbols that are familiar to it. Whatever we may say, psychoanalytic thought did make an impact in the Western world in the early and middle part of the last century. Though its influence is largely fading now, it still has a sizeable number of followers, if not strict adherents to its tenets. Yet this section of humanity is now looking for fresh insights into human nature, insights that can liberate its soul and free its inner gaze, insights that can open doors to a deeper possibility. Someone needs to speak in their language, the language they know and are familiar with and provide new answers. This book comes to serve this need in that section of humanity which has grown up on a regimen of psychoanalysis.

Whatever be the nature of the clientele that the book may be addressing, one does admire the sincerity of the effort that has gone into the study of the principles of the Integral Yoga. The author draws from many sources and discusses a number of issues related to the subject of love. In the first two chapters she deals with developmental issues in children with reference to the views of psychoanalysis and those of the Integral Yoga. Psychoanalysis tries to probe the past to discover the roots of emotional issues that we face as adults. When the normal course of a child's development is thwarted due to an over-caring parent or an under-caring one, then the nature of emotional relationships that the child experiences later in life becomes warped, leading to unhealthy expressions of love. In the Integral Yoga, on the other hand, the stress is on the emergence of the psychic being, the spiritual principle embedded deep in nature. As this secret soul develops into its full possibilities, the nature of love undergoes a change. Chapters Three and Four quite naturally then focus on the education of the soul, its development, and how parents can collaborate in this process right from conception onwards. The next two chapters deal with the nature of maternal love and the role of family and tradition in the child's development towards a mature and healthy adult with an integral growth. Chapters Seven and Eight address the important but much misunderstood issue of gender differences and the struggle that ensues with the emergence of the masculine and the feminine principles.

Chapters Nine and Ten touch upon the most difficult of all subjects related to love: the union between two beings at different levels, including the physical and sexual. This is a sensitive issue and an important one to both the Integral Yoga as well as psychoanalysis. Both deal with this aspect of human nature very differently. The writer has been careful to bring out the various dimensions of this issue which occupies so much psychological space in the human understanding of the phenomenon of love. Taking us to sublime levels of understanding through some thoughtfully chosen words of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the writer reveals to us the real nature of this union, its possibilities and its difficulties, even dangers. Without a doubt, the author has dealt with this rather slippery domain very well and from all possible angles. In Chapters Eleven and Twelve the writer touches upon various other possibilities of human relations, such as friendship between two human beings. Finally, we are led towards the higher possibilities in the manifestation of love, climbing from human levels to the Divine Love, and the consequent creation of a gnostic being and a gnostic collectivity, where relationships between its members will be very different. The emotional being as well as the vital seat of passions and desires, which are the source of so many of our troubles, would have undergone a spiritual transformation and, instead of presenting obstacles, would help in the creation of a divine life upon earth, which is the goal of the Integral Yoga. The book aptly ends with a powerful statement of the Mother regarding the omnipotence of Divine Love and how it will transform humanity through the unfolding of centuries and millenniums.

To the author's credit, the book is largely conversational in nature, thereby appealing to diverse strata of humanity. A table of contents is replaced by a well-thought-out index with an eye on practical rather than metaphysical issues. It is this deeply practical and psychological approach that makes the book a very interesting read. The inclusion of a glossary of important Sanskrit terms contributes an added bonus. In fact, if one were to take out the portions on psychoanalysis and read simply the parts comprised of the writings from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, it would make a wonderful collection. The comparison with psychoanalysis that runs as a faint thread through the text seems many a time almost forced.

Comparisons between two systems are often not helpful, especially when the systems take their stand on very different premises, draw their data from different sources and look at things from very different vantage points. Similarity of words does not necessarily indicate similarity of the meaning put into them, especially when these words relate to the inner subjective side of our existence. As human beings, we have yet to explore the vast inner territories that lie concealed within our subjective being. And even if we have glimpsed a landscape or two, we have hardly seen it in all its vivid colours and seasons, its varied contours and diverse geography. Psychologists are often in the position of having to surmise what lies within by looking only at some surface patterns of behaviour. Yoga takes its stand upon another premise. It bases itself on centuries of accumulated experience that show it is possible for human beings to plunge deeper within themselves. By the process of a progressive purification of a confused and error-prone mentality, through a constant widening, deepening, heightening of possibilities and an enlarging of capacities, man can arrive at newer understandings of the same phenomenon.

Except for some brief passages that serve as a kind of backdrop, the book is largely a compilation from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The term psychoanalysis comes in perhaps to prime the reader in some ways that the book concerns themes common to psychoanalysis and also found in Sri Aurobindo's and the Mother's writings. The disadvantage, however, is that an uninformed reader may get the impression that psychoanalysis and the Integral Yoga are simply two different ways of tackling the morbid side of human nature. But as we have seen above, the aims and world views of yoga, and more so the Integral Yoga, are very different from those of psychoanalysis, or for that matter any healing or psychotherapeutic system. Yoga is not a means to find a perfect cure for diseases and pathologies. It is a way of finding God, and through this finding man fulfils himself, enlarges himself, changes himself into the image of the Godhead that he discovers or rather uncovers. It is not about regaining human normalcy from a state of abnormalcy, but rather a way to exceed our present normalcy to a "supernormalcy", to move beyond our limited ignorant nature into a gnostic super-nature that is the breath of the Illimitable and the Infinite. Psychoanalysis does not entertain this possibility; if anything, it denies it. But apart from this very important rider, the book may serve as a bridge to those who need help, and the only help they are familiar with is a psychoanalytic-oriented counselling. At the same time, it will also provide useful information to those interested in the Integral Yoga regarding the views of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on human love and its many aspects and facets.

—Alok Pandey

Dr Pandey, psychiatrist and philosopher, is a seeker on the path of Sri Aurobindo's yoga. He writes and lectures extensively on varied issues of life and yoga.

December 2012