The Perennial Quest for a Psychology with a Soul: An Inquiry into the Relevance of Sri Aurobindo's Metaphysical Yoga Psychology in the Context of Ken Wilber's Integral Psychology

By Paulson, Daryl S. | Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, July 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

The Perennial Quest for a Psychology with a Soul: An Inquiry into the Relevance of Sri Aurobindo's Metaphysical Yoga Psychology in the Context of Ken Wilber's Integral Psychology


Paulson, Daryl S., Journal of Transpersonal Psychology


VRINTE, JOSEPH, (2002). The Perennial Quest for a Psychology with a Soul: An Inquiry into the Relevance of Sri Aurobindo's Metaphysical Yoga Psychology in the Context of Ken Wilber's Integral Psychology. Delhi, India: Motilal Barnarsidass. xx +568 pp. ISBN: 81-208-1932-2, hard cover, $50.00. Reviewed by Daryl S. Paulson.

It was only a matter of time before someone compared and contrasted the works of Sri Aurobindo and Ken Wilber. Joseph Vrinte has done this in a rather balanced and fair manner, providing specific criticisms to the works of each.

The book, consisting of twelve chapters, a preface, acknowledgements, epilogue and bibliography, is particularly valuable in that Vrinte has in-depth knowledge of the works of both Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo. Yet, it is clear that Vrinte is partial to Aurobindo's Integral Philosophy.

Chapter 1 (Psychotherapy) provides a summary background of the four psychotherapeutic schools, to wit, psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral, existentialhumanistic, and transpersonal. Vrinte does not place Wilber's work in an "integral" category, as Wilber would like, nor does Vrinte discuss positive psychology or neuropsychiatry. Vrinte argues that, for complete growth, a spiritual component is necessary.

In Chapter 2 (Conventional Psychotherapy and Spiritual Disciplines), Vrinte posits that the personal self and deeper self (transpersonal self) must be harmoniously integrated. Frances Vaughan, John Welwood, Roberto Assagioli, Brant Cortright, Ken Wilber, and Michael Washburn have also made this point. Yet, Vrinte concludes that this process is not an easy endeavor and cautions against handing over aspects of life to a deeper self for which one needs to take personal responsibility.

In Chapter 3 (Metaphysical Psychology), Vrinte argues that human existence, in all practices and forms, actually is part of larger spiritual phenomenon that leads to the Godhead. The self-sense that makes this journey continually expands its awareness, beginning at the egoic self, continuing into the Soul level, and culminating in Spirit. Vrinte begins, then, a systematic process of comparing Wilber's and Aurobindo's philosophies, as well as discussing both Western and Eastern views in this connection.

Vrinte, in Chapter 4 (The Transpersonal Psychological Movement), presents the history of the transpersonal psychology movement. For Vrinte, it began just after Maslow wrote the book, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. Vrinte also discusses valuable contributions made by Cortright, Grof, Aurobindo, and, of course, by Wilber and Washburn, to the growth of the transpersonal movement. According to Vrinte, two fundamental transpersonal paradigms exist: Wilber's structural, or "ladder model," and Washburn's "spiral," or "U-turn" model. Vrinte also discusses the practical applied aspects of both transpersonal psychology and psychiatry in a section on psychotic disorders, border-line disorders, and neurotic disorders and comments on John Nelson's book, Healing the Split, and aspects of the chakra system. He concludes this chapter with a section on meditation and trans-personal psychotherapy, emphasizing the importance of individuals opening to deeper levels of Being.

Chapter 5 (A General Introduction to Ken Wilber) presents adequate summaries of Wilber's books, omitting, however, The Holographic Paradigm, A Sociable God, Quantum Questions, Spiritual Choices, Grace and Grit, and Boomeritis. Although it is nearly impossible to characterize Wilber's work, Vrinte's summaries provide a summary discussion for each one, including how they fit into Wilber's selfproclaimed evolutionary stages - Wilber I through Wilber IV. Vrinte also presents Aurobindo's stage model of consciousness, as articulated by Ken Wilber and presents comments on other areas, such as lines and levels of development, modernism and postmodernism, and the four quadrants, as well as Wilber's incorporation of Beck and Cowan's book, Spiral Dynamics. …

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