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Carl Jung on Buddhist Mantra Meditation
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Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941

Lecture X 27th January, 1939

We will continue with our text:

” . . . Then after the last Mantra having offered music let the worshipper think of every possible object worthy of offering which is not anyone’s private property.”

The music which is sacrificed is not only the drumming, but whistling, singing and instrumental music.

Every possible object must be sacrificed which is not anyone else’s private property.

The temple must be sacrificed, all public buildings and objects which belong to everyone, such as mountains, but one must not sacrifice the neighbor’s ox or house.

“Let his mind create for itself every imaginable article of worship and worship with them.”

It is not only outer objects that should be sacrificed but also creative ones.

You bring your creative activity as well and sacrifice your thoughts and your phantasies.

“Then making the Mudra of the heavenly treasury, he should say: ” I cannot tell you which Mudra this is, for there are a great number of Mudras.

” Obeisance by the grace of the Dharma-Dhatu,”

The essential truth, the essence of Buddha.

“the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Mantras and the power of Mudra;”

Mudra, as we saw earlier in these lectures, is the position of the hand , a symbolic action with magic meaning.

The meaning is indicated through the gesture of the hands, and the Yogin assumes that the things thus suggested will be magically brought about.

“by the grace of my own faith”

This is very interesting.

We should compare this idea with the Christian analogy.

The Christian would never think of it being his own grace , he hopes to obtain God’s grace through his own faith, whereas the Buddhist believes that he creates the actual grace by his faith.

“and Samadhi and by the power of all my good wishes; let every kind of offering for worship existing in this world, not held in possession by any one, which is as inconceivably grand and magnificent as the cloud of offering that was offered by the Bodhisattva Samanta Badra appear before my Guru and the Buddhas of the Mandala Chakra and let them be on the grandest scale.'”

The Bodhisattva Samanta Bhadra is mentioned here, Samanta means equalising and Bhadra blessed.

“Having uttered this wish he should snap with his fingers and thumb.”

Here again we have a propitiatory gesture to influence and attract the gods, though it is at the same time a defensive gesture.

These are remnants of the Bon religion and do not belong to Buddhism proper.

Bon is an old Tibetan popular religion.

“Again making the Mudra on the heart, he should repeat this mantra:

‘Om, all-knowing one, fulfil (my desire) , fulfil (my desire) ; come forward, come forward; be round and round (the Mandala); Salutation to Thee; I remember the Samanta Buddha; let this upper space be clear (of obstacles) ; Let the Dharmadhatu the unchanging be everywhere; May the Tathagata be in the petalled Mandala which is opposite to, and made by, me. Svaha to all the Tathagatas who are holy, knowledge and power, who are the fuel of strength (strong as fire issuing from fuel], who are the Power of this Mandala, and who are all mighty. ”

This is the Invocation All-knowing one be round and round, and with this we come to the end of section

A in the second phase.

It is an invocation to that being that has been created by the Lama or into which the Lama is transformed.

This is apparently an extraordinary contradiction.

The Lama is himself Buddha and the Bodhisattva Samanta Bhadra and yet he worships them.

It seems entirely superfluous to invoke himself, but he is the Buddha and he is not the Buddha, so it is impossible to explain logically.

It is very easy for a European to get upset by such a lack of logic and to give up the whole thing as valueless.

But the human being is full of such contradictions, we are all composed of the opposites but, if we do not know this, the other side lives its existence in the dark and we know nothing of it.

The Yogin’s Buddha is a subjective and objective image.

It lies in the Yogin’s power to create him or to leave him uncreated and yet the Buddha has an objective existence.

This is connected with a psychic peculiarity which is most antipathetic to the West.

The whole West assumes that the psyche is a subjective concern, and fights against the fact it is also objective.

We think of our consciousness as our own, and in one way it is, yet it contains a great deal which is not.

We know that twice two are four, for instance, but we cannot call that our subjective knowledge.

We simply take over such facts ready-made and play chess with them; for we can to some extent use the fact that twice two are four for our own purposes even though it does not belong to us.

On the other side, we are confronted with psychic facts which are also objective.

We do not suffer from the delusion that a cherry could not hang on its stalk without our help , yet it never occurs to us that we are just as powerless in our own dreams.

We find ourselves in a certain dream atmosphere, it comes from a background which we cannot control.

The essential thing is: we are not master in our own psyche but, as this fact is not recognised, all psychic disturbances are regarded as illness.

The idea of a normal man, perfectly healthy, is in itself an illusion.

All mankind is liable to illness for we are not our own masters.

Both in the East and the West it is possible to undertake a “training “, by which we can change ourselves considerably.

Yoga is not always undertaken in order to create a Buddha, but as a training of the will and to repress the emotions which is possible.

We often see people here in the West who are acting their whole feeling life artificially.

There is nothing real in this, their eternal smile is an artificial product and is wholly a deception.

The result of such training depends entirely on the motives for which it is undertaken.

I can say that I look cheerful and am kind for the sake of society but it is quite possible that if I exaggerate it it will have exactly the contrary effect.

People cannot stand having unnatural virtue around them all day, it makes them feel inferior and they may even be come criminals in order to compensate it.

If such cheerfulness and virtue become too widespread, there is even a bloody revolution against it.

Think what awful children really “ nice” parents usually have; we have a Swiss rhyme:

“(Parson’s sons and miller’s cows, cost a lot and come to naught.)

So this Invocation of the Divine Figure is an enantiodromia from the identity with Buddha.

There is a great tension between the opposites and both are in us.

But we never recognise this fact and always see it ” de !’autre cote de la riviere”.

The white side is our side whichever side we happen to live on!

Every little town has the same psychology as nations in this respect, we have our bete noire and say with the old Pharisee: “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are”.

We don’t want to know that we are the “other men”, it is a frightfully awkward truth.

Such projections blind us entirely to the fact that we have a shadow, and when we suddenly get a dash of neurosis we feel as if our willing and reliable horse had jibbed without warning.

Patients often come to see me in a panic, they have had a peculiar idea and are sure it is mad.

Occasionally their fear is justified but far more often it is not.

I wish very much that psychic objectivity were recognised in the West.

Our text is full of this recognition.

The subjective image has its own objective existence, one can stand outside and worship it.

The reason of this whole procedure is to give its separate objective existence to everything subjective.

I hope I have made this clear, for recognising the objectivity of the psyche is typical for the eastern point of view, whereas we regard it as merely subjective.

I went for a walk one day with a young doctor friend, he was morose and silent, and hummed the tune of:

“(As I stand in the dark midnight hour, so lonely on my silent watch, I think of my distant love and wonder whether she remains faithful and well-disposed towards me.)

At last I said:

“Well, what is it, what is wrong with your love affairs? ”

“How did you know? ” he exclaimed in amazement.

He was just obsessed by the tune and in no way connected it with his secret preoccupations.

Apparently he wished to hum that tune, yet really he was suffering from being possessed by it.

We want to sleep when we go to bed, yet how often it won’t let us, it takes every kind of form, a tune, an obsessing idea, a fear and so on ; but our will is powerless, it
won’t go.

It is really essential to know that we are not master in our own house or we are in a false position, deluded by our own logic.

We come now to section B of the second phase.

The text continues:

“Snap the fingers and thumb again, and worship with the above Mantra.

Then let the worshipper say:

(1) I seek absolution for the sins which I have committed, or attempted to commit, or in which I have taken pleasure when committed [by others) by body, speech, mind; proceeding from motives of lust, anger, sloth, stupidity during all the states of my previous existences time without beginning.”

He seeks absolution for everything which remains in his karma.

His transformation has been threatened, a doubt has arisen as to whether it will succeed.

So he seeks to be absolved from his sins for they may wreck his purpose.

“I seek absolution for each and every sin so committed in the presence of my Guru and the Devaki’s of this holy Mandala:

(2) I will not commit them again [and then he should further say) :

(3) I [naming himself) do hereby seek refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha”.

Sangha is a word that we shall often meet with, it means community.

Originally it meant the community of the Buddhists, though later it came to mean the community in monasteries.

“From this moment until I attain the glorious state of Shri-ChakraMahasukha:”

The lord of the Mandala.

Now we come to the good resolutions, the 8 vows:

“(4) I vow to continue in the practice and observance of the rules and conditions imposed by Shri-Chakra-Sambhara:

(4) I will feel satisfaction and take delight in the merits acquired by laymen, noble Shravakas,”

Shravakas are pupils of the Buddha.

“Pratyeka Buddhas,”

These are hermit Buddhas.

They have reached individual enlightenment but they take no interest in the good of the community, in mankind.

They have escaped from the wheel, they are no longer bound by the passions and have deserted the world altogether.

“Bodhisattvas and by all the highest perfect Buddhas:

(5) I will free those persons who yet remain unfreed:

(6) I will give courage to those who are dispirited:

(7) I will help those who have not attained complete Nirvana to gain the same:

(8) I will entreat those Buddhas of the ten directions who do not set the wheel of truth in motion to do so:

(9} I will pray and entreat such of the Tathagatas who intend passing away into Nirvana not to pass away into Nirvana:”

He speaks here of those Buddhas who have reached perfection and are on the point of leaving the world and passing into Nirvana.

The Yogin promises to beg them to remain for the sake of the world.

(10) I will remain sincerely and earnestly in the “twofold path of ShriChakra-Sambhara.”

Why twofold path?

Because there is the subjective imprisoned ego and the objective Buddha.

The thesis is “I am Buddha” but the Yogin is forced to recoil from this statement when he meets the anti-thesis which throws him back on his subjective prison and his sins.

So he is forced to walk on a twofold path.

“And by the merits of my practice of these resolutions may I and all sentient beings speedily attain the state of Shri-Chakra-Sambhara.”

The Yogin has not yet attained this state.

We come here to the end of the prayer for absolution and the good resolutions.

“The worshipper should repeat this clearly and distinctly three times, remembering at each time the deep meaning of the words which he is repeating.

Then he should think that the Divine Beings whom he has invoked are addressing him in reply, thus:

‘Oh, son of noble descent, well have you adopted your abode. If you abide therein of a surety you will attain the highest stage.’ Then again worship
the Devatas with the brief form of worship already given.”

We have now come to B. 3 in our synopsis, the answer of the Devatas.

The Yogin’s dialogue with the Devatas is anticipated, the dogma asserts itself.

The reason for this is that the Yogin has reached an ecstatic condition, the created Buddha has become so objective and so living that he will answer, and perhaps in a terrifying way, a way that could endanger the dogma.

Dogma yokes the klesas but it kills many creative seeds.

The possibility of such a seed springing up here is foreseen and the Yogin is told the answer he must hear.

The aim of dogma is to provide a vessel in which the unconscious may be caught.

The makers of dogma show a marvellous finesse, not entirely conscious, in providing a symbolic form into which the unconscious will be willing to flow so that it can be held in a frame.

If this frame is based on the real nature of the unconscious the latter is quite willing to flow into it.

This state of things may last for a long time, hundreds or even thousands of years.

But sooner or later the dogma gets too far from the nature of the unconscious, or the unconscious itself, in the course of the years, changes, and, in either case, psychic conflicts break out in the individual human being.

While the frame contains the unconscious, people must remain within the dogma, they have no choice.

So Tertullian could say in the second century: “The soul is Christian”, it was perfectly true then.

And an Indian could say “My soul is Buddha”, it was equally true for him.

But Buddhism has almost disappeared in India today, though you find it in Nepal on the borders of Tibet, in Tibet itself and in Ceylon.

Ceylon is very different to India, more like a South Sea island, and here Buddhism still flourishes in its dogmatic form.

In India it has given way to Hinduism, in which Buddha is merely the ninth, that is the last, incarnation or avatar of Vishnu.

The Hindus believe that the time of Buddha has passed and that a tenth avatar of Vishnu in the form of a white horse will soon appear.

As Buddha and his teaching are still recognised within the frame of the Hindu religion, you find traces of him everywhere; but his achievement, amazing consciousness and highest integrity are no longer to be found in India today, though Rishis and Yogins still make private efforts to reach its illumination.

One can hardly use the word Yogin, for it has come to be connected with swindle.

Yoga is mainly found in India now as a business proposition and woe to us when it reaches Europe.

I do not know why India was not able to keep Buddhism, but I think probably its present polytheistic religion is a better expression of the Indian soul today than the one perfect Buddha.

It is a great blessing for mankind when the soul is contained in the dogma and there is always a great deal of misery when this is not the case.

The only common recognised ground in such times is the conscious, and that is far too narrow.

People are then alone in the unconscious and are regarded as morbid if it shows on the surface.

Almost all neuroses arise from this difficulty.

Where there are no forms and ceremonies, rites in which they can express their souls, people become moody and caught in conflicts.

There is one tribe in Central Australia which spends two thirds of its time in religious ritual – and how much do we?

We look down on them as primitives, but their way is far more meaningful than ours.

We work for ourselves but they for the whole world.

An American Indian once told me that the white Americans had no idea of the risk they were running in interfering with the Pueblo ceremonies.

They would find out when it was too late, he said, for the Indians undertake their ceremonies in order that the sun may be able to rise.

The sun is their father and they call on him to walk over the heavens for the good of the whole world; and they firmly believe that if they were prevented the sun would no longer rise. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture 27Jan1939, Pages 64-69.