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Western and Indian Psychology

by Swami Sivananda


Each of the senses of man, executes only one function. Eyes can only see; ears can only hear; tongue can only taste; skin can only touch; nose can only smell. But the mind can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. All the sense-faculties are blended in the mind. You can see and hear directly, through the mind by Yogic practice (clairvoyance and clairaudience. This blows out the Western psychological theory of perception. Mind and Indriyas are related this way; the Indriyas are a prolongation of the mind. Mind is a mass of Indriyas. Mind is a consolidated Indriya. Indriya is mind in manifestation. Indriya represents backwaters. The desire in the mind to eat has manifested as tongue, teeth and stomach. If you can control the mind, you can control the Indriyas. If you have controlled the Indriyas, you have already controlled the mind.


According to western medical science, light vibrations from outside strike the retina and inverted image is formed there. These vibrations are carried through optic tract and optic thalamus to the centre of vision in the occipital lobe of the brain in the back part of the head. There, a positive image is formed. Only then does one see the object in front of one. The Vedantic theory of perception is that the mind comes out through the eye and assumes the shape of the object outside. It is only the individual mind that sees object outside. If you see the same objects through a telescope, they appear different. If you can see with the mind directly, you will have a different vision altogether. Hiranyagarbha or Karya Brahman has a different vision. He sees everything as a vibration or movement within himself as his own Sankalpa, just as you can imagine within your own mind that a big war is going on and many people are dying on either side. You withdraw the imagination at will.


The Western psychologists' exposition of dream-psychology, though having much to its credit in the shape of research and some valuable information, yet leaves much unexplained. It lacks much that can be supplied only from theories of the East. They can only be explained by thoughtful inferences from the theories of rebirth, the Law of Karma, the operation of external factors like the Akasic records and occult factors like thought-transference and action of astral entities like Pretas of deceased persons. Only a sincere attempt to make a deep study into the working of these factors can form a full and more adequate exposition of the mysterious subject of dream. To the Yogi who has successfully transcended the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep, the knowledge of all these comes perfectly. To the Jnani, no doubt with intuitive perception, the mystery of dreams becomes perfectly solved.

That the Western dream theory is sex-ridden is due to the fact that they start with a wrong notion of what in reality constitutes Man. To them, man is mainly a physical creature endowed with a mind and possessed of a soul. This is just the contrary of the Oriental view that man in reality is a Spirit, expressing himself through the medium of a mind, which has the physical body as its counterpart to function upon the gross external plane. Thus, we see, to the Indian mind, the true Self of man is entirely devoid of sex. It is the body that suffers under the tyranny of a gender. This body is the least part of man as defined by the philosophical mind of the East. Sex is therefore just but one aspect - though a dominant one perhaps - of the individual soul that goes about as Man upon this earthly stage.


Psychologists say that the functions of the organs as controlled by the nerves and nervous system. They also say that the organs, etc., are controlled by the mind. Devotees say that the organs are controlled by the presiding deities. Vedantins say that the organs are controlled by the Inner Ruler or Antaryamin. The nerves, the mind and the senses and the gods derive this power and light from the Inner Ruler who is the ultimate source for everything. This is the truth. If the mind is pure and free from distractions, you will behold the supreme Self (Atman) within and everywhere, Know That - the impeller of actions.


There are some psychologists and philosophers who do believe that mind is a secretion of the brain. What a wild, absurd conviction! They have come to admit the presence of the subconscious mind, however, - the - Dual-Mind Theory - which is known to the Hindu sages from time immemorial. Mind is not self-luminous like the Self-effulgent Atman or the supreme Spirit. It shines in borrowed feathers.

Just as a piece of iron moves in the immediate presence of magnet, even so this insentient mind moves and works in the presence of the Inner Ruler. This point has not been properly understood by the Western psychologists, rationalists, free thinkers, economists, socialists and others. Hence, they are always restless and are groping in total darkness. The vibrations of psychic or subtle Prana manufacture thoughts in the mind.

The mind is insentient (Jada) but it appears as Chaitanya (Chaitanyavat) by borrowing the light from the Adhishthana (source) - Atman - just as water exposed to the sun borrows the heat from the sun. Because there is reflection of intelligence in the mind from the background, the source or womb for this mind, this insentient mind appears as intelligent. This is the real truth. This is the bold, genuine philosophy of the Hindu sages of yore.

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