Laying the Foundations for Indian psychology

Kundan Singh, Ph.D.


Impressed by the apparent potential of physics to explain, predict and control natural phenomenon, western psychology rooted in a Newtonian-reductionist framework— as well as guided by the philosophy of naive Realism—embraced a methodology identical to what is employed by the natural sciences to generate universal, rational, objective and value-free laws of human behavior. This gave western psychology the much-coveted status of science. The emergence of a postmodern worldview has thrown into critical relief the notion of rational, objective and value-free science or for that matter any knowledge pursuit. This paper narrates the problem associated with the objectivity of psychological knowledge by drawing largely from the critique of science by Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend and Karl Popper which emerged from their analysis of the history of science. Kuhn's view leads one to identify the crucial role that paradigm plays in scientific research. An extension of his arguments, as well as some evidences from anthropological research, suggests that psychological knowledge is relative with respect to person, time, culture and paradigms. A meta-analysis of Kuhn leads one to conclude that his argument bites itself or swallows itself—by becoming self-referential—giving birth to a peculiar situation where opposite categories like relative and absolute, objectivity and subjectivity, and the truth and falsity of facts co-exist.

The second half of the paper examines what is the future of western psychology as a science against this impasse generated by the recognition of relativism, self-referentiality and the aforementioned paradox, and what should be the true foundation for Indian psychology.  Vedanta and Mahayana Buddhism have long ago recognized that the intellectual, logical and discursive pursuit of human knowledge ends in such kinds of cul-de-sac and impasse, and that such a recognition should necessitate a shift towards changing our modus operandi of knowledge pursuit. Mind is not the final summit in the evolution of mankind. There can be faculties other than mind which can be used to uncover nature's truths, and it is not in the spirit of science to fall prey to scientism. Further more, this paper, which draws substantially from the writings of Sri Aurobindo, discusses the possibility of psychology which will be made possible by making a mystical exploration into the nature of Reality where forces invisible to the ordinary human eye, which nevertheless determine human behaviour, will be observed and known. Such psychology has been our Indian legacy. It is time that we recognize it and introduce its epistemological, metaphysical, and ontological underpinnings in Indian universities.

The Origins of Scientific Thought in Psychology

Western Psychology's identification with science is clearly revealed through a cursory examination of the contemporary conceptualization of the discipline. Throughout its history, psychology has been defined in myriad ways. The early psychologists defined it as the study of mental activity. With the advent of Behaviorism at the turn of the century, and its central concern with studying only the phenomenon that could be objectively measured, psychology came to be described as the study of behavior. This definition has featured in most psychology textbooks of 1930's through the 1960's. The cycle has come full circle with the development of cognitive and humanistic/transpersonal psychology, as most current definitions of psychology make references to both behavior and mental processes (Henley, Johnson & Jones, 1989). Despite little variations most definitions of psychology describe it as science. While conducting a survey and an analysis of the definitions of psychology in psychology textbooks published between 1887 and 1987, Henley et al. (1989) report that "psychology is the study/science" appears in about 80% of the textbooks of psychology. It is thus apparent that mainstream western psychology considers the discipline to be a science and uses a methodology similar to what is applied to the study of physical objects.

In the late nineteenth century, physics rooted in the Newtonian framework was solving puzzle after puzzle, and this led philosophers like J.S.Mill to believe that by subjecting human beings to a similar kind of experimental setup, they would be able to isolate cause and effect relationships in quantitative terms, which would then allow them to generate universal laws of human behavior. However, more than a hundred years have elapsed since the first experimental lab was established by Wundt in 1879, and the outcome of this approach has been thousands of theories mostly at variance with each other—all trying to explain behaviour and behavioural problems from many different perspectives and standpoints.

The crucial question, however is that how can we have so many theories of human nature—all claiming scientific objectivity—and yet not be able to explain anything conclusively. For none of the theorists claimed that their laws were not scientific—on the contrary they all claimed that these laws were derived from an objective and an unbiased observation. Therefore, it becomes increasingly pertinent to review the central tenets of the methodology that has guided psychological research generating these theories, and consequently the pitfalls of this approach before we talk about a new paradigm of psychology and more specifically Indian psychology—which is the thrust of this paper.

Science was formalized by Francis Bacon in the seventeenth century when he wrote that in order to understand ourselves we have to stop consulting Aristotle and start questioning nature itself.  Bacon gave two fundamental laws of science: induction and deduction, which form the basic tenets of positivism, a school of thought which has dictated the conduct of psychology from the past to the present. Positivism later developed into logical positivism, and together they are called the “received view of science.” Though logical positivism and positivism differ in certain ways, induction and deduction form the bedrock of their methodology proposed for uncovering nature’s truths. Also, the birth of science was buttressed by a philosophy that has been called naive Realism, which contends that there is an objective reality independent of the observer. In other words, objectivity was the cornerstone of the Enlightenment or the Modern era where it was presumed that science following a definite methodology would be able to solve all the mysteries of the world. The unarticulated assumption was that there is a world that existed separate from the individual and it can be understood by wresting out its secrets by a rational, unbiased and value-free observer. Consequently, the philosophy of realism created dualism such as subject and object, fact and value and sharp divisions like objective reality and subjective feelings.

The Problem with Induction, and Challenges to Objectivity

Induction starts with observation, stemming from an unprejudiced mind. The observations lead to singular statements—referring to a particular state of affairs at a particular time—that form the body of facts from which the laws and theories that constitute scientific knowledge can be derived. For the singular statements to culminate in universal laws, an important condition that needs to be met is that the number of observation statements forming the basis of generalization must be large (Chalmers, 1982).

Following this, a finite set of singular statements would lead to a universal law. This was designated as inductive reasoning and the process as induction. Once the inductive laws are established, they can be tested at a different place and time. This is the process of deduction. The essential condition for the methodology of science is that the observation has to be value free, detached and objective. The subjective state of the observer, taste and expectation are not supposed to intrude in the act of observation.

As stated before, an important premise of induction is that the number of observations must be large. However, despite a large number of cases showing consistency, it is not guaranteed that the next event would not be contrary to it. Hence repeated observation cannot ultimately explain induction. For example, no matter how many white swans we may have encountered, it does not imply that all swans are white; the next that we encounter may be black (Popper, 1992). The inductive principle is considered as the mainstay of science by positivists. They maintain that if it is removed from the canon of science, science will loose its power to determine the nature of Truth. But how does one logically prove that the principle of induction is true in the first place and not an assumption. In other words, how does one ascertain that the inductive principle helps uncover the truth?  It is argued that since it seems to operate well in a large number of cases, the premise is correct. This implies that one uses induction to justify induction and thus the argument assumes circularity. This is called the problem of induction. (Popper, 1992)

The most serious drawback with induction is, however, with respect to its claim of objectivity in observation. It is a very common experience that no two individuals register the same thing even if the respective images on their retinas are the same. One does not require much knowledge of psychology to know that the observer’s perception is determined by his or her expectations, belief, knowledge, inner state and psychological make-up.

The contention of an inductivist, that the true basis of scientific knowledge should proceed from an unbiased and unprejudiced mind, is further rendered absurd by the practice of the scientist to consider only such data that are relevant to his or her research. Since the idea of relevant and irrelevant is always present during the course of investigation, the possibility of an unbiased and unprejudiced observer takes a back seat. The investigator or scientist cannot be but an integral part of the research work and his or her subjectivity is bound to play an instrumental role in the outcome of the research. Thus, it can be safely said that the data that are generated by the scientist are not objective but collected within the larger framework of theory. They do not have an independent existence, rather they are constructed within the confines and boundaries of a theory. In other words, data are theory-laden and objectivity is the last thing that scientists should claim. Expressing similar concerns, Feyerabend (1993) writes:

The history of science, after all, does not consist of fact and conclusions drawn from facts. It also contains ideas, interpretation of facts, problems created by conflicting interpretations, mistakes, and so on. On closer analysis, we find that science knows no “bare facts” at all but the “facts” that enter our knowledge are already viewed in a certain way and are, therefore, essentially ideational. (p. 12) 

For any meaningful research—or for that matter any research—to take place it is imperative that the researcher has some sort of a framework, otherwise how is she going to interpret the data. Data are essentially neutral, and meaning needs to be ascribed to them. It is the paradigm with all its presuppositions, and, as previously acknowledged, the predispositions of the researcher—her psychology, her cosmological world-view, her language, her inner states, her belief, her expectations, and her previous knowledge of the world—which helps in the interpretation of data. The mainstream discourse on science presumes that facts and value are separate. Feyerabend (1993), however using countless examples from the history of science, states that this is a myth:

The material which a scientist actually has at his disposal, his laws, his experimental results, his mathematical techniques, his epistemological prejudices, his attitude towards the absurd consequences of the theories which he accepts, is indeterminate in many ways, ambiguous, and never fully separate from the historical background. It is contaminated by principles which he does not know, and which, if known, would be extremely hard to test. Questionable views on cognition, such as the view that our senses, used in normal circumstances, give reliable information about the world, may invade the observation language itself, constituting the observation terms as well as the distinction between veridical and illusory appearance. As a result, observation languages may become tied to older layers of speculation which affect, in a roundabout fashion, even the most progressive methodology. (p. 51, italics in original)

The problem of objectivity is further compounded by the fact that “we speak more about our observation of the world rather than of the world, and we do this through a less than fully adequate language system. The linguistic limitation, by itself causes problems even if we could overcome other limitations” (Baker, 1991, p. 12). This happens because language does not only describe events, but also creates a cosmology, a worldview that influences the thought, behavior and perception of mankind. When a child begins to learn a language, the worldview of her ancestors is passed onto her. The pedagogic procedures used “both shape the ‘appearance,’ or ‘phenomenon,’ and establish a firm connection with words, so that finally the phenomena seem to speak for themselves without outside help or extraneous knowledge”(Feyerabend, 1993, p. 57). The human mind begins to take many facts of life as givens, and the entire process may be totally unconscious. Her worldview begins to create what she may observe. Also, in order to be unprejudiced, one will have to abandon language itself, which will remove all ability to perceive and to think, as a consequence of which the practice of science will stop before it begins. Writes Edward Sapir:

Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language that has become the medium of expression of that society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is that the “real world” is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group….We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation. [Cited in Whorf, 1962, p.134]

In the study of high-energy particles, it has been found that particles cannot be understood as isolated entities but only in the context of their preparation and measurement. This means that the Aristotelian or the Newtonian idea of fundamental basic building blocks does not hold water anymore. Further, the classical distinction between subject and object—which was a natural outcome of the philosophy of naive Realism—has become vague as an observer has been found to be an integral part of the experiment. How an experimenter has set up an experiment and the measurement that he or she has decided to make determine the result of an experiment to a large extent. The observer is an inseparable part of the observation being made, or in other words, reality is not independent of the observer. Thus, Capra (1992) observes:

The human observer constitutes the final link in the chain of observational process, and the properties of any atomic object can only be understood in terms of object’s interaction with the observer. This means that the classical ideal of objective description of nature is no longer valid. (p. 78)

With the advent of the Relativity theory of Einstein, space and time, which appear to us as absolutes in our everyday experience, have been rendered relative with respect to the observer. The claim of the realists that objects like tables, chairs, bags, stones, statues, etc. have absolute existence also does not hold true in the light of the theory of relativity, for it has been shown that the length of an object—consequently its shape too—is dependent on its motion with respect to the observer. The length of a rod shortens as its motion increases with respect to the observer. Modern physics has also exploded the myth of an absolute linearity of time. Time in the theory of relativity has a meaning only with respect to a frame of reference, for as the velocity relative to the observer increases, time intervals increase. This means that the clock of the frame of reference of the observer slows down. In other words, time for two individuals moving at different velocities presents a different meaning.

To sum up, as the above arguments indicate that for an individual to be without a bias or a value, he or she has to come from nowhere. Values and biases are implicit to the human condition and dichotomies like subject-object, and fact-value are a myth.

Sociology of Knowledge: Objectivity Demystified

Apart from the values, inner expectations, knowledge, social position and observer’s bias, science embraces other dynamics as well which can constrain an objective approach to reality. The spirit of science is to question, but science can easily lose its tenor by falling prey to scientism, a kind of dogmatism comparable to the fundamentalist aspect of any organized religion. Imbued with the spirit of questioning, Kuhn (1970) questioned the notion of science itself. His work is significant in that he has made it abundantly clear that science, like any other human activity, is a social activity which affects and is affected by the milieu in which it is embedded, and is guided by the sociological, economic, historical and political forces. According to him, science is practiced by communities of scientists and not by isolated men and women. To understand the workings of science, it is therefore imperative to understand the scientific community, its accepted and shared norms and beliefs. The complex nature of sociological factors that operate when any research is conducted can be appreciated with the help of Figure 1.

 Figure 1. [Adapted from Danziger, 1990]

The innermost circle represents the immediate social condition in which research is conducted. The next circle represents the research community that has to accept the data as scientific knowledge. The outermost circle denotes the wider social context that embraces the research community. The investigators, the research community and the society are interconnected in a complex web of affairs, which has many dimensions.

If we analyze the dynamics of the inner circle—the immediate research conducted for generation of psychological knowledge, we find that the objectivity of psychological knowledge and the rationale of the Newtonian framework for psychology are seriously challenged. The experiments that are conducted are done by human beings on human beings, in sharp contrast to physical sciences where experiments are conducted on inanimate objects. With the recognition of “experimenter expectancy effects” and “demand characteristics,” it can be inferred that the experimental results are co-determined by the social relationship between the experimenter and the subjects (Danziger, 1990).

As far as the research community is concerned, Kuhn (1970) points out that scientific practice is shaped by deep assumptions of the worldview of which the scientist may be unaware. For research to take place, the community must agree upon the goals, the methodologies, and the valid subject matter in the context of research. The agreement on all these issues would constitute a framework or a paradigm within which the investigation of nature can take place. The paradigm has two components—disciplinary matrix and shared exemplars. The disciplinary matrix consists of a certain fundamental set of assumptions that are often unstated and not subject to empirical test. These assumptions form the basis for testing specific hypotheses. For example, reductionism states that the world can be understood by breaking it into smaller units until we arrive at a set of fundamental units. This is an assumption that is not subjected to any kind of an empirical test, and thus constitutes a portion of disciplinary matrix of scientists who adhere to this belief. As an example, while analyzing how Descartes influenced what was admissible in the scientific canon, and what was not, Kuhn (1970) writes:

After the appearance of Descartes immensely influential scientific writings, most physical scientists assumed that the universe was composed of microscopic corpuscles and that all natural phenomena could be explained in terms of corpuscular shape, size, motion, and interaction. That nest of commitments proved to be both metaphysical and methodological. As metaphysical, it told scientists what sort of entities the universe did and did not contain: there was only shaped matter in motion. As methodological, it told them what ultimate laws and fundamental explanations must be like: laws must specify corpuscular motion and interaction, and explanation must reduce any given natural phenomenon to corpuscular action under these laws. Most important still, the corpuscular conception of the universe told scientists what many of their research problems should be. (p. 41)

And again,

[Paradigm]functions by telling the scientist about the entities that nature does or does not contain and about the ways in which those entities behave. That information provides a map whose details are elucidated by mature scientific research. And since nature is too complex and varied to be explored at random, that map is as essential as observation and experiment to science's continuing development. Through the theories they embody, paradigms prove to be constitutive of research activity....In learning a paradigm the scientist acquires theory, methods, and standards together, usually in an inextricable mixture. (p. 109)

The other component of a paradigm is shared exemplars—the models for investigating new problems which include the methodology for pursuing the research. The disciplinary matrix and shared exemplars, by constituting the paradigm, unconsciously trains a researcher to approach a problem in a specific way which gradually becomes her natural way. In this vein, Leahey (1991) writes:

Neither source of data is comprehensible without training, yet once the scientist learns to interpret them, he or she will see them in those ways and no others. Thus training can act as a set of blinders, keeping the scientist from seeing in new ways. All observation and perception—whether scientific or not—is a matter of interpretation as numerous psychological examples have shown. (p. 14)

Weber (1946) similarly contends the notion that science can be free from suppositions ever. It presupposes that the rules of method and logic are valid, which cannot be tested by scientific means. Further, facts are meaningless and neutral in themselves; they become facts when interpreted against a theory comprising of a priori categories. For example, the measurements made with the Atwood machine would have meant nothing in the absence of Newton's Principia. Varied meanings can be ascribed to the same data. What once was a Leyden jar became a condenser, as there were changes in the electrical paradigms.  Elucidating how the same entity can be interpreted in different ways under the influence of different paradigms or theories, Kuhn (1970) writes:

An investigator who hoped to learn something about what scientists took the atomic theory to be asked a distinguished physicist and an eminent chemist whether a single atom of helium was or was not a molecule. Both answered without hesitation, but their answers were not the same. For the chemist the atom of helium was a molecule because it behaved like one with respect to the kinetic theory of gases. For the physicist, on the other hand, the helium atom was not a molecule because it displayed no molecular spectrum. Presumably both men were talking about the same particle but they were viewing it through their own research training and practice. (pp. 50-51)

In short, Kuhn has shown that science is not as rational and objective as it had been supposed. Indeed, scientific rationality is a matter of consensus. It involves unexamined biases and social interests like fame, fortune, love, loyalty and power of the investigator. A choice of one paradigm over another may be induced by inner psychological causes or other sociological ones that cannot be defended by appealing to the office of reason. More often than not, scientists following the same norms of disinterestedness, objectivity and rationality arrive at different conclusions. The history of science reveals that there are many competing theories before one paradigm becomes dominant and all of them had arisen from experimentation and observation. Comments Kuhn (1970):

Early developmental stages of most sciences have been characterized by continual competition between a number of distinct views of nature, each partially derived from, and all roughly compatible with, the dictates of scientific observation and method. What differentiated these various schools was not one or another failure of method—they were all "scientific"—but what we shall come to call their incommensurable ways of seeing the world and of practicing science in it. Observation and experience can and must drastically restrict the range of admissible scientific belief, else there would be no science. But they cannot alone determine a particular body of such belief. An apparently arbitrary element, compounded of personal and historical accident, is always a formative ingredient of beliefs espoused by a given scientific community at a given time. (p. 4)

Lyotard (1984) states that this is essentially a problem of legitimization. The question of good research and bad research is contingent upon the community of scholars deciding whether it is in harmony with the criteria of truth, of justice, of beauty—though these criteria are held to be universal to all humanity, they are specific to the larger culture or country to which the community belongs. Since research is a social activity, it is not free from politics. Feyerabend (1993) puts this most beautifully:

Scientists are not content with running their own playpens in accordance with what they regard as the rules of the scientific method, they want to universalize their rules, they want them to become part of society at large and they use every means at their disposal—argument, propaganda, pressure tactics, intimidation, lobbying—to achieve their aims. (p. 163)

The history of science also demonstrates that scientific knowledge is temporally relative. What was considered once as science has been later rejected as superstition. By the same token, what constitutes as scientific knowledge today, which has been extracted from nature by subjecting it to repeated investigation may turn out to be error tomorrow under the influence of a different paradigm. Kuhn (1970) states:

Historians confront growing difficulties in distinguishing the "scientific" component of past observation and belief from what their predecessors had readily labeled "error" and "superstition." The more carefully they study, say, Aristotelian dynamics, phlogistic chemistry, or caloric thermodynamics, the more certain they feel that those once current views of nature were, as a whole, neither less scientific nor more the product of human idiosyncrasy than those current today. If these out-of-date beliefs are to be called myths, then myths can be produced by the same sorts of methods and held for the same sorts of reasons that now lead to scientific knowledge. If, on the other hand, they are to be called science, then science has included bodies of belief quite incompatible with the ones that we hold today. (p. 2)

A committed believer in science would say that the above stated phenomenon has taken place because science is cumulative, and scientists have refined their theories in an effort to come closer to a truer and more accurate interpretation and description of nature. Kuhn disagrees and contends that instead of science being cumulative, it is revolutionary. A change in the paradigm changes the worldview of the scientist; or in other words the world comes to be viewed differently by the scientist. It involves a "reconstruction of the field from new fundamentals, a reconstruction that changes some of the field's most elementary theoretical generalizations as well as many of its paradigm methods and applications"(Kuhn, 1970. p. 85).

Kuhn holds that it is difficult to demonstrate the superiority of one paradigm over another purely on “logical” argument. The primary reason is that the proponents of the rival paradigms subscribe to a different set of standards and metaphysical assumptions. The rival paradigms are so incommensurable that no appeal to “rationality” can settle the issue as Feyerabend writes:

Transition to criteria not involving content thus turns theory choice from a rational and “objective” and rather one dimensional routine into a complex discussion involving conflicting preference and propaganda will play a major role in it, as it does in all cases involving preferences. [Cited in Chalmers, 1982, p.138]

To complete this discussion let us analyze the outermost circle depicted in Figure 1.The pursuit of knowledge is very intimately connected with the society in which it develops; the sociology of knowledge very aptly discusses the dynamics operating therein which determine the subject matter of psychology or any discipline for that matter. The anti-theistic ideas of scientific psychology are a case in point. Science in order to establish its identity in post-medieval Europe had to struggle against the Church which had usurped all powers to arbitrate every activity of humankind. It had restricted the freedom of inquiry and held courts of Inquisition to prosecute men like Galileo and Descartes and all those who differed from the scriptures. Moreover it had waged holy wars in the name of religion and caused much bloodshed. Against this backdrop, science dissociated itself from anything that had to do with God or with supernatural forms of existence. In conclusion, social and historical forces do play a major role in the development of a subject (see Danziger 1990; Leahey 1991, for details).

It is being increasingly realized that each society has its own vision of reality that shapes the perception and thoughts of its inhabitants. This helps them to negotiate their life with different images, symbols, metaphors and institutions in a unique way that may be incommensurable with that of another society. It would be worthwhile to analyze the notion of the self in this light. Under the auspices of Cartesian metaphysics, self has been described by the western philosophers as universal, objective, ahistoric, non-contextual and authentic. This dominant paradigm suggests that the true and authentic self is atomistic, individualistic and non-social. The universality of this view is seriously challenged when different cultures are studied on their own terms, without the preconception that they are inferior. For example, in India according to the Bhagvad Gita, the idea of a separate, individualistic, isolated and egoistic self is false and illusory. The egoistic self which creates selfish desires, hatred, attachment, craving, greed, conceit etc. is viewed as the cause of ignorance and suffering; and it is culturally expected that one transcends this egoistic self in order to be transported into a state of wisdom, knowledge, calm and peace.

Some Western philosophers too have contested this Cartesian idea of self and have argued that self is situated and shaped by social, cultural, economic and historical contexts. For example, Marx argued that the nature of humans is the product of material conditions determining their production. Allen (1997) states that “self is not something abstract, static, ahistoric and given. On the contrary, self is dynamic, complex and relational; it is socially, culturally and historically constituted and developed through an ongoing dialectical process” (p. 22).

Anthropology has challenged the uniformitarian view of humans—emerging from the Enlightenment concept—that the essence and truth of human beings is universal and constant, independent of time and culture. For instance, the Oedipal complex as espoused by Freud as universally valid did not hold ground when Malinowski (1953) tried to test its truth in matriarchal societies. Also, Mead (1968) challenged the psychologist G. Stanley Hall’s view that adolescence is a period of “storm and stress” which he held to be universally true. Mead found that the adolescents of Samoa Island did not manifest a period of storm and stress. Geertz (1973) comments:

Anthropology…is firm in conviction that men unmodified by the customs of particular places do not in fact exist, have never existed, and most important, could not in the very nature of the case exist…. The circumstance makes the drawing of a line between what is natural, universal, and constant in man and what is conventional, local and variable extremely difficult. (pp. 35-36)

What is intelligent, practical, viable and noble in one culture may be considered as foolish and lowly from the perspective of another culture. Torgovnick (1990) observes that it is very difficult to asses what is “modern,” what is “primitive,” what is “savage” and what is “civilized.” Montaigne (1958) observes that we designate anything that is not in conformity with our habits and customs as barbaric, for we have no criterion for judging the customs of others other than our own. Levi Strauss (1979) comments that the minds of “primitives” are not inferior constitutionally; it is just that they are different, shaped according to the demands that their surroundings and environment present. 

Relativism and the Paradox of Self-referentiality

The above line of arguments very clearly explains why we have as many theories as we have psychologies. Psychologists are human beings as well, and they are very much grounded or caged in their own perspectives which totally determine the way they approach the problem of solving the enigmas of human behaviour. Psychologists see different facts because they ascribe different meta-structures of biases, theories, paradigms, cosmological worldviews, beliefs, culture, expectations, etc. to the raw data in order to interpret them. In other words their individual humanness makes them see psychological issues differently. The aforementioned arguments also indicate that psychology and all forms of knowledge—there is an intimate connection between psychology and knowledge—are relative with respect to individuals, time, culture and paradigms. But incidentally, this is a statement suggesting an absolute truth. Paradoxically the conclusion, “Truth is relative” harbours in it an absolute truth. Similarly, experimental psychology has devised experiments (for example, the duck-rabbit experiment), the results of which show that the perception of reality is necessarily subjective. But while stating this, it also makes a statement which embodies an objective validity. So a fact discovered by psychology becomes subjective and objective at the same time leading to a paradoxical and a peculiar situation. In other words the pursuit of knowledge or Truth—which is the basis of any scientific investigation—becomes absolute and relative simultaneously.

A meta-analysis of Kuhn's arguments culminates in a situation that is not different. One of the chief themes of his theses is that paradigms guide research in terms of observation and interpretation of data. If his premise is true—he has, of course supported it with a lot of evidence—then, by extension it can be said that he has culled out data from the body of the history of science to support his theory that paradigms guide research. In other words, the data was collected with the theory—paradigm guides research—already in his mind. As soon as we recognize this, Kuhn's arguments turn on themselves, thus assuming circularity. A paradoxical situation emerges again: Kuhn’s arguments are true and false at the same time. True because there is evidence to support his claim, and false because he contradicts himself by inviting his arguments on himself. Alternatively, his arguments have been designated as self-referential by his critics, and have been termed as self-refuting.

Secondly, Kuhn has cited evidence to show that facts and data have no meaning in themselves; they acquire meaning when interpreted against a theory or framework. There is an implicit circularity and paradox here too. By force of Kuhn's arguments, it can be argued that the evidence that he has used to demonstrate the truth of his arguments is meaningful only against his contention that evidence has no meaning in the absence of a framework. Evidence lend support to his theory whereas a similar kind of contradiction as described above, and the fact of being oblivious to his own subjectivity, while attributing the crucial role of the scientist's subjectivity in guiding research, renders Kuhn's theory problematic. If the evidences of the other scientists are not sacrosanct, it can as well be said that Kuhn's are not either.

In view of relativism, self-referentiality, circularities and paradoxes, does this mean that the pursuit of knowledge and psychology approaches a dead end? For the mainstream approach of finding the truths of human behaviour or psychology based in the classical distinction of subject and object, fact and value, and relative and absolute has come to a cul-de-sac. Does this mean that the impasse cannot be resolved? The answer is a resounding no if we begin to analyze the Indian spiritual traditions, and in particular the writings of Sri Aurobindo. Let us examine how mysticism, while offering the solution of extricating ourselves from the aforementioned situations, can be an alternative paradigm for psychology research.

Beyond Mind: A New Paradigm of Psychology Based on the Mystical exploration of Nature

The simultaneous existence of right and wrong, true and false, and relative and absolute that produces a paradox poses no problem for the Mādhyamakā (1) philosophers. In this section, we will examine how these paradoxes can be resolved paving the way for intuitive knowing or for the study of psychology with consciousness as its subject matter.

Nagarjuna, a second century Mādhyamakā philosopher, stated that concepts, events and entities do not exist in isolation but exist in relation to one another. He further contends that concepts, events and entities called swabhāva lack any intrinsic existence, and that any attempt to reduce them to having an independent status will lead to absurdity. He defines swabhāva as "nirapekṣa paratra (independent of others), ahetu pratyaya (without cause or conditions), nitya (permanent or unchanging), aparijñāna (unknowable), and akriyate (unmade)" (McCagney, 1997, p. 61). According to Nagarjuna, however, nothing exists in-itself and of-itself, and no concept has any meaning independent of a relation. This is the principle of pratëtya samutpāda or dependent origination, and the main philosophy under which this is discussed is called śunyavāda or śūnyatā or the doctrine of emptiness. Black and white, good and evil, valleys and mountains, friends and enemies are co-implicates. All contradictions and oppositions, seen from a slightly different perspective reveal that they are one and essentially whole. The opposites are not against each other but complement each other. Darkness is born out of light and day is born out of night. Nagarjuna writes:

How, indeed, will disappearance exist at all without origination?
[How could there be] death without birth? There is no disappearance without [prior] origination.
It does not obtain that origination and disappearance are the same thing.
It does not obtain that origination and disappearance are different. [Cited in McCagney, 1997, p. 59]

McCagney (1997) citing from the Nagarjuna's work Śūnyatāsaptatikārikā writes:

Without one [eka] there are not many [aneka]. Without many [aneka] one [eka] is not possible…. The father is not the son, the son is not the father. Neither exists without being correlative. (p. 60)

Employing the principle of pratëtya samutpāda or dependent origination and his dialectical skills, he refutes the contention of the realists that a thing exists in-itself or of-itself. The subject does not exist independent of the object; neither does the cause exist without the effect. These dichotomous pairs—like all that we use in everyday life—have no meaning beyond their relationship with one another.

Thus, the rigid dichotomy between the subject and the object crumbles down, for the Mādhyamikā critique shows that the act of knowing is a product of the interaction between the observer/knower and the observed/known. Any dichotomized way of thinking results in avidyā, loosely translated as spiritual ignorance, which motivates the mind to grasp thoughts as things to be grasped by the individual ego. The solution to the enigma of our existence or the knowledge of the ultimate is gained by the transcendence of all the reified and rigid thoughts through a way of “seeing” and “being” called prajña. The search for knowledge is grounded in our language, presuppositions and all those concepts and entities that we hold on to as givens in our everyday life. We attach transcendental and eternal value to these givens, which a Mādhyamakā deconstructs by placing them in a sociolinguistic and historical context, thus paving the way for a spiritual seeker to transcend the rationalistic tendency to make sense of the truth through any epistemological or ontological suppositions. Huntington (1989) explains this most beautifully:

According to the Mādhyamikā, a…convoluted and subtle relationship holds between any two dichotomies of conceptual thought, whether expressed in ontological, epistemological, ethical or any other terms: Cause/effect, subject/object, substrate/predicate, absolute/relative, truth/error, good/evil, and all other dualistic concepts find their meaning in the context of their elusive relationship with each other and with an interrelated network of other such concepts. The structure that they give to all experience—a structure that seems "to emerge from the things themselves"—is also dependent on an illusion similar to the Necker cube where each image finds its meaning and existence only in the context of its relationship to partners that must always remain out of sight. The critical difference is only that the context of everyday life in which these other relationship are embedded is infinitely more complex, for it embodies an indeterminate number of historical and circumstantial factors shared by the sociolinguistic community in which this vocabulary is used and thought and perception take place. (p. 121)

Similarly, Advaita Vedanta posits that this world consists of dualities, and that the Ultimate Reality, which is the source of all that exists, is beyond all these dualities. True knowledge can only be gained when one transcends the dual world. Swami Satprakashananda (1977) writes:

It is maya that brings about the relativity of subject and object, the knower and the known. The two are dissimilar, yet inseparable. One does not exist without the other. The universe is a conglomeration of pairs of opposites, such as life and death, light and darkness, joy and sorrow, knowledge and ignorance, plenty and want, beauty and ugliness, kindness and misery, love and hatred, good and evil, in which the antitheses are correlated; yet either factor appears to be an independent element and in vain we try our utmost to have one of the pair to the exclusion of the other. This is the effect of the maya. There is no elevation without depression, no construction without destruction, no addition without subtraction. In each case they the contraries form a single process. They are inseparable; yet they appear disparate. This is the effect of maya (pp.96-97).

Having addressed how the subject-object dichotomy can be transcended, let us examine the cause of underlying relativism, though generally not acknowledged in the discipline of western psychology? This is because, as supported by many mystical traditions, mind—with reason, logic and intellect as its instruments—cannot arrive at the truths of our existence. Intellectual activity, discursive thinking and logical analysis alone are not capable of solving the final enigmas of our existence—it cannot unravel all the mysteries. According to Sri Aurobindo—one of the greatest mystics of the last century—mind and its instruments cannot perceive the reality as a whole as its very nature is to classify, divide, compare and measure. It tries to understand things through categories, concepts and formulas. This is perhaps why in the intellectual history of mankind there have been scores of such formulas and theories but nothing definitive can be said about the fundamentals of our existence despite that most psychological theories have almost equal intellectual appeal, and have evidence to support their claim even if they contradict each other. What we have today are thousand and one schools of psychology each claiming an exclusive monopoly on the truth of human behaviour. Sri Aurobindo (1997), commenting on the limitation of the mind on numerous occasions throughout his writings, puts it most succinctly:

Mind in its essence is a consciousness which measures, limits, cuts out forms of things from the indivisible whole and contains them as if each were a separate integer. Even with what exists as obvious parts and fractions, Mind establishes this fiction of its ordinary commerce that they are things with which it can deal separately and not merely as objects of a whole. For, even when it knows that they are not things in themselves, it is obliged to deal with them as if they were things in themselves; otherwise it could not subject them to its own characteristic activity. It is this essential characteristic of Mind which conditions the workings of all its operative powers, whether conception, perception, sensation or the dealings of creative thought. It conceives, perceives, senses things as if rigidly cut out from a background or a mass and employs them as fixed units of the material given to it for creation or possession. All its action and enjoyment deal thus with wholes that form part of a greater whole, and these subordinate wholes again are broken up into parts which are also treated as wholes for the particular purposes they serve. Mind may divide, multiply, add, subtract, but it cannot get beyond the limits of this mathematics. If it goes beyond, and tries to conceive the real whole, it loses itself in a foreign element; it falls from its own firm ground into the ocean of the intangible, into the abysms of the infinite where it can neither perceive, conceive, sense nor deal with its subject for creation and enjoyment. (pp. 162-163)

And again,

Mind is an instrument of analysis and synthesis, but not of essential knowledge. Its function is to cut out something vaguely from the unknown Thing in itself and call this measurement or delimitation of it the whole, and again to analyse the whole into its parts which it regards as separate mental objects. It is only the parts and accidents that the Mind can see definitely and, after its own fashion, know. (Sri Aurobindo, 1997, p.127)

Western psychology—due to the spirit of the times—has mainly been inspired by an intellectual and cognitive activity with a heavy reliance on the logical and discursive mind to find out the truths of human behaviour, for the West has considered intellect with its purified reason to be the ultimate instrument for exploring the nature of human existence. But the reason of individuals varies according to their belief, upbringing, culture, attitude, language and perspective. Also the reason that has money and power to back its claim becomes the right reason. Recognizing the relativity of reason, which also explains the presence of relativism in psychology with respect to theories, Sri Aurobindo (1995) states:

You believe according to your faith, which is quite natural, he believes according to his opinion, which is natural also, but no better so far as the likelihood of getting at the true truth of things is in question. His opinion is according to his reason… How is reasoning to show which is right? The opposing parties can argue till they are blue in their face – they won’t be anywhere nearer a decision… But who can look at the world as it is and say that the trend of things is always (or ever) according to the right reason – whatever this thing called the right reason may be? As a matter of fact there is no universal infallible reason which can decide and be the umpire between conflicting opinions; there is only my reason, your reason, X’s reason, Y’s reason multiplied up to a discordant innumerable. Each reasons according to his view of things, his opinion, that is his mental constitution and mental preference. (p. 178)

Similarly, according to Advaita Vedanta, mind is not the knower of things but an object of knowledge. Just like physical objects, like a chair for instance, can be observed, mind also can be observed—which make it an object of knowledge rather than a knower. Hence the knowledge of our existence cannot be grasped by the mind—it is something else that is the knower. That according to Vedanta is the Self, which is the self-intelligent, self-aware, self-evident, self-illuminating consciousness.

It is only by consciously identifying oneself with the consciousness beyond the mind that one finds the truths of one's existence. That Self is the self of all selves, and by knowing that one not only gains the knowledge of one's own self but also the knowledge of the selves of all others. According to Advaita Vedanta and Sri Aurobindo, all the things that we call our real self like mind and body are not the self at all—these are external aspects of personality put forth by the Nature for the play of life. The real Self is within and above all that we usually identify as our self. The identification with the real Self reveals to us the knowledge of all the mysteries that the universe has concealed from us, which includes the truth that lies behind the psychology of every human being. Sri Aurobindo (1996) comments:

Since the Self which we come to realise by the path of knowledge is not only the reality which lies behind and supports the states and movements of our psychological being, but also that transcendent and universal Existence which has manifested itself in all the movements of the universal, the knowledge of the Self includes also the knowledge of the principles of Being, its fundamental modes and its relations with the principles of the phenomenal universe. This was what was meant by the Upanishad when it spoke of the Brahman as that which being known all is known. It has to be realised first as the pure principle of existence, afterwards, says the Upanishad, its essential modes become clear to the soul which realises it. We may indeed, before realisation, try to analyse by the metaphysical reason and even understand intellectually what Being is and what the world is, but such metaphysical understanding is not the Knowledge. Moreover, we may have the realisaion in knowledge and vision, but this is incomplete without realisation in the entire soul-experience and the unity of all our being with that which we realise. It is the science of Yoga to know and the art of Yoga to be unified with the Highest so that we may live in the Self and act from the supreme poise, becoming one not only in the conscious essence but in the conscious law of our being with the transcendent Divine whom all things and creatures, whether ignorantly or with partial knowledge and experience, seek to express through the lower law of their members. (pp. 374-375)

Consequently, psychology needs to be a science of consciousness as opposed to a science of mind and behaviour. This new paradigm of psychology will be based on the mystical exploration of nature, for we have already seen that classical methodology of the discipline based in a strict dichotomy of various dualities like subject and object, fact and value, universal and local, relative and absolute, etc. is doomed for failure. The future psychology can be made possible by transcending our mind, and by implication its various created dualities, by attaining prajna or by realization of the Self. This paradigm of psychology warrants the transcendence of mind, logic, intellect and reason by using our mind to the hilt to see how logic, reason and intellect are inferior instruments in the pursuit of the truths of our existence. The mystics claim that the deeper truths of our existence unravel themselves on a silent mind, compared metaphorically to an ocean that is absolutely calm—due to the paucity of space, I will limit myself to the accounts of just one mystic Sri Aurobindo. In other words, stillness of the mind is the necessary condition for accessing knowledge that lies beyond the domain of intellect. It is this region that holds the key to the secrets of mind and consciousness. Sri Aurobindo (1995) states that the “pure stillness of mind is always the required condition, the desideratum, but to bring it about there are more ways than one” (p.193). A complete silence of the mind and a change of ordinary human consciousness hold the promise of accessing knowledge of the fields not available to the physical eye. Writes Sri Aurobindo (1995):

The mind can think and doubt and question and accept and withdraw its acceptance, make formations and unmake them, pass decisions and revoke them, judging always on the surface and by surface indications and therefore never coming to any deep and firm experience of Truth, but by itself it can do no more. There are only three ways by which it can make itself a channel or instrument of Truth. Either it must fall silent in the Self and give room for a wider and greater consciousness; or it must make itself passive to an inner Light and allow that Light to use it as a means of expression; or else, it must itself change from the questioning intellectual superficial mind it now is to an intuitive intelligence, a mind of vision fit for the direct perception of the divine Truth. (p. 174)

A change of ordinary human consciousness becomes a necessary condition for undertaking such a pursuit of psychology. It is not by looking outside of us that we can find answers to the enigmas that shroud us, but by looking within. In this research the researcher and the researched become one; the subject becomes the object and vice versa, leading to the transcendence of the strict dichotomy of subject-object that psychology has practiced so far. Yoga, which actually means a union with the Divine or with the essential ground of all beings—whichever way one may want to see it according to one’s preference—is the key through which a change of human consciousness—and hence a transcendence of mind—is possible. The Indian mystics have practiced this art for centuries together, and have left behind a rich source of literature for all kinds of aspirants who want to take this path. Many of them have always stated that there is no one right way to take; that is the reason why there is a plethora of paths leading to the oneness that underlies this Universe, based on the different constitutions and psychological make-up that humans have. However, when I talk about the distinctiveness of India in this field, I do not mean to suggest that such experiments have not been conducted anywhere else in the world—what I definitely mean is that they have been fewer in other parts of the world limiting the many possibilities of approaching the consciousness that humans have in their repertoire.

From the spiritual literature, and the written accounts of mystics we know that there are layers and layers of consciousness, and forces that are invisible to the ordinary human eyes that are constantly impinging on human beings that determine their behaviour. These forces and levels of consciousness can only be discovered if we undertake a mystical enquiry into the nature of things. This requires a yogic development, which involves a direct and intuitive experience with the nature of things. Sri Aurobindo (1994) is quite forthright about such a kind of psychology rooted in a mystical exploration of our existence.

A direct and experiential and experimental psychology seems to be demanded if psychology is to be a science and not merely a mass of elementary and superficial generalizations with all the rest guesswork or uncertain conclusions or inference. We must see, feel, know directly what we observe; our interpretations must be capable of being sure and indubitable; we must be able to work surely on a ground of sure knowledge. (pp. 335-336)

Identifying that the basis of human behavior lies much deeper in the realm of consciousness and nothing much can be achieved by studying the outer aspects, Sri Aurobindo (1994) explains:

Psychology is the science of consciousness and its status and operations in Nature and, if that can be glimpsed or experienced, its status and operations beyond what we know as Nature.
It is not enough to observe and know the movements of our surface nature and the superficial nature of other living creatures just as it [is] not enough for Science to observe and know as electricity only the movements of lightning in the clouds or for the astronomer to observe and know only those movements and properties of the stars that are visible to the unaided eyes. Here as there a whole world of occult phenomena have to be laid bare and brought under control before the psychologist can hope to be master of his province.
Our observable consciousness, that which we call ourselves, is only the little visible part of our being. It is a small field below which are depths and farther depths and widths and ever wider widths which support and supply it but to which it has no visible access. All that is our self, our being, - what we see at the top is only our ego and its visible nature.
Even the movements of this little surface nature cannot be understood nor its true law discovered until we know all that is below or behind and supplies it – and know too all that is around is and above. (pp. 333-34)

To sum up, psychology needs to move beyond mere inference and conjectures. It needs to base itself on the foundation of a sure knowledge—on having a first hand knowledge of the hidden layers and layers of consciousness, which means mastering the occult and the subtle realms of human existence that is not visible to the ordinary human eye. It needs to go into the trans-mental and trans-intellectual realm through purification of mind and body, by transcending logical and intellectual thought, by stilling the mind within all internal and external chaos and flux so that the knowledge of the subtle and the invisible becomes known. Within the Indian tradition, it means seeing things with the “third eye.” The future psychology as a science or the psychology that I envision, primarily based on the insights of Sri Aurobindo, is one in which such knowledge of “psychology by identity” becomes a legitimate field of enquiry in academia, and is taken up by large numbers of people.

The Foundational Principles for Indian Psychology

These are my general views regarding the nature of psychology per se; however, now I want to focus on what the above means for Indian psychology as a discipline to be taught in Indian universities. The West has its own history and it will have its own trajectory with regards to its movement towards a mystical exploration of nature, if at all it does. For centuries together in India, the exploration of the deeper truths of our existence has been engaged by the mystics—Riśis, Munisand Sufis. Under the destruction brought about by colonization and the dominance of western heuristics in academia since then, a legitimate field of enquiry into the nature of human existence was systematically decimated and discredited. In the modern times the pursuit of knowledge has come a full circle, and the time has come to pursue the ancient science once again. Within the Indian context, the time has come for us to bestow legitimacy to the age-old tradition of ours, and inspire the younger generation of psychologists to become mystics who can determine the psychological laws and the psychology of individuals based on knowledge by identity, and we need to make a quantum jump by exploring the mystical and the invisible realm of Nature who carries in herself all the secrets that govern the human behaviour.

Ancient India always honored the word of the Riśi—the mystic had the final word in all matters dealing with the most mundane to the most esoteric. Though not with the educated elites, this tendency or proclivity is still seen among the common masses where they go and seek answers from known and renowned Riśis.

As we intensify our efforts to carve out a new and specific discipline of Indian psychology, it will incredibly befit us to look into what one of the foremost mystics of the last century, Sri Aurobindo, had to say in this matter. It is almost received knowledge that in the Indian universities, it is primarily Western Psychology which is being taught, and that it does not explain most of the psychological processes of the Indians. According to Sri Aurobindo, the key factor that distinguishes Indian living from the rest in the world is that spirituality is the master-key of Indian living. The discipline of Indian Psychology would want to recognize this fundamental truth and start constructing its knowledge base from this foundation. It is important to recognize that there is an invisible reality that surrounds the visible and that the consciousness is the primary reality out which has emerged everything manifest and unmanifest. For the renaissance of Indian thought, Sri Aurobindo (1998) gives us the following three lines of action or pursuit:

The recovery of the old spiritual knowledge and experience in all its splendour, depth and fullness is its first, most essential work; the flowing of this spirituality into new forms of philosophy, literature, art, science and critical knowledge is the second; an original dealing with modern problems in the light of the Indian spirit and the endeavour to formulate a greater synthesis of a spiritualised society is the third and most difficult. Its success on these three lines will be the measure of its help to the future of humanity. (p. 15)

Thus, for the introduction of Indian Psychology in the Indian Universities, it is of capital importance to formulate a curriculum that gives an intellectual foundation of the various spiritual traditions of India—a curriculum that encapsulates and embraces Upanishads, Bhagavatgita, Yogasutras of Patanjali, Yogavaasistha, Advaita Vedanta of Shankara, Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, and texts on Buddhism, Jainism and Sufism. We have to come back to this assertion time and again that consciousness is the primal reality and that it is the cause of everything. We may want to take the help of all the current research in different disciplines that point to the existence of a spiritual world. For example, we can incorporate into the curriculum the most recent research of Quantum Physics which is identifying that an objective pursuit of truth in the conventional dichotomy of subject and object comes to a collapse when we begin to investigate the atomic universe, and that the modern Science has come a full circle and it is validating some of the insights that the ancient seers and mystics in India have had for centuries together.

Secondly, we need to understand that though political colonization may have been over but in a real sense it is not. Our minds have become colonized; by and large the English-educated intellectuals of this country, who incidentally form most of the academics, do not think through and in the categories that are Indian or that they are dictated by categories and worldview that our ancestors have practiced for centuries together. We still judge and visualize our culture and the way of living through the lens of how the British saw us—we have internalized all the judgments that were heaped on us, and we still look to the West for the validation of our existence and wisdom. We lack the necessary courage and confidence, and largely this process is unconscious. To give you an example, we in India began to talk about Yoga after it was accepted in the West and a certain section of the population began to practice it articulating its effects. Similar is the case with the Ayurveda and other traditional medicines; only when the people in the West began to express dissatisfaction with the mainstream medicine that we began to see value of things in our own backyard. This tendency will have to change; otherwise we will be lagging behind the West by at least fifty years without showing any sense of originality and creativity. Consequently, it will jeopardize the future of Indian Psychology.

Decolonizing the mind may not be a very easy process. Just like peeling off an onion, there may be layers and layers of training that we will have to deconstruct in order to intellectually understand the Indian existence and cosmology from within. The first step towards doing it effectively is to become conscious that a colonized mind in us exists, and it exists way more than we are actually aware of it existing. It is important to understand the within the language there is a worldview which gets transmitted to the learner. With an intense process of introspection and self-inquiry we will be successful in breaking the shackles that have made us our own enemies while understanding that all that comes of the West is not a gospel of Truth and not all that has been in existence in India for centuries is a heap of superstition, falsity and ignorance.  We need to understand the colonial process in which the orientalists language created these binary divisions of Civilized West and Savage East, the knowledgeable West and the naive East, the rational West and the irrational East, and how we have internalized these fictive creations which almost unconsciously forces us to seek the validation from the West, almost like a child seeking validation from his or her father. For the creation and furtherance of the field of Indian Psychology, this tendency needs to change. We need to have much confidence in the wisdom and deftness of our ancestors. It does not mean that we accept hook, line an sinker whatever that comes from our past but that we should be open, inquisitive and adventurous in exploring our ancient knowledge; and that we should give these knowledge-systems a fair chance of dispassionate inquiry and exploration before our experience and investigation can suggest that they are false and worth rejecting. What certainly we must be wary of is an apriori denial or rejection, which in my understanding is grossly counterproductive to the pursuit of Knowledge and Truth.

However, situating Indian Psychology on its own terms without it being in interaction with Western Psychology is neither possible nor desirable. If we look into the history of India, it has been an assimilative culture. Travelers, invaders, and persecuted among many others have come to India bringing with themselves different ways and thoughts. Every time that it has happened, Indian spirit has stood up, and while embracing all these novel ideas it has assimilated them into its own fold giving them a unique spin in accordance with the spiritual values. A similar approach needs to be applied to western psychologies—it value and truth needs to be weighed against the Indian spirit, and whatever is assimilable in accordance with its core needs to be absorbed and the rest rejected. However, I am very clear that this assimilation needs to be creative, and that we guard ourselves against any kind of jingoism, parochialism and cultural nationalism.

Ultimately, we need to understand that the Indian spiritual systems are not speculative and metaphysical, and that they have come about from the experiences of the proponents. These experiences are verifiable and that Indian Psychology will not become a totally thriving discipline till its practitioners and teachers become yogis, mystics and seers of the spiritual reality. The last, of course, is difficult thing to accomplish—definitely extremely difficult till the spiritual paradigm does not get more acceptance in the mainstream education. At least till then we can start with a discussion which allows students to intellectually study spirituality within the context of Indian Psychology.


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(1) The Philosophy is Mādhyamikā whereas the philosophers are called Mādhyamakā.