Freud on Yoga

I can imagine that the oceanic feeling became connected: with religion later on. The ‘oneness with the universe’ which constitutes its ideational content sounds like a first attempt at a religious consolation, as though it were another way of dis claiming the danger which the ego recognizes as threatening it from the external world. Let me admit once more that it is very difficult for me to work with these almost intangible quantities. Another friend of mine, whose insatiable craving for knowledge has fed him to make the most unusual experiments and has ended by giving him encyclopaedic knowledge, has assured me that through the practices of Yoga, by withdrawing from the world, by fixing the attention on bodily functions and by peculiar methods of breathing, one can in fact evoke new sensations and coenaesthesias in oneself, which he regards as regressions to primordial states of mind which have long ago been overlaid. He sees in them a physiological basis, as it were, of much of the wisdom of mysticism. It would not be hard to find connections here with a number of obscure m odifications of mental life, such as trances and ecstasies. But I am moved to exclaim in the words of Schiller’s diver: —

... Es freue sich,
Wer da atmet im rosigten Licht.

[‘Let him rejoice who breathes up here in the roseate light!’
Schiller,‘Der Taucher’.]


―  Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents



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