1939 26 MAY Lecture 5 Psychology and Meditation Yoga
We began with a discussion of individual lines in Patañjali’s Yoga Sûtra.
In them I tried to highlight the line of reasoning that we had already encountered in the symbolic series, but which is approached from a certain different perspective, namely from the standpoint of the so-called sâmkhya (or also Upanishad) philosophy.
This chiefly concerns the idea of the Self, the question of the Self’s relationship to consciousness, and the concept of that ultimate state, which I have described to you as the dissolution of consciousness.
The line I read out to you last time concerns the question of technique, the psychological technique of dissolving the Self from the psychic systems, mainly from consciousness.
I want to read this section to you again. We will dissect it into parts. It is exceptionally difficult:
Worldly experience is caused by a failure to differentiate between the lucid quality [sattvaguna] of nature [prakriti] and the spirit [purusha].
From perfect discipline of the distinction between spirit as the subject of itself and the lucid quality of nature as a dependent object, one gains knowledge of the spirit. [YS 3.35, p. 68]
If the concepts one has of sattvam and purusha are not differentiated, then a certain psychic state arises out of this, which Deussen translates as the “world’s pleasure” and Hauer as “eating the world.”
Before we can understand this line, we must know what is meant by the terms sattvam and purusha.
I wrote up for you last time the three gunas to which sattvam belongs.
Deussen uses the term “factor,” while Garbe, who is particularly at home in Sanskrit literature, uses the expression “constituents.”
In fact, it is impossible to properly translate the expression guna. I prefer not to translate it at all.
The three gunas are: sattvam, rajas, and tamas. Sattvam has the meaning of brightness, light, directed upwards; thus a state.
Tamas is the opposite: the dark, darkness, heavy, also a state. These are obviously opposites.
Rajas is in-between, being dissatisfaction, energizing, because energy resides in dissatisfaction. This is something dynamic.
The dynamic emerges from opposites.
There are opposites, and wherever those are present, there is energy, the unifying process.
Wherever hard and soft, cold and warm, low and high collide, energy is the result, a propulsive force.
This is a compensatory process.
I believe that it is very difficult to give a fitting translation without psychological understanding.
I can use the term “constituents” because you will repeatedly encounter it in the literature.
In translations of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ only the word guna is used.
There, in Krishna’s teaching, we learn what liberation from the gunas means.
Our text says that one must discriminate between the concept of the sattvam and purusha—i.e., what is bright, light, easy—from the Self. In his text Yoga als Heilweg [Yoga as a path of healing], Hauer translates sattvam as “luminous world substance.”
So, more than substance, a sort of ether. Therefore sattvam is translated as ethereal body, but only in a figurative sense.
Here the idea is that normally one cannot discriminate between this luminous substance and the purusha.
Purusha is a very ancient description for what Deussen describes as the “subject of knowledge, liberated from everything objective.”
I am not certain whether this expression is appropriate, that is, I have my doubts about it.
Because it expresses logically something absolutely alien to the spirit of the East.
The Eastern spirit does not engage in logic, it is perceptual and intuitive.
Purusha is better rendered as primal man, man of light, phôteinós or luminosum. That would be closer to it.
We have a number of similar ideas in the West: the mystical Christ is a purusha, or Christ as the second Adam, an ancient Christian proposition—that is purusha: Adam is in every man in his primary form as a sensory phenomenon, and appears in a secondary form as a man of light, in the so-called redemptive form.
In this line Patañjali is attempting to formulate the fact that while one does not differentiate between sattvam and the concept of the purusha, all the same one must make this differentiation. Which raises the important question: what is sattvam?
How can we understand this psychologically?
To do so, we must understand more precisely what this sattvam represents in Indian philosophy.
I am adding a further concept to all this: aside from the purusha, the primal man or man of light, there is a further, feminine principle: the so-called prakriti.
This is nature or matter, the material phenomenon, also described as Shakti in another context.
This is materia, the mater natura. In Tibetan and Tantric mythology, Shakti is always represented in an intimate embrace with Shiva, the creator of the world, also corresponding to the purusha.
The purusha is always said to be combined with the prakriti, so they are together like a drop of water upon a lotus leaf, where it famously retains its round form and does not moisten the lotus leaf.
In this case it is not one with the phenomenon but is quite outside of it.
When the purusha is combined with the prakriti, which is always the case, it serves the sattvam as a lamp in the darkness.
If it comes down into matter, it is sort of in its own darkening.
In Manichean thought, this means the man of light being drawn down into the demonic abyss of the world.
It is like the descent of Nous who is desired by Physis. Nous gazes down into the darkness and glimpses his reflection.
Attracted by this, the loving arms of Physis reach him, entwining him and pulling him down.
It cannot be ruled out that these gnostic ideas were associated with India, as there was some traffic with the Near East from ancient times.
It was not only material goods but also spiritual ones that made their way to the West via the trade routes across the Red Sea.
Hence the various similarities in Indian and Greek mythology, e.g., with Pythagoras or Apollonius of Tyana, who is supposed to have made a great journey to India to explore the mysteries there.
These developments of spiritual connections are probably historical.
So when the purusha has come down into the darkness of the prakriti and then serves as a lamp to the sattvam, this is obviously a description of the unrecognized Self within man, who employs consciousness in order to orient himself in the darkness of his world.
So we can say that this sattvam is a luminous psychic substance. It is the dim light of human consciousness.
It functions in a similar way as the cittam in the later parts of the Yoga Sûtram.
This concept is mostly translated as consciousness, corresponding to what we would translate as an active state of consciousness.
This is not only passive awareness but an active achievement that causes us to grow tired and that we must interrupt from time to time with sleep because it is exhausting work to remain conscious.
That is why most people are not always completely conscious, in order to conserve energy.
Primitives must be consciously unconscious, having to sit still for hours in order not to think, although they do not sleep.
So when the purusha, this man of light, is located in the prakriti, it is not unitary but multiple.
When it enters into material phenomena it splits into very many different figures.
So in one text it is called the “twenty-fifth.” Again, this is extremely peculiar.
The description simply says:
the purusha is in the state of interwovenness with materia. Then he is the twenty-fifth, that is, he is one of twenty-five likenesses.
As one who is bound, he is called the twenty-fifth, but as the twenty-sixth, he is free and is one.
When he is freed from the manifold state, he returns to his original unity and is simply always the unity of the many, whether he is in the bound state or not.
The unity is then simply latent, that is, it depends on our perspective as to whether we regard the purusha as a multiplicity or as a unity.
It is the one Self in every individual where this Self is apparently distinct.
This multiplicity is portrayed in a Chinese text: The yogi sits in meditation [dhyâna] and five figures arise like smoke out of his head, who in turn also split into another five figures.
This is the knowledge of the splitting of the purusha into many figures.
The unity of the purusha is an intuition in Eastern meditation about the nature of man.
It is understood that all are only one and that the Self of man, despite all differences, is only ever the one.
We find this idea in the philosophy of the Upanishads in the concept of the âtman.
This is the Self of the personality.
The person (purusha), not larger than a thumb, dwelling within, always dwelling in the heart of man, is perceived by the heart, the thought, the mind; they who know it become immortal.
The person (purusha) with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet, having compassed the earth on every side, extends beyond it by ten fingers’ breadth.
At the same time, it is simply the general being of the world.
So the purusha is also the individual being, but at the same time the mahâ-purusha, i.e., the great soul of the world, exactly like the âtman.
The idea of sâmkhya philosophy is that the purusha is always connected to matter.
This state is described as samyoga (being yoked together, connected, fettered, bound).
Without this connection with the purusha, the prakriti is absolutely inactive.
It unfolds under the influence of, and the causal connection with, the purusha, the man of light. Out of this arises the so-called samsâra.
This is the result of births, the cycle of existences in which the prakriti unfolds.
The purpose of this unfolding in samsâra is to transmit self-knowledge to the purusha through the fullness of phenomena.
This is why the prakriti is also portrayed as a female dancer who reflects the fullness of the world, and dances before the purusha so that the purusha can acquire self-awareness out of this fullness.
Despite its necessary unconnectedness, the prakriti is linked with the purusha by a bridge.
The idea of the bridge is probably a concession to understanding.
One could of course not imagine this enormous paradox of combined disparateness.
It is incredibly difficult for people to think paradoxically. But such ideas are always necessarily paradoxical.
That is why one seeks mediating ideas that mitigate this paradox, and create a bridge between the irreconcilable opposites of the prakriti and the purusha.
The connecting link is now thought of as the subtle body, a finely ethereal body, which the purusha forms with the elements of the prakriti around the sattvam.
This linking body is described as lingam. The word is also used for phallic symbols and actually means appendage, marker, label.
Any sort of marker that describes something, that is lingam.
A special description is then linga-deha, i.e., the classic description for the subtle body, that is, the symbol of the inconceivable purusha plus prakriti, which is then pure and substantially concrete.
Between them stands the lingam as bridge within this psychic body, a half-substantial and half-spiritual phenomenon.
Such is the ancient division harmonic with the Eastern way of seeing, and familiar to us in the West as well: prakriti, which is the body, purusha, which is the spirit; and linga-deha, the subtle body or the psyche, inclusive of consciousness.
The concept of the purusha is related to all central Brahmanic ideas.
So, in many places the purusha is identical with the concept of the Brahman, of the absolute being.
Here is how one of the Upanishads puts it:
Now that golden person, who is seen within the sun, with golden beard and golden hair, golden altogether to the very tips of his nails, Whose eyes are like blue lotus’s, his name is ut, for he has risen [udita] above all evil. He who knows this also rises above all evil.
Rik and Sâman are his joints, and therefore he is udgîtha.
And therefore he who praises him [the ut] is called the Ud-gâtri [the out-singer].
He [the golden person, called ut] is lord of the worlds beyond that [sun], and of all the wishes of the Devas [inhabiting those worlds].
The sun is symbol for Brahman. It is a typical perspective that the gods are also seen as prakriti.
Man, perceived in the innermost eye, rules over the gods:
Now the person who is seen in the eye, he is Rik, he is Sâman, Uktha, Yagus, Brahman.
The form of that person [in the eye] is the same as the form of the other person [in the sun], the joints of the one [Rik and Sâman] are the joints of the other, the name of the one [ut] is the name of the other.
He is lord of the worlds below that [the self in the eye], and of all the wishes of men.
Therefore all who sing to the vînâ [lyre], sing him, and from him also they obtain wealth.
This constitutes a reversal. First, in the innermost of the sun, and now in the innermost of the eye.
Reflected in the so-called pupilla, you see the small human form.
The observer sees himself in the eye, in the pupil, of the other.
Pupilla is a diminutive and simply means “little doll,” thus a small human figure seen in the eye.
This used to be naively conceived of as a soul image.
Thus, the personal and suprapersonal Brahman is both the soul of the world and the individual soul.
In another text, the purusha is compared with Prajâpati: on the one hand, he is the wheel of the world order in heaven, where the days and nights stand as sons, and on the other hand is the lower sphere, where he is the world-illuminating sacrificial fire.
He is the year and the sacrifice at the same time.
In Vedic thought the cosmic celestial world order is reflected in the earthly ritual world order, and specifically in the order of the sacrifice.
In our Western religious practices, we also have the affiliation of time qualities with particular festivals.
Originally these were nature rites oriented on what happens in the heavens.
People used to live in an absolute participation mystique: for example, the Mexican Pueblos are still convinced today that the sun cannot rise if they do not perform rites to facilitate that.
The leader of a tribe once wrote that Americans should cease their destructiveness because otherwise they would find that in ten years the sun would no longer rise.
For they, the sons of the sun, are responsible for the rising of the sun.
It is the same with Rostand’s Chantecler, who believed that the sun would rise only because he crowed.
Someone made a bet with him that the sun would still rise, but in the last moment he crowed again, and the question was not settled.
However, this is not a ridiculous notion but a very clear mythical residue of that time when our consciousness was still absolutely captivated by objects and incapable of elevating itself in any way above objective events, where man found himself in a participation mystique and was
unconsciously still identified with the whole of nature, as Lévy-Bruhl said, because that inhered in the quality of time.
With such incorporation of time into nature, one could do only one thing and nothing else.
This idea underlies the whole of astrology.
In the healing arts one has it in sympathetic cures and methods, and in the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages it was the correspondentia: as above, so below.
Man is himself a cosmos: he is the microcosm and the world is the macrocosm.
So the whole of human experience was seen in man’s own passage of time, in his most routine actions as an expression of the course of nature.
Absolute identification with the course of nature: such was the experience that people of this time discovered and then incorporated into ritual.
This primal state was the ordered, lawful state, and if man were to cease living and acting in accordance with nature, or stop being born and dying, then nature would be chaotic.
At the moment where consciousness separated from the natural course of events, disorder came into the world; even though now we still imagine that we possess far more order, this is order created by people, not by nature.
So the idea of the purusha in the form of Prajâpati is likewise the year, or time itself and the ritual order of life:
Prajâpati bethought himself, “Verily, I have created here a counterpart of myself, to wit, the year”; whence they say, “Prajâpati is the year;” for he created it to be a counterpart of himself:
Prajâpati pondered: verily I have created the year as the image of myself.
And in that he gave his own Self to the gods, he created the sacrifice as the image of himself.
Having given himself up to the gods, he created that counterpart of himself, to wit, the sacrifice: whence people say, “The sacrifice is Prajâpati”; for he created it as a counterpart of himself.
He himself is time, therefore Prajâpati also bears the name time.
Through the operation of sacrifice and through Prajâpati’s self-surrender to the gods, he created the sacrifice as an image of himself.
And now: the gods belong to phenomena, to mâyâ.
Because he has surrendered himself to phenomena, i.e., to the world, therewith he created the sacrificial fire, the luminous, illuminating sacrificial fire upon the earth.
This is purusha. In the ritual action lies the action of primitive man.
You find this with quite primitive people such as the Palaeolithic aboriginal people of Australia.
There, the aboriginal peoples from primordial time are great-grandfathers who created the whole of nature, from whom the trees, plants, and animals originate that made the world.
These ancestors, described by Lévy Bruhl as archetypes, are reiterated in the ritual lives of these tribes. year a certain ceremony must be conducted so that the grass grows, the streams flow, so that the rains come.
And it is their view that if these ritual actions are not carried out, the cosmic order would cease.
Then the grass would no longer grow, no more rain would fall, man is no longer connected with primordial time.
He is now only in his own time but cut off from primordial time.
This primordial time is the time that existed before time. It is the time that is always there when we have time.
It is eternal time, which runs alongside our time.
The word for this is altjiranga mitjina.
Aira is the dream, the unconscious; it is also the place beyond, in which the ancestors, the primeval men live.
Prajâpati is in fact a time that has world-creating significance.
If we want to express this in a modern way, then it is Bergson’s durée créatrice.
This is in fact the only intuition in the whole of Bergson’s philosophy, and with it he discovered what Proclus had already said: wherever there
is creation, there is also time.
The god of the Neoplatonists was called Chronos. He was a god of fire, light, and time.
Equally, he was the first cause of all things, therefore the creator of the world, the demiurge. It is the same in gnosticism.
There, the creator of the world has the name Abraxas.
If we insert the numeric value of the letters of the word “Abraxas” in Greek, is the result: the creative cycle, the course of the years.
This idea also plays a great role in the Mithraic mysteries.
The Mithraic temple on the Saalburg has an Aion, which is the unendingly long duration.
This comes from the Persian: Zurvan Akarâna. Aion was represented as a dragon with a lion’s head.
This idea of the purusha reaches back into the very beginnings of human thought and represents an identification with nature which has long since become foreign to us. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Yoga Meditation, Page 219-228