Guilt and Psychoanalysis

From Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Volume II

Guilt is one of the most natural qualities of life. It is one of the characteristics of the mind, and if this particular aspect of man's personality were to be eradicated, then the balance in emotional life would be lost completely. Man survives by guilt and man's mind evolves through guilt. Therefore, one should not try to overcome one's guilt directly. However, there is a stage in life when one can be free of guilt and there will not be any hindrance to one's mental or emotional evolution and one's state of balance will not be disturbed.

There are various qualities of guilt. One type of guilt arises when you do not follow the social-religious system. If you ignore either your wife, mother, child or any other relative you are living with, then you will start feeling guilty because your social-religious system has taught that you must take care of your relatives.

There is another very powerful form of guilt which everybody experiences at some point in their life. It is concerned with the fact that you are not leading a spiritual life. If you never go to church or the temple, and if you have never tried to establish communication with God and you don't practise anything spiritual, there is bound to be a period when you will experience guilt. Now, this guilt is not bad. It has been created by nature in order to make you evolve. Without this guilt, people would die without doing anything spiritual.

Therefore, whenever these social-religious complexes creep into your mind, you should try to analyse the whole thing through the process of antar mouna. In this practice you do not direct, control or create the order of the thought processes. You are an impartial witness throughout the practice. When you are impartial you can analyse the causes of guilt. In many cases you will find that the guilt is very deep-rooted and is due to faulty education by your parents.

In my opinion, and of course I am an Indian, I think parents are responsible for this unnecessary guilt. Therefore, the individual ego falls into rebellion just to get out of the guilt. However, one can never overcome guilt unless one has transformed the quality of one's mind, and this cannot be done overnight. It must be done in stages.

You take a little cotton, transform it into thread and then again into a piece of cloth. Then you dye the cloth, and by cutting and stitching it, you transform the cloth into a shirt, dress, coat or whatever. The substance is still cotton, but it has under gone various stages of transformation. Just as the trans formation has only occurred in the state and not in the sub stance, in the same way, through the practices of yoga, you can transform your state of mind without disturbing the mind.

1 May 1980, Satyanandashram Paris, France


Psychoanalysis is a young science which has in fact given some sort of direction to our modern culture, particularly in places where people have no time to analyse themselves. We are so busy with our external lives and our own selves that we have no time to think about the actions and reactions that are triggered by our thought processes. Therefore, the science of psychoanalysis has brought to us awareness of a process which we call cause and effect.

Every thought which comes to my mind is an effect. It has a remote cause as well as a close cause. And a thought that comes to my mind is not just an accident or a chance. Therefore, we have to analyse the chain of cause and effect. Now, this chain is not found on the upper surface of the mind. Its currents are mostly subterranean. A fear complex may not be due to an apparent cause, it may be inherent in a certain experience from childhood or a previous birth. So my present mental behaviour is not dependent on immediate factors. Its cause has to be located on the subterranean level. Because of this, modern psychoanalysis has its limitations, but at the same time, as I have already said, it has given direction to the people of our culture.

In the science of tantra, there is a system of auto-psychoanalysis. The different devis, gods and goddesses you find in tantra are something like chemical stimulants. Let me explain this point. In order to analyse a thought, you have to go to its cause. Now, the basic cause has to be stimulated, and to do this, something must be substantiated. So these symbols are utilized to stimulate the deeper subterranean levels.

Those of you who have studied chemistry will understand me better. In order to analyse a matter, you expose it to certain chemical conditions. This is a very common formula. In the same way, if you want to analyse your thoughts, you must adopt a similar procedure.

The psychic contents of an individual cannot be directly apprehended because in most cases our thoughts are distortions.

This means that a thought which comes to you does not really represent your psyche. For example, you love your child, but sometimes you are very strict with him. Do you see what I mean? Your thought does not necessarily represent your psychic contents. So, just by witnessing a thought, you cannot say what its psychic content is. Therefore, a thought has to be processed through a symbol.

The symbols used in tantra are yantras, mandalas and the different deities and divinities. When a thought is cast into these patterns, then psychic expression takes place. Therefore, in the science of psychoanalysis, there is a considerable amount of material through which we can do a lot of work. But where psychoanalysis ends, there yoga begins.

Therefore, in our modern countries where psychoanalysis has been in use for a long time, we have come to a point of culmination. From there yoga is carrying on the work. So let us accept the importance of psychoanalysis.

7 September 1980, Transmission Seminar held in Chamarande, France