Reply To: Psychotherapy with LH patients

  • Don Salmon

    June 18, 2023 at 1:29 pm


    really great conversations. I”m replying directly to Nic but want to bring in a great point Mike made, about the limitations of Advaita, the implicit dualism, rejecting this world while claiming “All” to be Divine.

    This was the focus of Sri Aurobindo’s life teaching. Perhaps not coincidentally, before he “retired” to Pondicherry in South India to devote his life to bringing forward a new, life affirming approach to spirituality (as different from anything previous in the West as in the East) he was the leader of the independence movement in India (prior to Gandhi), and in 1907 was arrested and jailed as a terrorist (it was an inner “voice” that told him to leave Northern India to go to Pondicherry, which at the time was under the control of the French and therefore free of British rule)

    Sri Aurobindo saw that spirituality over the past 3 to 4 thousand years had (despite tantric exceptions and similar exceptions in the West, such as the Sufis – well, Middle East, at least) been oriented toward a negative view of the world, a celebration of renunciation and an orientation toward putting up with this life on the way to our eternal life in heaven.

    Sri Aurobindo radically shifted this view, incorporated an evolutionary view (one foreseen in the Vedas, and quite radically different from Darwin’s view) and actually saw humanity as “transitional” leading to a new species altogether.

    In the extraordinarily complex psychology of Sri Aurobindo, he described two modes of thought almost exactly the same as the descriptions of the LH and RH, and saw them as both belonging to what the medieval Christians referred to as “intellect” (NOT ‘intellectual” which we might identify with LH).

    Our true self is the Divine Consciousness which pervades the Universe, and we also have an evolving, individualized “Soul” which, using the Greek origin of the word “psyche” he referred to as “the psychic being.” (Aurobindo was one of the greatest Latin and Greek scholars who ever attended Cambridge University).

    The mind (including what we are calling here LH and RH), the “vital” or “pranic” consciousness and the physical consciousness are, for him, the instruments of the Soul/psychic being and Self. So spirituality in this view is not the RH (or that aspect of the thinking mind, as Sri Aurobindo puts it) but is shifting entirely out of identification with ANY part of the mind, vital or physical body/consciousness.

    Because his view of Advaita (an integral view as he puts it, “Purna Advaita” or integral non dualism) does not simply dissolve everything into some kind of pure Consciousness, the Soul or psychic being surrenders to the ultimate Divine Reality, which is dynamic and here in the universe, constantly evolving. All the chaos and polarization and climate change disasters and the rest are seen, in this light, as part of the evolution process in which the new integral (or “Supramental”) consciousness is emerging.

    I think if nothing else, this vast integral psychology puts the LH and RH views into a very helpful perspective, one which encompasses the full range of developmental psychology, evolutionary neuroscience, quantum physics, personality psychology, all psychotherapies, the humanities, and much more.

    Two friends of mine just published an overview of Sri aurobindo’s “cosmo-psychology’ – “Consciousness-Based Psychology.”

    Michael is a psychiatrist in Boston, Soumitra a psychiatrist in Kolkata. Their book is a much more detailed examination of the relationship of therapy and Sri Aurobindo’s views.

    The book Jan and I wrote, “Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness,” was more intended to show how a non-materialist vision of the universe could be a far more profound AND far more practical basis for psychology than our current materialist/physicalist paradigm. In this sense the aim of the book was much closer to Iain’s, that is, to undo, to question, to challenge the materialist view. (by the way, I see it’s now ridiculously expensive; if anybody would like a PDF, just write me at