Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player





Understanding Scriptures

Readers Views

Activity news and much more

Free Subscription:

Subscribe Unsubscribe

 Blooming Stars

Programming, Deprogramming and Reprogramming the World -3

            John B. Watson, founder of behaviorism in psychology wrote in connection with child-rearing: “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I will guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become my type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors (Behaviorism, 1930, p. 82)”. Watson’s radical behaviorism, Ivan Pavlov’s demonstration of human behavior as respondent (classical) conditioning, and B. F. Skinner’s explanation of human behavior as occasioned and shaped by operant conditioning and different schedules of re-enforcement laid a strong foundation for behavior therapy in modern psychology wherein problem behaviors are considered to be due to faulty programming/ conditioning/learning.

            Emphasis is on empiricism and determinism as well as on nurture on the nature-nurture spectrum. Psychic determinism owing to pre-programmed or pre-determined genetic or hereditary disposition obtaining in psycho-analytic theories as proposed by Sigmund Freud also diminishes the role of human freedom. It is only the humanistic school of psychology that really gives freedom a chance. The age-old unresolved (and irresolvable in that a closure is not possible without recourse to faith) discourse in theology related to nature, grace, freedom, and predestination concerns programming by God and/or humans. Any relationship, any counseling, or psychotherapy has the obvious potential for altering behavior for good or for bad or for brain-washing. I spoke glibly about freedom until I came to the belated realization how heavily programmed I was. Doctrines and dogmas were passed on to me, and I began or tried to believe them without questioning or really examining them. The persons who passed them on were in the same predicament as I was. We all believed because of the assumption, unquestioned of course, that the persons who formulated them somehow knew better, and that essential things in life related to faith and morals were settled once and for all, and that there was no room for credible dissent.

            The weight of tradition was so overwhelming that one did not dare question without risking one’s good standing in society or bona-fide credentials or exposing oneself to great inconveniences and material disadvantages. When Galileo, considered to be the father of modern science, went against all odds to declare on the basis of his findings that the earth moves around the sun, he almost lost his life. He was forced to recant his statement to save his life. He recanted his finding of the earth moving around the sun also at the same time allegedly muttering “and yet it (earth) moves”. To say earth moved at that time was a heresy punishable by death. He saved his life but lived under house arrest for the rest of his life. He was exonerated from his so-called crime/heresy only a few years ago. Except in Islamic countries, most of us can dissent without our life being in peril. We may still be socially ostracized, or may still suffer economic disadvantage for the stance we take.

            Socrates greatly influenced me through his statement that an unexamined life is not worth living. I thoroughly examined the story of my life as the history of my salvation/liberation, and subjected my life, primarily my religious life in the Society of Jesus characterized by the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and also a special fourth vow of obedience to the Pope, to critical thinking and rigorous analysis. I gradually came to the conclusion that I have gone beyond the framework of the Society of Jesus, and that I could not function faithfully within its scope, specifically, its written constitution and decrees enacted through general congregations, and decided to leave the Jesuits after a long struggle and discernment. While leaving the Jesuits at the age of 42, fortunately I had a degree that enabled me to have financial independence even as I continued with greater vigor my life-long dreams of spiritual pursuits and search for truth. In other words, I had to free myself from all strings attached to various organizations and entities that did not help me to be who I am. While I am eternally indebted and grateful to all, including organizations that contributed to my growth, I also became strongly convinced that they, if they subjected to the same analysis as I have, would expect no less from me as they are in the same business as I am of serving God and humanity.


All rights reserved to East West Awakening. Designed and powered by