Psychology of Yoga and Meditation
9 DECEMBER 1938 Psychology of Yoga Meditation Lecture 6
The text I read to you in the last sessions gives you a picture of the yoga process within Buddhism.
As I indicated, this text is a classic.
It is very simple and specifies the process in general terms. Here you must keep in mind that this text is Buddhist.
But there are many other religious and philosophical movements that have different ideas, for example, forms of yoga that proceed much more physiologically, if you will, where it is a question of holistic perceptions in which only the body is exercised, albeit always with the psychic sous-entendu.
When we engage in such exercises, it is gymnastics.
People have such hazy ideas about this when they read a booklet about yoga and attempt the movements.
This all sounds quite popular, but even if it is defined, it is not experienced as an Indian experiences it who has grown up in such forms and ideas and whose entire culture is permeated with this curious spirit of yoga, something we can in no way claim for our culture.
I say this with reference to a small book by Yeats Brown, Bengal Lancer—you have
probably seen it at the cinema—he got involved with yoga as an amateur, rather like the
The images in Brown’s little book convey enough.
It chiefly concerns very curious bodily positions, and, in addition, some sort of philosophy is thrown in at the end as one might dress a salad with some oil and vinegar.
These are quite un-Indian things.
I must also warn you against using such a text as the one I have taken you through for meditation.
For that purpose, one would need to come equipped with thorough prior knowledge and a certain spiritual foundation that we completely lack.
At the end of last time I drew your attention to the parallels that exist between the inner sun in the Amitâyur-Dhyâna-Sûtra and the mystical idea of the inner Christ.
In Indian philosophy, there is a substantial parallel: the philosophy of the âtman.
The word “âtman” is related to the German word Atem meaning breath, also our Odem, the breath of life that runs through all things, correspondingly to the essence of the Buddha.
The one, the great, that is also described as Prajâpati, i.e., the creator of the world.
Both these terms are identical in their use and have similar terms of reference: the âtman is the absolute origin of being.
The particular: that he is not only the universal being like that of the highest Buddha, the essence of the world itself, but he is also a personal being.
Everyone has a personal Self, this âtman within, but this is only one aspect of the universal.
Whoever immerses himself in the practice of yoga, flows in a way out of the personal âtman into the general, and then considers himself a universal being.
There are exactly the same preconditions as in Buddhism.
The being of one’s own Self, as the text also shows, is at the same time a universal being.
So, with that, I’d like to conclude what I have to tell you about the Amitâyur-Dhyâna-Sûtra and go on to another form of yoga within Buddhism, namely Tantric Yoga.
In its proper rational sense this is a matter that unfortunately is not yet fully accessible to us.
We know only a little about it, and this comes from Sir John Woodroffe.
He writes under the pseudonym of Arthur Avalon, Avalon being that town in southern England known from the grail legend.
The name Arthur comes, of course, also from the epic cycle of King Arthur.
At first he wrote under this pseudonym, and that is why Tantric yoga has a bad reputation in India.
The Indians are very critical of Tantric yoga because it deals exclusively with the physiology of the body and especially with sex, although it is full of exceptionally interesting symbolism.
Little is known about tantrism.
The one thing that is known was given to us by in his book, The Serpent Power.
It is very difficult to read. It concerns Kundalini Yoga, i.e., the Serpent Yoga.
This specific form can be found particularly in Bengal.
In Calcutta I met a series of advocates, among them some very dubious characters.
It has very much ousted Mahâyâna Buddhism from Indian scholasticism and is in fact very widespread in Tibet.
What I will discuss with you is a Tantric Tibetan text that is characterized by particular and very interesting symbolism, a symbolism that will be extraordinarily helpful to us in understanding Western symbolism.
It is distinctive for the West in that its symbolic ideas come from a sphere that arises from this remarkable physiological stratum, as is the case with this Eastern Tantric Kundalini Yoga.
The text no longer has a classical character, is also not very simple, but requires a huge amount of commentary, in other words, it is rather difficult.
It is in fact not from the ancient original era of Buddhism, but first came into being in later centuries.
We can assume it was around 300 CE that the great spread of Buddhism took place.
From that time on these texts appear; they are difficult to date.
It is impossible for me to tell you when this text was created.
It might be some time in the course of the Middle Ages.
The reason why I present such a text is, as I have already suggested, that these texts contain a symbolism that is especially meaningful for our psychological intentions.
The text is called Shrî-chakra-sambhâra Tantra.
Shrî means holy; chakra is the wheel, also mandala; sambhâra means bringing together, and also signifies the gathering; and tantra means weaving loom, leaf of paper, the woven, in other words, text.
Thus, “the sacred wheel gathering text.”
It begins with an invocation: “Vajra-yogini, shrî mahâmâyâ Tara” [SCST, p.1].
Vajra means thunderbolt or diamond (vaj, hard; ra, wedge).
The thunderbolt of the Indra is called vajra; yogini means female consort, a divine being that appears as a consort, the yoked one; shrî means holy and mahâ large; mâyâ is the Shakti, the feminine being that emanates from the masculine creator god and represents the world, a sort of mother of the world, a building material, a material—the word “materia” belongs here—of the visible god, but different from god inasmuch as it depicts his femininity.
This femininity is called world.
We speak of mother earth or even madam world; shrî mahâmâyâ is therefore the holy great illusion or also the great reality that is also an illusion; Târâ is a specific Mahâyâna goddess.
These are notions of gods that one does not encounter in classical Buddhism, they arose only later under the influence of primitive religions, more specifically under the influence of the Bon.
This is a primitive, shamanic religion that prevailed in Tibet before Buddhism and is still
Its monks are the red hats, whereas the yellow hats concern themselves with higher Buddhism.
The text promises to give a depiction of how this mandala ritual that we heard about in the last text should be applied.
I will give you a rough depiction of it here by using the mandala from the last lecture:
After the aforementioned invocation the text says:
A square with four doors enclosed in a circle. This mandala is now depicted with its ritual function. Obeisance to the Guru and Shrî Heruka. [SCST, p. 1]
In this case the guru is not a human guru, not a spiritual leader; instead it is a matter here of this special mandala’s own divine being.
This is Shrî Heruka, a type of patron saint, a devatâ, one of the many divine beings of which there are thousands.
You find these devatâs already in the ancient Pâli collections in which are contained the speeches of the Buddha.
For example, conversations between Buddha and these devatâs.
In these Pâli texts a holy silence is described descending over the landscape, and then a devatâ appeared who asked the Buddha for enlightenment, and then how Buddha made a speech to him.
Having bowed with reference to the Guru, the essence of all the Buddhas and to Shrî Heruka, I now expound the Sâdhanâ of Shrî Chakra Mahâsukha. [SCST, p. 1]
Sâdhanâ means ritual, with a magical connotation.
A footnote to the text speaks here of “a practice whereby Siddhi (success, here spiritual attainment) may be obtained.”
The influence of the Bon creates a magical atmosphere.
It always has a hidden agenda of a magical application.
Shrî Chakra Mahâsukha, i.e., the holy mandala of great blessedness.
This Tibetan patron saint Shrî Heruka who is being invoked here is a peculiar special case among guru beings altogether.
The guru in India even today is still a personal human being, an experienced man who has knowledge of sacred things in whom the young man places his trust and asks him to accept him.
A guru never offers himself, he wishes to be asked.
Well-brought up young people in India have a guru. But there are exceptions.
I met a very educated older Indian.
We spoke about education, and I asked him about his guru.
Then he named an ancient wise man.
I asked: “Does this ancient Vedic name still come up?
That is the famous ancient wise man.
The man can’t have been your guru? He’s been dead for 2000 years?” “I have had no living man as a guru, but rather a spiritual one,” was the reply.
This was an educated man, around seventy years old, very experienced in worldly affairs, very honorable.
Someone like him would be in the Ständerat.
And he said coolly, that his guru was not a living human being, but the ancient wise
So, I asked further: “How can you communicate with him?” “
He introduced himself to me in dreams, and I noticed that this was my guru. I can always converse with him.”
So as a result, he never had a normal guru. These things still happen today in India.
This man is a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi.
This is how we must also think of this Heruka.
With our Western knowledge we can only poorly imagine this.
The devotee when about to go to sleep should firstly, imagine his body to be that of Buddha Varja-Sattva.… [SCST, p. 2]
Sattva, i.e., an entity, a being.
This term belongs to the three so-called gunas but I will spare you all that.
This Buddha has as an epithet the name vajra sattva which means diamond being or thunderbolt being. I prefer the first meaning.
It is on the primitive level of the Bon that the thunderbolt is important as a magic missile, but later on a higher philosophical level the diamond meaning plays a much greater role: as the enduring, hardest being that is not subject to change.
For example, in Chinese philosophical yoga it describes it as the subtle body, the spiritual body, which is no longer subjected to any changes.
There this vajra takes on absolutely the meaning of the lapis philosophorum, the philosophers’ stone, that eternal being brought forth from man, that arises from the striving of his life, from the laboratorium, and then somehow outlives it.
The body of the sleeping one is therefore the body of the Buddha vajra sattva—of the diamond being Buddha.
Which is to say that this is a matter of a transformation of the body into the diamond being, this eternal, enduring thing.
… and then at length merge into the tranquil state of the Void. [SCST, p. 2]
There is a translation by the Tibetan Kazi Dawa Samdup, professor at the University of
Calcutta, a colleague of Woodroffe and Evans-Wentz.
He also translated the Bardo Thödol and generally acquired great benefits through this translation of this text.
Nonetheless, due to the grueling climate of Calcutta, which he as a native Tibetan could not withstand, he died.
“Immersion in the peaceful state.” Shûnyatâ—the absolute void, in English “the void.” One should therefore translate: “And then he should immerse himself in the absolute void for a very long time.”
And this is in order to make the mind receptive for what is then projected, or for the precepts of this yoga.
Arising from that state he should think that the double drums are resounding from the midst of the heavens proclaiming the Matras of the twenty-four Heroes. [SCST, p. 2]
From the last text, we saw that the saddle drum rolls sound from the four corners of heaven when the transformation has taken place.
Drums are frequently used in the ritual of the East, even within the very strict cult of the Hînayâna.
In Kandy in Ceylon there was a drum ritual every evening at 7:00 o’clock.
This ingenious major act of worship is introduced by a drum ritual.
Five drummers ranked in the narthex of the temple, each in four corners with large saddle drums.
The drum master positions himself in the middle with an even bigger drum.
Firstly, they drum in the four corners.
They represent directions of the horizon, the four watchmen of heaven.
They form a mandala with the fifth.
The one in the middle begins to drum only when the others have ceased.
They march through the temple and the master drummer only begins to drum in the mandapam.
The entrance to the holy of holies leads via a stone staircase.
The gates go like tunnels through the thick walls.
In the walls of these door openings there are small alcoves hewn in the stone, each with a small hewn-out hollow that is filled with butter (and contains a wick).
Otherwise, everything is dark, only these gates flicker with these hundreds and thousands of little flames.
In the background one sees the golden image of the Buddha, swimming in flowers.
The dark form of the drummer forms a contrast against the brightness of the gate.
The whole temple is filled with the splendid aroma of jasmine, from jasmine blossoms which are brought as a sacrifice and which have no stems left so that they fade quickly and therefore give up their scent.
The blossoms are offered in bowls.
This is evening prayer with the young girls, women, boys, and men offering these blossoms in bowls as a sacrifice while chanting this mantra: “Just as these flowers fade away, so our life is fleeting.”
Along with this, the drumming reverberates from the great stone slabs of the walls and the courtyard. It seizes the entire person, nolens volens, one gets into a “convulsed” state, as if one is shaken from within by the vibration.
This effects a particular receptivity, a remarkable type of supernatural excitement.
It creates a febrile atmosphere.
The drum melody that the drummer is now performing is called “the sacrifice of sound.”
One offers up sound to the remembrance of the Buddha. The music is offered as a sacrifice.
This spot at the beginning of our text refers to just such a ritual, which the dreamer or yogin must imagine.
Arising from his sleep in this state of divine body he should regard all things around him
as constituting the Mandala of himself as Varja-Sattva. [SCST, pp. 2–3]
Thus, everything he has around him—perhaps his humble house, his room, his bed—this is all his bodhi-mandala, the place where enlightenment takes place and where he himself is the diamond being, the body for this sattva being the physical one.
If beneficial to his devotion, he may perform the ablution as he had done while receiving
initiation. [SCST, p. 3]
He can repeat this because he is in the process of entering a transpersonal state.
Then seating himself with ease facing the South let him sanctify his body by tasting the drop of Amrita. [SCST, p. 3]
This is the wine of the gods, a nectar.
A usual wine, having the character of a communion wine, a ritual wine.
Into this, one dips the tip of the ring finger, the drops are laid on the tongue and in this way one is filled with divine strength.
Then he should begin by repeating the Refuge formula. [SCST, p. 3]
“I seek my refuge in the Buddha, the law, and the community.”
Equally, he should proclaim the formula of good wishes: “May all living beings be happy, conscious of the cause of happiness.
May all living beings be liberated from pain and its causes. May all living beings enjoy constant happiness.
May all living beings be in the state of the highest serenity.”
Then let him mediate on himself as Demchog … [SCST, p. 3]
Demchog is the Tibetan word for Mahâsukha, the highest blessedness. … and his Consort [SCST, p. 3]
Feminine divinities were invoked at the beginning.
Here is the place where it becomes clear that this is not the usual question of a god who is identical with the yogin, but also of his consort, so that the yogin transforms himself into a feminine being, into the consort of the god, even at the beginning of the experience.
This god is described as yogini, i.e., the corresponding feminine.
If he imagines his body as that of the devatâ, this is the blessedness that belongs to the body.
If he says: Shrî Heruka aham, I am the holy Heruka, he should meditate on every syllable of the mantra, identifying himself with the god of the ritual so as to become a dyad, i.e., a form both feminine and masculine. ~Carl Jung, Psychology of Yoga Meditation, Page 61-69