Psychoanalysis and the Integral Yoga ... two letters

‘I have no intention of giving my sanction to a new edition of the old fiasco, a partial and transient spiritual opening within with no true and radical change in the law of the external nature…I am well aware that this change is not easy, the dynamic will towards it does not come at once and is difficult to fix, and, even afterwards, the sadhak often feels helpless against the force of habit. Knowing this, the Mother and myself have shown and are still showing sufficient patience in giving time for the true spirit to come up and form and act effectively in the external being of those around us. But if in any one this part not only becomes obstinate, self-assertive and aggressive, but is supported and justified by the mind and will and tries to spread itself in the atmosphere, then it is a different and very serious matter.’

Sri Aurobindo,
Letters on Yoga,  p. 1306

Introduction

This yoga can only be done in the end by those who are in total earnest about it and ready to abolish their little human ego and its demands in order to find themselves in the Divine.  It cannot be done in a spirit of levity or laxity; the work is too high and difficult, the adverse powers in the lower Nature too ready take advantage of the least sanction or the smallest opening the aspiration and tapasya needed too constant and intense.  It cannot be done if there is a petulant self-assertion of the ideas of the human mind or wilful indulgence of the demands and instincts and pretensions of the lowest part of the being, commonly justified under the name of human nature.  It cannot be done if you insist on identifying these lowest things of the Ignorance with the divine Truth or even the lesser truth permissible on the way.  It cannot be done if you cling to your past self and its old mental, vital and physical formations and habits; one has continually to leave behind his past selves and to see, act and live from an always higher and higher conscious level.  It cannot be done if you insist on “freedom” for your human mind and vital ego.  All the parts of the human being are entitled to express and satisfy themselves in their own way at their own risk and peril, if he so chooses, as long as he leads an ordinary life.  But to enter into a path of yoga whose whole object is to substitute for these human things the law and power of a greater Truth and the whole heart of whose method is surrender to the Divine Shakti, and yet to go on claiming this so-called freedom . . . is to indulge in a blind contradiction and to claim the right to lead a double life’.


Sri Aurobindo
Letters on Yoga, p.1310

13-14 March, 1987

 

Today I received your letter which I found very interesting on many levels, for many different reasons. My impressions may run toward slightly different conclusions than yours; or rather, I think there is one fundamental point, or a sort of line of demarcation: What you have been experiencing, the way it came, the orientation it took can be understood, explained by modern Western psychology. And if you cling to that you are likely never to make it to a spiritual breakthrough.

This is the problem I face with everyone who comes to this work from the springboard of Western psychology, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis. I say ‘problem’ because it causes a limitation in the consciousness if one wishes to ‘extend one’s boundaries’. This extension has to have the right poise. To be specific, if you seek to expand your consciousness, in the specific context of this work – and therefore I prefer to use the phrase ‘extend one’s boundaries’ – then you can’t do so with the ego placed centrally and reinforced. All modern psychology today does this. Finally it is disastrous in questions of spiritual advancement because the ego cannot sustain, support, give rise to the expansion. For people who ‘find themselves’ in or through psychotherapy, for example, it is dangerous to disturb that new-found balance, because a total breakdown can be the result. And so, the problem is complex, tricky, when they wish to take up a spiritual path, of the traditional order – not to speak of this one. It is necessary to go very gradually then and to break down this new ego-centred structure that has so laboriously been established. It is usually impossible and so I leave it at that.

But your case is interesting because it puts before us one of the major problems of spirituality vis-à-vis this new integral yoga. It also brings up certain issues related to the supramental yoga; but for the time being I shall concentrate on the former.

In traditional spirituality these problems do not arise, really speaking, because there is no question of transformation of the nature. There is no attempt to integrate the various parts of the being; there is no concern with the personality, or even the individuality, for that matter. In most paths it is the Self alone that matters – above, detached, disengaged from all that incarnation in a physical body on Earth implies, i.e., the necessity of the ego in the earlier stages of evolution of the species, the development of the personality, and so forth. And so, not having to deal with these aspects of the embodied consciousness and being – except inasmuch as is necessary in order to attain release therefore – that pernicious void at the centre of the human consciousness became consolidated. Psychology developed in the West as a desperate response to this hopeless state of affairs. A method had to be found to accommodate the human being, to adjust him/her to the travails of ‘life in the world’, and a highly competitive world at that. This was accomplished by sacrificing the spiritual poise in favour of the ego-centred poise of Western psychology. There was simply no other way. The West was not about to accept the Eastern attitude of detachment and resignation. The West had to secure its poise in Matter, not mimic the Oriental’s disengagement and obliteration in the Void – which in any case it could not do. Psychology was the tool.

But, as we know, neither way is the answer. Something of a blending of the two eventually comes about… But the East furnishes an essential point nonetheless. This is the disregard for the ego as the centre of one’s life. It prefers the Spirit, the Self.

Your latest letter is about the clearest display of the above dichotomy that I have ever come across. You can easily stay with your discovery; and that would be fine. But you will not be able to do so in the parameters of this work because it will be even more unbearable for you than ‘those years of darkness’ before this newly-found light! And why is this? Simply because your poise in the experience is dangerously off, and you are projecting outside, in an even more grandiose manner than you have ever done before.

But you yourself have given the clue to the off-poise. Or rather, the question you pose on page 2 of your letter is the lever to catch hold of if you want access to the right chamber. You write, ‘I wondered why my soul had chosen this set of circumstances to incarnate’ – meaning the difficult circumstance of having a mother who…etc, etc, etc. And then, regarding that mother, there is another telling reference in your letter, where, in the previous paragraph you write of the feelings of ‘pity’ for her that this new understanding has engendered – rather than disgust or anger, I suppose.

But you have missed the point. And it made me realise the difference (so subtle) between ‘pity’ and ‘compassion’. If your poise was truly of the integral yoga in this experience, then it is more likely that you would have used the word compassion rather than pity. Pity strikes me in this context as being extremely revealing in that it indicates that you are externally poised. You see yourself as the victim of a set of circumstances, not central and generative. This, then, would answer your question, ‘Why have I chosen these circumstances?’ And this is the major difference between East and West. This is the key feature in the doctrine of Karma – but, of course, it has been so pathetically watered down.

In other words, if you go a step further, if you plunge into the spiritual dimension while yet engaged in an integral, integrating process, you will see that you yourself have obliged your mother to do those vicious things she has done to you, that all along it has been your insufficiencies, your unwillingness to use the circumstances your soul chose for progress that compounded her condition. And then arises compassion – not pity. No superiority.

But to see this one must expand the vision to see the eternal trajectory of the soul, the unbroken journey to the light, and understand the real mechanism to reach that luminous summit.

What you have attained now is a very limited, albeit important and decisive view of things. And yes, I had given you a formidable ‘hint’ regarding that ‘dark knot’ in the lower vital. But the danger is that unless you act fast and get your true bearings or grounding in the spirit, you will simply end by reinforcing that knot beyond repair.

I have given you far more than hints along the way. But ever I have been avoiding this very situation that has arisen now. You may remember (and perhaps you are holding this against me…I can sense this in your letter) that I have always discouraged you to zero in on your parents and to seek to ‘find the answer’ to your woes in or through them. The reason is simply what I am describing here. Yes that early conditioning played havoc and consolidated your present personality. But, that early condition was of your own choice and making. In other words, we make our bed and we sleep in it, but this takes place in the higher reaches of consciousness and uses our infant and childhood instrument in ways we do not so easily appreciate.

This is the wisdom and maturity of the East.

Now, the point is that you have to take this experience and put it into its proper perspective. What you are doing right now is simply shifting the spotlight from me to your poor mother! Admittedly I’m happy to be relieved from my punching-bag role – but, I don’t approve, for your own sake. But what is important in this is that you were able to see the mechanism of your own psychology though you had to project it onto your mother and see her as the cause of the problems. It may appear so if you view life as starting from this birth, this isolated point in time, with nothing before it.

And yet, what I am describing is something far more complex and profound than the so-called Karmic Justice. I am saying that each individual is a responsible centre at each moment of existence. That responsibility is your really divine gift and attribute. The lamentable thing is that nowadays it is so fashionable to refuse responsibility for our actions, and to reject any feelings of ‘guilt’. Therefore psychologists are trained to be the perfect neutral ‘mirrors’ – no judgement, etc.

I am quite familiar with the narcissistic theory, having just finished Scott Peck’s book People of the Lie. But nothing of it ‘sticks’ much because it is, again, external to where it is really at. Nonetheless, these are stages, and sometimes aids. But, you see, all of this you have been given the opportunity to work out in the context of the integral yoga, where the Divine is the Mirror and all relationships have to be worked out according to our response and resistances to the Divine. Do you get the difference?

For example – the question of jealousy. You are again escaping the pressure by writing that you never really identified with that feeling, rather you identified with its companion, in your case: revenge. Quite true. But remember that in one of my recent letters to you I described the different types: one person is jealous and it turns back on herself – akin to auto-destruction. Another has to act on this jealousy and destroy.  That is what you now describe as ‘seeking revenge’ (for all the love you didn’t get from your mother…etc, etc, etc.

What I am seeking to point out to you is a very, very important thing. I would say it is crucial to your ability to enter fully the path of yoga – this yoga. It is, moreover, the really distinguishing point of this yoga in itself. That is, it is a question of remaining at the level of the person, or attaining the Person. You wrote recently of understanding how everything I say or write to you, you have been ‘taking personally’, as a personal offence or attack, and how this impeded you from making the best out of the help I was giving. This is more true than what you think. I promptly wrote to you to cling to that new insight. It would help you in what has to come.

In fact, now you stand at the crossroads: you are in danger of limiting your progress and becoming caged for good in the boundary of the person, the ego, the personality.

The release you felt, the happiness at your discoveries is the usual reaction in psychoanalysis: because you shift the responsibility. Then Patrizia comes along and saddles you with the whole damn burden again! – No, not the burden but the responsibility and the seed of causation. Without that, you can only stay put.


***


There is simply too much to comment on regarding your experience. I don’t know if I’ll have the time to cover it all. Last night I recorded a discussion on this, but it may prove too shocking for you all. I’m getting progressively more radical with each passing day!

Sexuality. The ‘lost paradise’ that you seem to be pining for is the surest ticket to hell. Go cautiously in this area and look at it like this: All the women around you are prisoners of their sexuality. They cannot do without a man. The sexuality you feel your mother deprived you of and that is the healthy right of the human being has only served to keep women pinned to their sex centre. For the spiritual path it is, undoubtedly, one of the main situations that keeps most people out of spirituality and away from a union with the divine. It separates the men from the boys as it were.

You are in the fortunate position of being free from this problem – and yet now you are encouraging yourself to believe that this freedom is a sickness. It reminds me of a person I knew in the Ashram who wrote to the Mother that he craved companionship, a family, etc, and so he wanted to get married. Her reply was: You sound like a free man who wants to become a slave!

You’ve got your position all wrong, as do the psychologists. Your problem does not lie in the lack of a fulfilling sex life. It is rather that your sex too is being affected by that ‘knot’ – not vice-versa. There are many people who do not indulge and have no knots – who have never indulged. X, for one. Now, the psychologist will consider that there is something radically wrong, abnormal in X. And he will search high and low in X’s make-up to try and find the disturbance that he can attribute to ‘sexual starvation’. This is why I say that Western psychology can never make you free – it can only imprison you, and make you adjust nicely to that prison if you follow its methods in full.

Why don’t you look at it differently: your soul chose to give you the mother you have precisely so that she would inhibit your sexuality – and thus leave you in a far better position for the spiritual life than 99% of humanity. Your responsibility resided in working out and through the kinks. Instead of using your mother’s influence to form a negative condition, the impulse of your soul has always been to make use of that apparently negative conditioning for its own purposes: to realise the Divine. But you have been fleeing from the soul’s light all along – primarily by always blaming others for your problems, and, above all, (I’m sure you will remember my constant harangues on this) by not having gratitude in your heart for the conditions the Divine has put you in, from the beginning, to further the growth of your soul’s light.

You are doing this constantly – and now you have the sanction of psychology for this infantile whining and bemoaning your sorry state. Whereas I see your mother’s influence as having been a ‘blessing in disguise’. It was up to you then to allow that to operate in the way your soul intended. The problems are yours, not your mother’s. But, again, it depends what your priorities are…

And there is this: I sense that you feel I will accept you and your difficulties more readily – give you that ‘love’ that I have been so perversely withholding – if you can show me that all of this rubbish is not you. It is really your mother’s rubbish that has been piled on you, the victim. The real you is worthy of my love after all. And in this way, once again, you believe you can extract what you want. Do you see the twist? Because right now you are flying high. You have found the method. You feel release. But tomorrow you are going to find yourself back in the dumps again, because none of this, in the way you are poised, is going to really bring the shift. And so, resentment will increase a hundredfold. Added to your original problems will be entirely new ones, which you are piling on yourself right now – I mean, problems in your relation with the Divine. You are adding self-indulgence and righteousness. It will very soon result in: How is it that she never realised it wasn’t me but it was my mother!? And then, more easily you can indulge in shifting of responsibility. Patrizia will be the punching bag again, which you will attack with re-doubled vigour! Because you will have in your support authorities of Psychology. This is a new escape, and hence a great ‘release’.

Count your blessings. See that the conditions of your life have always been the right ones, to lead you to the path. See this experience in its correct perspective. Gather from it what is valuable for your progress, what is helpful in freeing yourself of your inner demons. But do not use this experience also to tighten the Knot. Which is what you will end up doing because the poise is wrong, the vantage point is the ego, not the soul.

Please reflect on this deeply. You will not find one letter of Sri Aurobindo or the Mother to their disciples discussing any of the issues you raise and which you feel have brought you a new hope. They never got involved in this bag of modern psychology, its methods and conclusions. They dealt with what is – and strictly on one basis: the sadhak’s relation to the Divine. That is all, and that is everything. For all relations find their ultimate fulfilment in That.

Any kinks, twists, knots in the being came up in the sadhaks’ dealings with Them – and it is with Them, in and through this relationship that the disciple had to work through his/her problems. In this way, and only because of this, was the situation avoided of gathering any further knots, resultant from the method itself with respect to the spiritual attainment.

You were put in the most fortunate situation of a close contact for the above purpose. Your problem lies simply in one spot: you never accepted this guidance and sought rather to have me mould everything to your liking and satisfaction. What torturous conditions of the past which led you to this poise are not so important, since in any case you cannot really get to the root of those conditions in a true understanding. Your conclusions will always be coloured by your off-centre poise, by the ego, quoi. And so, all you had to do was to observe your relation with me and cultivate that basic attitude of the integral yoga: Surrender to the Divine. That is the master key. But you never used it. You ‘resigned’ yourself to my ‘commands’, feeling hurt, suppressed, abused, misused, unloved. But you never surrendered. And this is just what you did with your mother, and are indulging in in full force now: hurt, suppressed, abused, misused, unloved. And on and on goes the litany. Whereas all you had to do was to Surrender, to open to the Divine, on the Divine’s terms, whatever they may be, give of yourself unconditionally. And then you would have known love, the divine Love, which is in you. It does not come from outside, from anyone. By getting someone ‘to love’ you, including your mother, it does not mean that you would have found it easier to realise the divine Love. Rather the contrary. Those who have a fulfilling human love rarely turn to the Divine. Or if they do it is amidst great conflict and creates a chasm which they rarely successfully bridge.

Rather, cases of unfulfillment on the human level can be the greatest boon for the fulfillment of the Spirit. Provided the poise is right vis-à-vis the Divine. Provided one sincerely wants That, and only That. Then the ‘negative’ becomes miraculously positive. Then there is no resentment, no pity, anger, or whatever. There is only Love, compassion, understanding of the magnificent workings of destiny and the soul’s ways. Then there is acceptance – not resignation. Then Love is born and becomes a condition of being. It needs no object. It simply is. For it is the Divine in you.

The love which you have craved was not that. Indeed, it was not love at all. And therefore you never received it. But this lack also was made use of by the ego. It is always the ego that distorts, abuses and misuses what the soul sets up for our growth. Because we are a race in Ignorance, a half-species, moving toward a better tomorrow. You were insanely jealous and revengeful of Z for this ‘love’ you felt I unjustly gave to her, not you. But you fail to remember that all along I sought to shift Z’s focus to the Divine (and this was where your intervention was so destructive). And why? Because I knew that only if she cultivated that Divine Love could she find the strength to overcome the onslaught. Her failure (her responsibility) was that. But she too clung to her will and used that to impede the true Surrender – feeling hurt, abused and misused, and all the rest. In other words, I sought to have her make a contact with the Sun of this work – but the conspiracy was too formidable. The ‘centre could not hold’.

(In Z’s case: If she sees those hostile actions and what motivated them in her regard, it is useful only insofar as by this she is able to see where and when she failed to use that set of negative circumstances to make the breakthrough that was demanded of her. If she passes the rest of her life bemoaning her sad fate that brought so-and-so into her life, of whose nefarious activities she was the prime victim, then she has missed the point and misused the opportunity.)

And all of you ladies over there have it in for your mothers. All over the world, it is those damned mothers who smother! No one mentions their fathers except, as in your case, to put them up as victims (of the temptress Eve). Interesting, quoi? How shallow is this seeing, really how small. In a word, everything you have written me about your mother is simply your condition. Forget her. Deal with the condition which you both fortify in each other, in the whole human race. That collective karmic web…. For what you are doing in this latest experience is to reinforce that web, once more by fleeing from an acceptance of your own responsibility in fortifying that web, once more to blame others, life, the circumstances of childhood and whatnot, for your condition. And hence to escape, once more, in dealing with what is. It is always others who are to blame, and by consequence must change. Not you. Your part is only to see this blame, the vile manner in which they have encrusted you with a ‘false self’…and on and on it goes, the escape, the refusal to change by starting from the only place where change is possible: yourself.

And this is the failure of Western psychology, why it is so limited in its scope and capacity to bring well-being. It is a mental theory of escape. But what it can do, and often does, is to adjust the human creature to the limitations of the instrument and the society in which it functions, by a series of elaborate mental theories which provide continuous experiences of release by this process of shifting responsibility and moving out of the present, away from what is. For those who must function in the old world this may suffice. But not for the new beings. Consequently those new beings also need better instruments, and that is our aim as well.

But by this I am not saying that Western psychology is all wrong. Indeed, many of its observations are accurate. Its method in many ways is helpful. But it is limited by its goal and scope, that is all. Your task is to determine what is right for you, as determined by your soul. Hence see what is. (Concluded)

18 March, 1987

I feel that the answer I sent to Y’s latest, concerning her psychological experiences regarding her childhood conditioning, says pretty much all that I would like to say on this matter. Yet, of course there is always more. New things come up. New insights. At this point I can see very clearly, more clearly than ever before, the distinction between the approach of psychoanalysis and that of the Integral Yoga. I cannot see how the two can be reconciled – in the experience. Because the poise in psychoanalysis precludes the other. This is a fact; and never before has it been so clear to me as now, seeing the course Y is on, the direction her inner work is now taking.


What is very interesting is to observe (and I can do this from my own personal experience) how the two approaches are so similar. The method in certain areas is almost identical. True, as you write, a mental understanding is in no way sufficient. The emotions must be involved and the method must somehow engage the vital. But that is the dangerous part. The vital is power. It is the fortress of the will. If the poise is not the right one for the Integral Yoga, this engaging of the vital will result in a crystallisation of the ego-centre, the axis in the lower hemisphere. This is what Y is doing now. There was one thing certain in all of this: When she left she was poised rightly for the Integral Yoga. That is, her base was the right one from which to start the real process of yoga. It took many years to achieve just that much. But it was a lot. People spend lifetimes and they never come near to a poise of that nature.

But that was only the beginning. Now it is that very poise that is under severe attack and which she seems to be losing.

I think I ought to explain another difference – because you write often, as in this last letter, of wanting something other than a life in orbit of the ego; but I really wonder at times what that other ‘thing’ is for you. You see, we have our own ideas of a ‘life divine’, and more often than not this crystallises in a form of worship, rather than a real transformation of the being and a poise in which the Divine stands at the centre of our integrated being. I feel that for you psychology, psychotherapy are the answers to the knots in human nature. And once those knots are unravelled, then one can approach the Spiritual. Matters of the Spirit stand separate and apart for you. This is my impression, and I feel that this has come to a certain definition in your life in order to facilitate your day-to-day experience. It is an accommodation, an adjustment. And in terms of the old spirituality and the religion you have known, this may be true. The whole thing gets turned up-side-down when this new process (and power) is introduced.

I wrote that I had my own personal experience to go by in assessing the subtle difference between the two approaches. On the surface it would seem that what I experienced regarding my family conditioning, etc. (which I have recorded in The Tenth Day of Victory) is the same process you describe of re-experiencing and ‘mourning’. But there was a crucial difference. It was the poise in which this process was being experienced. I was at that time centred in the Divine – the Divine part of myself. The soul was the pivot around which all this was being played out. Indeed, it was precisely this that broke down the vital-ego will – once and for all.

This is exactly what is lacking in the Process Y is living now. And that is why it is so dangerous for her – in more ways than one. But I can hear you exclaiming that my case is different. I am perhaps in your mind a special case that cannot be compared to others, or that cannot be held as a model for others to follow.

This is wrong. I am here not to work out my personal karma and destiny but to open a path for others. A path that is one anyone can follow who wishes to attain the particular goal of the Supramental Yoga. The conditions I am put in and the instrument I am given to work with are thus the precise ones that will allow this experience in me, through me, which will serve to open this new path for others. And it has been precisely in this lived experience that I have been given the opportunity to see where it is that the human instrument, as we know it now, has failed; and the method by which we can evolve a better instrument capable of sustaining a new psychological synthesis.

You have read the 3rd Volume [of The New Way]. The process I described was this: the way to a new axis, a true centering in the Divine, in life, in the body.

I see that you have a special role to play in this. To me it has already been evident, even before we met, in that it was obliging me to focus all of this, to make it more exact. Or rather, to apply the knowledge gained in my own experience to the larger body. But I feel that in order to get the most out of your involvement, you are going to have to extend your boundaries. In the first place, you are going to have to make every conceivable effort to rise above the personal, to not permit yourself ‘to take things personally’, and to see your instrumentation, your involvement as a ‘service to the whole’. You had understood this while here in India. I am just reminding you, because we are ‘zeroing in’ and coming pretty close to HOME!

Y’s transparency once again in this matter has allowed me to assess an important aspect of the work I have to do. But something must be clarified at the outset: this is yoga; it is not psychotherapy. The needs that drive a person to seek relief through psychoanalysis are an indication that that person is not ready for the path of yoga – of practically any kind, but more especially the Integral Yoga. Here it is the Divine who is central – centred within, not beyond. There is no separation. But that centrality of the inner Divine cannot be experienced when the ego is the pivot. The only thing that can be attained of an awareness of the Divine when the ego is the pivot is a sense of a Divine Presence and Being through devotion, prayer, worship. But this implies separation and it is not the goal of this yoga. The Mother has said it well, ‘Those who worship do not want to change’.

This is the case with most Indian Yogas (the direct experience by identification), but the Integral and Supramental Yogas introduce a change, radical and total with respect to other paths. It is simply that we are working out a method whereby this central Divine can become our inner Sun in life, keeping in orbit of Itself all parts of the being; and ultimately, in the Supramental Yoga, of permitting the individual by this realisation to bring about a transformation in the world by a similar process of integration. That is when the new city-consciousness is established.

This work is not for people hence who need to strengthen their ego and who seek to ‘make whole’ something that in its very nature is separative and divisive. Its very purpose in being is to keep one in a consciousness of separateness. This may have been a legitimate function in a race of Ignorance, nailed to the cross of a severely limited physical instrument. But we are precisely concerned with introducing something else now, – a new instrument with infinitely greater possibilities. For that one has to be ready to extend one’s boundaries. This cannot be done with the ego upholding the process and the play of consciousness. If that had been possible we would not be the inferior species that we are and there would be no need of a Solar Line to forge this new way. But the evolutionary mechanism has its own laws, and wisdom. Above all it is an integral process characterised by a spherical wholeness. And so, we have to proceed on the basis of a progressive integration and reach an ultimate synthesis.

The time has now come to change the instrument and to raise the pivot and introduce a new axis. Those who do not see this and understand what it means and the sacrifices entailed, are simply not ready for this work. They can engage in a mental preparation which can be of benefit, but my experience has been that this involvement invariably creates a conflict in their lives. It is one thing to be on the outer periphery of this work, not in personal contact with the Centre or directly involved with the work, but nonetheless doing the yoga of a sort and striving in one’s own environment to refocus the being and to allow the new influence to organise our lives and gradually change the circumstances in which we live.

Another case is the person who holds simply to a mental involvement and persists in engaging in all sorts of activities which continue to reinforce the ego. In other words, who pretends to have his/her cake and eat it too. Ultimately this will create an even greater conflict in life and one or the other has to go.

But I repeat, the aim of this work is to introduce a new system which does not demand an ascetic ‘cutting away’ of all activities and aspects of life which appear to be in conflict with a realisation of the Divine. However, to achieve this the first prerequisite is a certain Surrender and an offering of oneself which permits the Divine to work in and through the instrument, in which IT decides what our needs are, what indeed must be integrated, and what must go. The decision is not ours, and is not mental, – that is, a rigid set of rules applicable to all. It is an individual process which, because of this, demands as deep-rooted a sincerity as is possible to attain. Insofar as this sincerity is precisely what the human being lacks, given the inferior poise of the instrument, then it becomes wise and necessary to have an outer guide who can check this sincerity and keep us on the right course in spite of our insufficiencies. This guide is not a therapist. The relationship between pupil and guide is entirely different, though at times it might appear that they are the same. And this difference is fundamental, for without it the Yoga cannot be done.

The process of therapy hinges on a certain interaction between therapist and client that is counterproductive for the purposes of this Integral Yoga. Herein the Divine is the guide. The teacher becomes, is, that for the disciple. In other words, while in therapy the therapist substitutes for the father, mother, lover, or whosoever and whatsoever, in Yoga the Guide substitutes for the Divine. That is, while the pupil has not made contact with his/her inner Godhead, the Teacher becomes that and plays the same role, though external. Yet, it is not external, insofar as the Teacher has realised that Godhead in him/herself, the process takes place in an integrated field of oneness and therefore the Guide becomes/is that inner Divine of the pupil.

This sort of relationship based on Oneness is impossible between therapist and client. Thus the distinction is crucial; and if a person schooled in therapy seeks to recreate with the Guide of Yoga that same relationship as between therapist and client, the goal of the Yoga can never be attained.

The therapist becomes or substitutes for the client all the relationships that make up the world as we know it. They are fragments and the therapist seeks to reconstruct and regroup these fragments in a particular process which will give a semblance of wholeness to a splintered ego. But the focus is always the ego, and hence the result is always an accommodation and an adjustment to that which is in essence unwhole, separative and divisive.  This is why therapy breaks down when it comes to the threshold of spirituality. It cannot cross that threshold because its method is the limitation. When a person has undergone therapy and has reconstructed his/her consciousness according to this limitation, the likelihood is that it will not be possible to introduce a new power and its processes. The element that stands in the way is precisely the ego, fortified by the mental and vital will. Because the only really unifying factor was absent from the process – the soul – then the reconstruction and regrouping of the mind and emotions is simply a fortification in a field not of oneness but of separateness. And all converges on the person, the me. It is for this reason that one of the outstanding characteristics of people who undergo psychotherapy is self-indulgence, at the centre of which stands self-will.

When a therapist has seen this limitation and wishes to overcome it, – as Scott Peck – then he shoots into religion. The development in Peck is classic and predictable; the conflict introduced is wholly understandable. It is then that a moralistic element begins to infiltrate and, I might add, contaminate the underlying premise of psychoanalysis. In Peck’s case, the development has carried him now to the logical conclusion: evil must be seen, labeled, defined. This seeking to carry psychoanalysis into a wider sphere has an undermining effect. If one is sincere, at a certain point one has to face the limitations squarely and honestly.


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You give several reasons why you feel you should not be Y’s therapist. These reasons are very different from those that I have. You have had an important role to play in this matter, but you must draw the line at a certain point. In this type of work it is not at all healthy for fellow sadhaks to be involved with each other in the way you are now involved with Y. The forces you are dealing with are of a different order than in normal circumstances and you are reaching into a person’s destiny and karma and stirring things of that deep nature. It means that you have to be able to bear that responsibility. The process is different than common therapy. These forces are on the order of what Peck describes in his book People of the Lie, and which he terms ‘evil’ – we say ‘hostile’. His immediate reaction was to recoil and not have anything to do with them. He admits that he is not capable of transforming these ‘evil’ characteristics.


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What I have to add, or rather emphasize, is that this work is for people who really want something else and have the capacity to undergo the process. If that inner strength is absent then there will be ‘breakdowns’, as you describe. Sometimes the breakdown is temporary. Sometimes it is complete and decisive, and the person realizes he/she is a ‘fish out of water’, so to speak.

I have written you in the beginning of this letter that only if you succeed in extending your boundaries beyond the personal and can appreciate your ‘service to the higher cause’ will it be possible not only for you to understand what you and the others have lived through, but to be able to continue in this work. The hard part is to see how we are being used. The ego gets hurt, takes offence, recoils. The soul knows that this is the way the Divine is getting the work done and established in the world. It is then that the right poise comes and the disciple realises along with Sri Aurobindo that he/she is doing the yoga ‘for the Divine’ rather than for the world, for humanity. The distinction is subtle but essential.

People are very quick to talk about ‘a new consciousness’, rescuing the Earth, saving humankind, stopping the forthcoming nuclear holocaust. But when they are brought to participate in the only process that can really change things, they flee: ‘That’s not the way it’s supposed to be! I won’t give up my ego which I have worked so hard to preserve!” Then they run to the nonsense of ‘extraterrestrials’ – no demand for change, for hard work. Just a prolongation, a status quo.

I am not interested in any of that. The old ways hold no enticement for me and I have no illusions about their limitations.

 Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet

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