An expression of gratitude

Matthijs Cornelissen
last revision: 08 November 2023


This text is, in some sense, simply the introduction to psychology that I would have liked to read when I took up the study of Psychology many years ago.

As it is largely based on Sri Aurobindo's work, one could also say that it is my attempt to give an accurate impression of Sri Aurobindo's synthesis — and expansion — of the ancient Indian wisdom tradition in a language that is understandable and relevant for those who are engaged with contemporary psychology. In this attempt I have tried to remain faithful to what I could confirm in my own experience, and to make it explicit whenever I wrote something solely on the authority of Sri Aurobindo or others.

I am aware that these different objectives are not fully compatible. The language of modern psychology is not really suitable to deal with the type of experiences on which Sri Aurobindo bases his ideas, and the limited nature of my own experience enables me to see and understand only a small corner of his work. Still, I hope the result will be intriguing enough for the reader to give a serious thought to the ideas expressed in this text and to turn for further clarification to Sri Aurobindo's own writings, to those of the Mother, and to the many other texts, ancient and modern, that deal with the same territory.

The reader can safely assume that whatever is true in my writing is Sri Aurobindo's, and that whatever is not must be mine. This may sound a bit too sugary, but it is factual. When I had just started reading Sri Aurobindo, it sometimes occurred to me that I had found some error or lacuna in Sri Aurobindo's descriptions of life and yoga. Every single time I was either led soon after to a concrete experience showing that it was me who was wrong and he who was right or I found that he had described somewhere in a few words, often tucked away in the midst of one of his long sentences, what had taken me months to discover. It made me wonder how he had managed to pack so much experience in one short life-time. For it is clear that he wrote from experience; he was not into compiling the second hand thinkings of others. The more I understand of what he has done in the area of yoga and psychology, the more my admiration and gratitude grow.