Gurmat: Unlocking the prison of Eurocentric psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context. the current psychological models (western or modern models) are founded on the works of Freud, Carl Jung, William james, Maslow and Rogers.  These models do not include consciousness, nor the study of consciousness, awareness training or comprehension beyond the ego sense of self.  All in all, these models have been developing for less than 150 years.

Now compare this with traditions such as the Taoists, Buddhists, Hindu and Sikhs, who have studied the nature of the mind, consciousness and practical methods of transcending the egoic sense of self to experience reality directly are through this experience:-

  • We discover our true nature, all psychological and spiritual struggles come to an end.
  • The belief in the existence of a permanent egoic sense of self that needs to compete with all other selves in the world is eliminated from the deepest strata of our minds
  • Our aversion and attraction, hatred and greed, which are based on the false view of self, begin to fade away
  • Anxiety, stress and depression fade and our anxious minds are tamed
  • We begin to see things with perfect understanding
  • We feel a sense of joy
  • The course of our life is seen with serenity
  • We become as natural in our expression as the tree, birds and the sky
  • Total complete freedom from our conditioned sense of self, self sovereignty.Now compare this to the dominant model of psychology that is beginning to show its limitations in dealing with the stresses of modern lifestyle. The context behind the modern state of affairs helps understand its colonial past.

The British imperial government used a number of dogmas to justify their “God ordained” mission to civilise the non-Western races. Non-Western races were classified as the “Other”, something to be studied, photographed and exhibited.

These dogmas included, that the East was in a desperate need of Western civilisation, that they were incapable of defining themselves, which provided the Western scholars freedom to define the “Other” according to their own terms. Indians were classified as “children” who needed the “Adults”, i.e the British to help them mature into adulthood by civilizing them into the Western worldview. The supposed superiority of Western concepts of knowledge, reality and self led to the uncritical acceptance of western psychological methodologies and concepts by the colonised Indians.

The colonisers’ strategy was to educate the elite into accepting the superiority of Western worldview while defining the indigenous traditions, sciences and psychologies as inferior, primitive and immature. This helped disillusion the early western trained Indian psychologists to abandon their traditional psychological therapies such as meditation, yoga, and tantric healing practices which have to this day proved their effectiveness and stood the test of time.

Psychoanalysis (Western or modern psychological model) was one of the tools used to partially “cure” the affliction of Indianness”. In fact, in 1920’s, Psychoanalytical theory was used to educated the “colonial administrators in dealing with Indians who dared to question British rule”.

The racist colonial attitude has had a last impact on almost all indigenous or “native” psychologies in the world to this day. Western psychology is the second wave colonisation, in which the mind and the body are colonised and in which those colonised attempt to fight their rulers within the psychological limits set by the rulers.

The blind copying of Western psychology, ego-based psychology, replaced the incredibly rich science of consciousness, mind and self. It is only over the past 15 or so year that Indian psychology has begun to emerge from the colonial psychology prison, with the first national seminar on Indian psychology in 2007.

The stage is now set for the highly sophisticated, time tested and life transforming psychologies to emerge from the colonial psychological prison established by the early British colonisers. Mindfulness a key component of Indic psychology, particularly Buddhism has exploded in its application across the West, and now being integrated with Western psychology itself.

Gurmat is the latest non-western psychology which has demonstrated its application in cultivating optimum psycho-spiritual health and well being is now beginning to make its appearance as another complete system for psychological health and more.