When I was a young fellow, I was in a Roman Catholic religious order and what happened was we were studying a human phenomenon that Freud called Repetition Compulsion. When I first heard this term, I said to myself “Uhm, that sounds like me”.
It seemed to me that I was continually ending up with the same kinds of emotional upsets. The same kind of interpersonal conflicts. Doing the same kind of stupid and unhelpful acts that were not in my own best interests or in the best interests of others. For some reason, I just kept on BEING the same in spite of efforts to improve myself.
So when I first heard the term Repetition Compulsion it spoke to me about what I was like. What was being discussed was the clinical example of a woman who had a father who was an alcoholic and who beat her. This same woman when she grew up, she fell in love with a man and guess what that man was like? He was an alcoholic and he beat her! And then what happened was she got divorced and then she fell in love with another man and guess what? And then, she got rid of that man and she did it again.
So what was going on here? Here was a woman who was consciously seeking to be in a happy relationship but she was only falling in love with men who were going to treat her exactly like her father had done. She seemed to have an appetite, which was entirely unconscious for interactions with others that REPEATED earlier painful interactions that she had with her father. In spite of conscious desires for a happy relationship, she had a COMPULSION to repeat her earlier experiences again and again.
I could see at the time that I to tended to get into the same types of upsets and the same type of difficulties in spite of my making efforts not to. The FORM (How something looks) that my repetition took my have been different from this woman in this clinical example but the CONTENT ( the compulsion to repeat) was exactly the same. I was 20 years old at the time of being introduced to this idea. I saw clearly even then the compulsiveness of my human life but felt completely helpless before it. It was like knowing I had cancer but could not do anything about it.
It does seem mad that people have a compulsion to repeat painful experiences. Freud tried to explain this strange phenomenon by suggesting that people had a death wish. It was understandable that he came up with this idea but it did not quite do it for me. Also what was to be done about a problem which was a manifestation of unconscious forces that we had no way of gaining access to.
If I had been told that in about 40 years I was going to meet a Hindu monk who was going to not only shed light on the compulsiveness of human life but also showed clearly the doorway to its resolution I would not have believed it.
As my life unfolded in the following 30 odd years it tended to be full of the same old same old. My basic experience of myself remained the same and the same kinds of unhappiness and unsatisfactory social relations kept on recurring again and again.
When I first came across the Dayananda teaching and read more of his books it became clear to me that this man seemed not only to know the basis of why people remain enclosed in a fixed way of being in the world but that he understood how to go about resolving it in a real way.
I knew that I could only go so far with his books concerning this problem. I knew I needed to get in front of him to be able to ask him questions because even though I had read a lot of his books there was a lot I could not really understand. Like what had always happened to me no matter how many books I read and how good they seemed I would find myself thinking in the same ways, feeling the same painful feelings, kept on having the same difficult and painful interpersonal interactions and making the same stupid kinds of mistakes.
So, to cut a long story short my wife and me dropped everything and went to study with him in India. We wanted to study our lives in the light of the meanings he unfolded in the hope that maybe, just maybe we might be able to go beyond our suffering that we had been enclosed in all our lives.
I was not interested in studying a subject called Vedanta as an external subject like one would study psychology, philosophy or theology. I already had a background of studying such things and it never resolved the difficulties that I was so obviously enclosed in.
I went to India to learn about human suffering AS IT EXISTED IN ME with the hope of the possibility of resolving it in a real way. This was my entire interest. And as it turned out I was not disappointed.