I know that yoga prides itself on being able to control even the unconscious processes, so that nothing can happen in the psyche as a whole that is not ruled by a supreme consciousness.

I have not the slightest doubt that such a condition is more or less possible.

But it is possible only at the price of becoming identical with the unconscious. Such an identity is the Eastern equivalent of our Western fetish of “complete objectivity,” the machine-like subservience to one goal, to one idea or cause, at the cost of losing every trace of inner life.

From the Eastern point of view this complete objectivity is appalling, for it amounts to complete identity with the samsara; to the West, on the other hand, samadhi is nothing but a meaningless dream-state.

In the East, the inner man has always had such a firm hold on the outer man that the world had no chance of tearing him away from his inner roots; in the West, the outer man gained the ascendancy to such an extent that he was alienated from his innermost being.

The One Mind, Oneness, indefiniteness, and eternity remained the prerogative of the One God. Man became small, futile, and essentially in the wrong. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Pages 492-493.

I have mentioned more than once that the shifting of the basic personality-feeling to the less conscious mental sphere has a liberating effect. I have also described, somewhat cursorily, the transcendent function which produces the transformation of personality, and I have emphasized the importance of spontaneous unconscious compensation.

Further, I have pointed out the neglect of this crucial fact in yoga. This section tends to confirm my observations. The grasping of “the whole essence of these teachings” seems also to be the whole essence of “self-liberation’

The Westerner would take this to mean: “Learn your lesson and repeat it, and then you will be self-liberated.”

That, indeed, is precisely what happens with most Western practitioners of yoga.

They are very apt to “do” it in an extraverted fashion, oblivious of the in turning of the mind which is the essence of such teachings.

In the East, the “truths” are so much a part of the collective consciousness that they are at least intuitively grasped by the pupil.

If the European could turn himself inside out and live as an Oriental, with all the social, moral, religious, intellectual, and aesthetic obligations which such a course would involve, he might be able to benefit by these teachings.

But you cannot be a good Christian, either in your faith or in your morality or in your intellectual make-up, and practice genuine yoga at the same time.

I have seen too many cases that have made me sceptical in the highest degree.

The trouble is that Western man cannot get rid of his history as easily as his short-legged memory can. History, one might say, is written in the blood.

I would not advise anyone to touch yoga without a careful analysis of his unconscious reactions.

What is the use of imitating yoga if your dark side remains as good a medieval Christian as ever? If you can afford to seat yourself on a gazelle skin under a Bo-tree or in the cell of a gompa for the rest of your life without being troubled by politics or the collapse of your securities, I will look favorably upon your case. But yoga in Mayfair or Fifth Avenue, or in which is on the telephone, is a spiritual fake. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Page 500.

I do not doubt that the Eastern liberation from vices, as well as from virtues, is coupled with detachment in every respect, so that the yogi is translated beyond this world, and quite inoffensive.

But I suspect every European attempt at detachment of being mere liberation from moral considerations. Anybody who tries his hand at yoga ought therefore to be conscious of its far reaching consequences, or else his so-called quest will remain a futile pastime. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Page 507.

One often hears and reads about the dangers of yoga, particularly of the ill-reputed kundalini yoga. The deliberately induced psychotic state, which in certain unstable individuals might easily lead to a real psychosis, is a danger that needs to be taken very seriously indeed.

These things really are dangerous and ought not to be meddled within our typically Western way. It is a meddling with fate, which strikes at the very roots of human existence and can let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed.

These sufferings correspond to the hellish torments of the Chonyid state, described in the text as follows:

Then the Lord of Death will place round thy neck a rope and drag thee along; he will cut off thy head, tear out thy heart, pull out thy intestines, lick up thy brain, drink thy blood, eat thy flesh, and gnaw thy bones; but thou wilt be incapable of dying. Even when thy body is hacked to pieces, it will revive again.

The repeated hacking will cause intense pain and torture.

These tortures aptly describe the real nature of the danger: it is a disintegration of the wholeness of the Bardo body, which is a kind of “subtle body” constituting the visible envelope of the psychic self in the after-death state.

The psychological equivalent of this dismemberment is psychic dissociation. In its deleterious form it would be schizophrenia (split mind).

This most common of all mental illnesses consists essentially in a marked abaissement du niveau mental which abolishes the normal checks imposed by the conscious mind and thus gives unlimited scope to the play of the unconscious “dominants.” ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Page 520.

Moreover, by reason of its breadth and depth, its venerable age, its teachings and methods which cover every sphere of life, it promises undreamt of possibilities which the missionaries of yoga seldom omit to emphasize.

If I remain silent on the subject of what yoga means for India, because I cannot presume to judge something I do not know from personal experience.

I can, however, say something about what it means for the West. Our lack of direction borders on psychic anarchy.

Therefore, any religious or philosophical practice amounts to a psychological discipline; in other words, it is a method of psychic hygiene. The numerous purely physical procedures of yoga are a physiological hygiene as well, which is far superior to ordinary gymnastics or breathing exercises in that it is not merely mechanistic and scientific but, at the same time, philosophical.

In its training of the parts of the body, it unites them with the whole of the mind and spirit, as is quite clear, for instance, in the prdnayama exercises, where prdna is both the breath and the universal dynamics of the cosmos. When the doing of the individual is at the same time a cosmic happening, the elation of the body (innervation) becomes one with the elation of the spirit (the universal idea), and from this there arises a living whole which no technique, however scientific, can hope to produce.

Yoga practice is unthinkable, and would also be ineffectual, without the ideas on which it is based. It works the physical and the spiritual into one another in an extraordinarily complete way. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Pages 532-533.

The split in the Western mind therefore makes it impossible at the outset for the intentions of yoga to be realized in any adequate way. It becomes either a strictly religious matter, or else a kind of training like Pelmanism, breath-control, eurhythmies, etc., and not a trace is to be found of the unity and

wholeness of nature which is characteristic of yoga. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Page 533.

As a European, I cannot wish the European more “control” and more power over the nature

within and around us. Indeed, I must confess to my shame that I owe my best insights (and there are some quite good ones among them) to the circumstance that I have always done just the opposite of what the rules of yoga prescribe.

Through his historical development, the European has become so far removed from his roots that his mind was finally split into faith and knowledge, in the same way that every psychological exaggeration breaks up into its inherent opposites. He needs to return, not to Nature in the manner of Rousseau, but to his own nature.

His task is to find the natural man again. Instead of this, there is nothing he likes better than systems and methods by which he can repress the natural man who is everywhere at cross purposes with him.

He will infallibly make a wrong use

of yoga because his psychic disposition is quite different from that of the Oriental.

I say to whomsoever I can: “Study yoga you will learn an infinite amount from it but do not try to apply it, for we Europeans are not so constituted that we apply these methods correctly, just like that. An Indian guru can explain

everything and you can imitate everything. But do you know who is applying the yoga?

In other words, do you know who you are and how you are constituted?” ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Page 534.

Since Western man can turn everything into a technique, it is true in principle that everything that looks like a method is either dangerous or condemned to futility.

In so far as yoga is a form of hygiene, it is as useful to him as any other system. In the deepest sense, however, yoga does not mean this but, if I understand it correctly, a great deal more, namely the final release and detachment of consciousness from all bondage to object and subject.

But since one cannot detach oneself from something of which one is unconscious, the European must first learn to know his subject.

This, in the West, is what one calls the unconscious. Yoga technique applies itself exclusively to the conscious mind and will. Such an undertaking promises success only when the unconscious has no potential worth mentioning, that is to say, when it does not contain large portions of the personality.

If it does, then all conscious effort remains futile, and what comes out of this cramped condition of mind is a caricature or even the exact opposite of the intended result. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Page 535.

However, I do not apply yoga methods in principle, because, in the West, nothing ought to be forced on

the unconscious.

Usually, consciousness is characterized by an intensity and narrowness that have a cramping effect, and this ought not to be emphasized still further. On the contrary’, everything must be done to help the unconscious to reach the conscious mind and to free it from its rigidity.

For this purpose I employ a method of active imagination, which consists in a special training for switching off consciousness, at least to a relative extent, thus giving the unconscious contents a chance to develop. 

If I remain so critically averse to yoga, it does not mean that I do not regard this spiritual achievement of the East as one of the greatest things the human mind has ever created.

I hope my exposition makes it sufficiently clear that my criticism is directed solely against the application of yoga to the peoples of the West.

The spiritual development of the West has been along entirely different lines from that of the East and has therefore produced conditions which are the most unfavourable soil one can think of for the application of yoga.

Western civilization is scarcely a thousand years old and must first of all free itself from its barbarous one-sidedness.

This means, above all, deeper insight into the nature of man. But no insight is gained by repressing and controlling the unconscious, and least of all by imitating methods which have grown up under totally different psychological conditions.

In the course of the centuries the West will produce its own yoga, and it will be on the basis laid down by However, I do not apply yoga methods in principle, because, in the West, nothing ought to be forced on the unconscious. Usually, consciousness is characterized by an intensity and narrowness that have a cramping effect, and this ought not to be emphasized still further.

On the contrary’, everything must be done to help the unconscious to reach the conscious mind and to free it from its rigidity.

For this purpose I employ a method of active imagination, which consists in a special training for switching off consciousness, at least to a relative extent, thus giving the unconscious contents a chance to develop.

If I remain so critically averse to yoga, it does not mean that I do not regard this spiritual achievement of the East as one of the greatest things the human mind has ever created.

I hope my exposition makes it sufficiently clear that my criticism is directed solely against the application of yoga to the peoples of

the West.

The spiritual development of the West has been along entirely different lines from that of the East and has therefore produced conditions which are the most unfavourable soil one can think of for the application of yoga.

Western civilization is scarcely a thousand years old and must first of all free itself from its barbarous one-sidedness.

This means, above all, deeper insight into the nature of man. But no insight is gained by repressing and controlling the unconscious, and least of all by imitating methods which have grown up under totally different psychological conditions.

In the course of the centuries the West will produce its own yoga, and it will be on the basis laid down by Christianity. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Page 537.

Neither does Zen play about with complicated hatha-yoga techniques, which delude the physiologically

minded European into the false hope that the spirit can be obtained by just sitting and breathing. On the contrary, Zen demands intelligence and will power, as do all greater things that want to become realities. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Page 557.
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