Psychology of Yoga and Meditation
24 FEBRUARY 1939 Lecture 14 Psychology and Yoga Meditation
Last time we came to the end of our very long text.
You will probably have breathed a sigh of relief.
But today I must still bother you with an overview and some explanation.
Let’s bring ourselves up to date once again with the sequence of the process.
As you still recall, the text of Shrî-chakra-sambhâra Tantra consists of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.
In the thesis the identification with the Buddha is first of all established.
This is also expressed through identification with the vajra, i.e., the diamond being, the eternal being, or with the Mahâsukha, the lord of the mandala, the lord of perfect blessedness, including his feminine counterpart, the so-called Shakti.
Then follows the analysis of perception.
There it is demonstrated that the lâma is in possession of all of his forms of perception.
This is rather like an examination that he conducts upon himself.
He demonstrates his knowledge of the various forms of perception , which is necessary if he is also to perfectly perceive what takes place during yoga.
Otherwise he will not be able to become the Buddha.
Then follows an assimilation of all beings into his own Self.
This is already a thesis applying to the Buddha nature to which he has already pledged himself.
Then follows an analysis of the four psychological functions, represented in a personified way as the four Buddhas linked to the four directions of the wind, i.e., in symbolic form:
This is divided into four functions through which the whole perimeter of being can be perceived.
The four functions are described as horizon lights. These exist in all religions.
In Islam these are the angels of the North, South, West, and East.
Here it is the essential components of the all-Buddha.
Then follows the antithesis: this is the defense of everything that could be raised against the thesis.
First, the reality of human beings objects to such a thesis: the concupiscentia, i.e., desire
and mâyâ, the illusion of being engendered by the madness of the senses.
In the face of this the round, i.e., perfection, is invoked.
Then follows the plea for absolution from sins and the projections of the twelve feminine devatâs.
Here for the first time the feminine (the unconscious) is emptied outwards through projection, objectified.
This takes place in the rectangular building on the circle of the horizon.
These are the ten feminine devatâs who go in the eight directions of the horizon and towards zenith and nadir.
The unconscious is projected outwards in all of these directions.
The rectangular space is the familiar temple room (vihâra) in which the lâma is magically enclosed so that nothing external disturbs him.
To strengthen the defenses weapons are construed, the vajra weapons. And the evil or the evil ones are annihilated.
The final declaration reads: I am shûnyatâ, the void itself.
This is the identity with the omnipresent being and non-being Buddha. Then follows the synthesis.
This is a positive process in which a long series of symbols is created.
Out of the void (shûnyatâ) the four elements are brought forth.
Out of this Mount Meru is constructed.
On the summit of the world-mountain Meru the city of Brahma is constructed,
above the town of the four-headed vajra as summit, then the eight-petaled lotus, the moon, the sun, the lotus with yoni, moon with lingam, vihâra and finally the magic circle, within which sits the lâma himself as Buddha.
You must think of this as sort of built up from below.
It is an intricate series of symbols. I have not yet explained the series to you.
But it is a canonical array of the symbols for unconscious processes.
And now I will propose to you a mediaeval counterpart for it: alchemical symbolism.
The void is the original situation of the world, a state in which nothing exists.
In fact there is no world, there is simply the void. This original state is chaos.
I am hoping that when you think of alchemy you do not conjure up the art of gold making.
That’s an understandable prejudice, a chronic misconception that one can count on.
But it is quite doubtful that the making of gold has anything to do with it.
A careful reading of the ancient Latin tracts turns up mottos like “Aurum nostrum non est aurum vulgi.”
This is puzzling; when one investigates the symbolism more closely, one finds within it an uncommon amount of extremely interesting psychology not yet explored by researchers.
Only chemists have studied it so far. But they are not psychologists.
Alchemy has existed since the first century BC, probably longer.
It was a peculiar process of initiation, a form of practical yoga, but regarded superficially it can in no way be compared with Indian yoga.
However, if one looks into the symbolism more closely, one sees the same initiatic intention.
Yet the procedure is completely different. In alchemy, substances were always worked with.
In yoga it happens within the person.
Regarded superficially, there is no similarity between them, yet in both disciplines people are striving at something.
During this alchemical process that provides no fruitful outcome, they are working away at something; they had visions.
The alchemists named alchemy the royal art, their philosophy.
The oldest texts date back to the first century BC. Berthelot’s Collection des anciens alchimisties grecs contains some very early Greek texts, e.g., the “Papyrus de Leyden.”
There you can find the texts of Pseudo-Democritus and Comarius, the oldest alchemists known to us.
All these texts contain practical instructions for goldsmiths and counterfeiters alike.
To this day the Near East has always distinguished itself in the gold faker’s art.
Many a traveller has cursed this art when he returned with jewelry from the Cairo bazaar and saw what it fetched at home.
Along with these instructions for goldsmithing and so-called chemists one finds interspersed something that was then called philosophy.
We would call it mysticism today, just as one calls mystical everything one does not understand.
These are also texts of a religious nature that have been researched by Dieterich.
One of the earliest alchemists who is well-known to us is Zosimos.
He belongs in the third century. A series of Greek texts originates with him.
He gave practical instructions, which undoubtedly refer to very specific chemical processes, in the same style as Comarius or Pseudo-Democritus, and scattered among them were strange pieces of gnostic philosophy.
What is equally interesting about it is that his main work is a letter addressed to a certain Théosébie, his soror mystica, the spiritual sister who also took part in his effort.
Women played a great role in alchemy.
That is something completely foreign to Eastern yoga, with the exception of Kundalini yoga where the devotion of the community is also shared by women.
This series of symbols has a great deal to do, then, with Tantric yoga.
Illustration from Michel de Marolles’ “Temple des Muses” (Paris, Nicolas Langlois: 1655), c.1635–1638, a selection of Ovid’s fables.
Jung owned a copy from 1733. See also Jung (1937), p. 366. (Credit: Warburg Library).
The concept of chaos describes the original state of the world; it is an absolute, original state, an improbable original state, where the opposites are right next to each other, represented in countless images, with flames and drops of water among them, with signs of the different planets, with signs of the different metals and signs of the zodiac opposed in a hostile way, or interested in each other, or applied to each other, i.e., pairs of opposites in conflict, a constant intermingling, with no above and below or right and left.
An excellent example can be found in an ancient book entitled “Le Temple des Muses.”
is called “Le Chaos ou l’origine dumonde.”
This chaos was mostly conceived of as darkness. This is where ideas from Genesis come in.
“And the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.…”
The last sentence was drawn upon many times; this chaos, being darkness, was thought of as nigredo, the black, and it had to be made fruitful by the spirit of God as at the beginning of the world.
Out of the chaos emerged firstly the four rhizomata, the four roots, the four elements of Empedocles.
These are the four parts expressed by the ancient Greek alchemists with the maxim:
“to divide philosophy in four” (tetramerein ten philosophian). Philosophy is meant here in two senses: first as the first original material (materia prima), and second as philosophy, which must be divided into four parts.
Chaos is the materia prima; it cannot be understood by us.
For these people the entire natural world was materia, and pure miracle.
Which is why everything they did not understand was projected into it.
And the workings of the psyche are the philosophy we do not understand.
Philosophy was always much more than a critique of knowledge, it was a specific way of life, an experience.
The ancient natural scientists had this kind of experience in all the unknown materials of the universe.
Such was the unknown mysterious country into which one could project every wonder.
“To divide philosophy into four.”
Matter was divided into four elements and therefore philosophy had to be divided into four parts.
This division into four was described as the series of the four colors: nigredo, i.e., darkness; albedo, i.e., the ascent of light, becoming light; citrinatis, i.e., becoming yellow, and finally the strange color suggested by the Greek word “iosis”: “becoming iosis.”
Berthelot sometimes translated it as violet, but that is questionable.
The colors indicate four directions, being further the four functions of consciousness.
Evidently it is here a matter of the splitting of an original unconscious state into four recognizable functions.
Now, the world mountain Meru emerges out of this state, out of this completeness, this already differentiated state that is identical to the entire created world which one can grasp with the senses, about which one can think, feel, and have all sorts of intuitions.
The old conception is such that all subsequent potential is already contained within the chaos, including, therefore, man.
However, not man as we know him, but philosophical man, homo philosophicus, also described as “philosophical Adam.”
This doubled as a particularly soulful being, also known as “anima.”
It came from a substance that could not be expressed in terms of the four elements, a type of ethereal substance, hence also called aetherius.
An idea one also finds among primitives who differentiate the subtle body, the breath body, from the visible body.
The subtle body is also described as anima.
In Latin, animus, in Greek anemos, meaning wind or breath, thus a being of breath.
This notation runs through the whole of alchemy. And you can find this idea the world over.
Everywhere you have the idea of this subtle body, not as immaterial but of a finer quality (subtle), including the spirits.
The homo philosophicus is thought to consist of four natures: earth, water, air, and fire, corresponding to the four elements.
The same idea of the primordial being is also described as an egg, which is not only a man within the chaos, but also a potential existence, potential life, described as an egg: this is the “philosophical egg,” the ovum philosophorum.
This egg must be divided into four, which together make up the one, the four-as-one. This second or four-as-one brings to perfection something that is present in potentia in the chaos.
This separatio elementorum was also equated with the four seasons.
The four seasons are the attributes of homo philosophicus. So this primordial man is also paired with time.
We find the same ideas in India where Prajâpati is connected with the year.
Also, the liturgical year of the church is exactly like Christ, since that is the course of his life. He is the course of time.
The same idea you will also find among the Neo-Platonists, where the actual creator is Chronos and the creator of time is Aion, because everywhere creation occurs, time is also there.
And the same idea is at work in Proclus,who is the originator of Bergsonian philosophy.
The idea of the durée créatrice is the only intuition you will find in Bergson’s works.
The division of the four elements must now be overcome by the so-called coniunctio, i.e., by their conjugation or composition.
I have to mention this because Mount Meru is one such amalgam.
In between is the separation of the four elements.
Of this an alchemist once said that it is achieved through moral philosophy.
So, this separation or division into four is produced by the psychological process and dissolved again in the same way.
Through psychological knowledge.
The author of this quotation is an honorable doctor from the mid-sixteenth century who lived in Basle and Frankfurt: Dorneus.
He was a sort of colleague of mine! He said; “Knowest thou not that heaven and the elements were formerly one, and were separated by a divine act of creation
from one another, that they might bring forth thee and all things.”
So it is very interesting that this idea of the division into four is an ancient one, probably megalithic in origin.
An English acquaintance of mine, Mr. Layard, made a very interesting discovery on the isle of Malekula in the New Hebrides where a megalithic culture lives that erects dolmens.
A symbolic drawing and quartering of the body is also used as an initiation.
This is an idea also found in alchemy, namely that this homo philosophicus was sort of mortified.
A killing off of this thing situated in the chaos and then its quartering.
This is also shown in an old Rorschach print of the Splendor Solis from the alchemical collection Aureum Vellus of Salomon Trismosin.
Splendor Solis (plate 10). Image from Jung’s copy (Foundation of the Works of C.G. Jung)
Homo philosophicus has had his four limbs torn off: the quartering. You find the same also in other alchemical texts, e.g., “matrem mortifica, manus ejus et pedes abscindes.”Exactly this is still done in Malekula, of course not for real but as a symbolic ritual.
Now you see that it is evidently peculiar philosophical ideas that lie behind this, namely that something that was an unrecognizable, incomprehensible unity has been dissolved into a quaternity through psychological differentiation, into a system of order, and that, through this, a sort of sacrifice has taken place, the sacrifice of the original, purely natural man.
Primitive rituals have the same meaning too. I heard this for myself from the Kavirondos.
The young men who did not submit to ritual circumcision were labelled as animals in specific tribes.
In Buddhism it is the sacrifice of the ávidyâ, of the unknowing, unconsciousness.
Out of this arises a differentiated conscious awareness. The instinctive unity is therefore quartered and re-unified.
This second unity is Mount Meru.
The symbol of the mountain also plays a great role in alchemy.
There is an allegorical story about the Mons Mambracus in anywhere-land.
At the top of this mountain grows a strange plant called Lunatica or Lunaira, or Lolium.
A ryegrass, bearded darnel. It means that one can become inebriated or go crazy from it.
But here, Lunatica is a fantasy plant, although it is also a cure-all.
It is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the alchemical process, namely to transform the incomplete and to transpose it into the state of perfection, of completeness.
This plant as a means of healing is also expressed in another form, as a miraculous stone that must be sought on the highest mountaintop.
This is already in the text of Comarius from the first century.
Later it is rendered as the king standing on a silver mountain from whom the golden
streams flow (reguli auri) just as streams flow from Mount Meru, and around it the river Jambrinada, which is full of gold.
It is also said that birds are symbols of sublimated vapors that arise from the heated matter.
They fly up to the top of the mountain, to the highest point in the chemical retort. Or, if an oven is used, into the oven where the vapors condense. This was the “Mount.”
The mountain was also used symbolically.
For example, there is a point in Michael Maier where a vulture sits on the mountain top and says: “I, says he, am the black from the white / and the yellow from the red / the veritable truth that does not deceive.”
This corresponds to the four colors.
This vulture has four different qualities and sits on the top of the mountain.
If one investigates these medieval texts, one unavoidably finds the closest analogies in the language of the Church Fathers.
The thinking of the medieval natural scientists is still completely influenced by the language of the Church Fathers.
For this reason, in all these expressions and symbols one must carefully compare the meaning they have in the hermeneutic language, i.e., with the interpretive language of the church.
So the mountain is a symbol of Christ. Ambrosius says of Christ that he is the “mons exiguous and magnus.”
And Saint Augustine says Christ is “mons magnus ex lapide prava.”
This peculiar idea refers to a point in Daniel when the stone that detaches itself from the mountain without the intervention of human hands falls at the feet of the brazen image made of clay and destroys the whole image.
This was applied to Christ.
So he was called the stone because he described himself as the cornerstone, the lapis angularis.
So Christ is the small stone out of which an entire mountain has come.
Conversely, Mary is also described as a mountain because the small stone comes from her. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Yoga Meditation, Page 150-162