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Noticing Reality

Psychology and Spiritual Practice
Episode No. 123

How does psychology interfere with sadhana and our experience of ourselves? A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi 

 

Podcast First Words

We live in an extremely psychologized culture. Because we embody the view that we hold most dear, our psychologized view of ourselves is therefore our experience of ourselves. Say we have a view of something, like we feel that something tastes terrible. If that’s our view of it, then indeed it will taste terrible. We feel a certain situation is dangerous, and indeed it will feel dangerous because that’s our view of it.

All of these views that we have and hold dear and think are natural or normal or right or true—those views organize our body, energy, and mind. A person who feels good about themselves will walk in a certain way. A person who feels sad will walk in another way. Everything that we feel, and particularly our views about things, our concepts, our dearly held beliefs, the engrained ways that we’ve been trained to relate to life through concepts—we embody those. This is what embodying view means. It means that our literal bodies, our literal energy, our literal mind, and our literal emotions are being shaped by those views.

So starting in the late nineteenth century, we began to hear this psychological story about the human being. This has nothing to do with anything in India, China, Tibet, or Japan. This comes from Western Europe. The view was born that children were born with what was called a tabula rasa, meaning a blank slate. And that they were full of drives and impulses that were unorganized by any real personality.

So children were viewed in this psychologized way as sort of blobs of impulses. And then the story of you—the story of your personality, your body, your energy, your mind, your emotions, and the way you relate to everything—started at the moment of birth. So you were there with some sort of family situation or at least a caretaker situation, and your entire personality and everything you felt was thought to begin there. And it was a result of your relationships primarily with whoever gave birth to you and took care of you when you were younger, and maybe some other traumas along the way and things like that.

Most of you, even though you’ve had many, many teachings, still embody this view to a large degree. The symptoms of this are that you still relate to spiritual practice as something that is going to psychologically repair you.