PSYCHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALISMType your paragraph here.
Psyhology and Spiritualism
Although many of life’s questions are yet to be understood by psychology, an amalgamation of psychology and religion could provide a useful insight into life. Through intense research, psychologists have gained insights over many things, such as memory, intelligence and depression, and many other still remain unanswered. These discussions are rather brief, selective and curt; it is impossible to discuss psychology in its entire gamut in a project like this and I am no expert in this field, I have been selective and have picked which are relevant to the objective of connecting to supreme consciousness.
The first question that comes to mind is whether nature governs us or nurture governs us. Why are some people introverts while others are extroverts? Why are some people cool under all situations while others react negatively as soon as stress comes in? Genetics seem to play an important role, as often we find that children of intelligent parents are born with higher IQs, though there are many exceptions to this. Often, different children of the same parents have different IQ levels, different personality traits and lead a totally different life. The question of nature and nurture has been debated for years together; the answer to it could be it is just a relationship of love; nature loves us like our mother and just like it is difficult to say whether the mother grooms the child or the child grooms all by herself or himself, so is the relationship between nature and nurture; it cannot be defined and is a relationship of love. You might say ‘you are applying your love theory to everything’ and, as I said, it is the single pleasure in this universe and everything can be explained and run by love. It is not a definitive answer, but some good innovative insight into this debate.
Locke, a famous philosopher and psychologist, as early as 1704, believed that the brain is at a blank stage during the three years after birth. Jean Piaget’s observation of children convinced him that a child’s mind is completely different than that of an adult and every meditation guru says that you can achieve a blank state of mind through meditation. Children also smell differently than adults and, through meditation, once the Kundalini energy is awakened, adults can also get the same heavenly smell. Nora Perry (1896), a famous poet, wondered, ‘who knows the thoughts of a child’. The speed at which a child learns is far greater than the speed at which an adult learns. For instance, Fanz (1961) discovered that a child would turn its head in the direction of human voices and not in the direction of artificial sounds, and also could, within a day, distinguish their mother’s facial expressions and search for breast milk. No wonder it is said that child is a form of God and every God, irrespective of any religion, had a zero state of mind. After three years, experiences leave a landmark on our brain and our life is shaped by these experiences. Logical reasoning begins by the age of five.
Coming back to the question of nature versus nurture, my personal belief is that, though nature gives us certain traits and lots of things are decided by our genes and our karmic balances, nurture plays an important role in shaping our personality. Our unconscious mind is shaped by our childhood experiences. Recent studies extend these findings. For instance, Field (1986) found out that babies benefit from stimulation of being touched and massaged, and gain weight and develop faster neurologically. Nevertheless, meditation can reverse the influence of our negative childhood experiences. Our culture also has an important role in shaping our personality. Westerners have an open culture, which makes them open to new ideas to better develop communication skills and have a more inquisitive mind. I think, in future, the best of Eastern and Western culture would be amalgamated and a mutually acceptable culture would emerge.
Hindus in ancient days had a completely open culture. For instance, Lord Krishna is said to have had more than 1000 wives. Lord Rama had only Sita as his consort; however, it is said he found all the characteristics of a woman in Sita and did not need other women. Draupadi, for instance, a famous character in Epic Mahabharata, had five husbands; Hindus those days also had the ability of getting children by praying to different Gods and reciting mantras, though I fail to understand how this was possible. If you go to any Hindu temple, you will find one male Hindu god with two or three consorts by his side.
We have the best brain to body ratio of 1:45 compared to animals, whose brain to body ratio varies from 1:10000 in dinosaurs to 1:100 in elephants. Human beings are there for a great ecological success. Human beings are the only ones who have Kundalini energy stored in the base of the spine, which can be evoked by meditation. No other animal is capable of meditation, though some of them have a sixth sense that helps them to avoid danger. Most Humans lack sixth sense, though, after self—realisation, it also gets awakened. What thoughts do animals have is another interesting question one can think of. We know animals are completely gelled with nature and their needs are limited. Animals are capable of emitting only Limited sounds, like the barking sound of dogs, and only few of them, like parrots, are capable of imitating human sounds, though only to some limited extent. Do animals have thoughts or are also thoughtless like a human child is another interesting area of research. Humans are capable of both verbal and non-verbal communication while animals have only limited communication skills. Can animals communicate mentally is another interesting question. Animals like dogs sense danger, bombs and also sense positive and negative persons. They understand self-realised persons and all Hindu gods had some or other form of animal as a vahana (attachment to particular animal). For instance, the fiery goddess, Durga, had a lion as her vahana and Lord Murugan had a peacock as his vahana. It is amazing to see Goddess Durga travelling on a lion’s back.
Coming back to psychology during adolescence, a number of changes take place in our body and mind, and our personality traits are set into place. The current belief is that personality traits take place throughout our life. In India, among the Hindu societies, the coming of age of a girl is celebrated in a grand fashion. Adolescence is the time when both boys and girls become critical of everything and pick up vices like smoking and drinking. Adolescents are sometimes rebellious and, as someone had said, ‘adolescents are difficult to handle’. Adolescents, according to Piaget (1932), develop moral judgment and a sense of right and wrong. In India, due to lack of sexual freedom during adolescence, most of them spend their time studying intensely. Getting admission to a good medical or engineering college is tough and requires intense effort. Sadly, getting admitted to an arts college or commerce college is looked down upon. There is typically extreme parental pressure to put their wards in good engineering and medical colleges. Consequently, a career in, say, studying political history, catering or home science, etcetera, are looked down upon as they get lower monetary consideration in the future. However, with liberalisation of the economy, started in 1992, lots of changes have happened in India and in future one could choose what one thinks is best for him and every profession will give a decent monetary consideration.
States of Consciousness
There are primarily three types of consciousness: the waking, sleeping and meditative, and, once one attains zero mind, one merges with the supreme consciousness or the Brahman
We spend nearly one third of our lives sleeping, approximately 25 years for a 75-year life expectancy. A number of questions interest psychologists for which some answers could be provided by meditation. Why do we get different types of dreams every day? Do dreams decide the mood for the next day? We often do not remember our dreams. Some latest research about dreaming shows:
When people dream of performing some activity like, say, kicking someone, automatically during sleep, we move our legs.
Older adults spend more time sleeping than younger ones.
A child sleeps three times more than an average adult.
Some people dream every night while others have limited dreamsl.
At least for a brief period of time, one experiences the meditative state of mind or the alpha mind.
In his landmark book on the interpretation of dreams, Sigmund Freud argued that dreams are psychic safety valves that harmlessly discharges otherwise unacceptable feelings. Freud argued that most adult dreams could be traced back to analysis of one’s erotic sexual wishes.
The best state of mind is the alpha mind or the meditative state of consciousness. The mind is completely relaxed and is thoughtless. It is not that an average man does not experience this state of consciousness. During typing or driving, our mind functions involuntarily; however, still thoughts cross our minds; once the thoughts are controlled and brought to our control and brought to zero, one attains what is called merging with supreme consciousness, after which the supreme controls one’s life totally.
Memory and Meditation
Our capacity to store long-term memory is essentially limitless and our brain has more networks than the entire internet network of the world. An average adult has around a billion bits of information in memory, so our brains, according to Landauer (1986), are not like attics, which means, once filled, can only store more by discarding old items. This means we can keep adding new information to the brain, which has almost infinite storage capacity. We remember everything right from our joyful experiences in childhood and also the miserable and embarrassing experiences. Infinity is a fascinating thing; the universe is infinite and human memory is also infinite.
However, our short-term memory is limited and can be improved by meditation. It is as if we have the information stored in the mind, but to retrieve it instantly takes time. If we conduct a memory Olympics, the winner would probably be Shereshevskiii (S), a Russian whose name appears in virtually every memory book. We can probably repeat a string of, say, seven letters, and I find it difficult to even remember my mobile number, but S could repeat up to seventy strings of numbers or words and he could recall them both backward and forward, and, if you ask him to recall a string repeated 15 years earlier, which he did on a particular date, he would do it unerringly. He would say, ‘oh, this was the series that you gave me on 17th November 1974 when we were sitting in your apartment’. Definitely the best of super computers cannot match his memory skills.
Our brain functions just like a computer when it comes to recording memory. There are the same three steps of encoding, storage and retrieval. Though we are all good at encoding and storage, it is the retrieval where one differs from others. Probably when a string of numbers is given to us, we encode it and store, but cannot retrieve it in exactly same the fashion that a computer is capable of. Unlike a computer, we have to remember so many things; we have to remember faces, movies, subject matter, principles, logic and so on and so forth. A stock analyst has to remember at least one hundred stock prices and track its movements. We have to remember languages, words and grammar – the list is endless. Our short-term memory depends on association; unless we associate a thing with another, we cannot recall it. For instance, unless you buy a particular stock and are interested in knowing whether you made or lost money in the stock, you will not recall its share price.
Meditation definitely helps in improving memory. College students instructed in transcendental meditation displayed significant improvements in performance over a 2-week period on a perceptual and short-term memory test involving the identification of familiar letter sequences presented rapidly. They were compared with subjects randomly assigned to a routine of twice-daily rest with eyes closed, and with subjects who made no change in their daily routine. A remarkable, or at least significant, improvement in memory.
Sages and saints of the Golden Era had fascinating memory skills; it appears the whole Vedas was simply kept in mind and was not written down anywhere; that’s really infinite memory and the only way to teach students Vedas was through telling them secretly in their ears. Whatever the motive behind this, it indicates that sages, saints, demigods, gods and goddesses were super genius mainly through practice of meditation, and this is the future and will happen again in future. Spiritualism has to be adopted now and matter has to be respected, and a very smart way to tap love should be invented, then humans would see a quantum jump in everything.