Integral Psychology:
The psychological aspects of Sri Aurobindo's work
SAICE, Puducherry

  • This undergraduate course has been given at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Puducherry, more or less in the same format, since 2002.
  • It is an optional course that can be taken by students without any other psychology or social science background.
  • It consists of 2 periods a week throughout the academic year.
  • The various topics are taken up through short introductions, group-discussions, self-observation exercises, literature study and individual projects in which each student can work out a different aspect of the topic at hand. The details of the topics covered are adjusted to the interest of the students.
  • There is a strong focus on self-observation and self-guided learning.
  • There is no formal (and hardly any informal) evaluation of the student's work by the teacher.



What is Psychology?

  • What is the basic subject-area of psychology?
  • How is it related to other disciplines?


  • The different schools of Psychology
  • Different worldviews, aims and methodologies


Who am I?   1. The personality

  • What makes us who we are?
    • names; possessions; group-memberships; relationships
    • “character”; traits and dispositions
    • family and other influences


  • A “roughly constituted chaos”
  • Being conscious; sensing; feeling; willing; thinking
  • Planes and parts of the being
    • the vertical system: body, vital, mind, and beyond
    • the concentric system: outer, inner, and true being


Who am I?    2. The self

  • Ego, self and psychic being
  • Prakriti and Purusha
  • Witness consciousness


  • Is there more?
  • The temporary and the eternal
  • The transcendent; cosmic; immanent & personal


How do we know?

  • What is consciousness?
  • What is knowledge? The role of introspection
  • Consciousness, mental processes, information, and the brain
  • Conscious and subconscious processes
  • Dreams
  • Epistemology and methodology in psychology


  • 4 stages of knowledge:
    information, experience, realisation, transformation
  • 4 types of knowledge:
    from sense-based knowledge to knowledge by identity
  • perception, thinking and memory;
  • making subjective knowledge reliable
  • mental silence


Why do we think, feel, act the way we do?

  • Motivation in the individual and in Nature
  • choice: freedom and levels of determination
  • subconscious drives and desires; likes and dislikes; fear and courage
  • the conscious will; equanimity


  • emotions
  • the role of suffering
  • attitudes
  • relationships
  • love, human and divine


How do we change?

  • basic processes
    • aspiration: the role of agni, aims in life
    • faith: fore-knowledge of the soul
    • self-observation; the need for detachment
    • rejection/purification, surrender
    • resistance


  • what is perfection?
  • effecting change in
    • personal growth and yoga
    • psychotherapy
    • education
    • management