Psychology of Yoga and Meditation

17 FEBRUARY 1939 Lecture 13 Psychology and Yoga Meditation

Last time we left off with the construction of the symbols that I’ve written up for you once again here.

We spoke of that form with the many attributes, of the three eyes that every face bears, which belong to this figure with four faces who appears at the top.

You may recall that these three eyes correspond to the three worlds:

  1. Kâmaloka, i.e., the world of the senses, sensual and visible, the world of love (Kâma is the love god);
  2. Rûpaloka, i.e., the world of forms or ideas, corresponding to the Platonic world of ideas.

According to Plato there is “a place beyond the skies” when the soul lifts above heaven and leaves behind the outer surface of the world, thus arriving at that place where one sees the forms, the eternal ideas; so, that is the world of the manifold ideas, or forms;

  1. Arûpa, i.e., the world in which there are no more forms, where everything becomes

Maya, passing away into nothing.

However, the three eyes also point to the three-way division of time.

One sees not only the different worlds, but also the three times: past, present, and future.

To show that He knows the process of the evolution and involution of the twelve Nidânas. … [SCST, pp. 22]

An annotation in the text indicates this as: 1.) ignorance, 2.) impression, 3.) cognition, 4.) name and form, 5.) the six senses, 6.) touch, 7.) sensation, 8.) desire and attachment or craving, 9.) enjoyment, 10.) existence, 11.) birth, and 12.) old age and death … and that He knows the twelve Projections thoroughly, He is represented as with twelve hands. [SCST, pp. 22–23]

So, this figure has twelve arms and hands.

As a rule, both the Tibetan and Indian gods have several arms.

Vishnu with four faces, as well as Brahman, are represented with four arms and four heads.

In Western iconography we have a similar representation of the Trinity: a three-headed divine being in the Christian church.

Although this vivid representation has been banned by the pope, in the monastery at Stein am Rhein such a tricephalous Trinity can still be seen.

But in India this is still quite common.

These twelve hands represent the so-called twelve projections.

According to the Tibetan definition these are twelve ways in which one can transfer oneself into the consciousness of another human being.

It is a migration of one’s own consciousness into that of another person.

So, a projection of one’s own consciousness.

This is also thought to be spatial in that one can move through space as a consequence of this exercise after summoning magical powers, and there capture the consciousness of another person and recognize its contents.

The twelve nidânas point to one of the basic teachings of Buddhism: this is the so-called nidâna chain.

This is a doctrine that goes back directly to the Buddha.

The classic representation can be found in Nidâna Samyutta, one of the collections of the Buddha’s talks.

I will read you the so-called proclamation of the nidâna doctrine.

It goes:

Thus, I have heard.

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sâvatthî in Jeta’s Grove, Anâthapindika’s Park.

There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus:

“Bhikkhus!” “Venerable sir” those bhikkhus replied.

The Blessed One said this:

“Bhikkhus, I will teach you dependent origination. Listen to that and attend closely, I

will speak.”—“Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied.

The Blessed One said this:

“And what, bhikkhus, is dependent origination?

With ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, name-and-form; with name-and-form as condition, the six sense bases; with the six sense bases as condition, contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, existence; with existence as condition, birth; with birth as condition, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be.

Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

This, bhikkhus, is called dependent origination.”

Here you see how the entire world-form is derived from the inner realm, from the unknowing or ignorance about the cause of things (ávidyâ).

Out of this arise the forms (rûpa).

Out of these forms arises consciousness that perceives the world.

Then in this world sensation arises (kâmaloka) and out of that comes thirst.

“Kam” means thirst; “kâmaloka” is what arises out of thirst.

There you have the entire nidâna chain, which is unbroken wherever one link tugs on the next, its successor pulling another along after that, and so on.

“But the complete disappearance and coming to an end of not knowing brings about the

abolition of impression; the abolition of impression brings about the abolition of name and form; the abolition of name and form brings about the abolition of the six senses; the abolition of the six senses brings about the abolition of touch; the abolition of touch brings about the abolition of sensation; the abolition of sensation brings about the abolition of thirst; the abolition of thirst brings about the abolition of desire; the abolition of desire brings about the abolition of existence; the abolition of existence brings about the abolition of birth; the abolition of birth brings about the abolition of old age and death, pain, sorrow, misfortune, disappointment and despair.

This is the way in which the abolition of the whole sum of suffering is brought about.”

Thus spake the Blessed One.

Deeply touched in their hearts the Bhikhus rejoiced over the sermon of the Blessed One.

These excerpts are learned by heart, so for this reason they have this peculiar form, which is designed to be remembered.

This nidâna chain, this necessary amalgam of cause and effect, at the same time is represented as both unfolding and enfolding.

Like the twelve hands in our text taking up the world, so here they also take it back again into the arûpa, the formless.

To show that the Perfect Mind is both the Void and Compassion he holds in the upper

hands a Dorje and a Bell.

To show that Power and Wisdom are ever in union the first or uppermost two hands embrace His Spouse. [SCST, pp. 23–24]

The power is Shiva, the creative and destructive god, and his wisdom is Shakti, his consort.

The spirit is considered female.

This corresponds to the ancient Christian conception of the Holy

Spirit as female, as Sophia. Also as sapientia, i.e., wisdom.

Later it says that He embraces Vajra Vârâhî who clings to Him.… [SCST, p. 27]

The explanation of the correlation of the relationship of power and wisdom is described here as an embrace.

Vajra means eternal, and vârâhî is the feminine of vârâha, the third incarnation of Vishnu.

In this incarnation, God has taken on the form of a boar named vârâha, and is represented as having a human body and a boar’s head.

He transforms himself into the boar in order to fight a demon who has cast the earth down into the depths of the sea, and the boar tries to heave the earth up again with his teeth.

This is why Vishnu fought the demon as vârâha.

It took a thousand years before he had brought the earth up again.

The demon is called Hiranyâksha.

Hiranyâ means gold, âksha is the sense organ, âkshi is the eye.

So this would be translated as golden eye.

So this is the demon who sits beneath the sea and holds down the earth beneath it.

The remarkable thing is that in the Upanishads, a Hiranyâgarbha appears, a golden seed comes out of the womb of the world and has a redemptive significance.

Usually Hiranyâgarbha is translated as golden child. He is depicted as a golden ball.

This golden eye—sun eye—is also a god, or the god.

It is as if Vishnu were fighting with a divinity, with himself, so as to bring the earth back to the surface of the sea.

The sea signifies the unconscious, the earth consciousness.

There was once a time when the world, i.e., consciousness, got lost, when the conscious was flooded by the unconscious.

In in any case this is a mythical projection of the primitive fear that the world could vanish in the unconscious.

This is in fact the loss of soul that haunts primitives (perils of the soul), that souls suffer harm, i.e., are overcome by an unconscious state.

One analogue is the state of those who fall under the influence of alcohol or who otherwise lose their self-control, the berserkers, those old Germanics whom you’ll recall from the Icelandic sagas who lost their minds in the same way.

However, this can also happen without any intense emotions arising, simply as the result of a dream.

It can happen that you might wake out of sleep with the feeling that half your soul has

wandered off. It must be found again.

Among primitives the medicine men have their ways and means of reclaiming lost souls.

The soul is seduced with bird cages, finger clicking and whistling, by imitating bird song, or dances are performed with these people as if in a tribe by the Red Sea.

Those watching join in, pressing very close to the one affected, dancing around and around him, encircling him in order to make him conscious of himself.

In this way they force his soul back into him again.

This submersion of consciousness is described here as an extremely unfortunate state. This is due to the primitive fear of the end of the world, for when consciousness perishes the world also perishes, because no one is there to perceive this consciously.

For this reason, the end of the world also becomes a symbol for the demise of consciousness.

We do not realize the importance of our consciousness; it is a cosmogonic factor of extraordinary significance.

The ancient Indians knew this, and that is why they experienced the end of the world, i.e., of consciousness, as an evil trick played upon them by their evil demon.

But the demon has a remarkable name: Hiranyâksha (golden eye), who engineered the

dangerous submersion of the earth in the depths of the unconscious.

Hiranyâksha is related to Hiranyâgarbha.

Hiranyâgarbha is one of the most significant symbols of the Self, corresponding to the âtman-purusha in the âtman philosophy.

There it is a thoroughly positive figure, but here it is negative.

It can happen, as with primitives, that the possession of consciousness is of vital importance.

Lacking it, crazy things happen.

It’s not for nothing that they have prohibition in the USA.

And in Mississippi more than 50 percent are negroes.

When they consume alcohol there are terrible situations, awful slaughters.

So it is dangerous if consciousness is lost.

But there are also other cases in which consciousness can be withdrawn from the world through a positive event, which remains quite offstage to consciousness.

Yoga is one such technique that aims at creating just that: namely, this descent of consciousness into the depth of the unconscious in order to find God there, for then the Lord of blessedness will arise as Mahâsukha.

Such is the purpose of this yoga. Such a god must be brought back in two aspects: one positive and one negative.

So for example the goddess who manifests as Shiva’s consort is a varâhi, a sow, a highly improper female pig. … and who is red of color because She is devoted to the service of all sentient beings. [SCST, p. 27]

She is portrayed in human form, and always red.

She is described as the goddess of love because she is always devoted to serving humanity.

She is wisdom bonded to the father, trained to have empathy for all of humanity.

She is the being through whom the whole of humanity is supported and illuminated.

This is the plane portrayed in symbols that are thoroughly shocking for Western man—indeed, highly obscene to our tastes and not exactly harmless.

The Indian sees no such thing, and certainly nothing grotesque.

In the famous cliff temples of Mamallapuram on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Bengal there is a wonderful figure of the Vârâha with the boar’s head, his small Shakti sitting upon him, kindly embracing and kissing him on the snout.

This seems grotesque to us, but in no way is it repulsive to the Indian.

For he sees the idea. Such images are not made for beauty.

For an Indian the idea is ceaselessly meaningful and holy.

With it he knows: this is the redeemer.

Here Vishnu

has become the boar to help the sunken earth climb back out of the abyss.

For him that is hardly terrible.

She has only one face to denote that all things have but one taste in the “That.” [SCST, p. 27]

“In the That” means “in just-so being.”

This impression you can also find elsewhere, that all things have only one taste in the state of being just-so.

This coniunctio of Shiva and Shakti, this unification of power and wisdom in masculine/feminine form, such is the center of the mandala and constitutes … the very self of the incomprehensible secret of the Mind. [SCST, p. 31]

Here we reach the end of the actual precepts of yoga.

What now follows are explanations of different terms in the text, explanations of the philosophical content.

I do not wish to bother you with these, but would like only to stress one point of special significance, which also shows us what is intended with this remarkable symbol series.

The mandala devatâs, those divine figures that we have seen so often, are sambhogâkâya beings.

Sambhogâkâya means embrace, relationship, unification, joy in connection.

One might very suitably translate it with the alchemical expression of the coniunctio.

unification of masculine and feminine, of the unified body.

The peculiar name comes from the fact that in the unified body two worlds are united:

  1. The world of the nirmanakâya, i.e., the world of created, visible individual things,
  2. the other side, dharmakâya, i.e., the complete body of truth, the body of absolute truth.

We have already seen in Buddha’s talks that the nidâna chain unites both worlds.

On the one side is nirmanakâya, the kâmaloka, the visible world, and on the other side the dharmakâya, the arûpaloka, the formless spiritual world of perfect truth.

The Buddha text describes this as pure white light of enormous intensity in which nothing else can be distinguished.

Between the formless and the fullness of form stands sambhogâkâya.

Psychologically expressed: between the one unknowable unity of psychic being and the one essence split into the multiplicity of psyche is a world of form and idea.

Psychology in the most modern sense describes this as the unconscious, and indeed not as the personal but as the collective unconscious. Sambhogâkâ corresponds precisely to the concept of the collective unconscious.

There one finds archetypal forms corresponding to the devatâs, those divine beings who represent the intermediary world.

Buddha gave the doctrine of the formless, of the dharmakâya which is also the doctrine of non-being.

And the doctrine of nirmanakâya as well.

All ideas belong to sambhogâkâya, as do several gods, for they are all still forms.

The sambhogâkâya beings often visited Buddha at night and had conversations with him:

Devatâ–Samyutta. Nala Vagga. Sutta 1.1: Crossing the Flood.

Thus I have heard.

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sâvatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anâthapindika’s park.

Then, when the night had advanced, a certain devatâ of stunning beauty, illuminating the entire Jeta’s Grove, approached the Blessed One.

Having approached, he paid homage to the Blessed One, stood to one side, and said to him:

“How, dear Sir, did you cross the flood?”

“By not halting, friend, and by not straining I crossed the flood.”

“But how is it, dear Sir, that by not halting and by not straining you crossed the flood?”

“When I came to a standstill, friend, then I sank; but when I struggled, then I got swept

away. It is in this way, friend, that by not halting and by not straining I crossed the flood.”

[The devatâ:]

“After a long time at last I see A brahmin who is fully quenched Who by not halting, not straining, Has crossed over attachment to the world.”

This is what the devatâ said.  The teacher approved.

Then that devatâ, thinking “The teacher has approved of me,” paid homage to the Blessed One and, keeping him on the right, disappeared right there.

Then at another point:

Sutta 1.3: Reaching.

At Sâvatthi. Standing to one side, that devatâ recited this verse in the presence of the

Blessed One: “Life is swept along, short is the life span, No shelter exists for one who has reached old age.

Seeing clearly this danger in death, One should do deeds of merit that bring happiness.”

[The Blessed One:]

“Life is swept along, short is the life span, No shelter exists for one who has reached old age.

Seeing clearly this danger in death, A seeker of peace should drop the world’s bait.”

Sutta 1.13: None Equal to That for a Son At Sâvatthi. Standing to one side, that devatâ spoke this verse in the presence of the Blessed One:

“There is no affection like that for a son, No wealth equal to cattle, There is no light like the sun, Among the waters the ocean is supreme.”

[The Blessed One:]

“There is no affection like that for oneself, No wealth equal to grain, There is no light like wisdom, Among the waters the rain is supreme.”

Let’s compare this with Eckhart’s words:

All cereal nature means wheat, all treasure nature means gold, all generation means man.

In these talks there is also one about the Nadanahain where the Buddhist concept of the gods is taught to the bhikkus.

Nandana Vagga

Sutta 1.11: Nandana

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sâvatthî in Jetta’s

Grove, Anâthapindika’s park.

There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus:


“Venerable sir!,” those bhikkhus replied.

The Blessed One said this: “Once in the past, bhikkhus, a certain devatâ of the Tâvatimsa host was reveling in the Nadana Grove, supplied and endowed with the five cords of celestial sensual pleasure,

accompanied by a retinue of celestial nymphs.

On that occasion he spoke this verse:

‘They do not know bliss

Who have not seen Nandana,

The abode of the glorious male devas

Belonging to the host of Thirty.’

When this was said, bhikkhus, a certain devatâ replied to that devatâ in verse:

‘Don’t you know, you fool,

That maxim of the arahants?

Impermanent are all formations;

Their nature is to arise and vanish.

Having arisen, they cease:

Their appeasement is blissful.’ ”

The gods too disappear again, they are only temporary forms.

That is why the gods come to the birth of Buddha and to his death, that is why they need the teaching of the Buddha.

They must even become human in order to be redeemed, for that leads to perfection. Buddha was a man from the same ground.

So we see that the sambhogakâya beings are half-material, half-spiritual

creatures who are also subject to frailty.

The footnote to the text here speaks of such:

“The embodiment of all that is wise, merciful and loving in the Dharmakâya—as clouds on the surface of the heavens or a rainbow on the surface of the clouds—is said to be Shambogakâya” [SCST, p. 36, n. 41].

A visualization and embodiment of the qualities of the dharmakâya, which is the final and ultimate result.

His characteristics are wisdom, compassion, and love.

The text continues:

In this way one should dispel the notion that they are in any way inferior on account of

their being mind-evolved images which may be regarded with indifference. [SCST, p. 36]

Evidently doubts were raised whether these beings actually existed. They are made from the imagination.

These doubts that are so universal in the West exist even in the circles of Mahâyâna


These beings are in no way inferior, they are all the more the psychic antecedents of

the nirmânakâya devatâs … who in turn are none other than the Sambhogakâya Devatâs … who again are not separate from the Dharmakâya.

So should one accustom the mind to regard the Divinities as superior beings.

This entire Mandala is the subject of meditation by a highly developed mind … these again must be thought of as being within the worshipper himself in the form of the thirty-seven Devatâs.

This practice is for men of the highest intellect.

Men of middling and lower intelligence should identify the recollection of the body to be Khandoma; … [SCST, p. 37–38]

And so also should all psychological abilities.

In the body there is the dakinî of the mulâdhâra chakra, the elephant who carries the earth.

I have brought a picture for you. The triangle is yoni.

Within it one sees the lingam, which is entwined around it 3 and ½ times by the white snake.

This probably indicates time.

There is no proof for that, but inasmuch as three is linked with time and space and four with eternity, it could mean that the snake is half in time and half in eternity, half becoming and half static.

Time is often linked with the snake, its segmented form points to the consecutive pattern of time, as month, year, etc.

The zodiacal snake creeps over the sky; and a snake who bites its tail stands for eternity.

Above right is the dakinî, the Shakti of the mandala.

This is the lowest center, resting on the base of the pelvis.

It is an extremely confusing situation that I will take up next time.