Friday, 1 January 2021

‘Mindfulness’ East and West. Jyoti Nanda and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 270 (15 and 22 August 2021)

Mindfulness East and West

Jyoti Nanda and Anthony Stadlen
conduct by Zoom
Inner Circle Seminar No. 270
Sundays 15 and 22 August 2021
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sri Aurobindo Ghose
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramana Maharshi
Martin Heidegger
Medard Boss

Erna Hoch                        Gobind Kaul

The existential psychotherapist Jyoti Nanda recently published a deeply moving account, ‘My Ramakrishna’ (Hermeneutic Circular, April 2021: 27-31), of her lifelong love of the Bengal sage Ramakrishna and his influence on and inspiration for her therapeutic practice, including a report of a brief but profound therapy. (Her beautiful account should be read as a whole, and we shall not risk distorting it by attempting to summarise it here.) She will continue to speak of this, and introduce us to her way of meditation, in this seminar
[Note, 11 October 2021:
Jyoti has now also published a response to her own first article, ‘Tread lightly in my heart space of the sacred’ (Hermeneutic Circular, October 2021: 16-18). It is an inspired essay on, and marvellous invocation of, the Goddess Kali, to whom Sri Ramakrishna was devoted; it concludes with  an important vignette from her practice as a supervisor of psychotherapy, contrasting invalidating with understanding responses to a clients religious experience.]
She and Anthony Stadlen will also discuss the leading Eastern and Western thinkers of ‘mindfulness’, and what they meant by it. We shall explore the links between them. In some cases, we shall make these links, tentatively; but in others, we shall show that the thinkers themselves made great efforts to get to know and to understand one another, even if at a great physical distance.
For example, the sage Sri Aurobindo Ghose studied at St Paul’s School in London and at Cambridge University before engaging as a leader in the Indian independence struggle, going to prison, and becoming a spiritual teacher and founder of an Ashram of great renown. He compared Eastern and Western thinking—Vedanta and the Presocratic philosophers—in his book Heraclitus (1941 [1916-17]). And in September 1955 the Sri Aurobindo Ashram of Pondicherry was represented—along with the Sorbonne, Göttingen, and Princeton—at an international colloquium on contemporary British linguistic philosophy in Oxford.  
The philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote Mindfulness [Besinnung], one of his most important books, in 1938. It is not well known, as it was not published until 1997, posthumously, in German, and 2016 in English. He had long been influenced by personal contact with Japanese thinkers and by Martin Buber’s translation of the ancient Chinese writings of Chuang Tse. In 1946-7 he worked in his mountain hut at Todtnauberg with a Chinese colleague Paul Shih-yi Hsiao on a translation of the Tao Te Ching (unfortunately never completed).
Heidegger’s friend and colleague, the Swiss psychoanalyst and founder of psychotherapeutic Daseinsanalysis, Medard Boss (in whose home Heidegger conducted the Zollikon seminars from 1959 to 1969), visited India in 1956 as described in his book A Psychiatrist Visits India, and studied meditation and Indian philosophy with a number of sages, including the Kashmiri guru Gobind Kaul, whose disciple he became, and with whom he was reported by a colleague to have remained in telepathic contact on returning to Switzerland.
The psychiatrist Erna Hoch, herself a Daseinsanalyst and also a disciple of Gobind Kaul, worked for decades in India and Kashmir. In conversation with Anthony Stadlen she demonstrated contradictions in some of Boss’s claims about his relation with Kaul. Her book Sources and Resources: A Western psychiatrist’s search for meaning in the ancient Indian scriptures contains a profound and far-reaching investigation of the correspondences and subtle differences between ancient Indian thinking and Heidegger’s philosophy. The book includes a chapter, ‘Messenger between East and West’, describing how she put detailed questions on behalf of Heidegger and Boss to an Indian philosopher and professor of Sanskrit, and explaining how ultimately rather unsatisfactory this academic method of comparing or translating can be.

We shall discuss the following thinkers of East and West, and the links between them:
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (18 February 1836 – 16 August 1886)
Sri Aurobindo Ghose (15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950)
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi (30 December 1879 – 14 April 1950)
Martin Heidegger (26 September 1889  26 May 1976)
Gobind Kaul [birth and death dates sought from Kashmir]
Medard Boss (4 October 1903  21 December 1990)
Erna Hoch (18 March 1919  29 August 2003)
The seminar will be divided, as usual, into four parts, of 1 hour 20 minutes each. But, in this case, they will be spread over two Sunday mornings.
Your contribution to the discussion will be warmly welcomed.

Jyoti Nanda is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Existential Psychotherapist. She has taught on the Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology Programme at Regent’s University, School of Psychotherapy and Counselling Psychology.
She has received education in India and the UK and she brings a wide cross-cultural perspective and openness of world-view to her work. She has trained at Master’s level in Counselling Psychology and in Child Development and Family Relationships, and at the Advanced level in Existential Counselling Psychology, and Existential Psychotherapy. She has also trained at the Advanced level in teaching Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness, UMASS Medical School, Worcester, USA.
Jyoti is a long term practitioner of meditation in more than one tradition. Her research interests have centred on The Effect of Meditation on Existential Therapeutic Practice. Her love for spiritual practice and the company of sages draws much from the influence of her family lineage.
Her wide clinical experience includes working with out-patients in an NHS hospital and with clients in Private Practice. She has offered Mindfulness workshops and courses with the aim of exploring the ‘Domain of Being’ and its implications for therapeutic practice.  

This will be an online seminar, over two mornings, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; payable in advance by bank transfer or PayPal; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250    E-mail:
For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.

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