Research Institute (IRISI)
The Identity Research Institute (IRISI) was founded in 1978 by Medhananda and Yvonne Artaud as a research centre for fundamental psychology and consciousness. Assuming that 'Consciousness' embraces an interconnected whole that lies at the basis of all material forms and appearances, pervading them and animating them - in differing degrees of intensity and awareness - nothing that is studied can be alien or purely objective - however differentiated from us it may seem; rather, the play of diversity implies an underlying Identity.
The studies and explorations of the Institute include the following topics:
a) The symbolic imagery of ancient Egypt
b) Fairy-tales, myths and parables
c) Child psychology
The research of Medhananda and Yvonne Artaud is based primarily upon the consciousness-research of Sri Aurobindo, according to which Consciousness includes many different structures, dimensions and levels of intensity, and expresses itself in different ways in the course of evolution. In the mental structure of consciousness that is dominant at the present day we express intellectual knowledge through thoughts and words; in an earlier phase of human development, inner, dream or mystic knowledge was communicated through images and symbols.
In his book The Secret of the Veda Sri Aurobindo writes that the ancient Rishis, the Seers of the Vedic era in India, are not describing in their writings objects, natural phenomena or nature-deities, but that they sometimes used such nature-images to communicate movements of consciousness and soul-forces - mystical experiences.
Medhananda and Yvonne Artaud explored how far the myths, dreams, tales, gods and picturial scripts of other ancient peoples at a similar epoch are also expressions of inner soul-forces and movements of consciousness. They discovered that ancient texts, especially those of ancient Egypt, contain a detailed understanding of psychological energies, archetypes, and movements of consciousness - that they express, through images and symbols, psychology in the sense of self-awareness ('knowledge by identity').
Symbolon, from the Greek symballein, means to throw together, to bring together. An inner psychological reality (energy or vibration) and a corresponding object or image found in the external world are linked, become symbolon. In this way, each manifestation in the external world can be a symbol or a mirror for a corresponding psychological energy, for events 'seen' inwardly. The seers and seekers of Truth in those times were interested not in material objects but in the inner world.
Modern psychological theories usually show us only a section of the vast spectrum of psychological phenomena. So it is astounding what a wealth of different soul-forces, inner processes, paths of transformation and universal principles the Seers of ancient Egypt could distinguish and how they interrelated them. The soul or psyche was seen as a multiplicity, resonating with everything and linked with everything.
The deep insights of a few, clothed in teaching-symbols, unfortunately degenerated in a later poorer phase into a proliferation of magical rituals and religious superstitions. The research work of Medhananda and Y. Artaud helps us to distinguish the original symbol language of the myths, legends and parables of ancient peoples from later accretions, alterations and / or elaborations of a moralising or religious kind (for example Medhananda's interpretation of the Heracles cycle) and enables us to become of aware of the teaching-symbols as identity-mirrors for our own inner processes and soul-powers - so that our various psychological processes and movements of consciousness grow more transparent, and we can work in this field. Just as physics gained new dimensions through quantum physics, so too, according to Medhananda, must modern psychology be enriched by a kind of 'quantum psychology'.
Medhananda and Y. Artaud also investigated identity-awareness and its communication through symbols in young children and in primates.
Besides the verbal communication used almost exclusively today, the expression of the mental consciousness, there also exists the much more ancient mode of communication through symbols, which is more fundamental and which was fully developed in prehistoric times. Every child relives this phase in its early years, as if in a swift replaying of the course of evolution. So it is possible to study premental consciousness-structures in both small children and ancient cultures.
At the present time, verbal communication tends to suppress communication through symbols, which is nowadays often considered an inferior means of expression, rather than a complementary one. This leads to disharmony and one-sidedness in people. Communication through symbols is particularly important in relationships with animals, children, and our own super and sub-consciousness - and perhaps also with extra-terrestrial intelligent beings. It can be observed especially in
a) Babies and infants
b) Geniuses and mystics
c) Non-human primates
d) Prehistoric humanity
Amongst our ancestors from a very early time, besides the species 'homo faber' or 'homo habilis', the users of tools, there also existed 'homo rishi' - the seers, the seekers, those who were striving for insight.
The multi-facetted investigations of Medhananda and Y. Artaud lead to the recognition that in the education or children communication through symbols should be encouraged just as conscientiously as analytic verbal communication. These modes complement each other. In combination, the two together lead to greater plasticity, harmony and integral human development. We become able to live more intensely and consciously from our roots and deep sources.
The images and symbols in Medhananda's five books on ancient Egypt were originally collected for children. The child asks a question, and the image gives the answer. Since symbols speak to our depths, heights, vastnesses and wholeness rather than to our intellect, they are healing, in the sense of making whole, integrating, and are essential elements of every true education.