RTA – Psychology Beyond Freud
‘Psychology Beyond Freud’ is a study of the practical soul of man. It shows the greatest lacuna of Western philosophy – the Western thought lacks the idea of the soul that is beyond creation. It identifies the soul with the ego, which is only a shadow of it, cast in the mind of man. It is formed of subtle matter. That is why the Western thinkers have been misled to accept it as the core of the human personality. The ancient Indian sages (rishis) had said that even the mind and all its powers, like the ego, the intellect, the emotion, the desire, the imagination and the senses etc., are formed of subtle matter. They say the body is formed of gross matter. It is a compound of the five elements – the earth, water, fire, wind and space. The human personality is the result of a combination of the subtle and the gross matter.
Some of the Western thinkers have projected the life force as the essence of man. According to the rishis, it is only the spirit (prana), not the soul. Henri Bergson developed this idea in his books, mainly ‘Creative Evolution’, very fascinatingly. There was a time when the Western thinkers and literary men, like George Bernard Shaw, had taken his ideas as the liberator of the human mind from the intellectual abstractions of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Spinoza and a whole host of them, who had ultimately confounded the soul with the Idea, which was nothing other than a product of the mind.
Far from being the soul, the rishis say, both the idea and the mind are only two forms of matter. Marx took the Hegelian philosophy of the Idea to its logical conclusion and dispensed with the Hegelian Idea altogether, by saying that the essence of being was matter. He accused Hegel for making matter stand upside down.
Another influential Western thinker, in between, had given the theory of monad. Monad was the essence of the human personality, according to him, and it was windowless, and all communication between all the monads, i.e. human beings, was entirely external. The monad was capable of action, unlike the idea, though it is dependent on external stimulation for all its activity. It was a kind of living substance, which combined the virtues of existence and activity.
No thinkers have pursued the soul so persistently and for such a long duration, as the rishis of India – the disciple taking the investigation further from where the master had stopped. Nirmal Kumar examines the constituents of the human personality, like the consciousness, the unconscious, the ego, the psyche, as developed in the West by philosophers and finally the psycho-analysts, like Freud and Carl Gustaf Jung, only to show that they only discuss the shadow of the real, and, therefore, give no foundation of truth to the human personality. Man remains either a wobbly man or a stiff-necked intellectual, all the time living in fear, because the grand edifice of the human personality created by them remains shaky and frightened of its inner emptiness.
The result of the essentially weak and uncertain structure of the human personality, which the Western philosophers and psychologists have created, is that the human feels compelled to run for power or pleasure to get rid of fear of annihilation. Besides, their findings about the truth of man were so varied that they did not agree on any point and the great tradition of Western philosophy dried up by the time it was furthered by Bertrand Russell and A N Whitehead. Both of them tried to give a sure base to the human personality, as sure as a mathematical formula, and soon found that philosophy was wrongly intruding in the arena of the scientists and the mathematicians. They made philosophy surrender to science and disappeared. A J Ayer, Wittgenstein and Gilbert Ryle tried to find a new subject suitable to the philosophers. It was to purify the language so that it shed off its emotional burden, for they believed that truth in order to be truth must be mathematical. They soon found themselves drained of all enthusiasm. Western philosophy has, thereafter stopped attracting the attention of serious minds. Now it is the reserved playground for priests and other religious thinkers, busy explaining their religious beliefs.
Nirmal Kumar shows in this book that the psychological self of man varies in proportion to his ignorance, and is a non-entity in terms of truth. He exhorts the reader to trace the source of his or her being with the help of the rishis. According to the rishis, the source of all being – the physical world and the soul of man – is spiritual. The ultimately real – Brahm the Absolute – is smaller than the smallest and bigger than the biggest thing conceivable. Her/his nature is joy, illumination and love. The soul lodged in every human is a fraction of the Absolute. He likens the Absolute to the life-cell. In the beginning, the embryo is only one life-cell. This life-cell turns into two, then four, eight and so on, without splitting; and it transforms into the formation of the child. In the same way, the Brahm is the only real (sat), the only being. He is one, non-dual, without any other being beside herself/himself, (whatever pronoun you use for this absolute being), for he is not a conceivable being. He is beyond the range of the human mind. He desired to be many. Without splitting, he turned into many souls, without losing even an iota of his being. He desired that all the souls became joyful, enlightened and loving like him, by their own efforts. For this they needed the body, food, earth beneath their feet, air to breathe, fire to burn food and turn into energy. Thus the universe came into existence. The energy that came out of him was too great to be exhausted in creating the universe. The rest was transformed into the meta-universe, million times larger than the universe. The entire creation, according to the rishis, is an act of Vaivarta, i.e. the Brahman loses not even a fraction of his being in creating everything. The procedure is explained in the Upanishads in a language, which sounds confusing to the empirical modern scientists, but is quite comprehensible to spiritual contemplators. In a couplet the rishi explains it. It means, “The whole comes out of the whole and yet the whole remains.” This is vaivarta.
Nirmal Kumar pursues Brahm psychologically, using the faculties of the modern man, like the conscious and the unconscious, the ego, the psyche, the libido, the senses, the mind and the heart. He does so to make home this wisdom of the rishis to the modern man and woman, in a way that would sound familiar to them. It is a very unusual work. It packs the wisdom discovered over several millenniums by the rishis in 288 pages of crisp and easily understandable language. It avoids all philosophic jargon and is simple to the extreme. In doing so, it does not ignore the concept of beauty in prose. Even those, who are not acquainted with the wisdom of the rishis, will not feel lost if they give it a reading.
It would help the Western readers in understanding this book, if while going through the rishis’ idea of the soul they remember Wordsworth.