Psychology 499 Paper, Spring Semester 2005 (G22), Dr. Leon James, Instructor
Hinduism and Theistic Psychology
Table of Contents:
1. Hinduism and Theistic Psychology
oKnowing a Hindu God in a Theistic Psychology Context
4. Inherited Evil and Karma
oUnderstanding Karma in a Theistic Psychology Context
5. Travels of the soul
6. Regeneration and Breaking the Wheel of Samsara
7. The Consummation
8. Uses Explain Dharma
Hinduism and Theistic Psychology
Swedenborg reports that those who have lived a life of conscience according to their religion, when they pass on, are instructed in theistic psychology from the Sacred Scripture they know. They are then able to comprehend them, to accept them, and to love them. This shows that their mind was readied for rational spirituality while they lived on earth and followed a life of conscience or doctrine. Whatever dogma or doctrine they had from their religion, they were able to see through them, once they received the new instruction regarding the Divine-Human, and thus to abandon whatever was incompatible with the truth of the Divine-Human. This proves that religion is necessary and sufficient for adequate preparedness for heavenly life--as long as the individual is sincere and honest about living according to the religion. (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.1)
This paragraph says to me that it is important to be connected to a religion while living naturally on earth. Dr. James speaks of religion as ‘necessary and sufficient’ training for an eternity in heaven. Evil spirits have come to me often as I struggle with the theistic psychology concepts and one of the first questions in my mind that brought up bouts with the negative bias was that following: If Sacred Scripture is the only way that a mind can be regenerated, why would God have people born into religions that did not accept Sacred Scripture as definitive speech from God? What about religions that used other scripture as the basis for spiritual life? I became convinced that theistic psychology was not panhuman because it didn’t allow for people who practice various religions to enter heaven.
After further reading in theistic psychology, especially in chapter 13 titled Religious Behaviorism, I came to understand that my thoughts were deceiving me. The above paragraph explains that a person who has sincerely practiced a religion not based on the Threefold Word Sacred Scripture is "instructed in theistic psychology from the Sacred Scripture they know." I take that to mean that in all religions there is some form of scripture that instills a doctrine of living rightly in the world and loving things that are from God being good and true. There must be elements of Sacred Scripture or something that mimics the way Sacred Scripture exteriorizes in our minds in each of the other religions texts. When a sincere practitioner, inwardly (referring to mental observances) and outwardly (referring to worldly observances), who lives according to the doctrine of their religion dies and wakes up in the world of spirits they are able to recognize Sacred Scripture in its heavenly form without all of the natural meaning that is meant to cover it in the natural world.
"All Sacred Scripture is from Divine Speech which filters down from God into the natural mind of a prophet where it is represented by natural and historical events and ideas." (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.1)
Being that the person was living in accord with God’s Truth they are easily able to accept what they are being taught.
Whatever dogma or doctrine they had from their religion, they were able to see through them, once they received the new instruction regarding the Divine-Human, and thus to abandon whatever was incompatible with the truth of the Divine-Human. (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.1)
Religions can be steeped in God’s Truths. There are some aspects of religious habits that must be rejected upon learning theistic psychology in the world of spirits. From chapter 13 in theistic psychology it seems that those who have lived a life with similar values and actions that may be gained from learning theistic psychology are able to let go of the irrational content and learn to accept only the ones that are from God. Therefore other religions can take us on a path to heaven.
I expect that future researchers and scholars in theistic psychology will expand the analysis to other religious traditions such as Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and so on. The Writings reveal that two basic facts about religions. One is that all religions are based on Divine Speech written down as Sacred Scripture. And the second is that all Divine Speech is written in a special style called correspondential (see Section xx). It makes sense therefore to expect that all religions will be able to use theistic psychology to extract from their Sacred Scripture the knowledge they need for regeneration. (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.1)
I will explore the relationship that Hinduism has with Sacred Scripture and Divine Speech. The above quotation states that the writings and subsequently the doctrine (that is extracted from their specific writings) of the Hindu religions are actually based on Sacred Scripture from God. I will use extraction from the Threefold word that has given rise to all of theistic psychologies concepts, to try and explain parallels that will help to explain some Hindu religious beliefs in a theistic psychology context.
The first thing to understand is that Hinduism is not an actual religion in the sense that one group claims to be of the Hindu faith. Hinduism is a term created by outsiders of India that attempted to name the spiritual practices within a country. The name actually pertains to the geographical location where the religion first became prominent, near the Indus River. There are a very extensive number of different groups that practice spirituality and are lumped into the category of Hinduism. The sects differ in their beliefs on the monism/dualism debate, what they consider sacred scripture, ritual practices etc. Some sects that share the same sacred scripture interpret it so differently that they consider themselves separate. So when I discuss a group I will explain the practices/beliefs of that particular group within the context they use. Other ‘Hindu’ sects might accept or reject the idea. It is interesting to note that when Hinduism comes in contact with another religion it attempts not to convert it (as we see in modern Christianity) but to absorb little bits. Therefore it is an ever-fluxing group of religions that are neither tethered to nor divorced from their ideas through the passing of time. Ideas in some groups are more malleable than others, never fully changing but are modified for the times.
One of the first concepts I noticed that underlie both a specific sect of Hinduism and the theories of theistic psychology is the Divine Province of God. Theistic psychology tells us that God powers everything that we do. He is the motor behind every thought and action. Although we do have free will to choose to act against Godly influx, we are constantly influenced by the spiritual Light and Heat coming directly from the Divine Human in the Spiritual Sun.
And also, that in order to be rational and sane, we ought to recognize that we don't have any power, life, or intelligence on our own, and therefore we must not take credit for any of our accomplishments, but attribute all credit and power to the Divine-Human who manages every thought and feeling from birth to eternity. (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.1)
The branch of Hinduism that I will be discussing in this section will be the Vaisnava (devotee to the deity Vishnu) sect of Bhakti yogis (the path of devotion) called the Hare Krishna’s.
We are considered to be in the age of the Kali Yuga, which is the fourth of four ages. Each age describes the spiritual well being of creatures on this planet. The first age is considered the golden age and lasts for the longest amount of time. Each subsequent age gets shorter and more spiritually devoid. The kali Yuga marks a time where people tend to be born with negative dispositions. Flaws such as jealousy, ego, anger, instinct, desires and greed will plague the personality. It is most difficult to understand the principles of God in this age. People tend to deny the power of God and attribute His glory as theirs.
The Krishna’s have as a cornerstone of their practice a method of constant reminder that all that they do is powered by Krishna (God). In order to keep Krishna ever present in their minds they devote all actions to Him. Upon waking a devotee will chant a round of Japa (chanting) where they repeat the holy name in its three forms, Krishna, Hare, Rama, while they think only of Him. This is preformed 108 times each round and done at least five times a day.
The Krishna belief is that any activity participated in should be done for Krishna. If a devotee is riding a bicycle to school how are they supposed to devote such a non-religious action to Krishna? They must ask themselves ‘why am I riding to school?’ The answer could be: because I want to receive an education in order to get and maintain a worldly job and be able to help finance the Krishna temple where I pray to and love God. If the motive is sincere then the act is purified and the devotee moves ever closer to God. Everything done in selfishness for one’s own private means is done without the acknowledgement of God’s power. These acts add another layer to the Self keeping the distance from God and man ever growing. But every act done in full devotion to God, acknowledging His Divine grace and mercy (possibly correspondential Krishna words for light and heat) breaks down the barrier between God and man. A line out of one of the religious text used by the group called the Bhagavad Purana has become a chant of devotion. "Thou art the doer, I the instrument." (Smith, The world’s Religions page 38)
And angels told Swedenborg that the essence of their happy state is based on the full rational and conscious awareness moment by moment that everything good they sense in themselves is the Divine Good of the Divine-Human inflowing through the spiritual heat and spiritual light of the Spiritual Sun. (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.2)
As it is with the Bhakti Yogi that achieves Krishna Consciousness. Krishna Consciousness is nothing other that a mind that is permanently tuned to the station of Krishna, keeping Him in the consciousness through out every breath. The ecstatic joy lived through those who become Krishna Conscious is said to be unsurpassed by anything a human can know.
Knowing a Hindu God in a Theistic Psychology Context
Religion from the Indian continent is arguably the oldest known to man. Civilization around the Indus River (now modern day Pakistan) was thought to have emerged around 7000 BCE and declined by 1500 BCE. Archeologists have found seals depicting the goddess Siva by both the Indus and in Mesopotamia dating back to 2500 BCE. The Indians were thought to have engaged in trade with the Mesopotamians, which is why the seals were found in both regions. (Bowker, Religions p.26) The Vedas are most commonly dated back to 1000 BCE or before. All this leads me to believe that the interpretation of the Vedas for humans now may be outdated.
"Feeling something we call "oneness with God" is an effort to connect with God through sensuous consciousness." Section 4.1
Sensuous consciousness is currently impossible due to the fall of the beings of this planet. This was not always the case. In the time of the old church beings could be regenerated by this form of consciousness, a direct knowing of the Divine. The old race had a different genetic make-up then what we have now. Their spiritual bodies were modified in such a way that enabled them to live simultaneously in the natural and spiritual world. However since the incarnation event (see section 188.8.131.52 The Incarnation Event and the Evolution of Human Consciousness) we have developed split brains that reflect the split in our cognitive and affective organs. Now the only way to know God is through rational consciousness of Him. Striving for sensuous consciousness of God gives rise to traditions of mysticism. Some Indian religions are known for their heavy reliance on mystical practices.
The below question and answer were taken from my report 2 on the web at:
How does theistic psychology view ‘mystical spirituality’ and why is it called ‘mystical’?
"Those who reject the objectivity of rational spirituality have evolved a subjective mystical spirituality of God that depends on the idea of a "non-duality" between God and human beings." Section 1.1.1
Mystical spirituality relies on the premise that dwelling within each of us is God. Mystics rely on the faith that their interpretation of ancient texts and stories passed down through oral tradition are correct in their assumptions, the above premise being the most important of them. They also rely on the idea of a sensuous communication, or a direct connection with God either while in their earthly bodies or in subsequent lives, prescribing to the notion of reincarnation and a potentially eternal earthly life. They believe that through rigorous spiritual purification, be it yoga, prayer, devotion, etc. they will eventually attain the highest form of evolution, which is merging into the energy of God and in essence returning to Him.
Some use the term ‘mystical’ to describe their spirituality because they believe God to be something of an enigma, something mysterious than cannot be explained. They stress the importance of the pursuit to uncover this mystery, using the ‘journey’ as a tool to help them move closer to God. The journey consists of prayer, study, and conscious awareness in everyday life that ultimately leads up to God-realization. Many refer to this journey as being the most important aspect of a spiritual life, not in actually achieving the destination. I found in the notes where another student expressed a similar concern.
Rational consciousness is different in that it has to be achieved by the means of correspondences in Sacred Scripture. This requires a person to begin their regeneration.
"Regeneration is an orderly process of the growth of the human mind. Every descending step in the conscious mind is matched by an ascending step in the unconscious mind until the entire mind is regenerated and made heavenly through influx. The entire process is managed by God and requires the conscious voluntary cooperation of the individual. This cooperation requires two steps: (a) acquiring the truth of doctrine from Sacred Scripture; and (b) applying it to our thinking and willing in daily activities." (James, Theistic Psychology Section 184.108.40.206
Regeneration is the way by which we reach our eternal heaven. Unfortunately heaven does not come naturally to us. We must not only gain an understanding of what heaven is but we must change our outward behavior in order to align ourselves with heavenly motives. If we are unable to achieve such a transformation within the framework of our earthly lives, we are condemned to a life living out hellish loves to eternity. For a continuing definition of regeneration see my report two question #3 at: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/459f2004/lyons/459-g21-report2.htm
Another similarity between theistic psychology and the Krishna sect is their belief in the incarnated God-man. Christ is considered to be Krishna incarnated, one facet of His energy exteriorized in the body of a man. The Krishna’s also believe that there have been other incarnations of God in this world, including the Buddha, the historical figure Rama and so forth. It is their belief that whenever the spiritual integrity of the human race is threatened God incarnates to teach new methods of enlightenment. Lord Caitanya, considered the last incarnation of Krishna, in the year 1486, handed down the scientific method by which a Krishna devotee becomes purified.
"When goodness grows weak, when evil increases, I make myself a body. In every age I come back to deliver the holy, to destroy the sin of the sinner, to establish the righteous." (Bhagavad-Gita Chapter IV;7-8)
Theistic psychology explains that God did incarnate as a man in the form of Jesus Christ in order to develop a new mental organ in the brain of all humans so that we may be able to go through regeneration.
It is possible to think rationally about God's Incarnation if we consider what God has revealed in scientific revelations. We can view the Incarnation Event as part of the rational and perfect plan God is evolving and managing in relation to the created universe and the human race. (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.7)
Regeneration refers to the creation of a spiritual organ called the spiritual-rational level of thinking and feeling. This is the organ of the mind that allows us to live in heaven. (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.10)
Theistic psychology does not reject the Krishna idea that God helps the human race in every age in order to achieve an understanding of God. Theistic psychology describes that God has taught Sacred Scripture for the other races of being on the earth.
For every civilization on earth God provided scientific revelations in Sacred Scripture, which is Divine Speech produced by God through the mind of a selected individual who was prepared for the task of revelation. (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.10)
However based on revelation in Sacred Scripture we now understand that God could only incarnate once. His incarnation was the final step in the evolution of the human mind. Theistic psychology explains that Christ was the only body that God has ever created for Himself here on earth. The other humans that the Krishna’s view as ‘incarnations of God’ may have been prophets revealing God’s Sacred Scripture but it would be impossible for them to have actually been God. After the incarnation event God acquired a human body and it would not be possible for Him to take another body.
The method that the incarnation required involved these nine steps. Each of the nine steps below has been taken from Theistic Psychology notes Section 220.127.116.11.1 followed by my comments under them.
God willing Himself to be born on earth as an ordinary human being.
- In order to create a new organ with which humans could be forever regenerated God had to live as a human
This Divine Child, though the Divine from within Himself, had to be ordinary and natural from without, thus had to be socialized and schooled.
‘Through the Divine within Himself’ meant that God needed to learn how to will and think from receiving His own influx. This can be accomplished only by a God that is omnipotent, everywhere simultaneously. Therefore he could be present in the spiritual world emanating spiritual light and spiritual heat while incarnated in the body of a human.
Also God had to be socialized in the way that all human beings are naturally. This way he could have the knowledge of specifically how to regenerate those that were (and continue to be) reared in the same fashion.
The Divine Child had to discover His Divinity and mission by extracting the knowledge of theistic psychology from the Old Testament Sacred Scripture.
-God had to regenerate His human mind by the first step of correspondences through the Old Testament in order to figure out His purpose for incarnating. God wrote knowledge of His own incarnation in the Old Testament since he is all knowing and not restricted by natural elements like time. He incarnated as a member of the Jewish faith so that he would be exposed to His own Sacred Scripture during His youth.
The Divine Child had to apply this knowledge to His own thinking and willing in daily life where He was a citizen, member of a religious group, and earning a living at a job.
He had to recognize and deal with the hellish attachments His natural mind inherited from natural birth.
-4 and 5 again show that God had to experience the full spectrum of the human mind in order to properly prescribe a method that would deliver a human from bondage to the hells to salvation of the Heavens.
He had to invent new concepts and new ways of reasoning in order to vanquish these hellish attachments in Himself.
-He began to work with the human mind to create new pathways within the human consciousness that would enable people to access the new spiritual organ He was about to invent.
At last, He brought His inherited disorderly natural mind into order according to His spiritual mind, making all of Himself Divine at all levels, thus, "glorifying" His human acquired from this earth, and uniting it perfectly with His Human Divine from eternity. The result was the new Divine Human, which completes the creation of the human race.
-He first had to complete His own regeneration as a human thereby perfecting His mind on earth, connecting it rationally to His eternal mind in the Heavens.
He had to pass on these new ways of thinking to the human race by creating a new capacity in the human mind. He did this by creating a new organic entity within the natural mind called the "interior-natural" organ.
-He was then able to instill this organ into the minds of all of the inhabitants of the spiritual world. After that he gave the organ to all those alive at the time on earth. Finally he was able to change physical human evolution by giving the trait to every human being that is ever to be born. (James, Theistic Psychology Section 18.104.22.168.1)
He can now activate this newly created evolutionary mental organ and fill it with the operations of spiritual correspondences. This new higher order knowledge is called theistic psychology and is extracted from the correspondences of Divine Speech embodied in the literal meaning of the Writings Sacred Scripture.
-Since God took a natural body He can now be seen in Heaven in that body from now until eternity. No mind can ever have two bodies so it would be irrational for God to incarnate again. Furthermore God has no need to incarnate because the only reason for doing so would be to further the human capacity for regeneration, and since it is now a fully operational and complete process, God would have no need to change it.
Inherited Evil and Karma
MAN IS BORN [WITH AN INCLINATION] TO EVILS OF EVERY KIND; AND UNLESS HE TO SOME EXTENT REMOVES HIS EVILS BY REPENTANCE, HE REMAINS IN THEM; AND HE WHO REMAINS IN EVILS, CANNOT BE SAVED.
This passage indicates that we are to make a rational distinction between the idea of "inherited evil" and "inherited sin." Sin itself is not inherited because every human being is responsible for his or her own sins. It would not be a just world if we were to inherit and be held accountable for the sins of our parents and forefathers. Everyone must pay for their own sins and not the sins of others, just like a parent cannot be held legally responsible for the crimes of their adult children. If this is seen as unjust in natural life, it is even less to be expected that God would attribute sins to people in an unjust manner. But evil traits are inherited from one's parents. This is a natural fact. (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.10)
General Hinduism explains that we are born bearing a specific quality and quantity of traits from past lives that is called Karma. Karma is the moral code of cause and effect. It goes beyond the natural explanation of physical phenomena, like hitting (cause) a baseball will force it to move in a given direction (effect). Karma is a law that governs spiritual life as well. The western part of the world would explain it like this: "Sow a thought reap an act, sow an act reap a habit, sow a habit reap a character, sow a character reap a destiny." (Smith, The World’s Religions pg. 64) The Hindus take it a step further. They believe that the condition of a person’s inner life is a direct effect of actions (both what we have willed and what we have done) in past lives. In like manner, all that we do and think now will affect the future of our mental character and by manifestation the state of our outward lives. With this idea one can conclude that we are born with the evils that we have brought with us from other lives.
Theistic psychology explains first that we have not lived other lives so it is not possible for us to have taken character traits from ourselves. Rather it is our parents, and their parent’s lives where we inherit our mental connections. The Krishna’s have the right concept that each individual is born with a specific disposition handed down by a lineage of humans. However we are not to be blamed for the evil traits that we have inherited. It is necessary for us to inherit these traits in order to learn to reject them of our own free will. We are to be held accountable for the choices that we make. As stated above in the theistic psychology quote, we do inherit evils from our parents but we do not inherit their sins. We create our own sins, and thereby learn to differentiate between our own will and Gods will.
Understanding Karma in a Theistic Psychology Context
What is possible explanation as to why the Hindus extracted language from their sacred scripture and took it to mean that we have taken multiple births on this planet?
As discussed earlier the Hindus believe that we are born into this world with inherent traits that are outside our immediate control. Their concept of inborn ‘bad karma’ may simply be an alternative way of explaining our connection to the hells that we inherit from our unregenerate parents.
But what of this idea that we continually take on other bodies after death. In some branches of Hinduism this idea stems from the strata of wants (desires) that the soul must experience in order to get back to God consciousness. I say get back to God because it is part of the Hindu doctrine that we were with God in our original created state. In order to illustrate this concept I will inset a section from an earlier paper that I wrote for Dr. James. The original question pertained to mystical versus rational spirituality:
We are all originally spiritual beings-- eternal, fully cognizant, full of bliss- called in Sanskrit, sat chit ananda vigraha, parts and parcels of the Supreme Spirit-- Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We are one with Him in quality, the same spiritual substance, but are far different in quantity (just a small part to His infinite whole). The dharma or role of the part is to serve the whole as the hand serves the stomach, and in so doing all is peaceful and content.
Because we have independence (although it is minute), hence free will, we always have the option to serve the Whole, or not. Therefore, some of us (maybe a little foolish) decide or imagine what it would be like if we were not the servants, but the masters, the center, the one in the middle receiving all of the attention and worship. "What would it be like to be God?" we ask to ourselves. And because there is no possibility of any thoughts of that sort, or room for envy in that world, we are given a chance to experience a virtual world where we can pretend we are God.
Hence, we fall down. Not too far at first. We become Lord Brahma, the first created being within each material world, who is given the task of engineering all of the planets and life forms in that particular sphere. This is a great task in which we have power and devoted followers and great enjoyment (although within a subtle and refined framework). Yet, still we know there is someone higher. We have an intimate relationship with Him, although many below us do not know. In other words they think we are all in all.
So after this experience of playing this role, we hopefully get any material desires out of our system and go back to Krishna. But not all of us. Some are not satisfied and look down to the enjoyment of Indra, king of the heavenly realm, and see his more gross enjoyment with apsaras (heavenly maidens) and gandharvas (heavenly singers) and soma (heavenly wine) and think that it would be a nice thing if we could experience that. Thus we fall down to Indra's platform.
And the cycle continues down further and further to human bodies and then animals, insects, plants etc., more and more covered over from our actual existence, consumed by desire after desire which burn like fire and are never satiated. The Gunas, or material modes of nature are in control now, and we helplessly are tossed in the ocean of material existence, all but lost.
The entire report can be found at: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/459f2004/lyons/459-g21-report2.htm
Travels of the Soul
In this branch of Hinduism the goal of the soul is to return to God in order to serve Him. This brings about the utmost pleasure for both the soul and for God. Souls can even fall down as far as the plant and animal plane of existence. Here the soul goes through an automatic maturing process that God oversees, slowly readying the soul to develop self-consciousness. At the animal level the soul does not even yet know it is a soul. It is stuck in the animal instinctual drive to survive that takes up most of its time and concentration. In the human body the soul is finally becoming conscious of itself and tries to experience spiritual pleasure. It begins searching in the wrong places. It now has much more freedom then it had as a plant, then and animal body, but with that freedom comes the responsibility of making right choices and right effort.
At first the soul wants to experience all of the sensual pleasures. Unhealthy attitudes toward sex and intoxicants, usually in overindulgence, are a signal of those whose souls are matured to this level. Since these experiences are the minutest fraction of true spiritual joy (which is what the soul is actually looking for) the soul eventually tires of them. Next the soul turns to social success. Hinduism acknowledges that we are social beings. There is considerable spiritual growth that can take place within the realm of social interaction. But the soul is still young and foolish. It begins by pining for fame, wealth, and material gain. These pursuits hold the soul’s attention for a while but again it senses that something is missing. These first two pursuits of the soul can be thought of as corporeal growth.
The second stage involves social action as well but this time the goal is to serve instead of the earlier pursuit, to conquer. Now the person finds joy in serving the society in a way that it enjoys. This may take form as a person who takes a small paycheck to become a profession that he/she finds useful to society, like a teacher or some position with a non-profit firm. The distinction is made when the person begins to acknowledge that they are here on earth to serve a greater purpose than simply to satisfy their own self. Again the soul finds a void in this life. It lacks a connection to something deeper than flesh. This can be thought of a spiritual growth. Our existence on this planet begins to look like a merry-go-round. The passing scenes are beautiful and engage our attention but eventually one realizes that despite the movement, they really are not going anywhere.
The third stage involves stepping off that wheel, liberating our soul that is stuck on the merry-go-round allowing it to become truly free, in a state where movement is not limited to a spinning spiral center that is planted in a solitary spot. This is also part of Hindu doctrine. In the third stage the soul turns to God. It incarnates as a person with a spiritual inclination. Along the way the soul has amassed tools that will help it to succeed in its goal of liberation and re-connectedness to God. This can be thought of as rational growth.
Eventually we work our way back to the human form of life, where our consciousness has the opportunity to become a bit clearer and start asking some questions-- like who am I? and what am I doing here? where do I come from? where am I going? what is God? and why do I have to suffer, even though I do not want to?
When one does take a step back, and has that great epiphany and asks those questions, then God from within, who travels as our eternal guide, reciprocates with ones desire. Finally the soul gets the spark of awakening and we are sent into contact with the pure devotee of the Lord, the enlightened ones, liberated within bodies. Through service and inquiry and their causeless mercy, the coverings and conditionings are cleansed away and the soul remembers his lost relationship with the Supreme. The process may take some lifetimes but whatever progress made can never be lost, and finally after all lessons are learned, all contamination is dissolved, we return to our original home, with Krishna in the spiritual world. (Excerpt from my paper at: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/459f2004/lyons/459-g21-report2.htm)
Regeneration and Breaking the Wheel of Samsara
Theistic psychology might be able to explain this by showing how each level of desire that the soul must experience is actually a level of regeneration that happens all within this lifetime. The text of the Vedas is where much of Hinduism doctrine comes from. It is very old and interpreters might take the wording too literally and scholars instead of understood correspondentially. This may cause an irrational dogma to arise. For example:
Man can hardly attain perfection in one life. He has to develop his heart, intellect and hand. He has to mould his character in a perfect manner. He has to develop various virtuous qualities such as mercy, tolerance, love, forgiveness, equal vision, courage, etc. He has to learn many lessons and experiences in this great world-school. Therefore he has to take many lives. –Swami Sivananda http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Reincarnation/id/9769
One of the arguments put forth by Hindu scholars is that God is perfect and in order to be in His presence we must cultivate a ‘perfected human form.’ Theistic psychology tells us that we do not have to enter the world of spirits as a perfect human being. We can wake up after our first death and still possess traits that are hellish. It is important that our ruling loves are heavenly so that we can reject the hellish traits that we brought with us from earth. Then, after we choose to give up those traits that do not support our ruling loves God is able to remove the remnants of evil in our minds so that in essence, we have become as close to perfection as we can become, and as long as we follow God’s influx we can think and act in a perfect manner.
"The consummation" concept refers to the end of one phase prior to the beginning of a new mental phase. The kinds of thinking and feeling that we do at a prior level prevent us from going on to the next level of consciousness unless we are willing to "consummate" that phase, that is, willing to fully end it, to stop loving it and holding on to it. "The men of the church" refers to any person who is in a particular mental phase. When we are willing to consummate a phase and give up its way of thinking, reasoning, and feeling, it is said that "there is no longer any good or truth remaining with the men of the church." (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.7)
The consummation concept tells us that there are distinct stages we must go through in order to develop spiritually. We have to be able to let go of the thinking that has engaged us in the previous stage so that we may be able to elevate our consciousness. There is only a certain amount of ascension we can achieve in each level. Our regeneration becomes progressively more difficult as the stages ware on, and in fighting the temptations of the previous stage we have readied ourselves to gain higher understanding of correspondences and do battle with the evil spirits in the next stage. If we are unable to give up the mental procedures of our current stage we are essentially not cooperating with the Divine Psychologist and He is unable to grant us access to higher meanings.
The concept from Hinduism that I relate to consummation in theistic psychology is the four ashrams (or stages) of life prescribed by Hindu doctrine. According to Hindu sacred scripture there are four stages through which a man must travel as part of his Dharma or divinely described duty. By fulfilling these four modes of life the Self is said to come to the surface as much as it can and becomes prepared for life after death, which, according to Karma, most people will actually take another life here on earth in a different body. (Reincarnation is not an accepted concept within the positive bias of theistic psychology.)
The four ashrams consist of Brahmachari (student), Grihasta (Householder) Vanaprasta (forest dweller or Hermit in semi retirement) Sannyasi (the renounced one in full retirement) and the Dharma (prescribed duties) of each person within each ashram is different. Each ashram lasts 21 years. It is very rare for a person to leave an ashram early. There is room for some leeway by a couple of years if a person is not ready to move on to the next ashram but the movement must be made as close to the end of the chronological time as possible. The person is expected to leave the life that they have grown fond of in order to help facilitate the development of spiritual growth.
The Bhramachari is the time of the celibate student during youth and is a time for learning the foundation of the Yogic lifestyle. There is an emphasis on mental training, discipline, and understanding of spiritual, community and family life.
The Grihasta is the householder phase of life is when a person lives with spouse and children, fulfilling worldly interests and dharma. It is a time of giving, living, learning, and loving in family and community. Religious or spiritual practices are done in the context of worldly life and service to others.
The Vanaprasta is a time where the children have grown up and the focus shifts to a simple life. There is an increased focus on the spiritual life and often times a moving away from the family. A husband and wife might go and live in the forest or some simple country abode and direct their attention towards the service of others or scriptural study depending on one’s temperament. (Different forms of yoga are prescribed to different personalities.)
The Sanyasa further retreats from worldly things, usually having little or no possessions and either living off of the land or begging for food. It is a time of total contemplation on God. There is also an aspect of teaching or preaching depending on the level of the sanyasi’s spiritual elevation.
For those in Hinduism that reject these four ashrams of life it is difficult to attain liberation from the cycle of Karma (numerous earthly incarnations.) Therefore a spiritual aspirant within this context must be able to let go of the attachments they have to the life that they lead. They must know that as they are raising a family, it will eventually be their duty to leave their children. It is a difficult topic for most of us in the west to understand because we have not been raised with the concept of dharma. The Hindus believe that duty is the most important force to live by because it is handed down to us from God. The Ramayana is an important identity story for all Hindus. It is the epic of Rama who is the ideal man. The story constantly revolves around Rama’s devotion to his Dharma above all worldly things including his wife and his family. It is the Dharma that guides the life of all Hindus. Learning how to give up old habits and thinking patterns for new (at times more difficult) and better one is a part of the life of these spiritual people.
Uses Explain Dharma
Every event or phenomenon is synechdechic, meaning that it is but a small bit that represents the large. Every object is an image of the larger thing that it is a component of. Dharma in this sense means one’s Divine duty. Duty may correspond to the theistic psychology concept of uses.
‘Uses’ are functional relationships, which are created into discrete degrees of a created object/event. They consist of an outward portion containing physical characteristics in the natural world, and inner portion that are rational characteristics in the spiritual world. An example of an inner use is the relationship that the created object has to other created objects. An example of an outer use is a scientific measure like color, taste, size etc.
‘Uses’ are created in discrete degrees. The inward portion of an object/event is created first and is therefore considered ‘inside’ the outer portion.
Since all ‘Uses’ are created in relation to one another and in fact help for the manifestation of each other there are successive events that must take place in order to physically produce an event/object. For example, the interior portion of a plant is created. In order for it to exist in the natural world it cannot merely ‘pop’ into existence without other inner uses helping its materialization. Examples of helper uses are weather events in the spiritual world that are causes for rain in the natural world for the purpose of hydrating the plant and helping it to grow. The process is called successive because the natural event/object comes into existence after the spiritual portion has been created. The uses helping one another are also called co-action.
The outward physical portion of the rock is produced by the laws of spiritual correspondences which specify what spiritual event or quality causes the creation of its natural effect. The natural effect (outward portion) is a representative of the spiritual cause, and corresponds to it. (James, Theistic Psychology section 22.214.171.124)
Since the natural effect is representative of the spiritual cause can we determine what or why the natural (and in effect the spiritual) cause means to us in our life or in the greater role for humanity? Example: This rock is here in this place and since all events are connected to one another from this rock, because it is a lava rock and red and two and a half pounds, I know from correspondences that such and such must have happened in the spiritual world and that means this to me in my life right now or in the future or it means this to us as humans right now or in the future.
This answer leads me to believe that there is some sort of relationship that we can pull for natural events/objects:
When we look at this rock we therefore think about its external portion and its interior portion. Without rationally knowing the interior portion, we cannot explain the external portion. But knowing both, we can explain why this rock has been formed, how, and what maintains it in existence. (James, Theistic Psychology section 126.96.36.199)
It is stated that everyone has ways of thinking and feeling called "well-disposed" as well ways of thinking and feeling called "not well-disposed." We can accumulate both of these in our daily living, but they cannot be mixed up with each other. In other words, we can think and react according to a former lower phase of our thinking, especially when we are being challenged by circumstances and striving to cope with what can be experienced as overwhelming. But this is only a temporary set back, and we soon come out of that older phase into our newer higher, more heavenly phase. We can alternate between heavenly and hellish ways of thinking and reacting. (James, Theistic Psychology section 13.0.7)
Use this quote for personal anecdote about how difficult it is to change and the set backs I have faced.
Smith, Huston The World’s Religions Harper Collins Publishers, San Francisco 1991
Bowker, John Religions Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom 2002
http://www.iskcon.com/ - Official website pertaining to Krishna consciousness