How is this outline structured?
author: Matthijs Cornelissen
last revision: October 14, 2016
Infinity in a drop consists of an Introduction, three main Parts, an Epilogue and a few Appendixes.
The Introduction clarifies first why a new approach to psychology is needed, why this text has such a strange title, how it can best be studied, what all can be understood under "Indian psychology" and which specific approach to Indian psychology we are following. After this, we give a short overview of the social, historical and philosophical context of Indian psychology, and show how our specific approach to Indian psychology fits in all this.
Part One gives the Theoretical Foundation of Indian Psychology. It deals with some of the basic questions we can expect psychology to answer, questions like,
- How can I find out about myself, about others, the world? How can I know anything at all? Are there different types of knowledge and of consciousness? How do I distinguish them? Can I make them more reliable and precise? What are the "best" methods of enquiry for psychology?
- Who am I? What are the different parts of human nature? How come that we identify with different things at different times? Are there higher realities than those we all know?
- What about the other people in my life? The groups in which I'm a member and those in which I'm not?
- How have I become who I am? Why do I feel like I feel?
- What drives me? Why do I do what I do? What is right action?
- Why am I here? Do I have a soul? Is there life after death? What is the purpose of life? What is my role in this huge universe?
In other words, Part One deals not only with the structure of our personality and the processes that take place in it, it is also about relationships, group-membership, natural individual development, consciousness, agency and the deep questions of life. To quite an extent, Part One deals with the same issues that one finds in any introduction to psychology, but some things are different. It is primarily first-person rather than third-person because Indian psychology assumes that you have to know yourself well before you can really know and work with others. It also includes questions from which mainstream psychology keeps a safe distance. It can include these things because it looks at psychology from the consciousness- and infinity-centred perspective of the Indian tradition. And this perspective allows us to investigate both experientially and in an intellectually rigorous manner, aspects of reality which the methods of mainstream psychology don't allow us to see. Aspects like the subtle realities that make the world work the way it does, and most importantly, the underlying oneness and all-pervading infinity that sustains us. As a consequence, it not only enriches and deepens our understanding, but it also offers at least some initial insights about the meaning of life, and the direction in which we are moving.
Part Two — Working with oneself deals with the methods, the basic "technology of consciousness", that can help us to change, to become less ego-centric, more detached and more committed, more loving, more happy, more understanding, perhaps even more wise. And it does this right from the level of "making life a little more bearable", via "liberation" and "enlightenment" to the complete "transformation" that is the ultimate aim of integral yoga. One could look at it as a professional, expert variety of the "self-help" books one finds in a railway station book-shop. But it is much more than that. Indian psychology is essentially about consciousness and its main method of enquiry is rigorous subjectivity. In this approach our own nature is our primary "inner instrument" of knowledge, or antaḥkaraṇa. And so, the purification and transformation of our nature discussed in this part of the text are not only meant to improve our social functioning or increase our subjective well-being; they are also meant to drastically improve its capacity as the "instrument of choice" for in depth psychological enquiry. As such there is no real equivalent for what is offered in this part of the text in mainstream psychology: it is to quite an extent different in underlying theory, methods used, and even in its aims and objectives.
Part Three — Working with others, brings us back to more familiar terrain, though here too the aims and methods differ. Part Three deals with what in mainstream psychology falls under "Applied psychology" and it covers fields like education, counselling, therapy, health, social work, organisational psychology, etc. As in the earlier sections, the basic issues are similar, but everything is looked at from a different perspective which opens entirely new vistas both for theory formation and action.
The Epilogue contains some speculations about the future of Indian psychology and its place in the wider context of science and society. It also contains a few personal reflections on what this text means to me.
In the Appendix you'll find a few things that are not really part of the main text, but that still may be of some interest. The first is about the silently assumed materialism that plays such a big role in mainstream science, not only in physicalist-reductionist positivism but even in most varieties of constructivism. The appendix also includes short biographies of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, an annotated bibliography, glossary and index.
The Exercises at the end of the chapters are meant to help you, the reader, to integrate the contents of the chapter with the rest of what you know and are. The Exercises at the end of this first chapter, "About the text", are especially important as they give some guidance on how to interact most effectively with the text as a whole.
The future... We are trying to make this text as rich a resource as we can manage, and its electronic format makes this possible to a degree not possible in print. Besides the texts written especially for this book, we hope to add links to a rich variety of other texts, indicated by small inline symbols after the title.
|This symbol links to a text by Sri Aurobindo.|
|This to a text by the Mother.|
|This symbol links to a text by some other author about psychology.|
|This to a Keynote or Powerpoint presentation (with or without explanatory text).|
|This to a diagram or picture (pdf or jpg).||And finally, this icon of a book points to a story. (The symbol is not very good, though, as most of these stories were told long before books existed! Suggestions welcome.)|
The symbols will be in blue for resources that are available on our own website, in red for resources elsewhere on the world-wide web.