The Chonyid state is one of karmic illusion that is to say, illusions which result from the psychic residua of previous existences. According to the Eastern view, karma implies a sort of psychic theory of heredity based on the hypothesis of reincarnation, which in the last resort is an hypothesis of the
supratemporality of the soul. Neither our scientific knowledge nor our reason can keep in step with this idea.
There are too many ifs and but’s. Above all, we know desperately little about the possibilities of continued existence of the individual soul after death, so little that we cannot even conceive how anyone could prove anything at all in this respect. Moreover, we know only too well, on epistemological grounds, that such a proof would be just as impossible as the proof of God. Hence we may cautiously accept the idea of karma only if we understand it as psychic heredity in the very widest sense of the word. Psychic heredity does exist that is to say, there is inheritance of psychic characteristics such as predisposition to disease, traits of character, special gifts, and so forth.
It does no violence to the psychic nature of these complex facts if natural science reduces them to what appear to be physical aspects (nuclear structures
in cells, and so on). They are essential phenomena of life which express themselves, in the main, psychically, just as there are other inherited characteristics which express themselves, in the main, physiologically, on the physical level. Among these inherited psychic factors there is a special class which is not confined either to family or to race.
These are the universal dispositions of the mind, and they are to be understood as analogous to Plato’s forms (eidola), in accordance with which
the mind organizes its contents. One could also describe these forms as categories analogous to the logical categories which are always and everywhere present as the basic postulates of reason.
Only, in the case of our “forms,” we are not dealing with categories of reason but with categories of the imagination. As the products of imagination are always in essence visual, their forms must, from the outset, have the character of images and moreover of typical images, which is why, following St. Augustine, I call them “archetypes.”
Comparative religion and mythology are rich mines of archetypes, and so is the psychology of dreams and psychoses. The astonishing parallelism between these images and the ideas they serve to express has frequently given rise to the wildest migration theories, although it would have been far more natural to think of the remarkable similarity of the human psyche at all times and in all places. Archetypal fantasy-forms are, in fact, reproduced spontaneously anytime and anywhere, without there being any conceivable trace of direct transmission. The original structural components of the psyche are of no less surprising a uniformity than are those of the visible body. The archetypes are, so to speak, organs of the pre-rational psyche. They are eternally inherited forms and ideas which have at first no specific content.
Their specific content only appears in the course of the individual’s life, when personal experience is taken up in precisely these forms. If the archetypes were not pre-existent in identical form everywhere, how could one explain the fact, postulated at almost every turn by the Bardo Thodol, that the dead do not know that they are dead, and that this assertion is to be met with just as often in the dreary, half-baked literature of European and American Spiritualism?
Although we find the same assertion in Swedenborg, knowledge of his writings can hardly be sufficiently widespread for this little bit of information to have been picked up by every small-town medium. And a connection between Swedenborg and the Bardo Thodol is completely unthinkable. It is a primordial, universal idea that the dead simply continue their earthly existence and do not know that they are disembodied spirits an archetypal idea which enters into immediate, visible manifestation whenever anyone sees a ghost.
It is significant, too, that ghosts all over the world have certain features in common. I am naturally aware of the unverifiable spiritualistic hypothesis, though I have no wish to make it my own. I must content myself with the hypothesis of an omnipresent, but differentiated, psychic structure which is inherited and which necessarily gives a certain form and direction to all experience.
For, just as the organs of the body are not mere lumps of indifferent, passive matter, but are dynamic, functional complexes which assert themselves with imperious urgency, so also the archetypes, as organs of the psyche, are dynamic, instinctual complexes which determine psychic life to an extraordinary degree. That is why I also call them dominants of the unconscious. The layer of unconscious psyche which is made up of these universal dynamic forms I have termed the collective unconscious. ~Carl Jung; Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Image: Karmas are attracted by the activity of mind, speech and body influenced by various passions.