Existential psychology emphasizes philosophic rather than psychopathological aspects of the human condition. In this animated, two-part discussion, Dr. May proposes that genuine growth comes from confronting the pain of existence rather than escaping into banal pleasures or shallow, positive thinking. Genuine joy, he says, can emerge from an appreciation of life’s agonies.
The late psychotherapist Rollo May was a recipient of the Distinguished Career Award of the American Psychological Association and a founding sponsor of the Association for Humanistic Psychology. He was author of numerous classic works including Love and Will, Psychology and the Human Dilemma, Freedom and Destiny, Dreams and Symbols, The Meaning of Anxiety and Man’s Search for Himself.
How Many Lifetimes Does It Take For One To Attain Self-Knowledge?
The following quote from the Chinese sage Lao Tzu is apt when trying to answer this question:
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Don’t worry about how long it takes, just start examining and learning about yourself now. As Lao Tzu’s wise words intimate, this lifetime should be a marathon and not a sprint and the only thing that matters is to endeavour to take that first step towards self-knowledge.
Once you take that step, the ignorance you once had should begin to dissipate and reveal a true path towards understanding, knowledge and wisdom. As you start to perceive this wondrous path you will then become encouraged to take another enlightening step, and then another, until it becomes instinctive to the point that you are won’t even be aware of how many steps you have already taken. Contentment and equanimity reached.
I will leave you by saying that self-knowledge should accompany you on your journey of life and will be of immense benefit and joy to you no matter how many lifetimes you may or may not hope to negotiate.
THIS BOOK explores an unrecognized but mighty taboo—our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. Briefly, the thesis is that the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East—in particular the central and germinal Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism.
This hallucination underlies the misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man’s natural environment and, consequently, its eventual destruction. We are therefore in urgent need of a sense of our own existence which is in accord with the physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe. For this purpose I have drawn on the insights of Vedanta, stating them, however, in a completely modern and Western style—so that this volume makes no attempt to be a textbook on or introduction to Vedanta in the ordinary sense. It is rather a cross-fertilization of Western science with an Eastern intuition.
Particular thanks are due to my wife, Mary Jane, for her careful editorial work and her comments on the manuscript. Gratitude is also due to the Bollingen Foundation for its support of a project which included the writing of this book.
As much as I love the Christmas period with all the food and drink you can consume, as well as spending quality time with loved ones, there are times when it can all become a stress-filled, conflict-ridden and decadent exercise which can do more harm than good to one’s mind, body and spirit.
Everyone, I guess, is entitled to self-indulge (within reason, mind) at least once a year, but we must be careful not to enter the new year carrying too much weight, anxiety and damaged relationships.
Christmas should be a time to reinvigorate ourselves and to reconnect with friends and family who we have, directly or indirectly, long since neglected.
Surely, we’re not too busy for the important things in life?
Just to let you know that I don’t belong to any religious faith whatsoever, but felt the need to propose the following ten commandments (with a bit of humour thrown in for good measure) of my own for you to adopt towards having a happy Christmas of moderation. So no belief in God or morality are required.
These precepts or maxims may or may not help you to negotiate life more wisely, as well as put you in very good stead for the coming New Year and beyond. Just remember to have fun along the way.