Vrindavan, 2019.01.02 (VT): Satyanarayan Das Babaji and the team at Vrindavan’s Jiva institute are working towards advancing the field of ‘Vedic Psychology’ by helping devotees to overcome obstacles. Vedic Psychology helps devotees to understand the habits that steal away the peaceful of mind and joy that should follow from the practice of bhakti.
Honesty (with oneself and with others) is one of the first qualifications for entrance into devotional life, but, as the saying goes, ‘easier said than done’. Babaji points out that people are not always aware of their own motivations, and, the fast paced modern world doesn’t leave much time or mental space for introspection:
In the past, when society was simple and not influenced by modern technology, the traditional sādhanā practices, such as japa, kirtan, līlā-smaraṇa, deity worship, hearing scripture, and seva were sufficient for a person to advance spiritually. This is because those people were born and raised in a nurturing varṇāśrama environment, in which they were educated about their identify and the purpose of life. They had a natural inclination to accept authority and surrender. They were already in a state of sattva [goodness]
However, in modern days, society has changed drastically. Therefore, the traditional practices, although potent as they were in the past, do not show their effect because the mind is unsteady, confused, and doubtful. The modern mind lacks deep faith and is very insecure. We are not trained to surrender, rather the opposite.
The modern world overflows with the intense distractions of rajasic [over stimulating] technology. Very few people are raised with any solid, rational understanding of basic philosophical concepts. We confuse authority with tyranny and the acceptance of guidance with personal weakness.
Moreover, the tamas [ignorance] and rajas [passion] in our dysfunctional and chaotic modern families inflict deep childhood traumas which generate hypersensitivity to feeling criticized, rejected, and unloved by authority figures.
Thus, most people come to bhakti to heal the wounds of modern life, not for true spiritual evolution. We engage in the regularities of spiritual sādhana primarily to be accepted into social groups that we hope will fill the emptiness we carry in our hearts from our damaged childhoods.
Our true motivation, often unknown to us, is to find a surrogate family—thus we hardly take any interest in true introspection to purify our hearts from the reflexive behaviors and perceptions (saṁskāras) that keep us stuck in rajas and tamas.
If we could truly surrender, we would need nothing but the basic sādhanas to bring us to our goal of kṛṣṇa-prema. But this doesn’t usually happen. Most of us may have no idea what such “surrender” really means.
Vedic Psychology helps us to understand why surrender is so difficult. In another article, Babaji outlines the Vedic explanantion of the parts of the mind. Understanding the mind as having fragmented parts, each of which represents different interests helps to realize why we cannot trust even our own mind, especially as most of us are fairly oblivious to the mind’s workings.
The soul or purusha comes into contact with the physical world of matter only indirectly, through the subtle elements of citta (unconscious mind), buddhi (intelligence) and ahankara (ego). Citta is the store house of experiences, which contains subtle impressions, samskaras.
Whatever we experience is stored in the citta throughout the different forms of life a living entity goes through. The vision of the world is based on our samskaras which we modify with every experience.
Buddhi or intelligence is the conscious mind. Manas is the subconscious mind, which works through comparison.
Ahankara or I-consciousness (ego) is that which gives us the feeling of being an individual being, different from everything else. It consists of two parts: The functional (related to functions inside or outside of our body) and the representational part, which gives identity. Those who can transcend ahankara can get into contact with cosmic intelligence.
The psychology section of jiva.org is an archive of practical solutions for the many of the stressing problems of modern life. Many of the exercises are designed as practical methods of deepening understanding of the way the mind works.
Babaji and his disciple, Joshika, also run workshops and answer psychology based questions through email: firstname.lastname@example.org.