Welcome to The Literature Today, Pulkit. Would like to congratulate and thank you for putting forth such a beautiful compilation for us, the readers. We have a few questions for you and look forward to your thoughts about them.
Theliteraturetoday: You are a clinical psychologist and psychology is a science, based on facts and proofs. How did you get enticed towards spirituality?
Pulkit Sharma: Thank you so much for inviting me to this discussion. In many ways, psychology is both an art and a science. Some approaches in psychology base their understanding on rigorous facts and experimental proofs, while others like psychoanalysis and existential psychology dive deep into the subjective world of human consciousness. As a practicing clinical psychologist trained in the psychoanalytic-existential tradition, I was already looking at the conscious, subconscious and unconscious layers of human consciousness. Psychology limits itself largely to these three layers, but spirituality goes further and explores the entire spectrum of consciousness. Therefore, I concluded there is no point in restricting myself to some phenomena and ignoring others and that’s how I came to spirituality.
Theliteraturetoday: Please throw some light on psychology and spirituality, in lay man’s language.
Pulkit Sharma: That’s difficult but let me try. Whereas psychology is the study of human mind and behaviour and its socio-cultural expressions, spirituality is vast. It looks for a deeper meaning in life and includes the entire gamut of consciousness: the higher states of awareness, intuition, self-perfection and the psychic realization that we are a part of the larger whole. Spirituality is not identical with religion, although some use the two terms interchangeably. While spirituality is the direct experience of realizing higher consciousness within oneself, religion is an institutionalized set of beliefs, practices and guidelines to be followed.
Theliteraturetoday: How did the idea to compile this book come about?
Pulkit Sharma: I believe that all breakthroughs come from nagging doubts. I have been practicing since 2005 and realized very early in my career that although psychology is somewhat helpful, it does not heal people completely. Many clients who take psychotherapy continue to struggle in one way or another. Disillusioned by this, the dreamer in me searched for a more profound and luminous perspective and that’s how I came to spirituality. Hence began a journey where I gradually combined the best of psychology and spirituality, exploring various realms of consciousness along with my clients. The results were very encouraging, and eventually I felt motivated to weave them into a book.
Theliteraturetoday: The book contains ideas and words of wisdom from varied religions and schools of thought. Gathering and summarizing all the data in a book, must have been a humongous task. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Pulkit Sharma: To tell you the truth, it was very easy. Historically, every religion has had its basis in the direct experience of a spiritual master or a prophet — it was the followers who indoctrinated these insights later on in the form of a religion. If you look deeply into these religions going beyond their cultism and rituals, you will be amazed to find that their essence is very similar. I could observe the deeper themes of compassion, love, self-awareness, self-restraint, self-expansion, contentment, faith and surrender running ubiquitously through these divergent perspectives and therefore integrating these elements was very easy.
Theliteraturetoday: When writing a series how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself? What was your vision behind this book?
Pulkit Sharma: When you are writing non-fiction, it is crucial to avoid repetitions. Each new chapter should bring forth fresh ideas and yet all the chapters should coalesce to give a unified message to the reader. While writing ‘When The Soul Heals,’ I thought of focusing on one distinct psychological disorder in each chapter and explaining how spiritual methods can help in healing and self-growth.
Theliteraturetoday: What kind of books do you like to read and who is you favourite author?
Pulkit Sharma: I am a zealous reader and like both fiction and non-fiction in almost equal measures. My all-time favourites include: Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Nicholas Sparks’ The Last Song, Robert Stevenson’s Island Nights Entertainments and R.K. Narayan’s The Guide.
Theliteraturetoday: What kind of book do you foresee yourself working on in the future?
Pulkit Sharma: Because I like reading diverse books, I’d love to explore different genres of writing. Till now, I’ve mostly done non-fiction but I’m excited to try something different. Let us see what unfolds.
Theliteraturetoday: Tell us something about yourself as an author.
Pulkit Sharma: I feel that writing connects us to our deepest parts and is a wonderful way of self-exploration. I thoroughly enjoy being an author. In fact, my love for writing is much more intense than my love for psychology.
Theliteraturetoday: How relevant do you think is this book in the present scenario?
Pulkit Sharma: This book can give hope to many people. It presents a union of modern psychology and ancient wisdom — a spiritual and a practical way to heal common psychological disorders. One or more of these syndromes is present in all of us in a greater or lesser degree, and we often look at these as an abnormality. But, through this book we can learn how these conditions are an opportunity to wake up and undertake an inward journey to happiness and self-growth.
Theliteraturetoday: We’ve just started a new year and I’ve seen lots of posts about new years’ resolutions. Do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on this year?
Pulkit Sharma: To tell you the truth, I don’t make new year resolutions. I’m guided by a deeper vision of how my life should progress and I live each day keeping this in mind.