Psychoanalysis and Yoga Don’t Mix

Without the power to control and purify, an individual faces great risk in dredging up all kinds of subconscious energies, fears, experiences, dreams and desires. Psychoanalysis focuses on tapping into this subconscious level, but it does not start with any process to arm the individual with the necessary insight, and tools, to manage what comes up. Thus, it tends to create great confusion, in some cases leading to years of ongoing ‘therapy’ without any positive result.

The practice of yoga relies on the development of a focus, not on the lowest and least conscious levels of our awareness, but on the highest and most awake parts of our being. The sense is that as the higher powers of awakened consciousness gain more strength and bring with them new insights, understandings and ability to control and manage the forces of mind, life and body, it becomes more possible to deal with anything that would surge up from below, and if the subconscious levels need to be opened up and excavated, so to speak, at least the seeker will be armed with knowledge and be able to understand what is happening and thus, be able to manage what comes.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Your practice of psychoanalysis was a mistake….The psycho-analysis of Freud is the last thing that one should associate with yoga. It takes up a certain part, the darkest, the most perilous, the unhealthiest part of the nature, the lower .vital subconscious layer, isolates some of its most morbid phenomena and attributes to it and them an action out of proportion to its true role in the nature. Modern psychology is an infant science, at once rash and fumbling and crude. As in all infant sciences, the universal habit of the human mind — to take a partial or local truth, generalise it unduly and try to explain a whole field of Nature in its narrow terms — runs riot here …. It is true that the subliminal in man is the largest part of his nature and has in it the secret of the unseen dynamisms which explain his surface activities. But the lower vital subconscious which is all that this psycho-analysis of Freud seems to know, — and even of that it knows only a few ill-lit corners, — is no more than a restricted and very inferior portion of the subliminal whole…. First, one should make the higher mind and vital strong and firm and full of light and peace from above; afterwards one can open up or even dive into the subconscious with more safety and some chance of a rapid and successful change.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, General Methods and Principles, Observation versus Analysis, pp. 5-7

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