P S Y C O T E C H N I Q U E S


"Finis ultimo non est unio animae cum aliquo alio, sed separatio (viyoga) eius ab omnibus aliis"

 

"Il fine ultimo non consiste nell'unione dell'anima con qualche altro essere, ma nella separazione [viyoga] da ogni altro essere".

  

 - C. B. Papali, Order of Discalced Carmelites -

   

1.  Psychotechniques

 

A Christian could fairly asks if and how much, in his path of growth of his loving relationships with God, he can use the techniques of meditation of the Far East. The answer is already included in the concept of the nature of meditation.

 

Anyway, to be more explicit, we here quote some clarifying words by Card. Ratzinger: “We can accept all and only those things that can be harmonized with the fundamental structure of the Christian prayer: with its personal and historical nature… This sets a limit to any psycho-technique. Not any technique can replace the burst of freedom which becomes a meeting with God. We can adopt some techniques according to their being useful to this path of freedom… throughout some techniques we can engender feelings of peace and relax and even some appearance of light and warmth, that nevertheless have nothing to do with the meeting with God, with the real mystic union”.

 

In the light of these words we wish now to pay attention to three specific moments of the Indian meditative praxis, in order to catch the positive aspects on a psycho-technical ground, but also the dangers and the need for a steady psychic structures.

 

2.   Path of gradual separation (viyoga)

 

We have already exposed in detail the psycho-technical aspects of the doctrinal central body of our Christian inquiry about the Indian spirituality.

Summarizing and briefly recalling the three specific moments of the Indian meditative praxis, we have the following movement with a Motum obliquum:

 

(a) First stage: mental fixing

(b) Middle stage: mental introspection

(a') Last stage: mental denudation

 

With proper changes, according to the different Indian schools, this organization, with motum obliquum, is in common between the Hinduism and Buddhism, Zen included. This meditative praxis stops the mental changes and leads to the identification atman Brahman/Nirvana.

 

 

The succession of the psycho-technical path in the form of yoga results in the existential separation (viyoga), as Papali remembers us: “finis non est unio animae cum aliquo alio, sed separatio (viyoga) eius ab omnibus aliis”. Therefore, we can not confuse it with the Christian meditation which is a theological dynamics, loving attention towards an Other who revealed Himself in the biblical history.

-  For the Hinduism

 

In the psycho-technical praxis of the Indian existential vision (karman-samsâra-mâya) to achieve the freedom (moksa-mukti), the Hindu yogin, and he only, without the presence on an Other:

  • Destroys the impressions (samskâra) of all previous mental functions which laid in the memory in a germinal state (bija)
  • Stops the forces of the Karma (the effects of the previous actions) and he so escapes the karma-samsâra
  • Creates the emptiness (sūnya) in the mind
  • Realizes the existential separation, viyoga
  • Enters a marvellous isolation, the kâivalya, without referring to an Other.

 

Throughout this path of the natural mystic experience, Papali writes, “anima humana est finis sui ipsius”.

 

Patañjali defines the kâivalya as the relax of the spirit (purusa) in itself as a solitary, isolated unit: “we have the kâivalya when the conscience is based on its own essence”. Papali explains: “kâivalya seu simplex esse animae” (Kâivalya or simple being of the soul)

 

In this state the yogin becomes a jivanmukta, a released who is still living. In the kâivalya the atman, as a solitary, isolated unit, is identified with the supreme absolute of the Brahman Nirguna, delighted by the constant use and experience of the mahâ-vâkya who has been chosen for the meditation, as for example: “aham Brahma-asmi”: “I am the Brahman”.

 

 

-  For the Buddhism

 

The Buddhism pursues the same aim, with different names. In fact, in the fifth samapatti, the ninth series of the jhâna, called nirodha-samâpatti, the bhiksu:

  • Destroyes the ignorance (avidyâ)
  • Stops - holds up - eliminates (Patanjali: nirodhah; Papali: cohibitio) the conscience (viññâna) and the sensation (vedanâ) and, as the ideas present in him vanish without the birth of other ideas, he doesn’t think (samjñâ) and doesn’t form (rûpa) anything
  • Inhibits the impressions or unconscious drives (samskâra)
  • Suppresses the thirst of the unhealthy desires
  • Extinguishes distress, tears, pain, sorrow, anguish (soka-parideva-dukkha, domanass’-upâyasa)

Thanks to the overcoming of the ignorance (avidyâ), the first ring of the twelve causal knots (pratitya-samutpâda), and to the break of the five aggregates (pañkâ-skanda), the remained chain results frayed and the bhiksu, according to the Buddhist Dhamma, goes outlaw of the “wandering” (karma-samsâra) and establishes himself in the samditthikanibbana, that is to say, the visible Nirvana which is realized in this Earth.

 

Moreover, thanks to the stopping-holding up (nirodhah) of the conscience of Buddhism (viññâna) we result in a progressive extinction – on a large scale – of the five aggregates (pankâ-skanda) that make up the empirical Ego (anattâ), the non-Ego, which is impermanent (anicca) and source of pain (dukkha).

 

 

3.  Conclusion

 

The path of the meditative discipline of the Yoga in the Hinduism and in the Buddhism is defined by Ancilli as a “slow activity of death, the art of entering alive in the death, which is not the evangelical death in order to leave space to an Other, but it is a metaphysical death in order to separate the activities of the spirit from the body” (E. ANCILLI, La Mistica e le Mistiche, in La Mistica, fenomenologia e riflessione teologica, 2nd vol., Rome, 1981).

 

Who places his trust in this slow activity of death without the help of a master, of a guru, and approaches the psycho-techniques with a dark and close mind (mûdha), inevitably suffers serious mental injuries: some forms of mania, obsessions, hallucinations, schizophrenia, just the effect of the psycho-techniques used as “mystical drugs” (E. SANGUINETI, Spiritualità e patologia, in AA. VV., La realizzazione spirituale dell’uomo. Proceedings of the interdisciplinary Congress held by the Department of Medicine of the University of Pisa, Milan 1987).

 

Only those who acquired a focused (ekagra) and controlled (niruddha) mind are fit for this techniques of psychological introspection. “The humans – Acharuparambil writes –with a dark or restless or absent mind (sipta, mûdha, viksipta) have to discipline assiduously their mind to achieve a certain degree of concentration, in order to be able to submit to the real yoga” (D. ACHARUPARAMBIL, Induismo, Vita e Pensiero, Roma 1986)