Psychological Studies

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 172–180 | Cite as

Combining Indian and Western Spiritual Psychology: Applications to Health and Social Renewal

  • Doug Oman
  • Nirbhay N. Singh


We introduce the topic of Indian/US collaboration in studying religion and spirituality (R/S), providing both historical and philosophical context. A fully in-depth and comprehensive study of R/S will require taking into account three potential types and sources of knowledge: (1) theoretically and intellectually oriented knowledge as exemplified by William James; (2) empirically oriented knowledge as exemplified by Gordon Allport; and (3) experience- and realization-derived knowledge based on reports from eminent spiritual figures. We sketch the distinct but mutually informative challenges of clinical and epistemic integration. We suggest several topics for future collaboration, arguing that the most comprehensive study of R/S will require combining the western attention to empirical knowledge with the Indian psychology movement’s attention to realization-derived knowledge. Suggested topics include processes of learning from spiritual exemplars and teachers; health effects from engagement in Hindu or other Indian religious practice; psychological and health effects of specific spiritual practices; the importance and influence of the focus used in meditation; the effects of japam, Ramnam, or similar repeated short prayers; how diverse spiritual practices affect mindfulness; and the nature and means of fostering skills for living in a religiously plural society.


Indian psychology Hinduism Religion Spirituality Mindfulness Health 


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Copyright information

© National Academy of Psychology (NAOP) India 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, Medical College of GeorgiaAugusta UniversityAugustaUSA

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