Illustrating Integral Psychology using the Gita

Integral Psychology, as defined here, is the psychology adapted from Sri Aurobindo’s division of human consciousness. (see here and  wikipedia page ).  This post provides an illustration of Integral Psychology terminology using the verses of the Bhagavad Gita.

The Gita in Chapter 2, verses 62 and 63 states


dhyayato visayan pumsah
sangas tesupajayate
sangat sanjayate kamah
kamat krodho ‘bhijayate

krodhad bhavati sammohah
sammohat smrti-vibhramah
smrti-bhramsad buddhi-naso
buddhi-nasat pranasyati

Translation: While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.  From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion, bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.

Now let us map this translation piece-by-piece to our consciousness using Integral Psychology (all terms are defined here)

  • From contemplation on the senses, attachment develops : The Lower Vital or Physical Vital (i.e. the life-force attached to the physical body) begins to take comfort in the input received from the senses.
  • From attachment, lust develops : This is one level higher at the Emotional Vital.  Something in the heart stirs and there is born the desire to prolong the sense experience.
  • From lust, anger arises : The Central Vital now begins to involve itself.   When continuation of sensual pleasure is denied, there is distress, anger and frustration.
  • From anger, delusion arises : The movement of consciousness ripples up another level to the level of the Mind.  The Dynamic mind springs into action and begins to imagine the feeling of pleasure and also searches for ways to renew the pleasurable contact.  Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras refers to this movement of the mind as vikalpa (fantasy or imagination).
  • From delusion, bewilderment of memory : This is the action of the Thinking Mind.  The consciousness has dissipated in the lower regions of consciousness and this interference impairs the Thinking mind’s power of concentration.

Here is a succinct form of the correspondence.

Reaction of consciousness
Psychological location
From contemplation on the senses, attachment develops. Physical vital
From attachment, lust develops. Emotional vital
From lust, anger arises. Central vital
From anger, delusion arises. Dynamic mind
From delusion, bewilderment of memory. Thinking mind


7 thoughts on “Illustrating Integral Psychology using the Gita

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  3. Sandeep Post author

    Analogous to the Gita verses 2:62-63 seen above, we seem to have something called the Paticcasamuppada (pratityasamutpada) or the Cycle of Dependent Origination in Buddhism.

    With Ignorance as condition, Mental Formations arise
    With Mental Formations as condition, Consciousness arises
    With Consciousness as condition, Mind and Matter arise
    With Mind and Matter as condition, Sense Gates arise
    With Sense Gates as condition, Contact arises
    With Contact (Sparsa) as condition, Feeling arises
    With Feeling (Vedana) as condition, Craving arises
    With Craving (Trishna) as condition, Clinging arises
    With Clinging (Upadana) as condition, Becoming arises
    With Becoming (Bhava) as a condition, Birth arises
    With Birth (Jati) as condition, Aging and Dying (Jarāmaraṇa) arise

    The thrust of the formula is such that when certain conditions are present, they give rise to subsequent conditions, which in turn give rise to other conditions and the cyclical nature of life in Samsara can be seen. This is graphically illustrated in the Bhavacakra (wheel of life).


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