Psychological Methods, Systems and Techniques
He was a struggler. He had been struggling for many years in the city but had had no success. Success was what he wanted desperately for the flame of ambition was burning in his heart and mind. Through one of his acquaintance, he learned about a spiritual organization. The organization claimed to offer the recipe for success and peace of mind. The recipe was a phrase, to be repeated over and over with mind fixed on the object of desire.
This would not only help him gather all the necessary energy around him to help manifest what he most desired but also lead him to a sort of transcendental experience. In that he saw hope, strength and comfort. He became a disciple of the system and followed it regularly. He would chant, repeat the phrase with deep and powerful intonation, eyes open and mind fixed upon the object of achievement. One could see that he was deriving a sort of abnormal strength from it. It became a sort of ritual for him and he would do it whenever he was, in whatever condition, regularly. Sometimes, he would tell me about the positive benefits of it, how his life changed because of it, advise me to do the same and I would politely decline.
One day he sat for the session at eight in the morning and went at it with great vigor. I had to go out and when I came back, he was at it again. Possibly a third or fourth session, I thought. I was in the other room with a couple of my friends.
Around midnight, we went to ask him for dinner. He was still at it. One usually doesn’t like to disturb the sanctity of such performances but he was looking a little tired and so one of the guys called out to him. Usually, if somebody would call him when he was at it, he would become more serious in his thing or act as if he didn’t hear. This time, there was no reaction. A couple of more calls but no response. Then we realized. He had been at it since morning. Sixteen hours of non-stop chanting. What followed was four people trying to “get him back” by using all kinds of means – pouring water on his head, slapping, shaking, lifting up, but he would still be at it. He would be made to drink water or to eat something but after a sip or a mouthful, he would again resume. His eyes were blank and body rigid. After an hour or so, some people from the asylum came and took him with them.
One should never use a system, a method or technique on oneself – psychologically. A method, a technique implies a procedure, way of doing something, in accordance with a definite plan. A technique, a method is something crystallized, a fixed pattern, a laid out path to reach a static point. But oneself is not a static entity. Oneself is a living thing, changing all the time. To use a method or a technique psychologically – be it a psychoanalytic technique or a spiritual technique is to me, not only ridiculous but also potentially dangerous.
Using these techniques or systems on oneself dulls the mind, repetition of any kind makes the mind dull – and techniques and systems involve repetition. It makes the mind insensitive, and one falls into one illusion after another and goes into a different world altogether. It may also lead to insanity in some cases.
One may use a technique or a method in some sort of physical, technical or mechanical activity, in learning a skill, accomplish some official task, to build muscles, and so on. But psychologically, the moment you have a system and a method, you become mechanical. Then the method becomes important and not the thing which it is aimed at. A method implies the “how” – a system, a way trodden by others, and someone to tell you, do this and you will find it. And therefore one becomes dependent on the system and there is no clarity, intelligence.
Why does one follow a system, a technique at all? One follows a system because in a method there is security, comfort, an illusion of certainty and an assurance of progress. One follows a method because in oneself one is not clear. But following a method, or seeking a solution is a distraction from the problem. Whereas, if I can look at the problem, learn about it, then from the understanding of the problem comes the answer. Because the answer is not separate from the problem. The moment I learn about something I am free of it. But the moment I bring in the system, I move away from the central fact of learning. One cannot possibly learn about oneself by following any method or technique whatsoever – neither from books, nor from any specialist, guru or an expert.
Unless I don’t know about myself, my reactions, responses, my thinking – no system is going to help me. I don’t know how I think and how I react to things, how I get affected by the environment, the movement of my own thoughts and feelings. I live in conflict of one sort or another, in confusion, without any clarity, susceptible to superstitions, believing in absurdities. And I look to a system. It seems to me that without first being aware of all that, without having order in oneself, all the other activities – all the systems and techniques can only lead to harm and mischief. After all, ignorance is the root of all suffering. And the world is full of suffering.
Contributing Writer: Ashutosh Ghildiyal is a salaried professional based in Mumbai, India. He was born in Lucknow in 1984, where he completed his schooling. He completed his graduate studies in New Delhi and his post-graduate education in Mumbai. He is the author of To Think or Not to Think and Other stories (Book), various blogs and short stories. Email: email@example.com
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