“Sakti-Kundalini or Devi-Kundalini is a goddess. She is the female principle, the self manifesting power which surrounds the gem at the center, the gold seed, the jewel, the pearl, the egg. The Kundalini serpent is, however, also Devi-Kundalini, a chain of glittering lights, the ‘world bewilderer’.”

The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga, Carl Jung. Jung’s Comments in Hauer’s German Lectures. Indian Parallels 11 October 1930.
Princeton University Press, USA, 1996, Page 74.

Carl Jung gave a series of lectures in 1932 where he explored the symbolism of the Chakra system of Kundalini Yoga, and compared it to stages of psychological/spiritual development. I think the parallels are very compelling, and consistent with advaita at a higher level.

Here are some excerpts from a book, “The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga”, edited by Sonu Shamdasani, that documents these lectures. I would be interested in any reactions/responses to this.

“You know, it is sometimes an ideal not to have any kind of convictions or feelings that are not based upon reality. One must even educate people, when they have to cross from manipura to anahata, that their emotions ought to have a real basis, that they cannot swear hell and damnation at somebody on a mere assumption, and that there are absolute reasons why they are not justified in doing such a thing. They really have to learn that their feelings should be based on facts.

But to cross from anahata to visuddha one should unlearn all that. One should even admit that all one’s psychical facts have nothing to do with material facts. For instance, the anger which you feel for somebody or something, no matter how justified it is, is not caused by those external things. It is a phenomenon all by itself. That is what we call taking a thing on its subjective level[…]

If you have reached that level, you begin to leave anahata, because you have succeeded in dissolving the absolute union of material external facts with internal or psychical facts. You begin to consider the game of the world as your game, the people that appear outside as exponents of your psychical condition. Whatever befalls you, whatever experience or adventure you have in the external world, is your own experience.

For example, an analysis does not depend on who the analyst is. It is your own experience[…]When he really begins to see it as his own experience, then he realizes that Dr. Jung, the partner in the game, is only relative. He is what the patient thinks of him. He is simply a hook on which you are hanging your garment; he is not so substantial as he seems to be. He is also your subjective experience.

If you can see that, you are on your way to visuddha, because in visuddha the whole game of the world becomes your subjective experience. The world itself becomes a reflection of the psyche. For instance, when I say that the world consists of psychical images only–that whatever you touch, whatever you experience, is imagined because you cannot perceive anything else; that if you touch this table, you might think it substantial, but what you really experience is a peculiar message from the tactile nerves to your brain[…] and your brain even is also only an image up here–when I say such a heretical thing I am on the way to visuddha. If I should succeed–and I hope I shall not–in taking all of you up to visuddha, you would certainly complain; you would stifle, you would not be able to breathe any longer, because there is nothing you could possibly breathe. It is ether.


That is only the fifth cakra, and we are already out of breath–literally so–we are beyond the air we breathe; we are reaching, say, into the remote future of mankind, or of ourselves. […] Therefore it is rather bold to speak of the sixth cakra, which is naturally completely beyond our reach, because we have not even arrived at visuddha. But since we have that symbolism we can at least construct something theoretical about it.

The ajna center, you remember, looks like a winged seed, and it contains no animal. That means there is no psychical factor, nothing against us whose power we might feel. The original symbol, the linga, is here repeated in a new form, the white state. Instead of the dark germinating condition, it is now in the full blazing white light, fully conscious. In other words, the God that has been dormant in muladhara is here fully awake, the only reality; and therefore this center has been called the condition in which one unites with Siva. One could say it was the center of the unio mystica with the power of God, meaning that absolute reality where one is nothing but psychic reality, yet confronted with the psychic reality that one is not. And that is God. God is the eternal psychical object. God is simply a word for the non-ego. In visuddha psychical reality was still opposed to physical reality. Therefore one still used the support of the white elephant to sustain the reality of the psyche. Psychical facts still took place within us, although they had a life of their own.

But in the ajna center the psyche gets wings–here you know you are nothing but psyche. And yet there is another psyche, a counterpart to your psychical reality, the non-ego reality, the thing that is not even to be called self, and you know that you are going to disappear into it. The ego disappears completely; the psychical is no longer a content in us, but we become contents of it. You see that this condition in which the white elephant has disappeared into the self is almost unimaginable. He is no longer perceptible even in his strength because he is no longer against you. You are absolutely identical with him. You are not even dreaming of doing anything other than what the force is demanding, and the force is not demanding it since you are already doing it–since you are the force. And the force returns to the origin, God.

To speak about the lotus of the thousand petals above, the sahasrara center, is quite superfluous because that is merely a philosophical concept with no substance to us whatsoever; it is beyond any possible experience. In ajna there is still the experience of the self that is apparently different from the object, God. But in sahasrara one
understands that it is not different, and so the next conclusion would be that there is no object, no God, nothing but brahman. There is no experience because it is one, it is without a second. It is dormant, it is not, and therefore it is nirvana. This is an entirely philosophical concept, a mere logical conclusion from the premises above. It is without practical value for us.

Question: Do you think the idea is to experience those cakras, which
one has gone through, simultaneously?

Dr. Jung: Certainly. As I told you, in our actual historical psychological development we have reached anahata and from there we can experience muladhara, and all the subsequent centers of the past, by knowledge of records, and tradition, and also through our unconscious. Suppose somebody reached the ajna center, the state of
complete consciousness, not only self-consciousness. That would be an exceedingly extended consciousness which includes everything–energy itself–a consciousness which knows not only “That is Thou” but more than that–every tree, every stone, every breath of air, every rat’s tail–all that is yourself; there is nothing that is not yourself. In such an extended consciousness all the cakras would be simultaneously experienced, because it is the highest state of consciousness, and it would not be the highest if it did not include all the former experiences.”

Image courtesy of Jung Hearted.