The Evolution of Man
The system of personal enhancement known as Transformational Psychology has been researched, developed and practiced over the last 25 years. It is a form of Transpersonal Psychology, discussed in the next section. The research included an inspection and validation program covering as many as possible of the existing techniques for human change: learning, therapy, healing and enhancement. The key to making sense of this vast body of information was discovering why certain techniques that worked well with some people were not effective with others. It was found that all workable techniques belong at a particular level of a hierarchical structure - the reason they may not work for an individual is that underlying levels are not in place and the individual is attempting to bypass them in his development.
Before beginning practical work on self-development, an overview of the human personality will help to provide a context.
The Evolution of Man
Psychology, the study of the mind and how it works, is sometimes considered a new science, but this is quite mistaken. It is possibly the oldest science and in its most essential features even a forgotten science. Perhaps this misconception arises because, except in modern times, psychology was incorporated into philosophic or religious systems.
In India all forms of yoga are essentially psychology. Sufi teachings, which again are chiefly psychological, are regarded as partly religious and partly metaphysical. Almost every religion developed psychological teachings, often connected with a certain practice. In Europe, even in the last decades of the nineteenth century, many works on psychology were referred to as philosophy.
When modern psychology emerged as a discipline at the end of the nineteenth century, it was based on an analytic, biological view: interest was in the component parts particularly in the biological "realities" of brain, memory and so on, which could be empirically studied. When psychoanalysis was developed during the early part of the twentieth century, as an application of psychology to treat mental conditions of neurosis and psychosis, it produced the notion of "personality", about the reality of a person's individual and subjective presence in the world. As the century has progressed, "personality" as a notion has changed and modified with every new school.
Each personality is that complex combination of drives, defenses, roles, learned adaptations, potentials and consciousness, which lives in the world and is a unique being. In some quite remarkable way each person is unlike any other being that exists, qualitatively different, and yet is subject to universal laws, social and biological causes, and learned behavior that is common to all, and that make cultural patterns of action, describable and analyzable difficulties and illnesses, and similarities of behavior across cultures that are discernibly "human".
Firstly, systems that study man as they find him, or such as they suppose or imagine him to be. Modern "scientific" psychology belongs to this category.
Secondly, the systems that study man from the point of view of what he may become, i.e., his possible evolution. These last systems are in reality the original ones or in any case the oldest and only they can explain the forgotten origin and meaning of psychology: the study of the principles, laws and facts of man's possible evolution.
The "evolution" of man in this sense means the development of certain inner qualities and features that usually remain undeveloped, and cannot develop by themselves. If man does not want it, or does not want it strongly enough and does not make the necessary efforts, and get the necessary help, he will never develop.
The irony is, that before acquiring any new faculties that man does not now possess, he must first acquire qualities that he thinks he already possesses but about which he deceives himself.
The following experiment (devised by Ouspensky) will show how consciousness may be studied. Take a watch and look at the second hand, trying to be aware of yourself and concentrating on the thought, "I am (your name)" and "I am now here". Try not to think about anything else, simply follow the movement of the second hand and be aware of yourself, your name, your existence and the place where you are.
Most people soon find themselves drifting into imagination and thought associations, demonstrating that man is not conscious of himself for most of the time. The illusion of his being conscious is created by memory. We actually remember only moments of consciousness, although we do not realize that this is so. In retrospect we remember those moments and assume we were fully awake the whole time.
If we want to have more prolonged periods of awake consciousness and not merely glimpses, we must understand that this will depend upon the command we have over ourselves, and that this requires long and hard work.
Man does not know himself. He does not know his own limitations and possibilities. He does not even know to how great an extent he does not know himself. So he assumes his mental state to be "conscious", fully aware and self-determined, when in fact he is acting to a very great extent on automatic responses and continuously dramatizing all the influences of his past.
Return to Transforming the Mind - Contents
Continue to the next article, Transpersonal Psychology