The Aim of the Book
I am writing this book in order to bring out aspects of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy which I believe have not yet been sufficiently acknowledged as having a potentially profound impact on the development of the science and practice of psychology. As Sri Aurobindo represents a unique East-West synthesis - educated in the finest schools of the West, deeply knowledgeable of the greatest spiritual traditions of the East - I believe that his work can provide a powerful means of bringing a spiritual perspective to psychology which would be in harmony with the best of modern science. Recent scholarship has revealed that Indic influence on modern thought is far greater than is generally known. It may be that a writer such as Sri Aurobindo, who understands the culture of both East and West, could be particularly well-suited to help foster a truly global understanding of science, of humanity, and indeed, of life.
I have been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings for the past 25 years, and have written numerous essays on the "Integral Psychology" which has been developed by several of his students. Several years ago, I co-founded an online discussion group dedicated to the development of this psychology, and in 1999 helped to organize the first international "Integral Psychology" conference. While I have had thoughts of writing a book on this topic for several years, the recent surge of interest in Ken Wilber's newly christened "Integral Psychology" made me realize that it is important to publish a book representing the original ideas of Sri Aurobindo. Both Wilber and other writers in the field of transpersonal psychology have portrayed Sri Aurobindo's ideas in a way which requires extensive clarification. I hope that by providing an overview of the psychological implications of his work, a new initiative in the field of the original "Integral Psychology" might develop.
The book will be written in three parts. The first part examines the realm of personality and development. It begins with an extensive review of the nature of individual personality and development according to Sri Aurobindo, providing a basis for understanding the true spiritual nature of the individual. Following this, there will be an examination of the collective development of humanity throughout history. The concluding chapter looks at the nature of physical and biological evolution in light of the underlying evolution of consciousness.
The second part of the book provides an in-depth look at the nature of consciousness. It begins with an extensive review of modern and post-modern theories of consciousness, from the prevalent materialistic theories through theories of dualism and pan-psychism. Next, it will be proposed that consciousness appears to be problematic primarily because of unexamined contradictions in the current theories of the nature of matter. Finally, Sri Aurobindo's ideas regarding the nature of consciousness will be explored, in light of a claim that his Integral philosophy provides a solution to the mind-body and consciousness-matter problems.
The third part of the book looks at three areas in which Integral psychology might have a practical application - science, education and society. First, it will be proposed that Integral Psychology provides the unifying paradigm that has eluded the science of psychology for the past 120 years. By developing an intuitive understanding of the mind and the nature of consciousness, it will be possible to integrate current objective research methodologies with a direct examination of human experience. Further, it could be possible to apply this experiential research methodology not just to psychology, but to physics and biology as well, thus initiating the possibility of a truly unified paradigm for all of science.
Next, some philosophical problems regarding the materialistic underpinnings of contemporary psychotherapy will be looked at. An integral approach to education will be proposed as an alternative to psychotherapy, an approach which includes physical, emotional, intellectual, intuitional and spiritual growth and development. Finally, some applications of Integral Psychology in the fields of business and politics are outlined.
The book as described above is an enormous project, one I couldn't possibly complete by myself. I have been extremely fortunate in recent years to have made the acquaintance of a number of brilliant individuals who are students of both transpersonal psychotherapy and Integral Psychology. I look forward to working with them toward the completion of this project.