restricted access 9. Conclusion
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9 conclusion The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, India’s traditional psychology, have been shown to be foundational for the Indian understanding of how language functions both in ordinary communication and in the mantra chanting to achieve release (moks .a). Yoga psychology has also been seen to influence modern psychologists, including Carl Jung and the transpersonalists such as Charles Tart. However, both Jung and the transpersonalists were found to have a fundamental disagreement with the ultimate claims of Yoga psychology that has important implications for our understanding of the limits of human nature. The philosophy of language and theology of revelation of the great Indian grammarian Bhartr .hari was shown in part I to be made more understandable and practicable when undergirded by Patañjali’s Yoga psychology. From the everyday experience of ordinary language to the experience of scripture as divine revelation, the philosophy and poetry of Bhartr .hari is made more credible when interpreted through the psychological processes of Patañjali’s Yoga. This book’s contribution is its demonstration that Bhartr .hari knew Patañjali’s Yoga psychology and assumed it in his own thinking. For the modern reader, knowing something of Patañjali’s Yoga helps us to understand the Eastern claim that language, especially the language of scriptures such as the Vedas or syllables like AUM/OM, when chanted as mantras have power to remove obstructions (karma) from consciousness until release or union with the divine is realized. Turning to modern Western psychology, we observed parallels between the thinking of Freud and Jung on memory and the Yoga conception of karma. We saw that the traditional Yoga explanation of memory in terms of how the gun .as, or constituents of consciousness, function in various karmic states closely parallels contemporary ideas, such as Eccles’s experiments on memory and motivation. The Yoga psychology notion of vāsanās, or habit patterns, as resulting from repetitions of a particular memory trace, or sam .skāra, fits well with the modern idea of growth at the synaptic spines. We saw that both Yoga and Freud agreed that memory and motivation are parts of a single psychic process which also embodies choice, but disagreed as to the degree to which this choice process is free or determined. Yoga psychology goes much further than Freud in providing for free choice and for the possibility that the processes of memory and motivation can be transcended. 91 Unlike Freud, Carl Jung learned some Sanskrit, read the Yoga Sūtras for himself, and gave lectures on them. We demonstrated how Jung’s thinking on memory, perception , and knowledge was influenced and supported by Yoga, but more importantly , where he drew the line in his acceptance of Patañjali’s psychology. As we saw in chapter 6, Jung argued that Patañjali’s failure to distinguish between philosophy and psychology led to Yoga’s over-reaching of itself, as Jung put it, as, for example, in the Yoga claim that the individual ego can be completely transcended and union with pure consciousness realized, as in the Buddha’s enlightenment experience. Jung felt that this Yoga claim was a psychological projection of an idea that could not be embodied in human experience. Yet something like this conception of union with the divine is exactly what is claimed by the mystics, especially in the East. Using the psychologies of both Jung and Yoga, we showed how such mystical experience can be given detailed explanation in terms of psychological process, but with very different assessments as to the nature and degree of ego-transcendence claimed and achieved. The ongoing argument between traditional Yoga and modern Western psychology over the limits of human nature was further explored in our discussion of the transpersonal psychologists and the comparative philosopher John Hick. While Yoga psychology and Eastern thought in general clearly claim that the autonomous individual can and must be transcended for the fullness of life to be achieved, the Western view is that human nature is finite, limited, and not capable of being opened up by Yoga practices of language, such as mantra chanting, or meditation until union with the divine is realized. In Jung’s view any practice leading to transcendence of the individual ego, to the extent that it is possible, will result in the person falling into an unconscious state—not enlightenment. The Western philosopher John Hick discounts such Yoga claims as being simply metaphors and not be taken as claims to literal truth. Yet...


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Subject Headings

  • Psychology and religion.
  • Yoga.
  • East and West.
  • Patañjali. Yogasūtra.
  • Jung, C. G. (Carl Gustav), 1875-1961.
  • Freud, Sigmund, -- 1856-1939.
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