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The Meditation of Mount Meru.


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Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941

Lecture II 15th November, 1940

In the last lecture we began to speak of the meditation of which Mount Meru is the foundation.

I will give you a chart of the images in the symbol sequence,

beginning at the bottom :

Moon with Lingam.
Lotus with Yoni.
Lotus .
VCiatyjra .

Above the Vajra, with which we dealt last time, there is an eight petalled lotus, a symbol of totality.

The lotus has, as you know, the significance of the s eat of the Buddha.

Above this comes the symbol of the moon, and then the sun.

Then a lotus again with the feminine symbol, and then the moon with the lingam or masculine symbol.

This last is a true union of masculine and feminine, the moon being a feminine symbol and the lingam a masculine.

Then we come to the Vihara, a cloister.

This is a higher stage of the city, a congregation of people who live in a higher community.

In this cloister there is another mandala, a magic circle with an eight petalled lotus, where the Yogin himself sits as Mahasukha, the Lord of Great Bliss, with four faces, which “symbolize the four purified elements”, and are each of a different color, the four divine colours.

He has twelve hands and three eyes. These twelve hands represent the Nidana chain, the chain of causation, which leads to the sum total of the suffering of the world, which should be brought to an end by Buddha.

15 The bottom or first image is Mount Meru.

This means that something comes forth, and begins to rise like a mountain in a flat landscape.

It is a heaping up of things, which were spread before over the whole world.

This is a very simple symbol for what happens in this meditation: the Yogin’s attention, which bound him to the world through his fears and desires, is drawn back into himself, and everything, which was outside
before, heaps itself up inwardly into a mountain.

Through this, the Yogin appears before his own inward eye, the inner man becomes visible, and this achievement appears next as a city up on this mountain.

The fortification of this city is particularly emphasized, and it contains all those people, who before were scattered all over the world, outside the Yogin.

This conception is not purely Buddhist, it is an old Hindu idea: the city of Brahman.

The great treasure, represented as the vajra, is kept in the city, as the treasure is kept in the “house of the treasure” in alchemy.

The “gazophylacium” or the “domus thesauraria” plays a great role in medieval mysticism.

We find the same idea in an example well known to you all, that of the heavenly Jerusalem, which descended ” out of heaven from God “.

This is also the goal for the “nations of them which are saved “.

The idea of the heavenly Jerusalem is als o such a mountain, where we find the highest symbol of Christianity, Christ as the mystical lamb.

In our eastern text it is the “four-headed vajra”, the symbol of concentrated accumulated energy, energy which the Yogin had previously dispersed over the whole world.

The senses take possession of our energy, and thus chain us to everything all over our world, through fear and desire.

This is the cause of suffering, the effect of the Nidana chain, which inevitably leads to suffering and death.

It is this energy which the Yogin has regained, and which has collected in the “four-headed vajra”.

The word vaj ra has a double meaning: diamond and thunderbolt : as diamond it represents the highest value and greatest beauty combined in an indestructible form in the stone, and as thunderbolt it stands for a tremendous magic power which can strike like lightning.

The thunderbolt is a well-known weapon of the gods, and at the end of this Tantric text there is a description of the leading principles for the use of this power, which the Lama has accumulated in his contemplative condition.

It is like a highly charged Leyden jar which can suddenly s end out electric shocks.

The vajra is only a preparation, and the first symbol, which blooms from its tension, is a lotus: the seat of the gods, or birthplace of the Buddha.

It grows from the tension of the vajra, as the actual lotus grows from the slime, slowly pushing its way up through the water, from the dark world to the light.

When man retires from the world he finds himself in a condition of terrible tension, charged with energy.

If he can endure this, without losing his energy again through letting it flow into new connections with the world, he begins to bloom like the lotus, and reaches the spiritual world, as the lotus reaches a new world of light when it breaks through the surface of the water.

This is the significance of the many plant symbols, in the West as well as the East.

The Yoga tree “whose roots grow upward and whose branches grow downward” is a typical eastern conception, but we find the same idea in the West : for example, in the thirteenth century the Flemish mystic RUYSBROEK spoke of a tree which grew downwards, its roots were in the sky and its branches in the earth.

We also find references to a hidden root which sprouts.

Christ was such a shoot that grew from a secret root, and Mary is the rosa mystica, the flower or vase, in which the god was begotten.

The western rose is wholly parallel to the eastern lotus.

You will remember, for instance, the end of the Divine Comedy, where the “snow white rose” is formed by the saintly multitude”.

The lotus also expresses the idea of totality and of transformation.

Everything which is below, mountain, city and vajra, represents an uplifting, they are like the stalk of the lotus which grows up through the water.

The moon springs from the lotus and has primarily a feminine significance.

We find, in many mystical forms of meditation, that the imagination produces feminine and masculine symbols for the purpose of the coniunctio, the union.

Masculine and feminine are symbols for the opposites in general ; and the coincidentia or unio oppositorum, (the union of the opposites) is the preliminary step towards seeing God, who is a unio oppositorum.

We found this same idea in the Exercitia.

We read in the Upanishads that out of manas came the moon.

There is a common root to both words, and the English word mind is also related.

In this text mind is thought of as feminine, the moon represents the mind.

The typical p air of opposites in alchemy is the sun and moon : the sun is red, masculine, and the moon white, feminine.

This is reversed in China, where male is white and female red, but you find the same idea of the coniunctio there.

When the moon represents mind, the sun represents the body, not the coarse material body, but the essence, the quinta essentia, of the body, the “subtle body”.

It is impossible to reduce these ideas to anything logical or exact ; but they refer to the material body developing a sort of essence, a principle of life.

We find many hints of this i n primitive conceptions, also in medieval ideas and with the Neo-Vitalists.

The body seems to be understood as a materialization of the life principle, which latter is an abstraction of the sum total of bodily existence.

This is really a typically eastern idea, for in the well-known forms of western meditation, the spiritual is always sharply divided from the physical; but, in the East, the body is drawn into the meditation and shares in the highest enlightenment.

The spirit is given no precedence, which explains the extraordinary plasticity and concreteness of eastern meditation.

The East tries to avoid abstraction, so that the enormously valuable body shall not be lost.

The whole meditation originates in the body, not in the spirit.

Above the sun and the moon comes the lotus again, but this time with the significance of the female organ, the Yoni.

This leads to the next symbol, the moon with the lingam, the male organ, the completed union of the opposites.

The world opposites, represented as male and female, are here irrevocably united, there is no more separation.

So the world process comes to an end here, there is no longer any tension between the opposites which could be fruitful, and no energy that could be wasted in any way.

An incorruptible stability has set in, which has the significance of eternity, and which is shut off from the outer world.

Our text is Tibetan, but we find this same conception of the divinity of the two principles in Indian Tantrism.

For instance, in a Hindu form of Tantrism they are personified as Shiva, the sun, creator and destroyer at once, and his Shakti or Parvati, his feminine counterpart.

They are represented in an eternal embrace.

The process reaches a culmination, so to speak, with this coniunctio, and the city app ears again but this time in enlightened peace, as the Vihara, the monastery.

It is a spiritual city here, in which the Holy Ones, the Perfected, live.

To reach the Kingdom of God is the last stage in a Christian meditation, but our Buddhist text, unlike Christianity, goes a step beyond the saintly multitude.

The Yogin himself appears in the mandala as the universal being, as Mahasukha, the Lord of Great Bliss.

He is now in the condition of complete knowledge, and has three eyes.

The third eye is the co-called Ajna centre, the chakra of complete knowledge.

This meditation has thus reached its goal, the Yogin has become conscious of himself as Mahasukha, Buddha.

He has not become Buddha in the sense of Gautama Buddha, for the latter has passed into Nirvana and does not exist any longer.

There is a great difference here between western and eastern mysticism; when a western mystic experiences the mystical union, he identifies with Christ, he goes over into Christ, loses the human being and is no longer himself.

In the East, on the contrary, it is the human being who becomes Buddha, he realizes the Buddha essence in himself, and becomes the universal Buddha.

We find the same idea in Hinduism, in the philosophy of the Upanishads.

The universal being is Atman, and the Yogin comes to the realization that he is Atman.

In spite of the many resemblances, this is a complete contrast between East and West.

When we see this symbol sequence for the first time, it is naturally very foreign to us.

But we find similar ideas in those forms of western mysticism which are related to alchemy, and are perhaps the forerunners of later alchemy.

The same images are to be found, for instance, in the writings of the school of St. Victor.

This school was founded by GUILLAUME DE CHAMPEAUX, the teacher of Abelard, who restored a small half ruined monastery near Paris, the monastery of St. Victor of Marseilles.

It was destroyed in a most shameful way by the French Revolution.

Guillaume de Champeaux took some monks and some relics of St. Victor from the monastery at Marseilles to Paris.

He had no intention originally of devoting himself to science, or of allowing the monastery to take up this line of study.

He had retired from the world in high dudgeon, his pupil Abelard annoyed him very much with the universalia dispute, but he was unsuccessful in restraining his pupils, who soon returned to science and to the study of nature .

For the most part, however, the Victorines were mystics.

Three names became famous in the twelfth century, HUGO OF ST. VICTOR, ADAM OF ST. VICTOR, (the famous writer of Latin religious poetry, including some beautiful spiritual poems) and RICHARD OF ST. VICTOR.

It is the last who concerns us here. He wrote a book called “Benjamin minor ” .

The curious title originates in a verse of the Psalms: “Ibi Beniamin adolescentibus, in mentis excessu ” (Benjamin spoke there to the young men in a condition of ecstasy).

This comes from the Vulgate, the text does not app ear in this form in our Bible.

But Richard of St. Victor used the Vulgate text as the motto for his book.

He calls it a “praeparatio animi ad contemplationem” (preparation of the mind for contemplation), so he attempts something very similar to that which the Buddhists strive for in their own way.

I will read you a translation of some passages from the text of “Benjamin minor” and you will see the extraordinary resemblance in construction:”

The first and fundamental task of the mind, which strives to climb the summit of knowledge, must be to know itself.”

(This, allowing for difference in language, might be the beginning of the Shrichakra-Sambhara Tantra.)

“It is the summit of knowledge to know that one knows oneself completely. The complete knowledge of the reasonable mind is a great and high mountain. It is higher than the peaks of all worldly knowledge, it looks down from above on all the wisdom of the world and on all the knowledge of the world.”

This corresponds to the elevation of the Yogin.

The text continues: “What has Aristotle found of this kind, what has Plato found, what of such things has the great multitude of the philosophers found?

Verily and without doubt, if they had been able to climb this mountain of their penetrating mind, their effort would have sufficed to find themselves; had they known themselves perfectly, they would never have paid homage to idols, they would never have inclined to the hill of things created, they would never have lifted their head against the creator.

Here the searchers failed in the search.

Here, I say, did they fail, and therefore it was impossible for them to climb the mountain.

‘Man lifts himself on high in his innermost and God is uplifted.’ (Ps. 63) Learn to meditate, 0 man, learn to meditate on thyself, and thou wilt ascend in thine innermost. The more thou improvest daily in self-knowledge, the more thou wilt climb above thyself. He who reaches perfect self-knowledge, has already reached the top of the mountain.” 6 Vulgate 67.

” . . . 0 how rare are those, either because they will not or because they cannot, who ascend to that height. Verily, it is rare to climb this mountain, still more rare to stand on the summit and remain there for a time, but most rare is it to dwell there and rest in the spirit: ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?’ (Ps . 23) (The idea of living, of making one’s home, in the city on the mountain comes in here.]

” . . . Amazement at good fortune is expressed in the cry: ‘Lord who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?’ (Ps. 14.] To climb up and to stand, 0 what great strength, to live and to rest, 0
what great bliss ! Who is cap able of such a task, who worthy of such a service? Who, Lord, shall ascend, who shall stand on the holy hill? ‘0 send out thy light and thy truth : let them lead me ; let them bring me unto
thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.’ (Ps . 42.) ”

Or to thy dwelling: “tabernacula tua”. The title of the 78th chapter is : “How great is the value of self-knowledge.”

I will read you a passage:

” . . . On the summit of this mountain Jesus was transfigured;” (Here Christ corresponds to Buddha, that is the Yogin a s Buddha.]

“Moses was seen with Elias on this mountain, and both were recognized without a sign ; and on it the Father’s voice to the Son was heard. What herein is not marvelous? What is not desirable? Dost thou desire to see Christ in transfiguration? Ascend the mountain, learn to know thyself. Dost thou desire to see Moses and Elias and to recognize them without sign, dost thou desire to understand law and prophesy without
a teacher, without an interpreter? Ascend the mountain, learn to know thyself. If thou longest for the hidden mystery of the Father, ascend this mountain, learn to know thyself. He descended from Heaven when he said: gnothi seaut6n which means: know thyself. Dost thou see yet the full value of the ascent of this mountain, and the use of complete knowledge of oneself? ”

If thou longest for the hidden mystery of the Father, ascend this mountain, learn to know thyself.

He descended from Heaven when he said: gnothi seaut6n which means: know thyself.

Dost thou see yet the full value of the ascent of this mountain, and the use of complete knowledge of ones elf? ”

The modern point of view is very different, such knowledge is considered morbid, an illness.

The title of the 83rd chapter is: “That the mind should comprehend the divine revelation, and should be accustomed to stand in the innermost”

” . . . If the mind does not raise itself to the contemplation of itself, how can it undertake the flight of vision to that which is above itself?

The Lord descends to this mountain and Moses ascends to it.

It is on this mountain that God teaches the construction of the tabernacle and that Moses learns.

What does the ‘tabernacle of the congregation’ mean, if not the state of perfection?

He then who ascends the mountain, he who pays careful attention, he who searches long and learns at last how he is made, that man remains there in order to learn from divine communication what he should become, how he is to prepare the building of his spirit for God, and by what obedience he must propitiate God.

For the mind, which is still scattered by many desires, which is torn asunder by many thoughts in this direction and in that, how could it be worthy to receive this Grace?

He who cannot yet collect himself to insight, when could that man ascend in vision to what is above him? ”

The title of the 84th chapter is : ” How the mind which thirsts for the vision of heavenly things, must gather itself inward.”

” H e who languishes for the vision of heavenly things, he who sighs for experience of the divine, must learn to collect the scattered of Israel, must strive to find the roving of the mind, must accustom himself to be at home in his innermost and to forget everything outside.”

It is in our own body that we must search, not outside, but today everyone is convinced that it is outside.

“He collects not only his desire but also his knowledge, that he may learn to love the true good only and to think of it alone without ceasing.

‘Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord.’ (Ps. 67.)”12 22 It is not a house of prayer or outer congregation, which is meant here.

The congregations are a congregating in the individual. He assembles his own scattered fragments, not those of other people.

” For in this two-fold congregation, of the thoughts and desires, in this double unanimity of investigation and effort, Benjamin is exalted, breathed on by the spirit of God and carried on high.

‘There is little Benjamin’.”

The author identifies himself, of course, with this little Benjamin who is chosen by divine appointment.

” . . . Where else dost thou think but in the congregation?

‘Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord, from the fountain of Israel.

There is little Benjamin.’

The first stage is that someone creates a synagogue out of his thoughts and desires instead of a church.

Ye know well enough, that synagogue means bringing together and church a congregation.

It is one thing to force something, willingly or unwillingly, into one ; and another for it to come voluntarily together of itself, at a hint from a summoner.

Unintelligent and unreasonable beings can be crowded together, but they cannot be called together.

But the coming together of beings reasonable in themselves, resulting from their own impulse, should rightly be called a congregation.

Behold the difference which exists between congregation and crowding together, between church and synagogue.

When you perceive that your desires are being influenced by outer delights , and that your thoughts are constantly dwelling on them, then hasten inwards with greatest care, so that at least you can build them into an inner synagogue.

For as often as we collect the roving of the mind into one, and bind the emotions of the heart into a yearning for the eternal, what else do we make of this inner family than a synagogue?

But when all that crowd of our desires and thoughts, enticed by the taste of inner sweetness, has learnt to come together willingly at the hint of reason and to stand firmly in the innermost, then one may hold them
worthy of the name of the church.

Let us learn therefore only to love the inner good, only to meditate long on that, and in the measure that we know how to love Benjamin, we shall without doubt build a church. ”

This is the idea of the “ecclesia spiritualis.”

Everyone must practice inner congregating in order to be able to be a member of the Church at all, for the Church is spiritual and not external.

You see that these Victorines have a very characteristic interpretation, which is similar in many respects to that of the Devoti, of whom we spoke last year.

On the other side, however, the Victorines have a different relation to knowledge in general, so that they could be called a school of philosophy.

This leads us over to the typical western method of meditation, western Yoga, the exercitia spiritualia of St. Ignatius. ~Carl Jung, Modern Psychology, Pages 14-26.