Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Advaita Vedanta and Jungian psychology: Explorations towards further reconciliation in East-West dialogues on the psyche
by Selvam, Raja, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2011, 283; 3500725
Abstract (Summary)

The two primary objectives of this dissertation were (a) an exploration of the difficulty Jung had with Eastern claims of higher states of consciousness, and (b) an exploration of the opinion among some Advaita Vedanta schools that enlightenment cannot be achieved through intrapsychic means alone.

According to Advaita Vedanta, Jung's understanding of the ego as the only center of consciousness (self-awareness) and his difficulty in imagining other centers of consciousness in the psyche are understandable given the inherent tendency in the psyche to super-impose (adhyasa) the subject of all consciousness (the Brahman) on objects of consciousness such as the ego (the ahamkara). An analysis of Advaita Vedanta epistemology does not support Jung's criticism that Eastern epistemology lacks a basis in critical philosophy. Numerous accounts of personal experiences from the East as well as the West that meet Jung's criteria provide adequate empirical evidence for higher states of consciousness. More recent quantum physics theories challenge Jung's view that there is a limit to which the unconscious can be made conscious and support Advaita Vedanta's theory of the conscious nature of the substratum of the universe. Jung's primarily philosophical objection to higher states of consciousness appears to soften when faced with evidence of life after death, re-incarnation, and ego resolution in dreams.

Advaita Vedanta demonstrates a superior understanding of the nature and locus of consciousness in the psyche. Jung's superior understanding of relationships and communications among levels of the psyche as archetypally driven offers Advaita Vedanta insight on how mediate knowledge for enlightenment could be attainted through intrapsychic means alone. Eastern theories of dreams lack the understanding that dreams could communicate compensatory knowledge from the self to the ego. Limited dream material is presented as evidence that mediate knowledge for enlightenment can be acquired intrapsychically through dreams.

The Jungian self is closer to Advaita Vedanta's Isvara than it is to the Brahman. Advaita Vedanta complements Jungian psychology with another level of self (the Brahman) and another goal for human consciousness in moksa or enlightenment. Jungian psychology offers Advaita Vedanta the means for acquiring psychological as well as spiritual prerequisites for enlightenment.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Slater, Glen
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 73/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy of religion, Counseling Psychology, Spirituality
Keywords: Advaita Vedanta, Enlightenment, Jungian psychology
Publication Number: 3500725
ISBN: 978-1-267-22037-0
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