Kiran Kumar

Title of UFCSH talk: “Spirituality and Well-being: Hindu Perspectives”
Monday, October 9th, 2006

Spirituality and well-being have been investigated independently as separate themes for quite some time in psychology, but exploration of their relation is relatively new. Humanistic, transpersonal and recently positive psychologies have been concerned with the relationship between spirituality and well-being. The findings from the studies on meditation and yoga, shamanism, prayer and healing, and on altered states of consciousness are the other most significant influences. These developments have brought Hindu traditions to lime light in scientific field as potential reservoirs of knowledge to be explored, tapped and utilized for the betterment of human beings.

Hindu perspectives distinguish between two aspects of spirituality viz., (1) transcendental and transpersonal experiences; (2) “being-values” and “meta-motivations” (in the Maslowian sense), and “character strengths and virtues” that contemporary positive psychology emphasizes on. The first is characterized as anubhuti and the latter as dharma in broad sense of the term. The essential argument of the Hindu perspectives is that human welfare and well-being is possible only when one leads a life of dharma and fulfills all his basic needs, desires, etc., within that framework. Further, Hindu perspectives distinguish sense of wellness that is experienced at empirical level from that experienced at transcendental level. Contemporary psychology has mainly focused on the latter and only very recently there has been some marginal recognition of the former. The lecture addresses what is unique to Hindu perspectives.