Psychology of Yoga and Meditation

2 DECEMBER 1938 Psychology and Yoga Meditation Lecture 5

LAST TIME we got as far as the end of text about the Amitayur-Dhyâna-Sûtra.

At the conclusion, we considered the question of what name is to be given to this sûtram.

I think I will give you this passage again because it offers the symbolic meaning of the entire sûtram.

Thereupon Ananda rose from his seat, approached Buddha, and spoke thus: “O World-

Honoured One, what should we call this Sûtra? And how should we receive and remember it (in the future)?”

Buddha said in his reply to Ananda: “O Ânanda, this Sûtra should be called the meditation on the Land of Sukhavati, on Buddha Amitâyus, Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, Bodhisattva Mahatma’, or otherwise be called ‘(the Sûtra on) the entire removal of the obstacle of Karma, (the means of) being born in the realm of the Buddhas.’ Thou shouldst take and hold it, not forgetting nor losing it.

Those who practice the Samâdhi (the supernatural calm) in accordance with this Sûtra will be able to see, in the present life, Buddha Amitâyus and the two great Bodhisattvas.… Know that he who remembers that Buddha is the white lotus (pundarîka) among men, it is he whom the Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Mahâsthâma consider an excellent friend. He will, sitting in the Bodhi-mandala, be born in the abode of Buddhas.” [pp. 199–200]

The Bodhi mandala is the point we came up against last time.

It is the circle of enlightenment, also called the round terrace of enlightenment.

This circle is the ground upon which the Asvattha tree stood, that tree under which Shakyamuni fought off the attack of the devil Mâra and where he finally achieved Bodhi.

This tree is called Bodhidrum (druma means tree) and the ground around it is Bodhi mandala.

This image refers back to another Mahâyâna text that is invested with great authority. It is not as old but belongs to the classics of Mahâyâna Buddhism.

It is called Saddharma-Pundarîka. Sad means good, true; dharma is the law; pundarîka is the white lotus.

This text is included in the Sacred Books of the East.

In the seventh book there is a description of the mandala and its history:

In the beginning when the Lord had not yet reached supreme, perfect enlightenment and had just occupied the summit of the terrace of enlightenment, he discomfited and defeated the whole host of Mâra … [SP, VII, 7]

Now this is not the Buddha Shakyamuni, but it is the primordial Buddha.

There have always been Buddhas, since time immemorial.

This Buddha has an eight-syllable name which I will spare you.

He lived an incredibly long time ago, in another epoch.

The measurement of time is interesting because it is somewhat similar to the astronomical calculation of light years.

If, for example, some men after reducing this universe to atoms of dust took one atom to deposit it a thousand regions farther on; If he deposited a second, a third atom, and so proceeded until he had done with the whole mass of dust, so that this world were empty and the mass of dust exhausted; to that immense mass of the dust of these worlds, entirely reduced to atoms,  I liken the number of Æons past.… To proceed, monks, the measure of the lifetime of the Tathâgata Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Arhat, &c. was fifty-four hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Æons. [SP, VII, 2–5;7]

These would be the distances that separate us from that primordial Buddha.

Someone who wished to reach him would have to keep traveling East, in the direction of the rising sun, into the galactic system, i.e., he would travel tremendous astral distances, and in this way, epochs of time came into being.

A very clear concept of light that radiates in the universe and that required millions of years to reach those systems.

When that primordial Buddha lived, this light migrated and brought knowledge from him into those galactic systems of the universe.

I am to reach perfect enlightenment.

But those laws (of perfect enlightenment) had not yet dawned upon him.

He stayed on the terrace of enlightenment at the foot of the tree of enlightenment during one intermediate kalpa.

He stayed there a second, a third intermediate kalpa, but did not yet attain supreme, perfect enlightenment.

He remained a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, an eighth, a ninth, a tenth intermediate kalpa on the terrace of enlightenment at the foot of the tree of enlightenment, continuing sitting cross-legged without in the meanwhile rising.

He stayed, the mind motionless, the body unstirring and untrembling, but those laws had not yet dawned upon him.

Now, monks, while the Lord was just on the summit of the terrace of enlightenment, the gods of Paradise (Trâyastrimsas) prepared him a magnificent royal throne, a hundred yojanas high, on occupying which the Lord attained supreme, perfect enlightenment; and no sooner had the Lord occupied the seat of enlightenment than the Brahmakâyika gods scattered a rain of flowers all around the seat of enlightenment over a distance of a hundred yojanas; in the sky they let loose storms by which the flowers, withered, were swept away.

From the beginning of the rain of flowers, while the Lord was sitting on the seat of enlightenment, it poured without interruption during fully ten intermediate kalpas, covering the Lord.

That rain of flowers having once begun falling continued to the moment of the Lord’s complete Nirvâna.

The angels belonging to the division of the four guardians of the cardinal points made the celestial drums of the gods resound; they made them resound without interruption in honor of the Lord who had attained the summit of the terrace of enlightenment.… [SP, VII, 7]

As we can see in the text, it is not only precisely that the circle goes around the tree, but that it also stretches virtually around the horizon.

And then here, there are those four points, the four gates, through which the external world comes in or through which the one sitting in the lotus position emanates out into the world.

The bodhi mandala is also known as the bodhi mandavara. Vara means circular flow, which alludes to the fact that this circle is not only something static, but is also in circulatory motion, turning clockwise.

This becomes very clear from the classic stupas in India and Ceylon.

I will give you a rough outline:

Stupas are hemispheric central structures, graves, with three parasols one above the other, representing the three worlds, namely: dharmakâya (i.e., the purely spiritual world, the world of absolute truth), sambhoga kâya (i.e., the intermediate world, the world of subtle bodies) and the nirvana kâya (i.e., the world of objects, the world of created things).

One could also describe the three as Self, anima and body.

And when one enters within, there is a small wall that compels one to take the clockwise circumambulatio—counterclockwise would be very inauspicious.

Thereafter at every gate one bows towards the world.

The steps lead to a second, inner circular path where the process is repeated.

This is the classic form in the area of central Tibet.

One sees this in Darjeeling already on every hill, encircled by flagstaffs bearing white flags.

If they are a more temporary arrangement and made from paper, they are usually block-printed with a horse.

The white flags and chorten offer you a very impressive sight.

They look very beautiful in this landscape.

And as a rule, there are also prayer formulas, repeated many times.

The circumambulatio is conducted with a prayer. The classic forms are chanted: Om mani padme hûm. “O the treasure in the lotus.”

The prayer is framed by the sound of chanting.

If you hear a Brahmin reading a Sanskrit text aloud, you will notice the chanting notes. The Om is a primordial sound, found in every culture that is still growing out of its original foundation.

We ourselves make the same sound to express natural pleasure, so, for example, we say “Mm, Mm” when we have a good meal. In India, this is a very striking sound.

It is repeated millions of times.

Here you find these ancient things still in their highest form.

Mani means pearl or great treasure, padme is the lotus and hûm, like Om, has no single definition.

The humming of the bees: humkana, snoring likewise.

Both words, mani and padme, are framed with chanting.

The stupas are a concretization of the bodhi mandavara, the noble terrace of enlightenment, the round progression of the mandala.

Read what Professor Zimmer reports about the circumambulatio in Artistic Form and Yoga.

This mandala is a reiteration of the figure alluded to right at the beginning of the text: namely, that remarkable symbol which there they call a flag.

We will come right back to this in a moment.

Buddha further spoke to Ananda: “Thou shouldst carefully remember these words.

To remember these words is to remember the name of Buddha Amitâyus.”

When Buddha concluded these words, the worthy disciples Mahâyâna, and Ânanda,

Vaidehî, and the others were all enraptured with excessive Joy.

Thereupon the World-Honored One came back, walking through the open sky; to the Mount Gridhrakûta.

Ânanda soon after spoke before a great assembly about all the occurrences as stated above.

On hearing this, all the innumerable Devas (gods), Nâgas (snakes), and Yakshas (demi-gods) were inspired with great joy; and having worshipped the Buddha they went their way.

Here ends the Sûtra of the Meditation on Buddha Amitâyus, spoken by Buddha (Sâkyamuni). [p. 201]

So, you see the position of the gods in relation to Buddha.

They appear at every festive moment of his life, such as his birth or his death.

When he teaches, they appear exactly like humans, as listeners.

I will now give you a résumé of the text: it is interesting inasmuch as it shows a thoroughly typical Buddhist Yoga process, absolutely directed according to strict dogmatic precepts for a definite purpose and goal.

There is no talk of freedom, no possibility to deviate from it, rather, the dogmatic images must be imagined as precisely as possible, as if to be incarnated, so that in the end a Buddha is created and in fact as a psychic figure.

For the East, the psychic is not something inexpressible as it is with us, but something quite definite, something half physical.

Through the imagination an existent image of the Buddha is created out of psychic material.

  1. This yoga exercise begins with the fixing of the sun.

Not without reason, for when we gaze into the sun for a short time, there is an after-image.

If one shuts one’s eyes something of the radiant image from the orb of the sun remains—this is the point of concentration. An anchor point as in hypnosis.

This small, round closed image is the departure point for the creation of the mandala.

  1. The next step is to imagine a round surface of water: clear, pure, translucent.

III. The next thing to be imagined is the surface of ice, so completely translucent that

one can gaze down into the black depths.

  1. Imagining that this surface consists of lapis lazuli, somehow translucent to a holy

eye. One has created ground, a broad surface.

  1. Now one imagines that there is a flag under this ground.

This is a Chinese text.

It was translated from the Sanskrit into Chinese in 424 CE, and then translated back again.

The Sanskrit word that is regularly used for flag is dhvaja.

It is the flag that one always sees in Indian temples.

The flagstaff is also interesting, and the Indians also have a special theory for this.

But I can’t go into this here.

But the word dhvaja also means emblem or symbol. In this case we may translate the word as symbol: beneath the ground of the lapis lazuli, the symbol is created.

It is a circle divided eightfold, it also has eight-points at the horizon bound with golden ropes.

Then this form is revealed:


A quite simple and classical mandala.

The basic form of all Buddhist mandalas.

There are Hindu mandalas which are based on other basic numbers but which occur only for very particular uses, for instance, within so-called Tantrism.

Tantra means book, a leaf of paper or weaving loom.

It is used for educational books or text books utilized for this special purpose.

In its whole style Tantrism corresponds to the scholasticism of our Western culture.

It plays a very great role in Tibetan Buddhism.

They have a particular yoga, described as Kundalini Yoga or Serpent Fire Yoga.

But this is Hindu, not Buddhist.

This special form is despised by certain people, but others consider it the highest spiritual yoga.

In India today, it has many devotees among the educated, but it is very mysterious and makes far more demands than the more generally known yoga that we are discussing here—and it is not nearly as dogmatic.

I have brought with me a Tibetan representation of a mandala for you.

You see here three great teachers: two teachers who belong to the yellow hat school, a

specific Buddhist school—and here, a red hat teacher, more folk religion and originality. He belongs to the Bön religion, a very early Tibetan religion full of magic.

The great circle around the double ring is a ring of fire: the great fire.

The circle of concupiscentia, the fire of lust, of envy, of rage.

It is represented by four different colors: green, violet, blue, and red. The inner circle is black and protects the mandala against the concupiscentia’s ring of fire at its outer edge; then, a fourfold divided circle: North, South, East, West, every section has its gate. The square is characterized by four different colors: yellow, red, green, and white.

Every year, mandalas made of butter are constructed in the Buddhist temples of Peking, colorfully painted, with a diameter of about five meters.

There you can see in the middle is built  a tower, a stupa. Inside, the magic circle appears again in order to protect the holy precinct towards the outside.

And in the innermost: a symbol depicting the power of the sun.

A diamond or thunderbolt, being a symbol of energy. It is half embedded in the earth.

In the background, it is protected by the Himalayas.

The image is a copy of the original from the China Institute in Frankfurt.

Lamaistisches Vajramandala.

This Yantra was used by Jung and Wilhelm as frontispiece to The Secret of the Golden Flower (Wilhelm & Jung, 1929); also in Jung, 1944, fig. 43; Jung, 1950, fig. 1 and §§ 630–638. Jung also presented it at the seminar on dream analysis on 19 February 1930 (Jung, 1928–1930, p. 479).

The image was part of a greater number Jung collected, which he presented in his seminar series in Berlin in 1933.

This figure is similar to the stupas of Nepal and is half embedded in the earth.

This absolutely corresponds to the idea of the stupas.

When someone asked Buddha how he wished to be interred, he took two rice bowls and put one upon the other.

Then he put one bowl in the ground, the remains of the Buddha in the center, and the other bowl on the top.

Thus, in fact a spherical shape.

This mandala is a fundamental form, consistently playing an absolutely significant role in Eastern Yoga.

It is not only a fixed point and a sacred area that are created with the mandala, but at the same time there is the idea of circumambulatio, a sacred circumambulation.

Holy figures circumambulate in a clockwise direction.

There are exceptions in Shakti temples where a Shiva is present.

There is a cobbled circular path around the temple, going clockwise for Shiva,

counterclockwise for Shakti.

When the meditation is led in an counterclockwise direction, it is feminine, if clockwise, masculine.

When the image of the god in the boat is perambulated, it is taken counterclockwise. The clockwise direction operates spiritually, the other direction operates in the depths, down into the body, down into the earth.

(The operation of a clockwise spiral that goes once upwards and then downwards.)

This mandala in our text is intended as a luminous image.

Rays of light radiate out from it, and every ray has 84,000 colors.

That is precisely the number of marks of the excellence, of the perfection, of the Buddha.

These colors also allude to the fact that this light radiating from the mandala, indeed the mandala itself, is also already the Buddha.

It is the seat of the Buddha, but it is also identical with him.

  1. The next transformation is where attention is directed upon eight lakes with lotus

blossoms, which must all be created perfectly round.

VII. The sides are again covered in lotus blossoms, that is, in circular form once again

full of lotus blossoms.

VIII. Then a lotus must be imagined on the reflective surface.

Reflecting upon the meditative surface, one imagines how a lotus emerges out of the water.

The so-called blossom throne ascends above this lotus.

A high building, a tower, corresponding to a high building that you find in an Indian temple.

The main building is erected above the holy of holies, and on the top of this are four

flagstaffs. Symbolic pillars bearing the symbol.

  1. The Buddha himself is imagined sitting upon the throne of blossoms.
  2. After the Buddha has been created, the meditator then imagines that he is himself the Buddha, and in this way he is also transformed into the Buddha, and then he knows that his consciousness is the origin of the universal being of all Buddhas, that therefore not only the imagination of the Buddha, but that of all Bodhisattvas, gods, and all beings in the entire world is an emanation of human consciousness.

This is an enormous difference between the East and us.

Consciousness for us is simply an absolutely present conditio sine qua non.

In the East, on the other hand, the phenomenon of consciousness is the absolute center of the world. It is the Buddha, the world-creating god.

We can now retrospectively construct an equation arising from this assertion in the text:

consciousness is the Buddha, his lotus is in fact also the Buddha, as is the light, the symbol of the lapis lazuli, the water, and finally the sun.

That which light is outwardly, consciousness is inwardly.

There you have a fundamental concept of the East. Buddha is the inner sun, consciousness is the inner sun.

Naturally you must not think that this philosophy means our everyday consciousness—including that of Eastern people—is Buddha.

Not at all: rather, the consciousness that is quickened through yoga, that

enlightened consciousness (bodhi), that is for them the inner sun.

Here we can make a bridge to the West where we have a similar concept in Christianity: the concept of the inner Christ as the inner sun, the inner light.

This view is not exactly official; in fact theologians rather like to avoid it.

So, for example, those passages in the New Testament that refer to this tend to get translated in a curious way: “Know ye not yourselves how Jesus Christ is in you?”

Here “in vobis” tends to get translated as “between you” or “among you.”

In fact, one could of course translate this in the same way here, but in the Letter to the Galatians Paul says “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

So there you can no longer say “between me.”

But it seems that our dear translators cannot imagine a religious experience outside of community, without the church. Particularly in these present times, one must point out where someone believes that everything that exists is the state, the people.

The individual exists. What is community? It is a crowd.

Only the individual gives it meaning and value.

When all is said and done, it is absolutely exclusively the Christ in us.

Otherwise we turn idols into gods and deliver ourselves up to idolatry. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Yoga Meditation, Page 49-60