To many people in the West, investigating the mind conjures images of lying on a couch, while behind them sits a man looking suspiciously like a Viennese doctor holding a notebook: Herr Doctor Freud’s reputation persists as the archetypal psychiatrist. Many are familiar with his early psychological model of the mind – the id, the ego, the superego surrounded by the libido, which thrashes around causing all sorts of suffering. Freud blazed a pioneer’s path, but one that we will not journey down. Rather we will follow the path laid by Freud’s friend and disciple (at least until their famous falling out), Carl Jung. [1]

There are many possible psychological models of the mind we could investigate that have become popular in the West, just as there are many esoteric models of the mind in the East. Philosophers have looked deeply into the way the mind works for centuries. Rene Descartes developed his famous axiom from these investigations. He hoped to solve the basic existential quandary with the phrase “I think, therefore I am.” As we have seen from the Eastern point of view, this axiom is backward. In the East, it is more a case of “I am, therefore I think now how can I calm down all those thoughts and find out who I am?” Carl Jung’s approach to the mind is chosen for illumination due to his efforts to find a bridge between the Eastern and Western views of the psyche.

We will begin by looking at the models found in Jungian psychology. [2] After seeing how Jung developed many similar realizations about the mind to those we have seen developed in the East, we will look at a more practical, pragmatic approach for dealing with the mind. This school of mental practice is “Cognitive [3] Behavioral Therapy” or CBT. CBT deals with how we think, and how what we think affects what we feel and how we act. CBT psychologists would also modify Descartes’ axiom: “We are what we think.”

  1. — Jung was born in 1875 and died in 1961.
  2. — A term Jung himself did not fancy. He believed each patient needed a specialized approach tailored to his or her own unique situation. In this manner he mirrored the yoga teaching philosophy of Krishnamacharya and his son Desikachar.
  3. — The word “cognitive” may seem foreboding but basically it means thinking.