Adhyatma Yoga and Psychiatry5 min read

IT is a well-known fact that modern psycho-analysis is expensive, lengthy and not always successful. It is therefore surprising to read of a certain case-history, described by Professor Jung as being completed in two visits. The patient was young, pretty and highly intelligent.

She was the daughter of a rich Jewish banker, and yet in spite of these favourable circumstances, the young woman said that she had suffered from an anxiety neurosis for several years. Questioning her about her ancestry, Jung discovered that her grandfather had been a Rabbi, who belonged to a deeply religious sect, called the Chassidim.

These were Jews who strove to become living channels of God’s Grace.

Jung felt that here was a clue to his patient’s neurosis, for she had probably inherited this strong religious tendency, but was unaware of its implications. That night Jung dreamed of his patient. In the dream he was handing her an umbrella because it was raining hard. In doing so, he knelt before her, as if she were a royal person. The dream was related to his patient and she understood its meaning. Here was a young woman who only appeared to be superficial.

Deep down was the consciousness of incomplete knowledge which must result in fear and anxiety. All her conscious activity was being directed towards flirtations, clothes and sex, because she knew of nothing else. Therefore her fife was meaningless, for she was evading her true destiny—to know God and to fulfil His secret will.

Professor Jung writes that his patient was cured of her neurosis, but he had merely pointed out the direction in which she should go. He was primarily a psychiatrist, but with a strong belief that a person’s religious attitude must play a crucial part in the therapy of psychic illness.

Adhyatma Yoga would admit that a sense of direction is a very valuable thing to possess, but it is only the beginning of the spiritual path.

The Gita says:—“The Supreme Spirit in the body is the Witness, the Supporter, the Sovereign Lord and the Highest Self”.

Complete fearlessness is the result of direct knowledge of that Sovereign Lord as the Spirit in oneself and in all. Our difficulties, generally of a psychological nature, do not end with merely having a sense of direction. With the entry into a spiritual path they may begin in real earnest, but Adhyatma Yoga provides us with a solution. It provides psychological instruction which is in accordance with the findings of some of the greatest psychologists the world has ever known—the Rishis of the Upanishads. As a poet or a painter or a musician might retire into solitude to produce a great masterpiece, so did those ancient Sages, detached and dedicated, observe life, analyse it and reach certain conclusions about it.

By these conclusions they trained their disciples, and it is this same psychological training which is reverently being followed by the Yogic students of today.

In a modem translation of The Cloud of Unknowing, written by an anonymous English monk of the fourteenth century, Dr. Ira Progoff, an American psychologist, suggests that modem psychologists should widen their range, to include the experience of mystics in all religions.

He writes, “If modem psychologists would turn their attention to studying some of the early records of disciplined psychological undertakings, they would soon learn that those pre-scientific men were working in a spirit not unlike their own”.

But it should be remembered that psychological maturity is only a means to an end. Self-Knowledge is the goal.

The Incarnations of God and the great saints and sages have infallibly known the psychological difficulties of the people with whom they came in contact. Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita metes out no words of sympathy to his pupil Arjuna, overwhelmed with self-pity. He recalls him to his forgotten manliness with strong, cutting words:

“ Yield not to unmanliness. It does not become thee. Cast off this base weakness of heart and arise”.

When the Lord Jesus meets the woman at the well, He asks her for some water and tells her about the water of immortality, to which all penitent souls are entitled, when they search for God’s beauty. When she said, “Give me of this water”,

Jesus replied with a seemingly irrelevent command, “Go! Call your husband”.

He hoped she would admit the truth and she did not fail him. Skilfully the poison was released from her soul, which was causing her confusion and inner conflict. The basic obstacle to knowledge of the Truth was removed.

How well St. Teresa of Avila knew how to deal with her nuns. She writes to a worried and ailing prioress:

“If you would sometimes believe what I say, we would avoid a great deal of trouble. Take no notice of the interior troubles you mention. The greater they are, the more you ought to despise them. They arise from a strong imagination and a disordered body, and the devil, no doubt, contributes his share. For the love of God, get well, eat enough, and do not be alone, and do not think too much. Occupy yourself with what you can, and how you can. I wish I were with you. I should have a number of amusing things to tell you”.

If the Yogic psychological training was all  Adhyatma Yoga had to offer—it would not be enough.

There is additional training of even greater value.

It is instruction in meditation and devotion.

Professor Jung acknowledges that psycho-analysis itself and the lines of thought to which it gives rise, is surely a distinctive Western development.

“It is only a beginner’s attempt to what is an immemorial act in the East.”

The findings of these ancient Seers should not be lightly put aside, for it is their teachings which can train man in the art of living peacefully and fully. It is their teachings which will bring to society a healthier evaluation of spiritual matters and a truer interpretation of Christianity.