Interview with Dr. Debashish Banerji on Integral Transformation

Debashish Banerji

The following is an interview of Dr. Debashish Banerji, faculty at UPR, by Assumpta Oturu:

1) What is Integral Transformation?  Is there any distinguishable difference from what is commonly known?

One of the biggest problems related to the crisis of our times is fragmentation. Fragmentation is present at the social and cultural level, but it is also present at the psychological level. Integrality means complex unity – it is the discovery of sources of integration within the human psyche which are based on a principle of unity behind the fragmented diversity of our nature. Integral transformation addresses the different components and needs of the human psyche and integrates them in a complex dynamic unity. We transform the present functioning of the human system by addressing its different components and integrating them.

2) Why the focus on Sri Aurobindo for a) the workshop and also b) your book?

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was a modern Indian scholar and philosopher educated in the Classics at Cambridge University and thus well schooled in the post-Enlightenment ideals of creative freedom and social critique. He was one of the founding figures of India’s anticolonial movement. But, looking for the sources of the human condition, he drew on traditions of Indian yoga to develop a transformational psychology, which could develop the full potential of the individual and at the same time would universalize and integrate him/her. I have found this transformational psychology to be significant in its comprehensiveness and the possibilities it opens up for human potential and world transformation.

3) What is the significance and the benefit of attending the workshop?

The attendee will get an overview of the components and dynamics of the human system in terms of its structural relationships and transformational practices. By contemplating these, they will be able to develop their own practices towards an integral transformation.

4) Is the workshop informational or practical? Will be there exercises, which participants can apply later after having attended the workshop?

Both. It will convey a structural and relational understanding of the human being and introduce practices towards achieving an integral transformation. These practices will be in the nature of a toolbox, to be deployed creatively according to individual propensity.

5) When you wrote the book, who was your target audience?

The “scholar-practitioner.” In our times, there is a greater and greater need felt to blur the distinction between these two roles. In premodern times, scholarship and “care of the soul” were concerns that went hand in hand. In my book, I address contemporary theories of transpersonal psychology and postmodern philosophy so as to extend theit discourse in terms of the boundaries of human possibility. This is the theoretical aspect of the book. But it also addresses transformative practice, which is why I see it as a work of transformative psychology more than transpersonal psychology.

6) Is there any relation between the book and the workshop?

Yes, the workshop attempts to present the ideas of the book in a more practical and practicable form.

7) How relevant is Sri Aurobino to the challenges of today’s globalized world?

I believe he is very relevant. We are more and more becoming aware of the fact that our problems cannot be solved by external engineering, whether social, political or technological. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see.” But to “be the change” requires an in-depth understanding of ourselves and a practical approach to transform ourselves. Moreover, modernity has given us the norm of individual freedom, so that premodern regimented practices fail to appeal to a majority of our culture. Instead a creative practice leading towards integrality in diverse ways is much more in tune with our contemporary subjectivity. Sri Aurobindo helps us to discover such a practice by sharing his findings with us and giving us tools for exploration and experimentation.