February 21, 2006

Psychotherapy and Sri Aurobindo & the Mother

Brant Cortright, Director of the Integral Counseling Psychology Program at CIIS, acknowledged Sri Aurobindo as the greatest psychologist that the world has ever known. According to him, Integral Psychology is born when we fuse Sri Aurobindo's teachings with the findings of depth psychology. Stating that the vital ego is the main obstacle in sadhana as pointed out by Sri Aurobindo, Dr. Cortright pointed out that the concern of depth psychotherapy is to deal with the vital self of the client. He commented that spiritual practice is not capable of breaking through neurotic patterns, and neurotic living is the norm in the society.
He warned that until and unless there has been the formation of a healthy ego, the chances of spiritual bypassing (a condition where one uses spiritual ideas to avoid confronting one's psychological issues) are very strong. Pointing to the similarity between yoga and psychotherapy, he said that the aim of both the practices is identical. For psychotherapy, it is to make the unconscious conscious whereas for yoga, the goal is to become conscious on all planes and parts of the being. Both psychotherapy and yoga make us turn within. However, when we do so we are faced with the difficulties of the surface self. These difficulties can be psychotherapeutically worked with, which can facilitate psychological and spiritual growth.
However, he did not seem to believe that yogis have special powers to work with the psychological issues of their disciples, which can be done only by psychotherapists. For he commented: "psychotherapy is a type of vital discipline Sri Aurobindo and the Mother did not have access to, because it is only in the past 20 or 30 years that psychotherapy has come of age as a mature and effective discipline". A Report on the Second International Conference on Integral Psychology HomeHistory & Mission

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