Published on July 25th, 2022 | by Harmonist staff23
Published on July 25th, 2022 | by Harmonist staff23
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It may be fashionable nowadays to think of Freudianism as passé, but as far as I am concerned, Sigmund’s insights are among the most commonsensical this world has been graced with, ever. The plain truth is, one cannot healthily function as a balanced, sane individual without properly and adequately resolving the natural urges that this undoubted genius deliberates about so extensively in his copious cogitations.
Dear Vikram, this comic was not meant to belittle the contributions of Freud at all. The little I know about him shows clearly that he was an incredible visionary and way ahead of his time.
Your comment brings up an interesting point though: how to deal with those deeply rooted natural urges? I have a feeling that Freud’s ideas differ radically from the Vedantic perspective but I’d be interested to hear what his solution was.
Actually, I got your humorous point and my post was not meant to counter your comic, Gurunisthaji. Rather, I just felt like, in somewhat telegraphic fashion, stating my personal take on the knowledge that has come down to us courtesy of Freud. His prescription, in short, is for one to basically sate the psycho-physical demands of one’s being, and I personally tend to concur with this.
The Vedantic view is largely antithetical to the idea of giving in to those impulses, but my method of reconciling the two is, in not too many words, to regard the scriptural injunctions as applicable in an ideal world, whereas the one in which we, at least presently, live, is far from perfect. Hence, I believe that even in devotee circles, there is very much a place for some Freudian concepts, as long as one doesn’t lose sight of the greater objective and is able to be honest with oneself about it. I also reckon that many, many of the ills we have witnessed over the last few decades in Caitanya Vaisnavism, as in several other mystical traditions, could in substantial measure have been averted, had those concerned been more in tune with their own inner realities and handled them appropriately.
Amen. Now we’re talking! Thanks Vikram. I do actually think that the sexually restrictive moral program of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and the aggressive attitudes we have toward non-devotees are both troublesome. Better to find an expression for these that is more progressive and sustainable.
Yes Freud’s insights were pretty unique. I personally preferred Jung eventually, but Jung acknowledges his debt to his mentor Freud, though I think he eventually surpassed Freud.
Jung surpassing Freud is highly debatable. In fact, by far more contemporary Freudian thinkers are being taught at the Jungian institutes than the other way around. Sri Chaitanya Sanga has at least a couple of sadhakas who are also contemporary Freudian psychologists.
You may be interested in: Vishnu on Freud’s Desk
However, when discussing philosophy and psychology it is also important to take note of the 100 years of theoretical and empirical developments in psychoanalysis, not just Freud.
Perhaps it was because Jung went into things, which were not exactly “scientific”. I don’t find Freud being taken seriously by contemporary hard science either, if that is what you want as the benchmark for deciding who is greater. Otherwise, I feel it is a subjective preference. I know many who have preferred Jung over Freud, without ignoring the contributions of Freud. Again, all subjects are so super specialized that you will target me for not reading all of Freud and all of Jung to say anything. So I would say whatever minuscule I have read of both and whatever I have gleaned from some people in psychology who are more informed than me including Dr Graf, I found Jung to be a deeper thinker. It is like a debate between Aristotle and Plato. It goes on till date. If you want to talk about individual treatment, perhaps Freud has a better answer as it is a more minimalist approach that can be used better with empirical science. Again, I don’t think I can free you from Freudian bias as you can’t free from the Jungian! 🙂
No need to free each other from our biases… but as much as I feel compelled by others points of view to explore what they promote (I have read and continue to read Jung), I expect the same of others. If you read Freud I think you will be impressed by his depth of thought.
Freud is taken seriously in many respects by contemporary neuroscience (see The Brain and the Inner World and the entire field of Neuropsychoanalysis). However, we do not just judge success by who has received the thumbs-up of empiricism. In psychology like religion we can look to enthusiastic, thought-provoking thinking in one’s followers as a sign of the power of the leader. Both Jung and Freud have had an impressive number of thinkers follow them.
Certainly I will look into Freud more closely when I have time and also your suggestions. Thanks.
Meanwhile you may want to look into this book if you want http://www.amazon.com/Pauli-Jung-Meeting-Great-Minds/dp/0835608379
Jung’s interaction with Pauli is really a great read.
I do think however, that it is good to have people like you and Vamsi to check any absolutist tendencies in participants like me here.
Don’t thank us…thank Freud!
I just said after speaking to people to some people who study psychology and biology in different universities and I was just talking how neither Jung or Freud were in the mainstream research and Neuropsychoanalysis is not accepted by too many people. But like that pointed out, it does not mean much to us who look for good ideas.
Now if the bhakta would have offered the man a plate of prasadam he would have been much more receptive and benefited.
So, when books won’t work…….. prasadam distribution!
But, it was that book BRS that is the first book of Krishna consciousness that I first came across and the book that turned me towards joining the Hare Krishna society in 1975.
So, the book (strangely enough) has been the first book of KC that started numerous souls on their path to Krishna.
The nectar ocean of devotion.
That is the one ocean we all need to drown in.
OMG Gnu don’t touch Ziggy please. If you only new that he actually also spoke of a Nirvana principle. And not to mention that he was brilliant. I attack Freud every day but least I’ve red more Freud then anyone else. If you picked Oedipus complex at least it might be funny.
Oh Vamsi, you’re so fanatical when it comes to psychology. Isn’t it a form of repression to not be able to “touch” certain issues or icons?
Vikram, I totally agree with you that Freud’s theories can be immensely helpful for struggling sadhakas and some middle ground has to be found between the ideal and our realities.
Gopa and Vamsi, I’m still interested to hear how Freud reconciled the tension between natural urges and societal stability. Since we are not independent of our surroundings we can’t fully embrace the natural urges but if we repress them too much it reflects negatively on all levels, societal included…
Absolutely. Not to mention that an unreflective, forced attempt at artificial suppression more often than not eventuates in ourselves ending up dysfunctional.
Quick answer: sublimation.
Long answer: the entire literature on the development of the ego as the mediator between the id (driven self) and ‘reality’.
However, it is much more helpful to think about this topic from a contemporary theoretical modality. This would shift the topic from the theme of “urges” to that of “relating”. In which case we have to understand these “natural urges” as wishes for connection with others. With this we have to contend with society’s taboos on intimacy & dependency, not only sexuality. Sexual relating is just one form of relating, which sometimes is less troubling to society than closeness. One has to wonder, especially in small reclusive spiritual traditions, what is the impact of taboo on emotional intimacy. I think forbidden intimacy is the most suspect culprit when you see people ‘lose control’ of their natural urges.
Thank you for the link, Gopa. It was an interesting read.
So would you say that sexual abstinence will without fail lead to psychological problems or is it that different people have different skill levels at sublimation and thus if equipped with the right set of skills, the need to relate can be transferred into a focus on spiritual practice?
I suppose when the vedic texts talk about raising the prana up in the brain, that is an ancient for of sublimation . . . Interesting.
Yoga is all about sublimation, refining the baser human instincts into progressively more subtle forms. The yogis say that if the prana is allowed to flow downwards toward the genitals then one will inevitably act out one’s desires in a physical way. In contrast the urdhva-retah (one who has succeeded in reversing the flow of prana from down to up) no longer acts to satisfy desires on the physical level, and, ultimately, even the subtle (mental) form of the lower desires are transcended. Very interesting indeed. Easier said than done though!
I do not think the restraint of sexuality causes psychological problems per se. I do believe that trying to restrain sexuality usually leads to the withdraw from intimacy with other people and this lack of closeness can cause serious harm. For the less psychologically ‘enlightened’ person this will manifest often as a sexual preoccupation and impulsiveness. However, the desire probably has a lot more to do with the wish for attachment to others than to the need for sex. We are finding in psychology that the “baser instincts” that Citta Hari mentions have a lot less to do with sexual driveness and a lot more to do with attachment to caretakers and all the complex psychological functions facilitated by this attachment.
Gaudiyas have a lovely, interesting and profoundly sophisticated argument that bypasses this intimacy/attachment dilemma commonly found in the ascetically inclined religious traditions. We suggest that humans and objects in the material world are limited in their capacity for reciprocation and as such attachments in this world invariably cause despair, distress, and disappointment. (I think this is an exaggeration; the use of hyperbole to encourage the sadhaka to sadhana.) However, no one can deny that attachment in the world to objects and to caretakers is riddled with difficulties and limitations.
The Gaudiyas suggest we cultivate attachment for the absolute and even define the path for doing so. Each step along the way sraddha, sadhu sanga, anartha nivrti, asakti, bhava, prema can be seen to encourage increasing development of attachment (as defined in Attachment Theory; Bowlby, Ainsworth, Main, Schore) to the absolute. The Gaudiya suggestion is that the absolute can be related to as an intimate other and that the absolute –in these intimate expressions– will reciprocate with us. As such, the process of attachment to Krsna would not be imaginary, but rather a redirecting of attachment, dependence, and emotional cultivation, to Krsna as an ideal intimate other with whom to relate (in various sentiments).
The veracity of this model depends wholly however, on the absolute’s reciprocation. Until this occurs, the sadhaka is in a vulnerable position being asked to redirect their attachment (reduce material attachment and cultivate divine attachment) and not yet getting the needed reciprocation that would encourage sustained faith in the process. This is why sadhu sanga and sadhaka sanga is so important. We need both to sustain us in a transitional phase between these attachment domains until we prove worthy (or pitiful enough) to encourage direct divine reciprocation (our prayojana). The guru could be seen as the first dimension of this divine reciprocation, and as such a critical figure for the transition I am suggesting. However, with the sparsity of qualified gurus in the world, the gurus direct attention wears thin sometimes. In fact, few of us actually have the kind of consistent sanga that would help sustain this transitional phase. This is why, I believe, we fall back on malfunctioning systems for regulating attachment problems… the most common of being sexual preoccupation and excessiveness. So I suggest we increase the emphasis on sadhaka sanga, viewing the sadhaka as an expansion or manifestation of the sadhu’s mercy and potency.
These are my thoughts on the matter. I look forward to any responses on my speculations.
I think that Gopa and, yes, even you, Vamsi, see that this is just a joke, a play on words. We can’t deny the influence that Freud and Jung had on opening the world of the mind–indeed, the world of consciousness–to greater understanding by even regular folks. Sure, many of Freud’s ideas have lost their sheen, but that doesn’t mean he’s passe. And our own Srila Prabhupada expressed some appreciation for some of his insights, and he certainly thought Jung made a lot of sense in many areas.
Actually, my first psychology professor was Dr. Hans Hahn, an Austrian who was a student of Freud’s. If I remember correctly, Freud was his graduate advisor. He was a cool old guy whose classes were always interesting. We were his last class before he retired in 1965.
nice, great thinkers think a like, birds of a feather flock together. it is very refreshing to being brought back to college thoughts.
thank you for the thorough and thought-provoking reply!
I very much agree that if one doesn’t have a living connection to a sadhu, there seems to be two options: either one lowers his standards and makes compromises with his conditioning, or one forces oneself externally to an unnatural standard by repression.
It’s a very nice insight that sadhu sanga is the only answer for steering clear of these two pitfalls.