Psychology of Yoga and Meditation

1939 23 JUNE Lecture 9 Psychology and Yoga Meditation

Some questions have come in.

The first question I received asks where one can look up the Upanishads.

The best and most comprehensive translation is really Deussen’s.

I brought the large copy with me to show you.

One question concerned the citation references, and I will give the information to the person asking if they will please speak with me after the lecture.

The other question relates to the difference between the Eastern and Western attitudes of mind.

I have only touched on this question and won’t address it in detail.

That would be a chapter in its own right, but one that remains quite unresolved.

The ultimate differences still escape us, for one would have to know both the East and the West intimately.

However, very few can now compare Eastern and Western psychologies, when there is such widespread ignorance of psychological matters.

I myself was not there for long enough to present anything exhaustive to you.

All I have are certain impressions; I can’t answer this question in any depth.

I simply want to observe that we must register the fact that a difference exists.

The Eastern attitude of mind simply diverges from the Western one, and it would be quite another task to establish precisely the nature of the difference.

There we hit upon great difficulties.

I have mentioned some of them, but I prefer to present the materials to you.

I presented certain aspects of the Eastern attitude of mind last semester.

This semester we will take up the West, and I shall explore an especially typical item with you.

Then, if you compare it with the impressions you formed about the East, you will already have formed a picture of this extraordinary distinctiveness, so that you can draw your own conclusions.

I have been asked what, then, is the specific cause of the West’s having a completely different attitude from the East.

That is very hard to say; I can only speculate about it.

But I make no bones about it; I can say what I know with some justification, but I must not indulge in too many hypotheses.

In India, we are dealing with an ancient culture.

The excavations of Mohendjo Daro and Harappa demonstrate this.

Over the last few years these two ancient sites, which date back to the third and fourth millennia BC, have been excavated by the British.

This is an uncommonly advanced civilization, and typically Indian.

They have found cylinder seals there, depicting divine figures, e.g., Shiva, which one had long assumed had made their way into India via the Aryan invasion; or people in yoga positions, leading to the conclusion that yoga is immeasurably ancient.

The same applies to the major Indian gods, which of course evolved after the Aryan

invasion.

Possibly, new gods were added to them, but, whatever, the Aryan invasion did not

signify for India what has long been assumed.

The invading tribes were probably barbarian and were assimilated into the pre-existing Dravidic civilization, which, for its part, had also contributed to this long cultural formation.

In any case, this did not interrupt India’s spiritual development, which would be unlikely in this incredibly large continent.

The same holds for China.

Whatever makes its way into the country is assimilated over centuries, and eventually

there are 400 million Chinese, and then it partly vanishes, and it’s the same in India.

Over and over again, another Delhi evolves.

Upon the five ruins of the past, over and over again new Delhis emerged and new cities were founded.

The English founded New Delhi.

We shouldn’t be surprised if, in 500 years, the ruins of the Congress building and the Viceroy’s Palace were venerated as relics of ancient English civilization, just as the Mogul ruins are today.

India has an incredible continuity.

Its gods and the basic philosophy of yoga are maybe 6000 years old, and the Hindu religion as we know it today carries within itself the roots of a primeval, primitive religion.

It has truly grown up out of its roots.

This is the classic difference between the East and the West.

By the West, I mean the part of Europe in which we live.

These are the Germanic peoples who were still absolute barbarians around 1500 years ago.

They had a civilization, not a primitive one, but quite barbaric.

Even when they began to have contact with the Romans, they were still completely barbaric.

As you know, through this encounter with high Roman culture, Christianity spread throughout the Germanic territories and fundamentally modified a primitive polytheism that, not yet theistic but still in the stage of demonism, was obliterated by it except for a few traces.

That never happened in India.

An Indian god has never been obliterated, but instead, from the very beginning religion evolved peacefully and sequentially.

It emerged out of the primitive stage.

The direction of travel went from demonism and polytheism over into a more highly

evolved type of monotheism, which then moved into a philosophical perspective as shown by the Brahman, purusha, Prajâpati, âtman.

These stages all exist in India alongside each other.

Just as tribes of people exist in India who still wear no clothes but alongside them are highly differentiated, cultured people.

The whole of nature has grown along with the Indian. They have developed and differentiated themselves.

For us in the West, however, Christianity spread through Rome’s political power, and as the religion of the conquerors it was obviously and immediately mimicked by the simpler tribes, minus any psychological preparation for it that would let them accept and understand it.

That is why we have the so-called Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire, during which Germanic Christianity was hardly visible, apart from certain external forms.

Perhaps, for example, you know the history of the St. Gallen cloister.

At the time of Ekkehard or Notker, a relatively high culture prevailed there.

They could write Latin, knew Greek, but after 200 years not even the abbots could write any more.

They only bore the sword.

The whole native spiritual development and its predisposition to polytheism was simply

interrupted in the Germanic soul, and even obliterated to its very root, and then Christianity was grafted upon this root.

And this caused a few convulsions because it was not a natural process

and was not accepted out of conviction.

One did not accept Christianity out of an inner understanding, but because it was the religion of the Roman legionnaires.

Just as today in Africa where the district commissioner’s machine gun is identified with the teaching of the missionaries.

One dared not speak of spirits, demons, and amulets with them because that did not

concur with the language of the missionaries.

But the missionary is identified with the rifle that the district commissioner has at his disposal, and one must believe it or be shot.

It was the same in Britain.

We have evidence that it yielded to Christianity because it had a terror of the Roman military. Just as is happening today in Africa.

But as I saw with my own eyes, these missionary pupils understand absolutely nothing of Christianity.

This is all for show and counterfeit.

Probably sometimes there are exceptions, but the effect by and large is dubious.

I saw something similar with the Pueblo Indians.

Some tribes have been Christian for three hundred years.

They are baptized Christians bearing Christian names alongside the Pueblo Indian

ones.

When they baptize a child they do it according to Catholic rites.

The priest comes every two months there.

The mass is said. They find this wonderful, and when I asked them: “What do you make of this?,” they answered that he speaks about a certain Jesus: “We don’t understand this, but it is very beautiful.”

When someone is buried it is done according to Catholic rites with proper blessings, and then the Indian rites are carried out and then they are correctly sent off.

And then we find the snake dances in church, and thus the church is drawn into the Indian rituals.

That is how they understand Christianity.

Christianity is in fact the ripe blossom of Hellenic syncretism.

That is where its roots are to be found, but they are never mentioned in this context.

And so this highly differentiated religion is now unloaded onto a barbarian tribe, and they are supposed to believe in it.

They can do nothing but accept it, yet they cannot understand it.

That is what happened to the Germanic people.

They submitted to this truth through colossal effort and self-discipline, but with a colossal resentment that has endured for centuries.

Now we are seeing the fruits, now the resentment is coming into the light of day, to tear down the church in every Protestant country, as this is likely what is in the psyche to do.

For example, in the Nordic countries, which are completely Protestant: if they had lost the war like the Germans, the moment would have already arrived for them when they would leap out of the church.

What is ancient for them is still there, such as the runic stones and megalithic tombs.

If the Nordic countries had been subjected to the same social crisis as Germany, you would have seen much the same thing happen.

On the whole, the Reformation was precipitated by such unrest.

The people did not feel comfortable in the Pax Romana of the Church.

They want something else, something more.

Protestantism split into four hundred denominations, movements, with no trace of unity.

You can hardly speak of a Protestant church today.

It has no center, one person preaches this, the other that, everyone preaches whatever they want.

This is caused by an inner unrest, but it is out of this that renewal emerges.

This is no accident, and I am not saying that itcought to go this way or that way, I am only confirming facts.

That is why, when something goes awry in this Europe of ours, it is the Protestant countries which bring it to light.

They return to barbarism because their resentment against the Christianity that was superimposed on them is still warm in the background.

From this psychological situation, you can understand what the characteristics of the West are. For us, the whole religious question is never a natural process, it does not grow naturally, but one must make an incredible effort.

When a young man says to his spiritual adviser: “I can’t believe this or that,” and he says, “You must believe,” then I ask myself: How can one say such a thing?

I can believe because I know something, but if I do not know something, then I simply cannot believe it.

Faith is a grace I have never had. Either I know something, or I don’t know it.

A religious fact must be an experience; belief is not an experience.

One can believe everything if it is given to one to do so. In fact, faith is only a makeshift.

The word “faith” in Greek is “pistis,” namely, to be faithful to something, reliability, loyal action.

One has “pistis” to something that one has experienced.

When Paul had his vision of Christ on the road to Damascus, he stood by it firmly, and he had to champion it.

If, however, Christ had not appeared to him and he had believed it all the same, then he could have had no “pistis.”

E ither it is lived experience, or it is absolutely nothing. I stand for the perspective of lived experience.

This is radical, but the only ones who can believe are the ones who have the charism of faith.

That is our situation. Perhaps competent people can create it for themselves.

Because it certainly isn’t bestowed upon one. This is why one must strive.

You will see these strivings in my further explorations of the Exercitia Spiritualia.

There you will see what kind of preposterous moral effort it takes to produce a religious attitude.

In the East, this is nature. Like flowers and animals. They obey the law of God as flowers do.

Religion is everything, except an effort, and if it is an effort it is natural.

When one observes a yogi doing his religious gymnastics or some sort of devotional practice in the inner temple, there is no struggle to believe nor any moral conflict in it.

It is done naturally, he stretches out like a cat.

People make the most unnatural of things completely natural; you see this all over the East.

That is why religion there has something colorful, natural, and joyful about it.

With us on the other hand, it is a terribly sad affair. Just think—the church is teeming with graves.

One prays at the house of the spirits. Everything is black, whereas there, everything is fresh and in the most

amazing colors.

The walls of the temple are painted red and white like the awning of a refreshment room.

Enchanting things take place there; charming girls dance in the center of the temple.

Music is played. All worldliness and sensuality is included in religious practice, completely different from what we do.

For us, a part of natural development has been sawn off.

In my opinion, this is one of the most important reasons for our peculiar Western mentality, which one simply doesn’t encounter anywhere else.

It is possible that today’s negroes will show a similar resentment since, due to the influence of the West, they are now completely alienated from their roots.

For example, with the American negroes, if they have succeeded in taking on the Christian religion, then out of this will grow African resentments wherever negroes are

actually among their own kind.

That is also the case with the voodoo cult in Haiti, a true fetish cult about which some interesting books have been written.

These are entirely necessary regressions.

By the way, when they have truly accepted it, Christianity in the Black churches is

quite sincere and profound, and incredibly lively in character.

The Negro spirituals are marvelous religious hymns, which are perhaps the liveliest religious expression known to us.

This singing is the sign of the tension between, on the one hand, the demands of a higher culture to which they are unequal, and on the other hand a complete primitivity.

These are the essential differences.

In the West, we find the same naturalness and flowering of the religious spirit as in the East among the Pueblo Indians in Arizona and New Mexico.

Their attitude is quite similar to that of the Far East.

But there is also an uninterrupted continuity of spiritual development among the primitives who still have their rituals and for whom the Christian watershed has not yet prevailed within the existing tribes.

If this did occur, the same problem of alienation from one’s roots would emerge from it.

That is, if these tribes even have the time to undergo this development.

In America they have mostly died out from the effort—something that did not happen to the Germans with their fabled fertility. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Yoga Meditation, Page 254-262