Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Spiritual Embedded Clinical Approach Part-II: Lessons from Sikh Faith

Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Spiritual Embedded Clinical Approach Part-II: Lessons from Sikh Faith

Article excerpt

In the first part of the paper, the main objective was to review studies to understand how religious traditions enrich transpersonal experiences and have significance for psychology as a science of healing. The second part of this paper explores the numinous through the teachings of Guru Nanak, one of the Santas of the Bhakti sect of the fifteenth century, and the founder of Sikhism. They have significance for the mental health of people in India and suggest a new vision for transpersonal psychology. Guru Nanak's teachings directly relate to the numinous and do not involve the intricate ways of gods and goddesses of the great and the little traditions.

First of all, it is important to recall that the two important revolutions in psychology-the humanistic and the transpersonal (the other two being psycho-analysis and behaviorism)-were inspired, perhaps, to some extent by the Eastern spiritual traditions (Daniels, 2001; Walsh, 1988). In transpersonal psychology, particularly, the major emphasis is on 'trans', to move beyond the individual level. It is attached with the sense of numinous, which has been eluding psychologists, philosophers, and even historians. It is related to questions such as-what is that which arouses reverence for natural phenomena; what makes the innermost part of the temple experientially sacred; what transpires between the deity and the devotee; what makes us to aspire for higher states of consciousness, and so on. If our inquisitiveness about the numinous is so all-embracing, the concern for it more or less universal and its expression touching almost every aspects of life, the arguments for inclusion of numinous as a part of psychological enquiry seems valid. However, the institutionalization of numinous as a religious activity also takes place side by side. For, in day to day life, it is the success and failure of these institutions, which is more visible to people than the numinous.

Transpersonal experiences have been known to have existed for centuries in religions of the world. Interestingly, some chemicals recapitulate these phenomena by adding a new transpersonal dimension (Grof, 1975/1996), and all these natural and supernatural experiences form a spectrum of consciousness (Connolly, 2000; Wilber, 1977/ 2002). The major issue before transpersonal psychology is to understand the transcendence of consciousness (Daniels, 2001; Friedman, 2002) along with the diversity of spiritual traditions (Caplan, Hartelius, & Rardin, 2003; Hartelius, Caplan, & Rardin, 2007). Therefore, transpersonal psychology focuses on non-ordinary states of consciousness "that have heuristic, healing, transformative, and even evolutionary potentiaf' (Grof, 2008). On the one extreme are primordial forms of spiritual healing practices (Winkelman, 2004), and on the other extreme are purely experiential forms of spiritualism (Krippner, 2001 ). The cross-cultural approach to these phenomena is likely to strengthen four basic assumptions of transpersonal psychology (Cunningham, 2007)- the impulses toward an ultimate state are universal; awareness of these impulses is not necessary; the realization of an ultimate state is possible; and, the individual has freedom to choose a path.

Current reviews on the role of religion and spirituality in mental health reveal some important lacunae in research as far as the Eastern traditions are concerned (Bhui, 2010; Dalai, & Misra, 2010; Hussain, & Bhushan, 2010; Rao, 2011 ; Sharma, Charak, & Sharma, 2009). People engage in religious and spiritual practices in various ways and to various degrees; however, a significant aspect of religion and spirituality is to achieve connectedness with others through transcendence (Chattopadhyay, 2007; Verghese, 2008). Religious people are explicit about supernatural entities whereas the spiritual people are implicit about such entities. None of the reviews refer explicitly about the supernatural (transcendental) elements, their nature and varieties, the emic properties or cultural diversity in the Indian landscape. …

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