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Difference Between Western and Indian Psychology
It takes more than a simple comparison of how Indians and Westerners behave differently to distinguish the two psychologies. It is unnecessary to categorize Indians as introverts or collectivists, as having a strong need for dependency and a low desire for success, etc. Cross-cultural research has been primarily focused on identifying the such source and surface characteristic differences for many years. Such distinctions exist among people from various civilizations, not only in Indian culture
Western and Indian Psychology
Indian and Western psychology are distinct approaches to understanding the human mind and behavior. While they share some similarities, they also have significant differences stemming from their cultural, philosophical, and historical backgrounds. The key differences between the approaches are in the view of the self and how it is connected to the rest of the world. Western culture has been called individualistic, while Indian culture is holistic. Individualistic culture views the self, or "I," as the center of the universe and everything else as an extension of this entity. Holistic cultures view the self as part of a collective where it has a distinctive role.
Western psychology views the self as separate from the external world. In contrast, Indian psychology views the self as interconnected with the universe and, ultimately, one with the divine. Western psychology has traditionally focused on the individual self and its relationship to the external world. The self is seen as a separate entity, with a clear boundary between the self and the external world. Individual characteristics, such as personality traits, beliefs, and emotions, define the self. Western psychology has also focused on the cognitive processes that underlie the self, such as perception, memory, and reasoning. On the other hand, Indian psychology views the self as interconnected with the universe and, ultimately, one with the divine. The self is not seen as a separate entity but as an integral part of the universe. Indian psychology emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things and the idea that the self is a part of a larger whole. The self is not defined by its characteristics but by its connection to the divine.
|Western Psychology||Indian Psychology|
|Self separate from the universe||Self as interconnected with the universe|
|Consciousness as a sense of awareness of surrounding||Consciousness as the ultimate reality and goal of self|
|Self-actualisation as fulfilling one’s potential||Self-actualization as the process of realising one's true nature and ultimate reality|
The concept of consciousness is a fundamental aspect of psychology, and it is approached differently in Western and Indian psychology. Western psychology focuses on the conscious mind and its functions, while Indian psychology emphasizes the unconscious mind and ultimate reality. In Western psychology, consciousness is generally defined as awareness of one's surroundings, thoughts, and feelings.
It is viewed as the highest level of mental functioning and is closely connected to the idea of the self. Western psychology has traditionally focused on studying the different aspects of consciousness, such as perception, memory, attention, and reasoning. On the other hand, Indian psychology views consciousness as the ultimate reality and the ultimate goal of the self. According to Indian psychology, consciousness is not limited to the individual self but is the fundamental reality of the universe. The ultimate goal of Indian psychology is to realize the true nature of consciousness, which is the ultimate reality, or Brahman. This realization leads to self-realization and liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Conceptualization of Mental Disorders
The understanding of mental disorders differs significantly between Western and Indian psychology. Western psychology tends to focus on mental disorders' biological and psychological causes, and treatment is often based on medication and therapy. Indian psychology, on the other hand, places greater emphasis on the spiritual and cultural factors that contribute to mental disorders, and treatment often includes spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation.
Western psychology views mental disorders as a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. According to this perspective, mental disorders are caused by genetic, neurobiological, and psychological factors, such as childhood experiences, trauma, and stress. Western psychology has developed various diagnostic categories and treatments for mental disorders, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, and medication.
On the other hand, Indian psychology views mental disorders as imbalances in the individual's spiritual and cultural factors. According to this perspective, mental disorders are caused by a lack of connection to the divine and an imbalance in the individual's spiritual and cultural factors. Indian psychology emphasizes the importance of spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation, which aim to connect the individual self with the divine in treating mental disorders. Indian psychology also emphasizes the importance of cultural and spiritual factors, such as family, community, and tradition, in the understanding and treatment of mental disorders.
Self-Actualization and Differences
The concept of self-actualization is a fundamental aspect of psychology, and the understanding of self-actualization differs significantly between Indian and Western psychology. Western psychology views self-actualization as fulfilling one's potential and becoming the best version of oneself, while Indian psychology views self-actualization as realizing one's true nature and ultimate reality. In Western psychology, self-actualization is often associated with the works of Abraham Maslow, who proposed the theory of self-actualization as the highest level of human motivation.
According to Maslow, "self-actualization" is fulfilling one's potential and becoming the best version of oneself. This includes realizing one's talents and abilities, pursuing personal growth and self-improvement, and attaining a sense of meaning and purpose in life. On the other hand, Indian psychology views self-actualization as realizing one's true nature and ultimate reality. According to Indian psychology, the ultimate goal of the self is to realize its true nature, the ultimate reality, or Brahman. This realization leads to self-realization and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Indian psychology emphasizes the importance of spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation in achieving self-actualization.
The traditions concur that, like other animals, humans have certain biological or innate requirements for food, security, sexuality, and sleep. However, people may conquer or sublimate their fundamental wants, emotions, passions, and desires. S/he can actualize and develop amazing abilities that turn her/him into a superhuman person who may be referred to as Divine or God.
These people can transcend space-time boundaries and feel a connection to the cosmos. That gives them access to knowledge about their fellow humans, animals, and what occurs in distant locations on the planet and even parallel universities (loka). As a result, they are omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.
Life and Death
The cycle of life and death is an ongoing process. Every living thing goes through this cycle. Humans go through these cycles again, and physical death is not the end of life energy (jiva). It may continue on its voyage and eventually make its way back to earth in a brand-new body immediately or after a short or long period. Karma is the accumulation of the effects of one's acts throughout a lifetime, which results in specific inclinations, impressions, and habit patterns.
The power that perpetuates the cycle of birth and death is the accumulated karma of many lifetimes. The primary driving force behind our behavior is karma. However, people can actively decide to stop this process in a given life stage. It is referred to as moksha or emancipation. Such liberated humans are revered as Divine Persons and are free to return to this world and aid in the liberation of others. Since humans are treated as superior apes in Western psychology, which is inspired by Darwinian evolutionary theory, the continued evolutionary potential of humans is not taken into account.
The Goals and Values of Life – Purushārtha
Four life objectives have been acknowledged since ancient times. The biological demands for food, rest, safety, and sex we have in common with other animals are not these needs. Instead, they are purushrtha, which humans deliberately decided was worthwhile. Dharma, Artha, karma, and moksha are the four. They allude to aspiring to be freed from the cycle of birth and death, living a moral life, accumulating money, and achieving desires. Here, the word "Kama" does not signify "sexual urge" as it is typically understood. Our additional psychological demands are mentioned.
These four objectives should be placed in a certain order. The ultimate, superior, or perfect purpose of human existence is the final and the most significant. As a result, it is known as parama purushrtha. The goal post was for humans to satisfy their need to acquire money and gratifying psychological wants. One should first be directed in seeking these needs by specific rules, ethics, and values, which is dharma. So within the confines of dharma, it was anticipated that one would strive for other objectives. Dharma was thus the primary aim of life. In the path of life, dharma and moksha worked as two opposing forces, one pushing from behind and the other pulling from the front.
We should mention that moksha has only been emphasized as the ultimate life aims in our nation for thousands of years. We see this belief in freedom from the cycles of birth and death so commonly held and also actively supported as a noble life aims in Asian countries that were historically impacted by Indian culture. From ancient times till the present, countless seers, saints, and sages in our nation have emphasized the potential of this happening. We do not find moksha, even if the other three objectives are stated and sought in every nation on earth.
The concepts of life after death, rebirth, and reincarnation are not as prevalent in Western society as in ours. This is the key distinction between Western psychology and what we refer to as Indian psychology. They are still present, nevertheless, from Western civilizations. Such events were experienced and reported, and the first Psychical Research Society was founded in England to look into them. That is why there is still a need for parapsychology as a subfield of psychology.
However, there has been a renaissance of spiritual seeking throughout the Western world for the past 50 years. Many people reported seeing such a thing. The number of studies on "altered states of consciousness" increased quickly. As a result, the study of consciousness is currently a popular study area. Western experts have discovered that many texts and treatises relating to Vaidka and the a-Vaidka darana are filled with arguments on the nature of consciousness and mind. They were referred to as "Consciousness disciplines" by one researcher.
Indian and Western psychology are distinct approaches to understanding the human mind and behavior. They differ in their understanding of the nature of the self, the causes and treatment of mental disorders, the concept of consciousness, and their research methods. While Western psychology tends to focus on the individual self and the scientific study of mental processes, Indian psychology emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things and the spiritual aspects of the human experience.
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