Sponsored By: Infinity Foundation

Course on history of East/West Psychology

Course on history of East/West Psychology
by Stuart Sovatsky

Histories of East/West Psychology: Societal and Personal
Stuart Sovatsky, PhD

Course Description

How would your life be different if Yoga, Buddhist meditation or Indian Philosophy had not come Westward? What if the transcendentalist poets, the Consciousness/Transpersonal Movement, Gandhian political methods, “The Sixties,” or Dr. Chaudhuri’s CIIS never happened? Join us in the study of your own life in the context of 200 years of East/West Psychology, surveying the vast panorama of influences in American arts, literature, psychology, spirituality, philosophy, health sciences, and political activism, Special attention (experiential and intellectual) given to (1) dynamics of cultural orthodoxy/innovation in living traditions, (2) the awakening to Buddhist anicca (impermanence beneath all history) that is the core of Buddhist enlightenment, (3) Sanatana Dharma (“The Eastern Way”) of Indic cosmology/sociology underlying all history, and (4) each student’s personal EWP history and future aspirations and hopes for “the next wave” of EWP in America, India and the world.

Educational Purpose

(1) Deepen each student’s historical and temporally impermanent sense of his or her own on-going life via a broad historical overview of EWP (areas noted above) and locate the student’s own “place” in this on-going history and its unfolding future. (2) Consider historiography (the process of writing, interpreting, and re-writing/re-interpreting histories) and little-known but needed revisions in EWP based upon recent scholarship. (3) Explore cross-cultural dynamics of orthodoxy and innovation within ancient, yet constantly “living” traditions. (4) Consider historical concepts such as evolution, teleology, stages of life/aging, paradigmatic “eras,” (modernity, postmodernity, post-postmodernity, cyclical yugas)

After the Course, Students Will

Have a broad overview of the past 200 years of Indian vidya (knowledge, arts, practices) in America and the reflexive effects in contemporary India-Develop revisionist opinions on stereotypes regarding Indian culture, areas needing future research in EWP, areas for innovation in transpersonally-oriented psychotherapy, and the problematic of the “Americanization” of Indic vidya.-Explore how the study of history can contribute to personal and social enlightenment via diverse ways of knowing.


Storming Heaven (J. Stevens); Thoroeau’s Ecstatic Witness (A. Hodder); How the Swans Came to the Lake (R. Fields); The Couch and the Tree (A. Molino): Asian Religions in America (Tweed/Prothero), Inner Revolution (R Thurman); Words From the Soul (S. Sovatsky), Jung & Eastern Thought (H. Coward); Meditation Revolution (D. Brooks, et al); Heidegger’s Hidden Sources (R. May); Conflicting Images: India & the US (Glazer & Glazer)

WEEK 1-2 (Sovatsky) “EuroHinduism in America” handout
Overview of the Future of the Class and Types of Histories of EWP

Situating oneself in eternal impermanence (anicca, santana Dharma), Contexting one’s autobiography and possible future; Jagganathian historicity of EWP – R. Schurmann “ages”; Whose history? Narrative voice; Purposes of history-taking; Romantic Time & Establishment Time; Mutability of meaning attribution – Teleological narratives – Age (stage) of life of narrator — The Evolution, Perfectibility, Hipness, Progress, Problematizing & Immediacy tropes of Sanatana Dharma, Judeo-Christianity, Techno-Science, Sociology, Mass media culture & Pop, New Age EWP–Kierkegaard and “Modern Times” (1846) – Postmodern multiple histories –Counter culture & “breaking through history-as nightmare to the (hidden) Innocent NOW” — Orthodoxy, Synchretism, Heterodoxy, Westology & the idea of “The East”

WEEK 3-4 (Fields) How the Swans Came to the Lake (Hodder) Thoreau’s Ecstatic Witness
The 19th Century Beginnings of EWP

Romanticized & colonized India; Feuerbach’s first Psychology of Religion; Early Sanskrit translations & transcendentalist poets; Darwinism & Western Religion; the Civil War & postcolonial Race liberations; rise of technology & New Thought Movements; Theosophy’s Yogi as Evolved Being; The EWP of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Utopian communities, Vivekananda; birth of Western Psychology

WEEK 5-6 (Tweed, Prothero) Asian Religions in America, ch10-15 (Leviton) Yoga Journal (4/91)
1900-1960 The First Wave of Swamis & Roshis

Yogananda -Wm. James, S. Maugham, Relativity and Vedanta influences in W Philosophy/Psychology, D.T. Suzuki, Aurobindo, Bede Griffith, Teillard, H. Hesse, Krishnamurti and D. Bohm, Heidegger’s Hidden Sources, the early bowdlerization of Hatha Yoga at the Mysore Palace

WEEK 7-9 (Stevens) Storming HeavenBe Here Now; (Brooks, et al) Meditation Revolution Pt 1
The Sixties, Art, Politics, Consciousness Movement

Jazz, Beats, LSD, Revolution, Liberation, Human Potential, CIIS, Gurus, ashrams, Communes, Gandhian Protest & Civil Rights, Feminism, Ram Dass, Leary, TM, Swami Rama & biofeedback, Muktananda’s hidden effects, shaktipat-Kundalini, crazy wisdom/transgressive sacrality & deconstruction, est, Esalen, neotantra; authority, sainthood and scandal

WEEK 10-12 (Coward) Jung & the East; (Molino) The Couch and the Tree
Transpersonal Psychology and Psychotherapy

Freud, Jung, Assagioli, Watts, Grof, Wilber, Sannella and spiritual emergence, Tart, nondual-advaita psychotherapy-problems of heterodoxy & living tradition in EWP; ashrama lifespan development, indigenous ideal of varna/jati & engaged spirituality & Sanatana Dharmic-based psychodynamic individual, couple, & family therapies-EWP reflux in India, “U-Turn Theory” of appropriating cultural knowledge.

WEEK 13-15 (Sovatsky) Words From the Soul (ch3-4); (Thurman) Inner Revolution
Personal History, Your Present, Presence & Futures; The Next Waves of EWP

Contemporary gurus/teachers, EWP of the future, American Buddhism/Hinduism , diasporas, 18million American Yoga practitioners, Tantra Kundalini–dvaita/advaita, Bhakti Yoga, Abhinava, Rasayana and Yama/Niyama as theories of emotion-“embodied’ spirituality–Ashaudhi (Indic Shamanism), EcoYoga, Postmodern Sanatana Dharma IN Us & India; “Spiritual Science”; de- & con- structive EW Psychologies; cyber-spirituality, x-generation, the “rest of your EWP life ”

Optional Music and Movie Nights: GandhiThe Razor’s EdgeBrother Sun Sister Moon, Coltrane, Oregon, Beastie Boys, M. Bhatt, Krishna Dass, Axis Mundi