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Notes on counselling

The non-judgmental attitude

Dr. Soumitra Basu


The non-judgmental attitude immortalised in the blind-folded godhead at Tirupati is a powerful symbol that can be utilised in counselling. Imperfection gives a subject a chance for evolutionary progress and the Divine Grace is unconditional in its benevolence.

The psychotherapist prefers to cultivate a non-judgmental attitude while dealing with clients so as to be impartial and without personal preferences and biases. The mystic cultivates the non-judgmental or the witness (sākṣi) attitude to practise detachment, thought-control and to go beyond appearances to the truth of things. A counsellor practising Yoga Psychology needs to assimilate the stances of both the rationalist therapist and intuitive mystic for a more dynamic therapeutic action.

However it is important that the counsellor practises the non-judgmental attitude not only to improve his or her own understanding of the client’s problems but also at times to help the conducive client to develop in him or her the same attitude. In fact, in selected cases that might itself suffice to be of therapeutic value.

A client in his early thirties, from a rural village came running to me one day in despair to tell me that there was no other option for him but to commit suicide, only because he had married a very pious young lady. He had ostensibly narrated to his wife, albeit with a sense of pride, of how many offences he had committed in his pre-marital life. These would seem quite frivolous in nature to any modern urban mind, offences like flirting, duping customers at his grocery store, which he owned, lies he had told while bragging to his friends and the numerous occasions he had travelled with no valid railway ticket without getting caught. For every single offence his young but extremely moralistic wife had opened the book of punishments in her religious scripture and found out the quantum of punishment in hell that often extended to rigorous suffering which seemed to surpass legal punishments prevalent in any country on earth! The cumulative load of punishment was too extravagant to conceive so the husband in desperation was contemplating suicide to save himself from hell’s torture.

It is then that I narrated to him how Lord Balaji, the Supreme Lord and presiding deity of India’s foremost temple at Tirupati was blindfolded. As explained by the Mother, this symbol had a very significant psychological meaning. The Divine is absolutely non-judgmental. The Divine Grace is neither dependent on the virtues nor on the vices of the subject posturing in front of Him, not on one’s past glories and misdeeds and not on one’s future aspirations and ambitions. If the subject is perfectly sincere at the very moment when he has stood up before the Divine, the prayer will be answered, the Grace will be bestowed and the Blessings will be showered.

It was such a convincing symbol that, though the client hailed from a different religion than mine, it was accepted with a feeling of relief. The therapy got consolidated when the client himself learnt the attitude of cultivating the non-judgmental attitude to ordinary matters in life. If the Semitic religions consider that the human being is impure and full of sins, the Aurobindonian parlance considers that the human being is a transitional being with the capacity to evolve in consciousness. The human being is imperfect due to the transitional nature of the present manifestation and if the Divine Grace was not non-judgmental in its action, no single person would be eligible for inner progress.

It needs to be reiterated that if the human being were perfectly perfect to start with, there would be no necessity for progression through an evolutionary journey in consciousness. Just because the human being is initially imperfect, there is a scope and possibility for further, and even one might say, endless progress. Every human being has one or other glaring imperfection at one or multiple planes of consciousness. Each imperfection is a caution, a reminder and a pointer to the endeavour that has to be undertaken in the pursuit of perfection. Instead of brooding on one’s imperfection, it would be more prudent to use it as a barometer for designing one’s progress.

Dr. Soumitra Basu, a practising psychiatrist and member of SAIIIHR, is the Director of a school of psychology, Integral Yoga Psychology. He is also one of the editors of NAMAH.

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