Psychology and Tradition

The ancient arts of healing, like the philosophies and worldviews of the past, such as ancient Eastern philosophy or the Western hermetic tradition, were based on an absolute, universal and global worldview. Psychology is a modern science and, like all modern sciences, is positivist and tends to consider man (and the world in general), analysing its parts, after fragmentation, in a specialised manner, but also separately; that is, without providing a global and integrated view.
According to tradition, the world is spirit and matter is nothing but the manifestation of this spirit; for official science, on the other hand, there is matter and the laws that govern it. Apparently there is a big difference between official science and the ancient traditions, in reality they are the two sides of the same coin. This means that by integrating these two ways of seeing reality, we can expand our knowledge and consciousness, and link the past with the present to improve the future. Certain discoveries of modern physics, obtained by observing matter through powerful microscopes, can be compared to certain ideas that were part of ancient shamanic traditions; according to these traditions, all elements of nature (minerals, plants and animals) emanate energy. Current discoveries in quantum physics have led to the observation that the smallest thing that exists in the universe is precisely a unit of energy, which has been called a quantum (particle). Einstein postulated that any form of electromagnetic radiation can manifest itself as a wave or as a Quantum. The Quantum, or unit of energy, is considered as either a particle or a wave. Max Plank discovered that radiant heat energy (such as from radiators) is not transmitted in a continuous flow, but in small units of Quanta. So when the ancients spoke of the energy of stone, wood, etc., the idea was not wrong. The Chinese, in 380 BC, postulated the existence of a vital energy called Ki or Chi that permeates all animate matter.
There is a current in psychology, called transpersonal psychology, that studies the phenomena of consciousness. This discipline claims that by provoking a change in the state of consciousness, it is possible to perceive phenomena or events that occur in nature and are imperceptible in an ordinary state of consciousness. For example, if a person succeeds in developing the Alpha state, which is a state of consciousness characterised by a particular relaxation that we can place somewhere between wakefulness and sleep, it is very likely that this person will be able to perceive the minimal vibrationality of matter in its pure state if he or she wishes. These states of perception can be achieved through relaxation techniques and meditations such as Tai-Chi-Chuan, Yoga, autogenous training, dynamic meditation, etc… Tai-Chi, for example, is a very special technique, as it integrates meditation and relaxation in a dynamic form of slow, harmonious movement that resembles a dance. This imitates the movement of nature and animals. Tai-Chi, the Supreme Unity or the Supreme Way, is the principle of the union and balance of the two opposing and complementary energies of Yin and Yang, represented by heaven and earth, man and woman, body and spirit; whose interactions generate and maintain life. In Brazil, some religions speak of energy vibrations called Los Orixas. These are considered to be entities that take the form of stones, metals, water, fire, air, etc… in other words, everything that exists in nature and that can help to heal and improve people’s existence. Venturing into a bold hypothesis, we could say that the Quanta, the Archetypes, the Ki, the Los Orixas, are part of the same reality and that this reality cannot be reduced to a single element; rather, it would be an indivisible whole, like a crystal whose various faces we can see. This indivisible reality composes a kaleidoscope of colours and dimensions, which we can visualise within a three-dimensional spiral, a great cosmic mandala, in which time and space merge in the continuous succession of events. So it is that science and poetry, numbers and music, logic and art, mind and body, are part of this one and indivisible reality; it is divine and mysterious, as is the existence of the human being during his journey on planet earth. We can therefore see that there is a substantial harmony between the spirit of wisdom of the traditions and the more recent conceptions of Western science; a knowledge that seems to be beyond technique and that seeks the way of the heart and self-realisation. It is for me not only a goal I aim to achieve, but also a way of life itself. Werner Heisenberg states: ‘It is probably true in principle that in the history of human thought the most fruitful developments often occur at the points of interference between two different lines of thought. These lines may have their roots in absolutely different parts of human culture, at different times and in different cultural environments or in different religious traditions; therefore, if they come together closely enough to give rise to effective interaction, one can then hope that new and interesting developments may follow’. Of fundamental importance is the ability to take on, integrating them into the points of view proposed by modern science, some of the attitudes proper to tradition, in order to experience the wholeness of nature and from this experience draw the art of living in harmony with ourselves and with it. What we need is therefore a dynamic, dialogic interaction between mystical intuition and scientific analysis.

Taken from: Journal of Arts Therapies and Neuroscience online – author Roberto Clovis

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