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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Why am I here? : Towards an indigenous psychology of motivation

Sunil D. Gaur — Zakir Husain College, New Delhi.

This presentation aims at analyzing the state of motivational psychology as it exists in mainstream psychology and explores the possibility of an enriched Self-perspective in indigenous Indian scholarship. Till recently such an endeavour has remained unregistered by the adherents of closed minded psychologists who have been engrossed in developing and mastering the technology of behavioural management in the pursuit of self interest. As it is practiced and established, motivational psychology is myopic in its concern for the evolution of mankind from physical/ biological strata to the spiritual experiential form of reality. It ignores the quest of being and becoming and reduces humans to mechanical (or advanced mechanical) entities. The alternative view of motivation implies a search for the meaning of our existence. There is no escape from the twin questions: Who are we? and, Why are we here? Our understanding of motivation can evolve only if we relocate our quest in the discourse on self as a moral and spiritual being. This is warranted for empowering people for living a worthwhile life. Motivation relates to the effort for sense-making for Self and identity. Building on the insights gained from the Indian systems of thought, an attempt is made to forward an integral notion of self as a process relating “witnessing and experiencing”. This takes place in the context of different levels of existence ranging from bio-physical to spiritual. The emergent enriched and renewed understanding of motivation has many implications for behaviour, at various levels of our existence.

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