Sunday, June 1, 2014

Traditional Psychology

Traditional psychology: key insights as old as humanity


“It is possible to have great affection and regard for individuals and groups of people without in any way reducing one's awareness of their currently poor capacity for understanding and preserving their heritage.

"The present state of ignorance about distant and former cultures is not unique to this time. Unfortunately, though, the people of our time are not employing their superior resources to retrieve and develop the remnants of wider knowledge possessed elsewhere and also at other times.

“This is because, while the tools and the general freedom are there for the first time, desire, resolution and breadth of vision are absent, also for the first time.

“The endowment is therefore at risk. For the first time.”

--Idries Shah, Reflections

We think of psychology as a modern science, rooted in late nineteenth-/early twentieth-century work of Western scholars such as William James, Wilhelm Wundt, Ivan Pavlov, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. But the most important insights about human thought, behavior and motivation — including some of the “new” ideas put forward by these thinkers — are much older....

In fact, the insights and methods we most urgently need to move beyond the limits of our error-prone nature and conditioning, to forge a conscious phase of human evolution, are available to us today, but outside the reach of scientific inquiry or modern psychological practices alone.

As Jung himself wrote in Modern Man in Search of a Soul, “Psychoanalysis itself and the lines of thought to which it gives rise — surely a distinctly Western development — are only a beginner's attempt compared to what is an immemorial art in the East.”

Though most often associated with the East, these “ways” are transmitted through all ages and cultures, as evidenced in the core teachings of the world's great religions; in the world's greatest poetry, literature, art and architecture; in universal myths, stories and traditions.

Uncovering these traditional psychologies, seeing how and where they intersect with modern research on the mind and brain, and finding ways to apply this important part of the human legacy to solving the most urgent needs of our contemporary culture, is a major focus of ISHK's work.

Further reading on the human legacy:

A remarkable presentation of this great human legacy can be found in Idries Shah's seminal book, The Sufis.

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