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Carl Jung and Arthur Avalon The Serpent Power


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The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga

[Dr. Jung greatly valued the contributions of Arthur Avalon (pseud. Sir John Woodroffe) and author of The Serpent Power in his “The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga” Seminars.]

Arthur Avalon (pseud. Sir John Woodroffe), The Serpent Power (London, 1919).

The copy in Jung’s library is the first edition and contains many marginal annotations.

Woodroffe was born in 1865. He studied at Oxford and became a barrister.

He was an advocate at the Calcutta high court and a fellow and Tagore law professor at the University of Calcutta.

From 1904–22, he was on the standing council for the Government of India and Puisne judge of the high court of Calcutta.

He was knighted in 1915, and returned to become a reader in Indian law at Oxford from 1923 to 1930. He died in 1936. (From Who Was Who, 1929–1940 [London, 1941], 1485.)

No evidence has emerged that he had any direct contact with Jung. ~Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Page xxvi, Footnote 31.

Heinrich Zimmer recalled: “The values of the Hindu tradition were disclosed to me through the enormous life-work of Sir John Woodroffe, alias Arthur Avalon, a pioneer and a classic author in Indic studies, second to none, who, for the first time, by many publications and books made available the extensive and complex treasure of late Hindu tradition:

the Tantras, a period as grand and rich as the Vedas, the Epic, Puranâs, etc.; the latest crystallisation of Indian wisdom, the indispensable closing link of a chain, affording keys to countless problems in the history of Buddhism and Hinduism, in mythology and symbolism.” “Some Biographical Remarks about Henry R. Zimmer,” Artistic Form and Yoga in the Sacred Images of India, translated by G. Chapple and J. Lawson (Princeton, 1984), 254. ~Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Page xxvi, Footnote 33.

John Woodroffe, Shakti and Shâkta: Essays and Addresses on the Shâkta Tantrashâstra, 3d ed. (London, 1929), x. Jung had a copy of this book in his library. ~Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Page xxvi, Footnote 34.

The following are the manuscripts upon which it appears that Jung drew directly for these seminars:

1) a three-page handwritten manuscript headed “Tantrism”;

2) a four-page handwritten manuscript headed “Avalon Serpent,” consisting of references and quotations from 1–76 and 210–72 of The Serpent Power (1st ed.);

3) a three-page handwritten manuscript headed “Chakras”; and

4) a two-page typewritten manuscript headed “Die Beschreibung der beiden Centren Shat-chakra Nirupana” (The description of each center Shat-chakra Nirupana)—this manuscript appears incomplete, as it breaks off midway through the description of the anvhata cakra.

Manuscripts 1) and 3) closely correspond to the text of “Indische Parallelen” (see appendix 1), which suggests that Jung used them directly to lecture from.

In addition, there exists a two-page manuscript headed “Tantra Texts. VII Shrichakrasambhara,” which he evidently used in preparation for his Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule lectures on this text (Modern Psychology

3), and a two-page manuscript headed “Prapanchasara Tantra,” which consists mainly in references and quotations from 25–87 of Zimmer’s Artistic Form and Yoga.

The Prapanchasvratantram was vol. 18 of Woodroffe’s Tantrik Texts (Calcutta, 1935), in ETH. ~Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Pages xxxiv-xxxv, Footnote 66.

See appendix 1. Concerning the cakras, Woodroffe stated: “According to the Hindu doctrine, these Cakras are differing centres of consciousness, vitality and Tattvik energy.”

In Arthur Avalon (pseud. Sir John Woodroffe), The Serpent Power (London, 1919), 16.Hauer had defined them as “symbols of the experience of life, they show the real inner
meaning of such an experience, to help you to understand and to interpret spiritually what you have lived” (HS, 58). ~Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Page 2, Footnote 3.

41 Jung’s interpretation of the Kundalini as the anima may in part have been suggested by the following description of her cited in The Serpent Power: “She . . . is the ‘Inner Woman’ to whom reference was made when it was said, ‘What need have I of outer women? I have an Inner Woman within myself’ ” (1st ed., 272).

This sentence is heavily marked in Jung’s copy of the book; the whole phrase is cited in his “Die Beschreibung der beiden Centren Shat-chakra Nirupana” (2), and the last phrase, “I have an Inner Woman within myself,” is cited again in his “Avalon Serpent” manuscript (1).

In “Concerning Mandala Symbolism” (1950), while commenting on a mandala painted by a young woman in which a coiled snake appeared, Jung said of the snake:

“It is trying to get out: it is the awakening of Kundalini, meaning that the patient’s chthonic nature is becoming active. . . . In practice it means becoming conscious of one’s instinctual nature.” CW, vol. 9, part 1, §667. ~Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Page 22, Footnote 41

Woodroffe defined purusha as “a center of limited consciousness—limited by the associated Prakti and its products of Mind and Matter. Popularly by Purusha . . . is meant sentient being with body and senses—that is, organic life.” Arthur Avalon (pseud. Sir John Woodroffe), The Serpent Power (London, 1919), 49. Surendranath Dasgupta defined purusha as spirit (Yoga as Philosophy and Religion [London, 1924], 3) and as “consciousness itself” (ibid., 173). ~Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Page 38, Footnote 11.

Woodroffe stated: “Citta in its special sense is that faculty (Vrtti) by which the Mind first recalls to memory (Smarana) that of which there has been previously Anubhava or pratya janana—that is, immediate cognition.” In Arthur Avalon (pseud. Sir John Woodroffe), The Serpent Power (London, 1919), 64. ~Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Page 70, Footnote 8.

8 [In English in the original.] In his copy of Arthur Avalon’s (pseud. Sir John Woodroffe) The Serpent Power (London, 1919), Jung had marked the phrase “the Devi Kundali. . . the world bewilderer” (37). ~Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Page 74, Footnote 8.

9 In his copy of The Serpent Power, Jung had marked the following passage: “Kundali Sakti is Cit, or consciousness, in its creative aspect as Power.

As Sakti it is through Her activity that the world and all human beings therein exist” (254). ~Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Page 74, Footnote 9

Dr. Jung: Professor Zimmer has depicted the material as relatively simple to us. I find it highly complicated—an ocean of individual differences, so ill-defined that one cannot touch it anywhere! Individual problems cannot be understood in uniqueness; thus one is thankful for all references, such as Zimmer’s book Artistic Form and Yoga in the Sacred Images of India, or the translation of the tantric texts by Avalon, which show that there have always been people with such problems. The Indian conceptual world was thus for me a means to clarify personal experiences. ~Carl Jung, Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Page 84.

That was the symptomatology of the case, and it was that which forced me to look into things; I had the idea that something of the sort existed in the East. It was soon after Avalon’s book The Serpent Power was published, and there I found the parallel. ~~Carl Jung, Kundalini Yoga Seminar, Pages 105-106.

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