We’ve always found ourselves to be interesting objects of study. That’s why some of us often cross personal limitations in our endeavour to understand human behaviour and spirituality.
Psychologist Sigmund Freud introduced the term ‘unconscious mind’ while explaining the topography of mind. He divided the human mind into three specific regions: the conscious, subconscious and unconscious.
The conscious mind represents immediate awareness of the person; the subconscious mind acts as a channel between the conscious and unconscious whereas the unconscious mind — which is out of a person’s awareness — is a large storehouse that contains past experiences, animalistic drives and unfulfilled wishes in their suppressed form.
An individual making a socially unacceptable wish generally does not execute it; so it gets left in his mind. In time, the idea disappears from his conscious mind, but it does not go away altogether. For it is unwittingly transferred to the unconscious mind. This is known as repression, when the mind relegates to the unconscious painful memories. Repressed memories influence the individual’s conduct, mental health and social transactions and stimulate negative behaviour. Unconscious patterns are thus reflected through various a-social behaviour that manifest through feelings of vanity, anger, greed, treachery, jealousy and indifference.
People in search of reclamation put their invaluable efforts to overcome all worldly frailties. For this, an exceptional search of self is conducted in order to reveal one’s unconscious to the seeker. Sages, Sufis and yogis, through the practice of meditation, think profoundly and surpass their limitations internally. This activity needs tremendous effort and is different from introspection, which is just the review of consciousness.
During therapy, psychotherapists conduct catharsis in which they help their subjects to identify negative unconscious patterns and overcome them to an extent. In order to achieve complete redemption and to get deliverance from all burdens, comprehensive self-catharsis is required. Poet, philosopher Iqbal said: “Dive deep within yourself in order to find the clue of life; be good to yourself if you can’t be good to me.”
Carl Jung explained the role of the unconscious in spiritual realisation and in the achievement of psychological wholeness, “The seat of faith...is not consciousness but spontaneous religious experience only when the individual is willing to fulfill the demands of rigorous self-examination and self-knowledge...that is the unconscious.”
The practice of exploring the unconscious does not necessarily limit us to stay confined in the shell of persona. Besides the personal unconscious, there is also “collective unconscious” which is a socially shared unconscious. This deals directly with temporal or worldly affairs such as various patterns of justice, humanity and balance of power. These golden patterns present in abundance in the collective unconscious are named as ‘archetypes’.
Exploration and realisation of self is inevitable in the striving to achieve purity. According to Sri Aurobindo, “A fully developed mind in man must in all climes search after pure Truth and unmixed Bliss.” Knowledge of the unconscious enables one to overcome the negativities of life and the process leads the seeker to follow universal laws.
Universal laws uphold the regularity of the cosmic process and social order and intrinsic to this is the prevalence of justice and right conduct.