Churning the Milky Ocean:
Poison and Nectar in Carl Jung’s India
Al Collins and Elaine Molchanov
The spirit of the East is penetrating through all pores and reaching the most vulnerable parts of Europe. It could be a dangerous infection, but perhaps also a remedy. (C.G. Jung, “In Memory of Richard Wilhelm,” 1930)
I’m afraid this supreme consciousness is at least not one we could possess. Inasmuch as it exists, we do not exist. (C. G. Jung, letter to V. Subrahmanya Iyer, 1938)
I started in profound fright, and awoke with the thought, “Aha, so he is the one who is meditating me. He has a dream, and I am it.” I knew that when he awakened, I would no longer be. (C. G. Jung, dream from 1944 recounted in Memories, Dreams, Reflections)
Murray Stein has retold the story of Carl Jung’s encounter with Chinese culture, intertwining biographical and theoretical perspectives.
Here we will attempt something similar for Jung’s more fraught relationship with India which developed in parallel with the Chinese—and often entangled with it, as the Orientalist culture of his times lumped them together under the rubric of “the East.”
To summarize Stein, while Jung already had a degree of interest in China prior to 1928 when Richard Wilhelm sent him an alchemical work called “The Secret of the Golden Flower,” it was the serendipity of receiving this text just after he had painted a Chinese “castle” seen from above that sparked his intense involvement with Chinese thought.
Jung realized that his painting expressed a circulation of life energies similar to descriptions in the “Golden Flower.”
It was what he would later call a “mandala,” adopting an Indian, Sanskrit term for a symbol of psychic wholeness or transformation.
Although his early works (1912, 1921) already refer to Lao Tse and the concept of a subtle balance in things named the tao (which Jung compares with the similar Indian concept of ṛta, “cosmic order”), the idea of “synchronicity”—Jung’s most important Chinese discovery—developed out of his study and experience of the “Golden Flower” and later the I Ching (“Book of Changes”) as he reencountered it through Wilhelm’s translation and commentary (1931).
It was characteristic of Jung that significant events in his life (the receipt of the text from Wilhelm and the near-simultaneous mandala painting) led to developments in his thought. A similar pattern is present with India, as this paper will attempt to demonstrate.
The nexus of person and theory in Jung’s encounter with Indian culture, however, is much more convoluted than with China and marked by an intense ambivalence, even antipathy, toward what Jung took to be India’s denial of the significance of human individuality and the value of the ego.
Even so, we believe that Indian ideas penetrated at least as deeply into Jung’s thinking, and ultimately into his sense of his own nature, as did the Chinese. Ironically, it was precisely where Jung felt the greatest threat from India that his ideas and life were most deeply stimulated by it: at the very heart of his theory, in the symbol and experience of an ego-transcending self.
The relationship between limited and inclusive selves lies at the center of Jung’s theory.
It is also an essential issue for Indian thought, where it has stimulated creative controversy for twenty-five hundred years.
In the end, while Jung’s self and India’s are very different, their encounter has thrown off sparks of creativity that still offer the potential for future insights into selfhood and consciousness.
Before the mature interest in India which we will explore in this paper, Jung as a child of perhaps four or five became fascinated with picture book images of the Indian gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Śiva.
Jung’s mother “later told me that I always returned to these pictures. Whenever I did so, I had an obscure feeling of their affinity with my ‘original revelation’.”
Jung is here referring to his famous first dream, at the age of almost four, of entering a subterranean chamber with a golden throne on which stood a 12-15 foot tall “ritual phallus.”
Jung’s mother’s voice entered the dream, saying, “Yes just look at him. That is the man-eater!” 
The fear and awe that Jung as a child felt before the numinous power of this image are repeated in some of his later life responses to Indian images from his reading and in his dreams.
Noteworthy is the similarity of the central image in Jung’s dream to the Indian symbol of the Śiva lingam (a stylized erect phallus of the god set in the vagina of the goddess, sometimes, but often not, obviously phallic).
Would perusal of late 19th century picture books reveal images of an “aniconic” Śiva lingam, not recognized as a sexual organ by the authors of exotic works for European children, amid photographs and drawings of the colorful divinities of Hinduism?
We will identify three basic strands or stages in Jung’s adult relationship to India, with the aim of finding “a model for conceptualizing the whole of it.” First, as a relatively young man Jung was exposed to Asian thought through his general and university culture. He possessed the 50 volumes of English translations of Asian classics edited by Max Muller in the 1880s and 1890s as The Sacred Books of the East. At least four of his Red Book paintings were inspired by texts from early India that he may have read in volumes of the SBE, and on the margins of another he quotes from the Bhagavad Gita. As a late participant in German Romanticism and the “volkisch” thought that grew from it, Jung also shared the fascination India held for the Schlegels, Goethe, Hegel, and especially Schopenhauer. As Jung says, “[Indian] ideas found a powerful spokesman through the genius of Schopenhauer and became intimately wedded to the Germanic mind, never again to depart from it.” Biblical and classical philology, pillars of the German university, had expanded in the nineteenth century to include other Indo-European (IE) languages and literatures, and Sanskrit trumped even Greek and Latin as the oldest and (in the Vedic hymns and Upanishads) noblest member of the IE family tree. The science of culture that developed into cultural anthropology and history of religions around this time inevitably focused on India, and theorists as diverse as Durkheim, Weber, Frazer, Bachofen, Marx, and the Grimm brothers had studied Indian civilization, culture, and ideas. The European attraction to India blossomed in the occult and Theosophical movements from the late 1800s on, and the fascination with Indian figures such as Tagore and Ramakrishna was strong a little later. India was culturally very much in the air during Jung’s intellectually formative years and through the 1920s, though it was primarily the early period of Indian thought that was of interest to him because this was the phase closest to German linguistic and cultural roots. In Jung’s young adulthood, then, it is the Vedas, early Buddhism, and Schopenhauer’s beloved Upanishads that appear most often, not the “yoga” and tantra that he became interested in later, and which are associated with his dialogues with Heinrich Zimmer and J. W. Hauer.
The second phase of Jung’s interest in India is most evident during the years leading up to and immediately after his visit to India in 1937-1938, for example in the seminars on Kundalini yoga he gave with J.W. Hauer in 1932 (preceded by lectures in 1930-1931) and following S. N. Dasgupta on the Patanjali Yoga Sūtra in 1939. Carl Jung’s most characteristic response to Indian religion during this middle period (his usual term is “yoga” even when the focus is on what is usually termed “tantra”) was to use its psychophysiological imagery as a parallel to, and stimulus for developing his own thinking, while warning Westerners against practicing it literally, especially its later and higher stages. Yoga, he tells us, “aims at controlling [the] forces that fetter human beings to the world,” and in the end leads to “evaporating on a gazelle skin under a dusty banyan tree and ending [one’s] days in nameless non-being.” Approached wrongly, Indian thought is “poison” for Europeans. While dangerous for Westerners to enact, however, Jung still found the Indian tradition to be a royal road for thinking about depth psychology, and continued to use the insights he had gained from Indian texts during prior years as he prepared for and endured the psychospiritual adventures recalled in the Red Book. Perhaps his most groundbreaking early work, Psychological Types (1921), would be unthinkable without the Indian materials and ideas it contains. Yoga and the Indian religious culture from which—and into which—it grew were fundamental for Jung’s discovery and development around this time of some of his most basic concepts: the purposive flow of psychic energy (libido) that matured into the idea of individuation, the transcendent function, the symbol, and ultimately the self and its representation in mandalas.
In Jung’s later life, intermixed with continued warnings against yoga, he had crucial dreams and insights that point toward a third approach to India, a development in his thinking that Jung himself was never quite able to articulate clearly or hold, but which remains as a potential source of vitality for future depth psychology. It also parallels and even underlies his final burst of creative work, the alchemical self speculations and reinterpretation of Christianity as the “phenomenology of the self.” We will simply state the idea here, promising to provide a context and argument for it later: recalling his reading of the Upanisads, and inspired by dreams and memories of early experiences of his so-called “personality number two,” Jung began to realize that there can be consciousness outside the ego, and that ego consciousness merely reflects the higher awareness intrinsic to the self. Connecting this third aspect of Jung’s India involvement with the second or “yogic” phase is the image and experience of the “holy man” of India, and the related symbol of the guru, exemplified for Jung by the figure of Philemon, and in the psyches of Jung’s followers by the image of the sage of Bollingen himself.
India and the shadow, India and the individual
Given the impoṛtance to Jung’s thinking of Indian religious psychology, why did he warn his readers and patients so frequently and in such strong terms against practicing yoga, and why did he refuse to expose himself to it on a personal level during his visit to India? The dominant conscious rationale, repeated in a number of places over the years, was perhaps most clearly put in 1943.
Only the man who goes through this darkness [the personal unconscious and shadow] can hope to make any further progress. I am therefore in principle against the uncritical appropriation of yoga practices by Europeans, because I know only too well that they hope to avoid their own dark corners.
By 1921 Jung had come to the conclusion that yoga’s aim in its original context was a radical introversion of consciousness that led to an awareness of the deeper (or, in India’s case, putatively higher) layers of the psyche. This aim, Jung thought, might be appropriate for (at least some) Indians but not for Westerners because in India the opposition between consciousness and the personal unconscious is not as sharp as it is among Europeans. In Indians, yoga may legitimately be used to reach the deep (or higher) psyche; practiced by Westerners, it would lead to denial of the personal unconscious and shadow, and would likely produce “an artificial stultification of our . . . intelligence.” or “inhibit the natural growth and development of our own psychology.”
In the West, nothing ought to be forced on the unconscious. Usually, consciousness is characterized by an intensity and narrowness that have a cramping effect, and this ought not to be emphasized still further.
A second argument against yoga was that it represents a foreign way of life and that we Westerners belong to the culture and society in which we are organically and historically situated. To practice yoga seriously would amount to leading an artificial life that could never become native to us. Individuation, as Jung saw it, always involved becoming an individual within the vessel of one’s own tradition. Paradoxically, one cannot individuate outside a strong cultural context.
We maintain, however, that need to confront and integrate the shadow, and the requirement of loyalty to one’s culture of origin, were not Jung’s only or even main reasons for warning Westerners away from yoga. Jung protested so strongly against yoga because he believed it posed a danger to the ego and individuality itself. Jung’s previous investigations (1912, 1921) had found in yoga and Upanisadic speculations a potential for profound transformation of consciousness, and his later visions and dreams confirmed this. While in the end Jung had begun to recognize the value of this shift in perspective, he remained ambivalent, emphasizing the dangers of yoga and other forms of Indian meditation to the European psyche throughout his life.
Indians, Jung believed, did not split their ego consciousness from the personal shadow as much as Westerners do; indeed, they have less of both ego (and its attendant individuality) and shadow and so do not feel the same intense conflict between them as Westerners. Hence in doing yoga they can pass more directly to the collective unconscious and uncover the mandala of archetypes that underlies the conscious ego. Westerners must first integrate the split-off shadow and so create a mature ego capable of relating to the deep unconscious; Indians have the potential to transcend the ego directly, and reach the deep self beyond. The implication is that only Westerners can have a personal relationship to the archetypal psyche; only they can individuate. Indians (and to a large extent all non-Westerners) can only become the unconscious, not relate to it. The mark of the “primitive” for Jung was always the tendency to succumb to the “participation mystique;” the idea, appropriated from Levy-Bruhl, was that pre-civilized men identify with their unconscious powers rather than interact or dialogue with them as independent agents. In this sense, Jung considered Indians primitive.
Increasingly, Jung found a monotony in India and Indian thought that repelled him, and in one of his darkest meditations on this theme, “The holy men of India” written a few years after his 1938 trip to the subcontinent, he searched to find metaphors for the atmosphere of ego dissolution he believed to be the single secret of “holy men” like Ramana Maharshi, the sage celebrated by Jung’s friend Heinrich Zimmer whom Jung had been encouraged to visit in India. Jung compares the psyche of these sages to a “pleasant fragrance. . . everywhere the same,” an “effortless drone of argumentation so suited to the heat of southern India,” to the “gentle murmur of the coconut palms fanning themselves in the light sea wind,” and to the “shrilling of crickets on a summer’s night.” He finds a single theme endlessly repeated in the holy man’s teaching: “the drama of ahaṁkāra, the ‘I-maker’ or ego consciousness, in opposition and indissoluble bondage to the ātman, the self or non-ego.” This dialogue is too one-sidedly tilted toward the side of ātman to suit Jung, who insisted that the self, for Westerners, should be understood as “the essence of psychic wholeness, . . . the totality of conscious and unconscious.” The self is the “goal” and “subject matter” of “a process that. . . makes its presence felt only by a kind of long-range effect,”  in other words, through individuation across the life span. Indian thought, Jung concludes, leads to “a depreciation and abolition of the physical and psychic man (i.e., the living body and ahaṁkāra) in favor of the pneumatic [i.e., spiritual] man.” India wants to annihilate the ego and put in its place a one-sided and inflated “self” that may be no more than the product of a temporary mystical enthusiasm. Jung, to the contrary, seeks reflection and dialogue with the self as archetype of wholeness, a life-long process of individuation rather than a momentary enlightenment. The holy men in India are not individuals, Jung thought, but merely examples of a single type. To know one of them is to know them all, and separately or in mass Jung concluded that they had nothing more to teach him or his Western culture.
Put so starkly as an opposition between European persons and Indians, Jung’s position appears hopelessly outdated and colonialist. He implies that Indians (and elsewhere other non-Westerners) are naïve and childish, lacking the maturity and good sense of Europeans. They cannot engage in the psychological dialectic between ego (ahaṁkāra) and self that Jung thinks appropriate to normal adult life. Because of their psychological primitivity, Indians are prey to their “holy men” and easily fall into the role of “dumb fish” who bow their heads in submission to the guru. The opposition of passive “oriental” and active sahib is almost overt. Even so, the essential issue is not colonialism but rather how one should understand the self, regressively (as Jung sees what he takes to be the Indian position) or progressively, looking toward the fulfillment of one’s individual potential.
One of the central figures of Jung’s trip to India, and the only one he remembers by name in MDR, is Subrahmanya Iyer, whom Jung identifies as the guru of the Maharaja of Mysore. In letters exchanged after his return home, Jung debated Iyer on the subject of a putative consciousness beyond the ego. Counter to Iyer’s arguments, Jung concludes that this is impossible to conceive, because “if you eradicate the ego completely, there is nobody left that would consciously experience.” The ego must always be preserved for without it there is no possibility of relatedness and we float off, untethered to the earth.
Close to the end of his life Jung was approached by Arwind Vasavada, a middle-aged Indian psychologist who adopted the old man as his guru, and indeed “perfect Master.” Vasavada remained true to his Indian roots and convictions despite becoming a Jungian analyst and practicing for many years in India, Chicago, and Los Angeles. On meeting Jung at his home in Kusnacht, Vasavada lit camphor and performed the ceremony of arati, the offering of the devotee’s body and mind to the deity, in this case to his guru, Dr. Jung. Naturally Jung rejected the gift (one can only imagine his chagrin at such a prestation), and Vasavada reports that Jung sent him a blistering letter informing him that he did not understand his psychology. Only when Vasavada later visited Jung at Bollingen and told him a dream in which he was to take a baby Jung back to India did Jung write Vasavada a note, which he subsequently kept proudly framed on the wall beside his analytic chair, giving him the imprimatur of Jungian analyst. Before this, in 1954, Jung had written Vasavada another letter in which he makes even clearer the relationship, as he saw it, between ego and self. In reply to Vasavada’s paean to the transcendent ātman self, Jung replied:
Your standpoint seems to coincide with that of our medieval mystics, who tried to dissolve themselves in God. You seem to be interested in how to get back to the self, instead of looking for what the self wants you to do in the world, where—for the time being at least—we are located, presumably for a ceṛtain purpose. The universe does not seem to exist for the purpose of man denying or escaping it. Nobody can be more convinced of the impoṛtance of the self than me. But as a young man does not stay in his father’s house but goes out into the world, so I don’t look back to the self but collect it out of manifold experiences and put it together again. What I have left behind, seemingly lost, I meet in everything that comes my way and I collect it, reassembling it as it were. In order to get rid of opposites, I needs must accept them first, but this leads away from the self. . . . Although the self is my origin, it is also the goal of my quest. When it was my origin, I did not know myself, and when I did learn about myself, I did not know the self. I have to discover it in my actions, where first it reappears under strange masks. That is one of the reasons I must study symbolism, otherwise I risk not recognizing my own father and mother when I meet them again after many years of my absence.
The yogic attempt to regress into the self is essentially infantile and avoids life. Only when Vasavada’s dream convinced Jung that he intended to put his vision of Jungian-cum-Indian psychology into practice did he accept that his young devotee was up to the task of living a genuine life, with psychological work as its focus. Vasavada amply demonstrated this capability by interpreting Jung’s psychology in his own terms, for instance in adopting a novel fee-less practice in which he received money from analysands as a gift rather than a fixed charge, just as gurus in India accept a “dakshina” from disciples but do not send them a bill.
Holy men of India in Jung’s dreams and visions
During a coma-like state following his heart attack in 1944 Jung had visions that are somewhat differently recounted in Memories Dreams Reflections and in the “Protocols” to which Deidre Bair had access in writing her 2003 biography of Jung. Comparison of the two versions will shed light on Jung’s developing relationship to India and the self.
Bair: [Jung] experienced himself as floating in space high above the earth directly above Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Below he saw oceans, deep and blue, and the outlines of the Indian subcontinent.
He described his visions in detail in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, but he did not include “the other big caesura. . . and an enormously significant one” that he made much of in the Protocol manuscripts: his trip to India in 1938-1939 [sic]. He believed passionately that the two were the most impoṛtant experiences of his life. . . . The 1944 infarct affected him in ways resembling the amoebic dysentery, when he was engulfed with similar, but shorter, episodes of delirium.
Still, impressions from his Indian illness continued to interrupt, permeating these visions as if with an underlying imagery that determined their content. In one, he saw a dark block of stone as big as his Kusnacht house floating next to him in space. He remembered seeing such rocks off the coast of the Bay of Bengal, into which temples had been carved. Inside the visionary rock was a “completely black Indian in a white robe in lotus position,” seated in such silent repose that Jung knew the man was waiting for him. To get to this figure he had to climb a series of steps carved into the stone, similar to some he had seen at the temples in Kandy. They were framed by small oil lamps resembling a flaming wreath, a purifying essence through which he had to walk. He recognized the significance of what was happening:
I had a feeling as if I were shedding everything, or rather as if everything was being shed from me; everything that I believed or wished or thought was taken from me. . . it was an extremely painful process. I was aware of everything that I had experienced and done, everything that had happened around me. All that I had, it was with me now. I consisted of it, so to speak: I consisted of my story; I am this bunch of facts. It was a feeling of extreme poverty and at the same time of great contentment. . . . I was objective. I was what I had been.
Memories Dreams Reflections [Aniella Jaffe]: It seemed to me that I was high up in space. Far below I saw the globe of the earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light. I saw the deep blue sea and the continents. Far below my feet lay Ceylon, and in the distance ahead of me the subcontinent of India. . . .
Something new entered my field of vision. A short distance away I saw in space a tremendous dark block of stone, like a meteorite. It was about the size of my house, or even bigger. It was floating in space, and I myself was floating in space.
I had seen similar stones on the coast of the Gulf of Bengal. They were blocks of tawny granite, and some of them had been hollowed out into temples. My stone was one such gigantic dark block. An entrance led into a small antechamber. To the right of the entrance, a black Hindu sat silently in lotus posture upon a stone bench. He wore a white gown, and I knew that he expected me. Two steps led up to this antechamber, and inside, on the left, was the gate to the temple. Innumerable tiny niches, each with a saucer-like concavity filled with coconut oil and small burning wicks, surrounded the door with a wreath of bright flames. I had once actually seen this when I visited the Temple of the Holy Tooth at Kandy in Ceylon; the gate had been framed by several rows of burning oil lamps of this sort.
As I approached the steps leading up to the entrance into the rock, a strange thing happened: I had the feeling that everything was being sloughed away; everything I aimed at or wished for or thought, the whole phantasmagoria of earthly existence, fell away or was stripped from me—an extremely painful process. Nevertheless, something remained; it was as if I now carried along with me everything I had ever experienced or done, everything that had happened around me. I might also say: it was with me, and I was it. I consisted of all that, so to speak. I consisted of my own history, and I felt with great ceṛtainty: this is what I am. “I am this bundle of what has been, and what has been accomplished.”
This experience gave me a feeling of extreme poverty, but at the same time of great fullness. There was no longer anything I wanted or desired. I existed in an objective form; I was what I had been and lived. At first the sense of annihilation predominated, of having been stripped or pillaged; but suddenly that became of no consequence. Everything seemed to be past; what remained was fait accompli, without any reference back to what had been. There was no longer any regret that something had dropped away or been taken away. On the contrary: I had everything that I was, and that was everything.
The MDR account adds to the above a passage left out by Bair in which Jung was “to enter an illuminated room and would meet there all those people to whom I belong in reality” and “understand . . . what historical nexus I or my life fitted into.”
Bair’s claim, based on the Protocols, that Jung associated this heart attack vision (taking place in Europe but set in India) with his Indian dysentery dream (conversely set in Europe), is highly significant. Jung encounters here what is evidently a “holy man of India” who was “waiting for” or “expected” him. We are immediately reminded of Ramana Maharshi, whom Jung was invited by Heinrich Zimmer to meet in 1938, and Jung’s refusal to see him. Evidently the invitation, and expectation that Jung would eventually come, had remained open in Jung’s psyche.
Another experience of a yogi occurred around the same time, “after my illness in 1944.”
I was on a hiking trip. I was walking along a little road through a hilly landscape; the sun was shining and I had a wide view in all directions. Then I came to a small wayside chapel. The door was ajar, and I went in. To my surprise there was no Virgin on the altar, and no crucifix either, but only a wonderful flower arrangement. But then I saw that on the floor in front of the altar, facing me, sat a yogi—in lotus posture, in silent meditation. When I looked at him more closely, I realized that he had my face. I started in profound fright, and awoke with the thought, “Aha, so he is the one who is meditating me. He has a dream, and I am it.” I knew that when he awakened, I would no longer be.
Here again is the “holy man of India.” As Jung had long ago realized, the wise old man is often a symbol of the self, the wholeness of the personality. But this is no Philemon or Elijah. What is unique in the image of the Indian wise man that brought it so forcefully to his attention at the time of his 1944 heart attack?
Jung suggests the answer in reflecting on this dream, and another similar one near the end of his life where he discovered that UFOs were not “projections of ours” as he had thought. Now it turns out that “we are their projections. I am projected by the magic lantern as C.G. Jung.” As also in his childhood experience of sitting on a stone and wondering whether “I” am sitting on the stone or rather “I” am the stone being sat upon (and in the similar Chuang Tse story of the butterfly), Jung in these dreams and in the heart attack vision finds not just that the self is greater by far than the ego which it creates “for a specific purpose” but also that the self is a higher locus of consciousness than the ego. It turns out that the holy men of India were right all along. There is consciousness outside the ego, and this consciousness does not depend on the ego. In fact, when this higher awareness fully manifests, the ego may no longer be there.
Closer examination of the 1944 vision shows that Jung’s “holy man” is a Buddhist. This is suggested first by the fact that the rock temple floating in space reminded him of the Buddhist temple he had visited in Kandy, Sri Lanka. But the specifically Buddhist character of the experience lies deeper than that. A central aspect of Jung’s basic understanding of the psyche is that of psychological objectivity, the intrinsic “just-so-ness” of our life that is inseparable from our individuality and potential for individuation. This objectivity (Sanskrit tathātā) in Buddhism is the human personality viewed without grasping or selfish craving, as a bare fact not dependent on our wishes or projections. But this recognition of our fundamental limitation is intimately related to the realization of freedom and limitlessness that is nirvana. Jung discovered the same paradox.
Near the end of his life, Jung found that “The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not?” But for Jung this question comes with its opposite:
the feeling for the infinite, however, can be attained only if we are bounded to the utmost. . . . Our knowledge of our narrow confinement in the self forms the link to the limitlessness of the unconscious. In such awareness we experience ourselves concurrently as limited and eternal. . . . In knowing ourselves to be unique in our personal combination—that is, ultimately limited—we possess also the capacity for becoming conscious of the infinite. But only then!
In the Bair version of the 1944 vision Jung realizes his limited nature as nothing but a “bunch of facts,” rendered in MDR as a “bundle of what has been.” He no longer possesses himself or projects himself into the future, but simply is what he is, in an experience characterized by a sense of “annihilation” or “extreme poverty.” The terminology recalls the Theravada Buddhist analysis of human nature into five “bundles” (skandhas), none of them possessing a permanent self (atta). This is the limitation Jung speaks of later as necessary to the sense of the infinite. The infinite itself is suggested in the mandala of oil lamps surrounding the entrance to the temple and especially in the sense of “contentment” he feels on realizing his radical finitude, a sense of peace quite near to nirvana. Jung here reprises a central tenet of Buddhism: nirvana, or release into freedom, depends on realization of one’s bondage in the world of conditioned or determined karmic inevitability (pratītya-samutpāda, generally translated “conditioned origination”).
The overall tenor of the two accounts of Jung’s 1944 vision is subtly different. While both Jaffe and Bair portray a sense of emptiness that nevertheless reveals a residual “suchness” of personality, the Jaffe version of Jung’s experience emphasizes fullness or individuation, with more ego remaining. “This is what I am.” “I had everything that I was.” (our italics). Bair tells a more egoless, Buddhist, story, with the accent on Jung realizing what he is not now: “I was objective. I was what I had been.” In Jaffe, the annihilation of the initial portion of the vision is followed by a fullness. In Bair, the ego is emptier, closer to the holy man.
India in Symbols of Transformation, Liber Novus (the Red Book) and Psychological Types
Already in Symbols of Transformation (1912) Jung had made substantial use of early Indian materials; in Psychological Types (1921) his scholarship goes much further, revealing (in the years before Heinrich Zimmer and J. W. Hauer) many hours in the library and apparently in consultation with the Zurich Sanskrit scholar Emil Abegg. The time seems to have been well spent, as Jung’s reading of early Indian religious thought on the self (ātman, puruṣa), “life energy” (prāna), and cosmic law (ṛta) is put to use in the formulation of the essential conclusions of the book. In the Types as well as the Red Book (though less overtly in the latter), we will find strong anticipation of Jung’s later interest in yoga and the “holy men of India.” To appraise the impoṛtance of Jung’s Indian sources, to show how they were constitutive of his ideas on the psyche and not just instances of his “trawling,” as Deirdre Bair calls it, for “similarities to his own [ideas] and for examples to support [them]” will require a close look at how Jung interprets a few texts from the Upanisads and Vedas. Indian materials in Psychological Types are primarily found in the sections on Schiller (Chapter II) and especially “The Type Problem in Poetry” (Chapter V). Even closer scrutiny is needed for the Red Book, and only the beginning of an adequate interpretation of this protean project can be undeṛtaken here.
The Red Book
Liber Novus (the proper name of the leather-bound volume Jung and others generally referred to adjectivally as “the red book”) was the personal, esoteric source for ideas being formulated a little later in more public, exoteric form in Psychological Types, and while explicit references to India are almost absent from Liber Novus’s written text, many of its early paintings directly or indirectly refer to Indian themes. That India was on his mind during this time is explicitly noted in Jung’s unpublished dream book where he references “My intensive unconscious relation to India in the Red Book.” Jung’s relationship to India in Psychological Types and the Red Book therefore are best understood together.
A series of four paintings in the Red Book refer to Vedic Indian themes: 45, 54, 59, and 64. These paintings were done around 1917. In addition, Vedic references are found in Jung’s marginalia to pages 73 and 74 and a quotation from the Bhagavad Gita is appended in calligraphic style to the Philemon painting (page 154) done later, around 1925. Between pages 36 and 64 the theme of the written text is the transformation of the god image in the figure of Izdubar, a divinity of the ancient Middle East (Babylonia) related to Gilgamesh who also has Indian and Egyptian associations. Izdubar dies from the poison of modernity but is transformed through becoming a creative fantasy, a fate he initially resists. “Jung” (analogous to C.G. Jung’s “dream ego”) within the vision transforms Izdubar into an egg that he puts in his pocket after persuading or coercing the god to accept the status of a fantasy. The egg develops and a new god emerges, represented in Jung’s paintings by an eruption of fire, referred to in the caption as the Vedic fire god Agni (page 64). While the egg containing Izdubar is being incubated in “Jung’s” pocket, readying the embryo for rebirth, “Jung” is effectively his god’s mother. Jung finds this period analogous to the “night sea journey,” in Egyptian mythology, when the sun passes across the ocean from the west into the east (pages 55 and 64). When Izdubar emerges reborn, the new god image is celebrated in a series of ecstatic “Incantations” that Jay Sherry finds to be the psychological center of the Red Book. The Vedic paintings are located in the context of the Izdubar material, and to understand the crucial psychological development in Jung’s experience and thought between 1913 and 1921 it will help to look carefully at these images and their Indian references. The Izdubar theme develops into the figure of the divine child Phanes (page 113), a relative of Jung’s “guru” Philemon, who is himself, as Jung’s marginal comment from the Bhagavad Gita (page 154) shows, a descent or emergent form of god. The god image reaches its final shape in the Red Book in the figure of Abraxas within the pseudo-gnostic text of the “Seven Sermons to the Dead.” In its uniting of opposites (for instance, full and empty), Abraxas bears a close relationship to the Ātman-Brahman of the Upanisads that Jung was absorbed in at the same time. Finally, it is clear in this section of the Red Book (“Scrutinies”) that Jung’s ambivalence toward the anima and the Judeo-Christian God was intense, and is later mirrored in his mixed response to India.
Prior to his discovery of the circular mandala pattern as an image of the all-inclusive self, Jung wrestled with the theme of the binary opposites and their reconciliation. Even around the time of the first mandalas (1916 and after), Jung continued to struggle with the polar opposites. The paintings and text in the Izdubar section of the Red Book conflate Egyptian, Indian, and ancient Mesopotamian themes, all seemingly referred to by the generic term “the East.” The central image is that of the egg incubating, developing towards rebirth, emerging anew and then dying again. The Egyptian “night sea journey” by barge of the sun, from its grave in the west to its place of rebirth in the east, shows the sun as a golden sphere on the boat’s deck (page 55). In page 45 the egg is placed in an Indian context as the original form of the cosmos before the sky and the earth were propped apart by the birth of the god Skambha (the “Prop”). Page 64 shows an eruption of fire from the cracked egg as a worshipper prostrates with his head to the floor. On the wall behind is painted the scene of the night sea journey, again with the solar egg lying on the barge. The text from the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa cited at the bottom of Jung’s painting refers to the Agnihotra sacrifice performed at dawn and dusk. The parallel between Egypt and India is made again in page 59, titled “hiraṇyagarbha,” which is Sanskrit for “Golden Embryo” or “Golden Egg” (or, as Jung sometimes translates it, “Golden Child”). Jung ties the story of Izdubar’s rebirth to the Egyptian and Indian materials by associating the fire sacrifice of the Agnihotra with the night sea journey and the rebirth of the god Izdubar after his incubation in “Jung’s” pocket.
Psychological Types and the symbol of the self
Jung first uses the term “self” (selbst) in something like his mature sense (source, totality, and goal of individuation) in Psychological Types though it was prefigured in “The Structure of the Unconscious” (originally 1916) which developed into one of the Two Essays on Analytical Psychology The image and concept of the self appeared also in his mandala drawings of 1916-1918 and the mandala-like structure of his developing 8-fold typology of attitude and function. In the 1916 essay, Jung writes “The unconscious personal contents constitute the self, the unconscious or subconscious ego.” Clearly the self at this point is not a center of the whole psyche, though it does go beyond the conscious ego. A valuable footnote by the editors in Psychological Types clarifies the development of Jung’s early ideas on the self. Paragraph 183 of Psychological Types, where the footnote occurs, is the first time that Jung clearly distinguished the ego and the self. However, in the surrounding text he uses other terms taken from Schiller and Schopenhauer to get at some of what “self” was later to mean. As the editors point out, the self of paragraph 183 constitutes something akin to the referent of the term “individual nucleus,” as Schiller names a central faculty in the person beyond the pull of the opposites. Jung uses this phrase interchangeably with the word “individuality.” He unites self and individuality in saying, “The self is our life’s goal, for it is the completest expression of that fateful combination we call individuality.”
The self, individuation (individual nucleus, individuality), and libido come together at this point in Jung’s thinking. The goal is to find a symbol to mediate between libidinal (or, later, archetypal) forces pulling in contrary directions (for example, between extraversion and introversion, persona and shadow, or matter and spirit). Jung concludes that the ego is powerless to resolve this struggle for it is always drawn to whichever force is strongest at the moment. The individual (or “indivisible”) center capable of mediating and integrating the opposites can only constellate when libido introverts into the unconscious, “that maternal womb of creative fantasy, which is able at any time to fashion symbols . . . that can serve to determine the mediating will.” We are reminded of Izdubar in “Jung’s” maternal pocket. Introversion of the libido is brought about by the deadlock between more or less evenly matched opposites. It is also furthered by a detachment of libido from both opposites. “The will then has the self as a possible aim. . . “ “Disposable energy is drawn into the self—in other words, it is introverted.” This is a key insight: the libido, guided by the will, focuses on a center, which is (or becomes) the unconscious but ultimately individual locus of symbolization and psychological development: the self. In this process the libido is rendered “wholly objectless” and so able to devote its energy to creating symbols out of the fantasy material in the unconscious. The process of symbolization, insofar as it reconciles the opposites, expresses the “transcendent function.” Jung has now recognized that the self is essential to that mediating function, which he also named the “uniting” (or “reconciling” in Baynes’ translation) symbol. When constellated, the self—formerly sought by the introverting will—guides the will (ego) and lays out a blueprint for future life.
In the Red Book (and again in MDR), Jung reports that a female figure, in some way associated with his patient and friend Maria Moltzer, told him that his active imaginations were “art.” It is well known that Jung took violent exception to this, and yet his Red Book project itself is described in MDR as an “estheticizing” approach to his fantasies that he found later must be supplanted by rational understanding. He painted symbolic images in his great book for over ten years. The same issue appears in Psychological Types in Jung’s discussion of Schiller. The poet had found that the way beyond psychological conflict (the “opposites”) was “aesthetic” “play.” Interpreting Schiller according to his libido theory, Jung finds that Schiller’s “play instinct” is the “source of symbols.” When the “opposites” cancel one another out, a “void” and free condition ensues where the psyche can play. Schiller calls this the “aesthetic condition,” and it appears to be equivalent to Jung’s “symbol-forming activity (creative fantasy).” But even though it is the product of creative play, Jung cannot accept that the symbol is primarily “aesthetic,” and it is here that he brings in India (and China), specifically the Upanishadic theme of the ātman and the brahman.
Had [Schiller] been acquainted with Indian literature, he would have seen that the primordial image which floated before his mind’s eye had a very different character from an “aesthetic” one. . . . He interpreted it as “aesthetic,” although he himself had previously emphasized its symbolic character. The primordial image I am thinking of is that particular configuration of Eastern ideas which is condensed in the brahman-ātman teaching of India and whose philosophical spokesman in China is Lao-tzu.
Jung now repeats his earlier assertion that symbols are created in a state of introverted libido. But it is not just any symbol that is being created, but rather the symbol of the self, which as Murray Stein says is the “prime archetype . . . from which all the other archetypes and archetypal images ultimately derive.” Jung borrows from India the fundamental idea that the introverting libido takes the self as an object of “meditation without content, in which the libido is supplied to one’s own self somewhat in the manner of incubating heat ” [tapas]. He equates this incubating, activating meditation with yoga. Jung contrasts the spiritual work required in tapas with the possibly unserious “aesthetic” attitude of “play,” though he allows that play can be serious and that esthetics can be a religious passion. The potential flaw in art and play (presumably including Jung’s own work with water and stones as well as the illustrations in the Red Book) appears to be that it may not be centered enough, that it might let the unconscious express itself too freely without conscious ego control or reference to the self. But Jung was ambivalent on this point, and at other times more fully recognized the spiritual value of play. On the one hand, “What is needed is a supreme moral effort, the greatest self-denial and sacrifice, the most intense religious austerity and true saintliness.” This ascetic description of tapas is rather severe: there seems no room here for play or art. On the other hand, “beauty, for [Schiller] was a religious ideal. Beauty was his religion.”
The process of symbolization begins with an introversion of libido, an objectless meditation on the self after letting go both internal and external objects. This process has two outcomes. First, it liberates the person from the pain of struggling with the opposites. Second, it creates new outer and inner realities and a life path arising from the symbolic visions of the self. All symbols have a quality of “selfness” or relatedness to the self which is itself the central symbol or symbol of the center. Jung is speaking of symbols in general, but most particularly of the brooded-upon self when he writes:
Devotion, as Schiller correctly conceived it, is a regressive movement of libido towards the primordial, a diving down into the source of the first beginnings. Out of this there rises, as an image of the incipient progressive movement, the symbol, which is a condensation of all the operative unconscious factors—“living form,” as Schiller says, and a God-image, as history proves. . . . the vision of the symbol is a pointer to the onward course of life, beckoning the libido towards a still distant goal.
The self is the sought-for source, reached anew by transcending all other opportunities for libidinal investment. After it is attained, or constellated, the self provides the blueprint and motivation for building the structure of a new life centered on actualizing the potentialities of that same self. In the image of the self Jung found the fulfillment of the quest, pursued in the first half of his professional life, to discover the nature of the mediating and guiding symbol. He also found in the Indian self the possibility of “a psychological doctrine of salvation which brings the way of deliverance within man’s ken and capacity.” His strong criticisms of Christianity around this time contrast with a very positive view of Buddhism and Hinduism. Beginning before 1938, but accelerating with experiences during his trip to India at this time, the balance shifted and Jung began working toward a reinterpretation of Christianity (guided by the symbolism of alchemy) and lost part of his interest in India. Nevertheless, the insights of 1921 and after were not entirely abandoned, and returned in the visions that followed his heart attack in 1945 and even in his late work on alchemy and Christian self symbolism .
The theme of redemption from the opposites, which the recognition of the self promises to achieve, is the topic of a long section in Psychological Types. Here Jung approaches the topic of the self in various ways, but finds his deepest understanding in Indian ideas. At one point he speaks of “harmony with natural laws that guide the libido in the direction of life’s optimum.” This “optimum,” with its suggestion of a middle way between a maximum and a minimum, Jung imagines to swing according to the “tidal law” of transition between “systole” (contraction, introversion) and “disastole” (expansion, extraversion) (terms taken from Goethe that he uses often in this period). The “attainment of the middle path” involves a balance between bondage and freedom, and reminds us of one of Jung’s final conclusions, almost 40 years in the future, when he would say, “the feeling for the infinite, however, can be attained only if we are bounded to the utmost. . . .” This razor’s edge path between constraint and freedom, “not exactly the simplest of tasks,” as Jung gently reminds us is best recognized in “the profoundest philosophical speculation that the human mind has ever known,” namely the ancient thought of India.
Jung notes that “Our Western superciliousness in the face of these Indian insights is a mark of our barbarian nature which has not the remotest inkling of their extraordinary depth and psychological accuracy.” The essence of the insights he is referring to seems to be the recognition of an inner law within the personality, a root cause for the alternation or balance between extraversion and introversion. Jung contrasts this “ṛta” or “dharma” (and Chinese tao) to the Judeo-Christian Law imposed from outside by a father God who “puts an end to the division [between the opposites] as and when it suits him and for reasons we are not fitted to understand. The childishness of this conception needs no stressing.” Instead of this arbitrary fiat from above, Jung tells us that there is a “self manifesting” and constantly “self renewing” source of libido in the unconscious. This source (which he is beginning to call the “self,” after Indian ātman) is also the agent of compensation, the power that dictates when systole and diastole will succeed one another. Befitting its impoṛtance to his developing ideas, Jung’s depth of engagement in Indian thought at this time is quite extensive, with references to most of the major German scholars as well as to French and English language writers.
Jung’s idea of the inner law governing individuation and the circumambulation of the self are implicitly, though never directly (during this period), related to the type theory, as it expanded in the process of creating Psychological Types where an 8-fold pattern replaces a single binary opposition (of thinking/extraversion versus feeling/introversion). The three orthogonal dimensions of Jung’s mature typology create a sort of solid mandala, a representation of wholeness that mirrors that of the archetypes in the more usual two dimensional mandalic image that Jung was developing at the same time.
Jung, yoga, and tantra
Jung by 1932 seemed to have made all the use of India required to develop his theory of the self as the unconscious center of the process of psychological development (individuation) that he had earlier glimpsed in the symbolic transformations of libido. Psychological development was now understood to be guided by the self through the transcendent function that balances between ego and unconscious forces via symbols. In 1931-32 and after his trip to India in 1937-1938 he elaborated on the process of self development in tantric and yogic Hinduism, collaborating with Indologists, J. W. Hauer, S.N. Dasgupta, and Heinrich Zimmer.
Lectures on kundalini yoga by J. W. Hauer at the Psychological Club in 1932 were followed by a series of four lectures by Jung (three in English, one in German). The lectures, like many lecture series at the Club, were transcribed by Mary Foote’s secretary and later published in an edition by Sonu Shamdasani. Shandasani shows that in his commentaries on kundalini yoga Jung views the system of subtle psychic ganglia called chakras, “discs” (or padmas, “lotuses”) as an Indian representation of archetypal structures underlying and enabling individuation of the personality. The chakras are energy centers connected by channels called nadis that convey psychospiritual energy, shakti, that Jung saw as essentially identical to the libido. The movement of shakti up the spine from one chakra to another is accompanied by psychospiritual development analogous to individuation. Further, Jung interpreted the chakras, like archetypal images, as intrinsically symbolic. Each was not just represented but in part constituted by its particular symbolic form; thus, the chakras transform energy by virtue of their metaphoric resemblances to the elements of earth, water, fire, and air, each of which symbolizes psychological qualities (ordinary consciousness, the unconscious, passions, and the objective psyche).
Joseph Henderson, in his Introduction to Coward’s Jung and Eastern Thought, makes the point that Jung tried to balance between two complementary views of psychospiritual development, one imagining our relationship to the self as like a “ladder,” which must be climbed from level to level (i.e., from chakra to chakra) and the other having the form of a circumambulation around the self at the center of each chakra, “an eternal process of self centering.” Jung himself speaks of the individual chakras as having the form of mandalas, each constituting its own world. This would represent Henderson’s second aspect. At the same time he says that the movement of the kundalini, its initial shift from dormancy in the lowest chakra, the muladhara, constitutes psychic objectivity and allows a transition from participation mystique towards consciousness. Moving upwards means to see the ego and other psychic contents more objectively and to increase the scope of consciousness; moving around (circumambulating) is to see the self as one’s center, origin, and aim.
The existence of a psychological reality beyond the ego is something than can only be recognized by entering the unconscious, or, using Jung’s terminology, going into the “objective psyche.” The second chakra, the svadhisthana (a world of water) symbolizes the unconscious realm for Jung, and to enter it is to undergo the “night sea journey” of the sun as it sinks into the western horizon and moves toward dawn in the east. Jung understands kundalini here as the anima, the female initiator into the unconscious. Of course the possibility of being swallowed permanently by the unconscious is ever present, and Jung emphasizes that we must “fly” with our own wings and not get swept up passively in the afflatus of the anima.
The rest of Jung’s 1932 kundalini discourse follows the same road, in part repeating with a new language the established story of individuation as Jung had come to understand it. In Shamdasani’s words, however, “Jung’s aim was to develop a cross-cultural comparative psychology of inner experience.” He was concerned to differentiate his view from Indian (and also other Westerners’) views of the same process, emphasizing its psychological nature as opposed to what he called the “metaphysical.” This shift is clear in Jung’s interpretation of kundalini as anima, and her movement upward through the chakras as a process of increasing psychological objectivity. Another of Jung’s main concepts, the self, requires less interpretation since it was drawn from the same field of thought in which the tantric puruṣa grew. The fourth or heart chakra, anahata (“Indestructible”), Jung finds to symbolize the self, puruṣa. Here, and in the chakras above the heart (visuddha at the throat, ajña at the third eye in the center of the forehead, and sahasrāra above the top of the head) there is an increase in the “psychic” or “subtle body” nature of experience. “But in the ajña center the psyche gets wings—here you know you are nothing but psyche.” Jung projects the realization of this state into the distant future—at least for Westerners:
[we] are reaching. . . into the remote future of mankind, or of ourselves. For any man has at least the potential faculty to experience that which will be the collective experience in two thousand years, perhaps in ten thousand years.”
[t]here is another psyche, a counterpart to your psychical reality, the non-ego reality, the thing that is not even to be called self, and you know that you are going to disappear into it. The ego disappears completely; the psychical is no longer a content in us, but we become contents of it.
Here already in 1932 Jung foresees the essence of his dreams many years later in which the meditating holy man and UFO represent a center of awareness projecting—and so able to dissolve—his ego. This is the beginning of the third stage of Jung’s response to India, the recognition that the consciousness itself may not, after all, be intrinsic to the ego but could be its transcendent source. This insight lies close enough to the horizon of the ego’s vision, and occasionally erupts into ego consciousness as it did in Jung’s dream. But the highest chakra, sahasrara, which Jung identifies with “nirvana,” is completely beyond any possible relationship to the ego and therefore “is without practical value for us.”
Jung’s ambivalence about kundalini yoga, and especially its higher chakras, was felt keenly by his audience at the Psychological Club. Barbara Hannah writes
As always happens when a perfected Indian philosophy is placed before a European audience, we all got terribly out of ourselves and confused. . . . The East is too far above everyday reality for us, aiming at Nirvana instead of at our present, three-dimensional life.
What Jung began to perceive in this vision of non-ego consciousness in Kundalini yoga he could not forget, wrestled with in dreams and visions, and worked for the remainder of his life with some success to understand. Already in the Red Book Jung had seen the opposition between ego consciousness and the reborn god, and the difficulty of reconciling them. The progression there leads from the primitive, unconscious divinity Izdubar in concrete form to a psychological (fantasy) representation and development of him, a move toward individuation. The ego at this point feels fear of the new god, inflates defensively, and even considers killing Izdubar: “Should I slay him, the defenseless one whom I loved? Should I shatter the delicate shell of his grave, and expose him to the weightlessness and unboundedness of the winds of the world?” Having decided to nurture the god within the egg, the ego personality (which has adopted the maternal role) pours its strength into the divine child, the renewed form of god. The result?
When I conquered the God, his force streamed into me. But when the god rested in the egg and awaited his beginning, my force went into him. And when he rose up radiantly, I lay on my face. He took my life with him. All my force was now in him. My soul swam like a fish in his sea of fire. . . . My God had torn me apart terribly, he had drunk the juice of my life. . . . He left me powerless and groaning. . . . 
One is reminded here of Sabina Spielrein’s essay on death as the cause of coming to be  As Jung puts it, “I lay there like a child-bearer cruelly mauled and bleeding her life into the child, uniting life and death in a dying glance, the day’s mother, the night’s prey.” As the god surges upward, regaining heaven, the ego descends down to hell. Nigredo follows coniunctio. The remainder of the Red Book, especially the “Seven Sermons,” explores the ramifications of this ego-self opposition, as does Answer to Job many years later.
Jung’s passage to India: an encounter with the “man eater?”
Alice Boner, the Swiss interpreter of Indian art, met Jung during his India trip in December 1937 at her home in Banaras; she spent a day with him before taking him next morning to the train station for his onward journey to Calcutta. They visited a temple of the Goddess Durga in the morning; then, after he received an honorary doctorate (wearing red academic robes), Jung was taken to a Śiva temple. In her diary Boner writes that “The Vishvanatha Temple and the narrow lanes filled Jung’s soul with horror [grausen] and made him turn back.” (our translation). The Vishvanatha Temple to Śiva as “Lord of the World” contains one of the 12 “jyotir lingas” (“phalluses of light”) sacred in Hinduism. Boner later describes the “egg-shaped, black lingam of ovoid form.” To her “it suggested the idea of the supreme or central entity, unformed—or rather, formless, a form of purest concentration, the black color suggesting inwardness, the innermost cavity, the dark, small place in the heart of the universe, and of the individual being where Brahma dwells, the unique being, unmanifest, in its own purest essence.” This is precisely the poisonous (to Westerners), ego-annihilating sort of Indian absolute that Jung most feared and—as embodied in the “holy men of India”—avoided. We speculate that the phallic “man eater” God of Jung’s childhood dream/vision reemerged in his imagination of the Śiva lingam. The theme of the devouring god, and the necessity for the ego to resist and “treat” (Murray Stein’s term) the brutal divine Self, preoccupies the majority of Jung’s late work, appearing in the impoṛtant dream of the Emperor Akbar  and in Answer to Job. Jung insists that we must not bow down all the way before the divine, lest the ego’s spark of individuality be extinguished.
Yoga and active imagination
In 1938-1939 Jung delivered a series of lectures at the ETH on Hindu and Buddhist yoga, which he used to develop his ideas on active imagination. During the same period Professor S. N. Dasgupta lectured on Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtra at the Psychological Club. Jung had met Dasgupta, a preeminent authority on Indian philosophy, in Calcutta during his visit the preceding year. In addition to a close reading of Patanjali, Jung discussed two Buddhist texts, Amitayur Dhyana Sūtra and Shri Chakra Sambhara Tantra, as well as a number of texts from Meister Eckhart.
The overall subject of the 1938-1939 lectures was active imagination, and Jung took yoga and Buddhist spiritual practices as techniques parallel to his own, though quite different in the status they assigned to personal individuality. He also treated Ignatius Loyola’s spiritual exercises as a kind of active imagination and compared them and yoga to Western mysticism as exemplified in Meister Eckhart.
A knowledge of [yoga] is a necessary preparation to understanding the spirit of European active imagination and is a great help in obtaining a right attitude towards it.
The essential point of comparison between yogic practices and Jung’s active imagination is the intense focus in both on contents of the unconscious which are treated as objectively real. The basic difference is that Jung’s practice emphasizes the separateness of, distinction between, the ego observer and the unconscious content. Active imagination is a conversation between or dialogue with figures of the unconscious. For yoga on the contrary, in Jung’s view, the practitioner identifies with the unconscious content, for example with an image of the Buddha, by projecting it into the outer world and in this way makes it conscious and objective. Yoga is an emanation or intentional creation of figures that express the qualities of the projecting personality. Its goal is not dialogue but an emptying or universalization of the personality that identifies a human’s parts with those of a god or Buddha. Yoga handles negative or shadow elements similarly, by projecting them onto demons or other negative figures and so eliminates them from the ego.
One of us (Elaine Molchanov) recalls that in her personal practice of Siddha Yoga her teacher Baba Muktananda taught students something similar. He told them that in his sadhana (spiritual work) he had imaginatively placed his guru’s body parts (arms, shoulders, heart, mind, etc.) into corresponding locations within himself, thus experiencing or recognizing his own parts as (really) those of the guru. Similar in a way to Thomas a Kempis’s Imitation of Christ discussed by Jung in the 1938-1939 seminars, this process of identification with the teacher was recommended by Muktananda for his own disciples. Described in detail in Muktananda the practice has roots in vedic texts where the dying father places his vital energies (pranas) into his son at the time of death. The son lies on the body of the father and literally takes into his own body the father’s vital energies as the father passes away. A transmission of selfhood takes place that is analogous to the guru-disciple relationship reported by Molchanov.
Jung’s central insight about such practices is that they recognize, far more than does ordinary Western consciousness, the objectivity of the psyche.
I wish very much that psychic objectivity were recognized in the West. . . . Our text is full of this recognition. The subjective image has its objective existence, one can stand outside and worship it. The reason of this whole procedure is to give its separate objective existence to everything subjective. . . . for recognizing the objectivity of the psyche is typical for the eastern point of view, whereas we regard it as subjective.
Jung is clear that this “eastern” practice is magical and a work of artifice, though it can be successful only if the unconscious consents to place its contents into the projective structures of a culture, possible only if the cultural structures (e.g, religious dogmas) are adequate to contain them. He gives the example of
the “Platonic idea of the round world soul. The microcosm is a small edition of the macrocosm, the anima mundi. . . . Plato’s idea is identical with the eastern idea of the Ātman or Puruṣa. The person (puruṣa) not larger than a thumb who dwells in the heart of man and who encompasses the earth on every side, extending beyond it by ten fingers breadth.
. . .this person is not present from the beginning. He has to be created by the Yogin, induced by the practice of Yoga. . . . This is a magic procedure, undertaken in order to produce the spiritual personality. . . . (ibid, p. 77)
The dangers of ego inflation in this projective form of active imagination are obvious to Jung, as they are in many Indian stories of evil yogis or demons who practice yoga in order to gain power over the world. Heinrich Zimmer, for instance, retells the famous story of the king and the “vampire” (vetala) to make this point. An evil sorcerer and accomplished yogi attempts to bring a king under his power in order to kill him and usurp his royal status for himself. To do this the yogi must use his magical powers to control a spirit (the vetala) who can animate the corpse of an executed felon. The sorcerer creates a scenario in which the king will be forced, through the yogi’s manipulation of the vetala’s powers, to enter a magic circle and submit to his own execution. The sorcerer’s design, however, is thwarted by the vetala, who tricks the magician by divulging his plan to the king who is able to decapitate the yogi instead. This is ultimately a story where the unconscious does not allow itself to be forced into the structures that yoga tries to impose on it.
The proper and improper uses of yoga can be glimpsed through Jung’s ideas on symbol formation discussed above. Symbols are spontaneous creations of the unconscious; sensory, ideational, or affective images that just happen to work as containers of archetypal libido. Symbols are not manufactured by the ego, and when power-hungry yogis try to construct a world represented as under their (egotistic, ahamkaric) control they have not genuinely contained archetypal contents but rather have imprisoned them. In other words, the yogi creates complexes rather than archetypally valid symbols.
In the final sections of the seminar Jung turns to a deeper study of the Patanjali Yoga Sūtras as an example of “eastern” active imagination. The goal of yoga is the discrimination between ego consciousness and the Self (puruṣa) which Jung indentifies with the unconscious. Harold Coward studied the 1938-1939 seminar and found that “Jung saw that the yoga viewpoint led to a complete dissolution of ego and individuality. . . .” (Coward 1985, p. 67). In recognizing that the ego (here the Indian term ahaṁkāra is preferable) is just another projection of a more fundamental psychological faculty (in Samkhya-Yoga called “buddhi”) yoga leaves Jung behind, and as we have seen he repeatedly refuses to follow, always for the same reason. As he put it in a letter to Evans-Wentz in the same year
No matter how far . . . consciousness can be extended, there is still the continuity of the apperceiving ego which is essential to all forms of consciousness. . . . Thus it is absolutely impossible to know what I would experience when that “I” which could experience didn’t exist any more. . . .
In the last lecture (VII) of the Summer semester, 1939, Jung draws a close parallel between the teachings of Meister Eckhart and Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtra. Eckhart’s teachings on “detachment” from self and mystical union with God were condemned by the church, and Jung believes that their reemergence in Western culture was due to growing acquaintance with eastern thought which made it possible for Europeans to begin to understand Eckhart. In spite of his ultimate rejection of yoga as a possible path for Westerners, it is clear that Jung did finally accept the reality of the Indian (“yogic”) path as an alternative to his own work.
The Indian idea is that we leave the ego with the rest of the world and go over into Puruṣa, the Self, and that then we can cut off the Gunas and the Prakṛti. The world disappears and we come to what has ever existed, the eternal Puruṣa. But such a conception is only possible to an eastern psychology and we should not imagine that we can understand it with our western consciousness. There is an essential difference in the quality of consciousness between East and West. Ours is an exceedingly definite ego consciousness, it is much more intense. The eastern consciousness is far less distinct, it is not difficult for Easterners to move from their consciousness into the unconscious, the Void. . . .
A quality of nostalgia or yearning for the “Eastern” way, characteristic of Romanticism, finally attaches to Jung’s rejection of yogic practices.
it would be wiser to meditate and seek the Void when we need rest, than to run after outer distraction. That Void is the Puruṣa, which we can reach by emptying the ego.
The function of the psychotherapist as spiritual and psychological teacher (Sanskrit “guru”) is another idea Jung developed at least in part from Indian sources. As usual, it is impossible to tell whether the thought first came from his own experience prior to confirmation (and naming) by India or the reverse. At any rate, Jung’s individuation journey was aided by spiritual teachers in his dreams and fantasies, most of all by the figure of Philemon, whom Jung explicitly called his “guru.” In a letter to a young American student Jung reiterated the need for a personal initiation into psychology as an essential requisite for becoming a psychologist oneself (Letters, ). It is clear that he based his understanding of the analyst-analysand relationship on the guru-disciple bond as much as on that of physician and patient, though the latter was emphasized in his public personality. Still today, one’s locus (and even status) in the Jungian world is partly determined by who one’s analyst is or was, and who they “analyzed with.” Like the Indian notion of parampara (“succession” of teachers), the generational continuity of analysts to a degree defines the perceived validity in the world of analytical psychology of one’s understanding of Jungian thought. The reason for this (on its face somewhat irrational) perspective is that true knowledge is understood to come from encounter with the unconscious; it is not something manufactured by the ego. Only the perspective of the unconscious can teach truth to ego, and that objective viewpoint belongs to the guru as archetype and is actualized in relationships with those carrying his image. This Jungian perspective is almost exactly that of India.
For Jung as well as India, the necessity for a guru comes in part from the ego’s bondage within its own limited perspective and need for an outside point of reference to see beyond its limitations. Although Jung continued to view the ego as the center of consciousness, it was for him emphatically not the center of understanding, much less wisdom. The ego is like a young student needing education (German “bildung” captures the idea better) and even in advanced old age Jung saw himself as the eternal son of the Great Mother. The guru function is essentially symbolic and it could even be said that symbols are the guru, as the “guru” is itself a symbol. From the perspective of Indian Sāṁkhya-Yoga, consciousness communicates with the ego (specifically with the faculty of insight, buddhi) through Siva as the “Lord of Yoga.” In addition to the god of yoga, the sacred texts themselves function as carriers of the guru function, and this has been true to some extent in the Jungian (and post Jungian) tradition also. In its descriptions of gradually ascending levels of “absorption” (samādhi) of ego in higher consciousness, the Yoga Sūtra functions symbolically, imagining states with and without a sense of “I am-ness” (asmitā) that lead the the ego to and even over its horizon. The text also alludes symbolically to the ego’s relationship to the higher consciousness through the image of the siddhis, “powers” that depend on enhancing the ego’s faculties by overcoming them (for instance becoming invisible through withdrawing the ego’s faculty of projecting objects of sight).
The guru symbolizes the self coming down to the ego’s level to instruct him or her, as Philemon flies down on kingfisher’s wings to teach the imagining Jung. The willingness to be taught by the self, to take the images the unconscious sends as higher knowledge, is essential to the practice of Jungian active imagination.
The Christian mandala
Murray Stein has convincingly shown that Jung’s interests turned decisively towards Christianity around the time of his illness in India in 1938, and argued that Jung’s dream of swimming to retrieve the Holy Grail was a specific point of articulation in his psychological trajectory, a moment when the path of his individuation turned sharply toward the West. We agree with this assessment, but believe that Jung’s “treatment” of Christianity retained an element of Indian healing, specifically the continuing presence of the self-regulating ātman from the Upanisads that formed the heart of his mandalas of transformation and the essence of the “transcendent function.” Jung never lost his unease towards what he thought was a one-sided Christian (and even more, Old Testament) God, and repeats innumerable times that Christianity is unbalanced because it leaves out the feminine and evil. His interest in alchemy was due in large part to the fact that phenomena omitted from the dominant Western paradigms are integrated there in a more inclusive Weltanschauung (and “Selbst”-anschauung). He had already found this to be true in India.
What Jung rejected in Christianity is easier to see than his reformulation of it, but focusing on the Indian influences will help in understanding how he thought the Church must change. As we found in Psychological Types, Jung realized that the libido, detached from internal and external objects, could take the self as an object. Two things are expressed in this insight. First, there is the possibility of what Jung repeatedly calls by the Sanskrit word, “nirdvandva”, the nonduality or overcoming of opposites. Second, there is a process of increasing focus on the center of the personality, the self, a concept which Jung always acknowledged to have been drawn from the Indian ātman. In Transformation Symbolism in the Mass , Jung writes
The self is brought into actuality through the concentration of the many upon the centre, and the self wants this concentration. . . . the self is a “mirror”: on the one hand it reflects the subjective consciousness of the disciple, making it visible to him, and on the other hand it “knows” Christ, that is to say it does not merely reflect the empirical man, it also shows him as a (transcendental) whole. . . . Only subjective consciousness is isolated; when it relates to its centre it is integrated into wholeness. Whoever joins in the dance sees himself in the reflecting centre. . . . 
This amounts to a recipe for creating a mandala. The circles surrounding the center focus light and attention upon the latter, concentrate their energies there, but also are reflected back out into their own positions and natures by that center. This mutual recognition and interpenetration of center and periphery, the movement of energy back and forth between them, was later developed by Michael Fordham in his theory of deintegration and reintegration of the self.
The two aspects of psychic development distinguished by Henderson can be seen in the two sides of the center-periphery relationship. From the viewpoint of the periphery, the pattern of circulation is foregrounded. From the perspective of the center, the emphasis is on transcendence, the ladder-like development contrasted by Henderson to the alternative pattern of circulation. In Aion, the ascentional and rotational aspects of individuation are integrated into a “step by step development of the self from an unconscious state to a conscious one.” By combining them, Jung finds a way to show the individuation process as one that first turns downward into the shadow and matter and then goes up, returning to the original position but now in a consciously embodied form.
Although some of the details differ, there is a striking parallel between the progression of kundalini through the chakras in Jung’s 1932 discussion and the movement of the psyche through the symbolism of the self in Aion almost twenty years later. In both cases a series of mandalas, one on top of the next, represent stages in psychic development or individuation. Jung’s 1951 thinking goes farther than he had been able in 1932 when he found an opposition between Western depth psychology (which descends into the water world of the unconscious) and Indian kundalini psychology (which ascends into the same watery territory). In Aion, Jung finds a way to combine going down (into the unconscious) with going up (toward higher levels of psychological development).
Although he continues to consider the outright adoption of Indian ideas “delusory,” Jung begins the final, and decisive, chapter of Aion by adverting once again to Upanisadic insights on the ātman and brahman. Jung quotes Yajñavalkya that “there is no other seer but he, no other hearer but he [the ātman].” Even though this clearly tells us that, for the Upanishadic sage, the self is the only conscious principle, Jung continues to assert that the self abides in the unconscious where it is the center upon which the ego “concentrates” and with which it is “preoccupied.” Leaving aside his failure to formulate an explicit theory of higher consciousness, Jung in Aion does find a means of reconciling the ascending and descending aspects of the individuation process that had perplexed him in 1932. Essentially, the ego (and egotism, Sanskrit ahaṁkāra or asmitā) must go or be taken down so that a different sort of consciousness can rise beyond it. These two things happen together. Indian Sāṁkhya and Yoga thought tells the spiritual aspirant to discriminate between the ego (ahaṁkāra, asmita) and consciousness (puruṣa or cit), and to keep the mind focused on this difference. To do this is to establish oneself at the level of buddhi, “insight,” which is the only psychic faculty in Sāṁkhya/Yoga capable of seeing the ego and its distortions from outside, i.e., from above. In a word, the buddhi is Yoga’s “transcendent function,” the means of connecting puruṣa and prakṛti. For Jung, the parallel idea would be to attain psychic objectivity toward the ego, to view one’s ego as a content, as he did in his 1945 heart attack vision of the meteorite above the Indian subcontinent. The ego must become objective in order to be shifted from the center of the mandala to the periphery.
Individuation and enlightenment
The diachronic growth of ego consciousness under the tutelage of the self, which Jung called individuation, can be viewed synchronically, and in this way appears as a single form, a mandala symbolizing life as a whole. We again reflect on Henderson’s complementarity between the ladder and circumambulation. Jung divided the human lifespan into early and late phases, which he viewed through the Goethean rubrics of “diastole” and “systole” (expansion and contraction), technically called “extraversion” and “introversion” in analytical psychology. In this image the two sorts of relation to the self are combined. India does something quite similar. Beginning with childhood, life is analyzed into four stages (asramas) of which the first two (school years, parenting and work) correspond to Jung’s extraversion while the latter pair (retreat to the forest and renunciation of ego concerns) together constitute introversion. The linear course of life becomes a cycle. Jung’s concepts of extraversion and introversion are closely paralleled in Sanskrit (among other terms, by pravṛtti, “outer expression” and nivṛtti, “turning inward”). Whether the Indian ideal structure of life influenced Jung’s is not known, but it would seem likely that it was at least one factor. Despite the clear parallelism, however, the aims of life appear quite different in Indian thought and Jung. To capture the difference, we suggest that the Indian view can be characterized as a “way of essence” and the Jungian as a “way of totality.” By “way of essence” we intend to convey that the true flavor or quality of a transcendent reality was all-impoṛtant, even if it flashed into a life only at moments. For yoga, the goal of life, in all its psychic and corporeal movements, is the pure consciousness of the self (puruṣārtha). By “way of totality,” we mean to suggest that individuation embodies a vision of life emphasizing balance and harmony, a middle way between competing interests, a spiritual or psychic homeostasis. Essence can be epitomized in the experience of enlightenment or release (mokṣa, nirvāṇa, nirvikalpa samādhi), or of ecstatic unity with god; it is a vertical cut against the horizontal flow of life, in contrast to gathering life together in the mandalic wholeness of individuation.
This sort of opposition is close to what Jung himself saw as the difference between his ideas and those of India, and in Sanskrit it parallels the fundamental distinction between saṁsāra and nirvāṇa. Jung never recommended the pursuit of nirvāṇa to his Western students and patients, though he did allow that it might be legitimate for Indians, given their primitive natures (in both positive and negative ways). On the other hand, Jung danced back and forth across the ego’s horizon, playing on the razor’s edge that separates the ego from its ambiguously unconscious source in the self. If the yogi meditating him in his 1944 dream had awakened, with the predicted consequence that “I would not be,” Jung would presumably have experienced nirvāṇa. Fear held him back and the dream turned into a nightmare from which he woke. Nevertheless, Jung clearly did have intimations of enlightenment, and this dream is one of them. In fact, each of Jung’s major transition points in life expresses the quality of a breakthrough into essence: confrontation with the shadow (the sudden recognition of darkness or evil within oneself), the encounter with the anima or animus (seeing one’s black and white life suddenly turn to Technicolor with the awakening of soul), and especially engaging with the self (the moments of transition between the four quaternios in Aion, when spiritual wholeness is revealed to be bodily, then reptilian, and finally chemical/geological/energetic).
For Jung, the self is an unconscious center, aim, and source of wholeness, but requires interaction with the conscious ego in order to come to light and develop its potential (for instance, Jahweh needs Job); in India, the self is an original consciousness that is then borrowed by the ego, mostly in an act of illegitimate presumption, distortion, or theft. Put so sharply, the distinction is between an unconscious self and conscious ego (Jung) versus a self that is consciousness and an ego that is pretends to a consciousness that it does not actually possess (India). No wonder Jung thought the Indian position poison.
But Jung could not leave India alone, and many of his fundamental ideas are nourished on its nectar. Even in his most Christian work, Aion, Jung begins the crucial last chapter by invoking ātman and brahman to explain “the archetype that underlies ego consciousness. A few pages previously he had associated the unconsciousness of the God archetype (the self) with its “numinosity,” again citing “the ātman/puruṣa philosophy of the East” along with Meister Eckhart. The numinous by nature implies the power to evoke and kindle consciousness. (Rudolph Otto used the term to refer to the “tremendous” and “fascinating” nature of the divine.) Jung says
The idea of God’s άγνοσία. . . is of the utmost impoṛtance, because it identifies the Deity with the numinosity of the unconscious. The ātman/puruṣa philosophy of the East and, as we have seen, Meister Eckhart in the West [whom Jung had just discussed at length] both bear witness to this.
Jung’s unconscious is close to the undifferentiated level of psychomaterial reality (prakṛti) called pradhāna in yoga, corresponding to the goddess aspect in other forms of Hinduism, particularly tantra. In Jung’s later thought, the term “psychoid” captures this psychomaterial level. By locating God in the psychoid region where matter and mind merge, and making him/her unconscious, Jung effectively makes god into the goddess. If he had followed his 1932 explorations of the tantric side of Indian thought he would have found much more correspondence with his efforts to put together the most spiritual and most material sides of reality, which is epitomized in the tantric image (found ubiquitously, both in Hinduism and Buddhism) of the god and goddess (consciousness and the psychoid) in sexual embrace, essentially expressing the same as the alchemical conjunction of King and Queen. Instead, Jung’s India was mostly limited to the one-sidedly spiritual neo-Vedanta that he identified mistakenly with the “holy man of India.”
Schematically, we have found the following Indian themes to have influenced, or at least to have resonated with, Jung’s most fundamental ideas. Jung returned regularly to these parallels in his work until the end.
psychic energy (libido) śakti, prāna, etc.
self (Self) ātman, puruṣa
ego (in opposition to self/Self) ahaṁkāra, jīva
transcendent function buddhi, puruṣārtha
wholeness, mandala mandala
halves of life expressing extraversion- quarters of life falling into two parts,
introversion expressing pravṛtti and nivṛtti
psychospiritual development yoga, sādhana
active imagination yoga
the artful playfulness līlā, god as dancer and musician, of the psyche and self
analyst, psychopomp guru krisna
individuation In Hinduism: puruṣārtha, dharma, sadhana, yoga;
in Buddhism: nirvāṇa, noble eightfold path
Jung’s life, which he understood to be “a story of the self realization of the unconscious,” centered on his dreams, visions, and fantasies, which parallel the serious play of consciousness recounted in the Indian tales, philosophies, art, and rituals retold by his friend Heinrich Zimmer. Of his most significant imaginative experiences, many connect directly or indirectly with Indian themes. From the Śiva-like phallic god and picture books of early childhood, to the magnolia tree of “unearthly beauty” in the Liverpool mandala in 1928, to the Buddhist temple during his heart attack, and the meditating yogi dreaming him in 1944, India was in Jung’s soul and unconscious psyche as much as on his waking mind. Like Śiva in the old story of the churning of the ocean of milk, Jung drank the “poison” of India to attain the nectar. If he failed ultimately to express the full savor of the “rasa” (flavor) his psyche extracted from the maelstrom, Jung did live it to a degree matched by few Westerners.
Coda: An archetypal perspective on Jung’s and India’s views on ego and self
To conclude this paper, it may be helpful to point out that Jung’s ambivalence toward the project of transcending the ego is actually reflected in Indian thought on the subject. Some of the same fear and distaste toward the yogic project of “quelling the fluctuations of the mind” (citta-vṛtti-nirodha, Yoga Sūtra 1) is found in Indian stories about yogis. David White’s recent book on “sinister yogis” documents the ambivalence with which India has always viewed yogic transcendence of ordinary human life. Even within spiritual communities the dark side of going beyond the ego is recognized and commented upon (though frequently with the intention of showing that enlightenment ultimately transcends the darkness of ego loss). A particularly striking example of this is remembered by one of us (Elaine Molchanov) from her practice of Siddha Yoga. One day, while living in Baba Muktananda’s ashram, Elaine went into Bombay for a visit. In town she picked up an issue of Time Magazine with a photo of the notorious killer Jeffrey Dahmer on the cover. (Time and similar literature was frowned upon by fellow disciples, who approved only “spiritual” reading material.) Returning on the bus, quite near the ashram, Elaine glanced at her magazine and suddenly had the thought, “the guru is a murderer!” She was shocked and puzzled that she could think such a thing of her beloved teacher. Getting off the bus at the ashram (the magazine carefully out of sight in her bag), Elaine passed through the courtyard where she found Baba Muktananda receiving disciples. The protocol was that if one were free, and the guru was present in the courtyard, disciples were invited to sit with him. Elaine therefore sat down among a number of other disciples, still thinking about her wayward idea on the bus, and reports that at that moment “Baba looked at me, then almost immediately turned and went into his little house. When he returned after a few moments it seemed he was holding something behind his back. He looked me in the eye and asked, ‘Do you know what the guru is like?’ I was startled and more than a little uneasy, remembering my thought from a few minutes before. Then Baba whipped out the object he was holding, revealing the same issue of Time Magazine that I had been reading on the bus. ‘The guru is like this,’ he announced, almost shouting and waving the photo of Dahmer in the air. ‘The guru is a murderer.’ I froze. Then Baba smiled, and looking at me again, said sweetly, ‘Ah. The guru kills your limited understanding, your negativity, your ego.’”
Muktananda’s point was that from the viewpoint of the ego, the self can be felt to be a tyrannical and destructive force. Jung certainly recognized this, for instance resonating with Job who experienced the wind of the Jewish Sky God as a death-dealing blight. He went even farther in Mysterium Conjunctionis, writing that “the experience of the self is always a defeat for the ego.”
Jung was not enough of a student of India to know it, but working with the ego-destructive side of the self, finding ways to reconcile the ego to its self and gods, has been at the heart of Hinduism and Buddhism for their whole existence. Far from lying satisfied in a blank world of ego absence (as if immersed in the swishing of palm leaves, or the sussurus of cicadas, to recall Jung’s metaphors), Indian thought seeks ways to bring back ordinary life in extraordinary raiment. Many of these are reflected in the image of the great Goddess, Devi, just as many of Jung’s images of the individuated person are mediated by the feminine. One has only to think of the “paths” (margas) of devotion (bhakti) and spiritual energy (tantra) to recognize that most of Hinduism over the past thousand years has not aimed at the obliteration or final leaving-behind of the ego. Like Jung, India seeks wholeness, though often a wholeness arising after the ego’s “murder.” Jung’s struggle with India in a way continued India’s struggle with the self (ātman) in relation to the ego (ahaṁkāra), and his whole psychology can be even seen from this perspective as part of the internal dynamics of Hinduism, indeed following the same impetus that created tantra a thousand years ago. If, as Murray Stein has argued, Jung “treated” Christianity, he did so with the consultation of an Indian physician who also stands to benefit from the therapy.
 In one of the most popular stories in Indian mythology (it has been retold in several other papers in this issue of Spring), the gods and demons cooperated to churn an ocean of milk to obtain the elixir of immoṛtality, amṛta (cognate to Greek ambrosia). Before they succeeded in recovering amṛta from the depths, there emerged a virulent poison with the potency to destroy the world. To preserve the cosmos, the god Śiva drank the poison which turned his throat blue.
 C. G. Jung, “Richard Wilhelm: In Memoriam” (1930), in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, vol. 15 The Spirit in Man, Art, and Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966). References to the Collected Works will be henceforth abbreviated CW.
 C. G. Jung, letter to V. Subramanya Iyer, C. G. Jung, Letters vol. 1, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 247.
 C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections [henceforth abbreviated MDR] (New York: Pantheon Books, 1961), p. 323.
 Murray Stein, “Some reflections on the influence of Chinese thought on Jung and his psychological theory,” The Journal of Analytical Psychology, (2005), 209-222.
 Previous attempts have been made by a number of others, especially Harold Coward, Jung and Eastern Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press), 1985; Luis O. Gomez, “Jung and the Indian East,” in Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (ed.) Curators of the Buddha. The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1995, pp. 197-250; Christine Maillard, L’Inde vue d’Europe. Histoire d’une rencontre (1750-1950), (Albin Michel), 2008; and Sonu Shamdasani, Introduction to C. G. Jung, The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga. Notes on the Seminar Given in 1932 by C. G. Jung, S. Shamdasani (ed.) Bollingen Series XCIX. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press), 1996. Borelli’s excellent bibliography in Coward (1985) is fairly complete up to the date of its publication, though it does not cover Jung’s references to India thoroughly.
 C. G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation, CW 5 (1912) and Psychological Types, CW 6 (1921).
 Jung already knew the James Legge translation from the Sacred Books of the East. It is significant that it was at almost the same time (1930) that Jung read Heinrich Zimmer’s work on mandalas, Kunstform und Yoga (1926). See G. Sorge, this issue.
 MDR, p. 17.
 Ibid, p. 12.
 Diana Eck (Darshan, Seeing the Divine Image in India, 3rd edition [New York: Columbia University Press, 1985]) applies the term “aniconic” [not iconic] to the Siva lingam, thus understanding it as a “sign” (the literal meaning of linga)—suggesting an arbitrary relationship between image and referent—rather than an “icon” which resembles the thing that it denotes (following C. S. Peirce). The linga is often represented as a simple rounded stone or pillar without obvious resemblance to a phallus. Hence it might have been pictured in the Orbis Pictus books of Jung’s childhood without recognition by the authors of any sexual implications.
 Murray Stein, Jung’s Treatment of Christianity: The Psychotherapy of a Religious Tradition (Wilmette: Chiron Publications, 1985), p. 3 states his aim is to uncover the “fundamental nature” of Jung’s relationship to Christianity.
 See pages 45, 54, 59, and 64
 Page (the Philemon painting)
 CW 6 para 193.
 The Theosophical Society was founded in 1875, the year of Jung’s birth.
 See Christine Maillard 2008, L’Inde vue d’Europe. Histoire d’une rencontre (1750-1950), Albin Michel.
 The uncapitalized term yoga will be used when a general reference is intended to the practices of psychophysiological and spiritual training named by the word; Yoga (capitalized) refers to the specific philosophical/meditational school of Patanjali (the Yoga Sūtras).
 And also S.N. Dasgupta, who lectured on Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtras at the Psychological Club in May, 1939. This was followed by Jung’s own lectures on Patanjali and other texts at ETH. (Shamdasani in Jung 1996, p. xxii-xxii, note 17).
 C. G. Jung, Notes on Lectures given at the Eidgenossiche Technische Hochschule, Zurich by Prof. Dr. C. G. Jung, October 1938-June 1939 (unpublished ms.)
 CW 11 para 912
 CW 11 para 933
 C. G. Jung, Psychology of Kundalini Yoga, edited by Sonu Shamdasani (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996 ), pp. 12, 20; Jung’s letter to James Kirsch, 12 March, 1932 (Ann C. Lammers (ed.), The Jung-Kirsch Letters, [New York: Routledge, 2011], p. 25).The view that India was “poisonous” to Europeans was sometimes taken literally by Jung and his followers. James Kirsch had written to Jung about a patient, a son of the artist Kathe Kollwitz, who had apparently also been treated by Kirsch’s analyst Toni Sussmann. Sussmann had strong ties to Indian thought and practices. Kollwitz contracted septicemia, Kirsch speculates, due to practicing yoga at Sussmann’s behest; Jung, in reply to an earlier letter from Kirsch (not extant), alludes to a similar case involving her. Lammers indicates that Jung distanced himself from Sussmann, one of his earliest students and a trainer of analysts, due to her involvement with “Indian theosophy” (p. 6). In 1933 Jung wrote Kirsch, “For us the Indian way never leads to the unconscious but to an Indian substitute system.” (p. 33). Later, Jung even attributed an auto accident in which Sussmann was injured to her Indian proclivities: “India cannot have been completely without a role in this incident.” (p. 39). It is ironic that Sussmann, whose Indian loyalties caused Jung to be suspicious of her, was important in introducing Bede Griffiths both to Jungian and Indian thought. Griffiths was one of the most important modern synthesizers of Christianity and Hinduism, and his writings show him clearly to have been influenced by Jung. Griffiths visited the Jungian community of Apple Farm and was eulogized by its founder, Helen Luke, just before his death (Bede Griffiths, (Beatrice Butreau, compiler), The Other Half of My Life: Bede Griffiths and the Hindu-Christian Dialogue (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1996), p. 36-42. Luke reports that Griffiths frequently carried Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections with him on his travels and that Sussmann at one point “tried to steer him into Jungian work.” (p. 39). Luke reports that she herself came to Jungian and Indian thought through Sussmann.
 CW 6.
 CW 12
 CW 9ii
 CW 11 para 939
 CW 11 para 933
 Jung 1996, p. 14
 CW 11, para 875. Jung used the term “cramp” frequently for Western consciousness and contrasts this with what he thought was the “Eastern” attitude. “ For instance, “when you watch a Yogin doing his religious gymnastics in the ‘mandapam’, there is no apparent cramp or strain, he simply stretches himself out like a cat. . . “ (Jung, 1938-1939, p. 165).
 An excruciating example of Jung’s view of “primitives” as deficient in ego consciousness occurs in his discussion of an apocryphal story of an African “bushman.” The man comes home enraged by a failed fishing expedition and impulsively strangles his son as a result of his anger. Jung tells us that the man has “monkey love” for his boy and cannot distinguish the actual child from his feelings toward him. As we have seen before (and as is typical in a colonialist world) Jung does not think non-Europeans have much or any ego. (CW 6, para 403).
 Jung actually rejects the term “monotony,” but refers to a “simplicity” that “pervades the spiritual life of India like a pleasant fragrance or melody. It is everywhere the same. . . .” (CW 11, para 952). In his autobiography he refers to a “ceṛtain stasis” that results from the efforts of yoga to go “beyond the opposites” (nirdvandva) and reach “imagelessness and emptiness” (MDR 276). Later, James Hillman, in a dialogue with Deepak Chopra, called Indian ideas on pure consciousness “bloody boring.” (Dick Russell, The Life and Ideas of James Hillman, (New York: Helios Press, 2013), p. 359. Hillman said he had ‘Jung to thank’ for his not ‘going East.’” (ibid, p. 346).
 In 1944 (CW 11, para 950-963)
 CW 11, para 952-955.
 CW 11, para 959.
 CW 11, para 953
 CW 11, para. 952.
 Jung prided himself on a dream where his father had bowed all the way to the floor but Jung the son stopped with “perhaps a millimeter to spare” (MDR 219). His refusal to be a “fish” is significant because he refers to fish as “mute and unconscious” (ibid).
 Letters vol. 1 p. 247.
 The propensity for Westerners to get “above ourselves” in the presence of Indian ideas was expressed by Barbara Hannah during the Kundalini seminars with Hauer and Jung in 1932. (Hannah quoted in Shamdasani’s introduction in Jung 1996). Heinz Kohut (The Analysis of the Self [New York: International Universities Press, 1975]) has noted that the symbolism of flying off into space is characteristic of narcissistic pathology. He identifies an orbiting space station or satellite, when such images appear in dreams, as pointing to a dangerous distance between the dreamer’s self and his or her “selfobjects” (the parent and other figures who “mirror” the self or allow it to merge with them).
 James Hillman, who was in Zurich at the same time, described Vasavada as “a good Vedanta man” (Russell, op cit, p. 432) and liked him. He reports, however, that the same suspicion of Indian mysticism that had fallen on Toni Sussman earlier now was applied to Vasavada. There was controversy over graduating him from the Jung Institute, and his analyst Meyer had to intervene (ibid, p. ).
 Frederick Spiegelman and Arwind Vasavada, Hinduism and Jungian Psychology (New Falcon Publications, 1987), p. 193.
 Contemporary gurus in America (including those from India) seem to have no problems with fixed, and stiff, fees for spiritual service.
 Deirdre Bair, Jung: A Biography (New York: Little Brown, 2003), pp. 497-498.
 MDR, pp 289-291.
 Even before the Grail dream of 1938 Jung had been reading tantric texts translated by Sir John Woodroffe, who wrote under the pen name of “Arthur Avalon.” Jung in his 1938 lectures noted that “both these names are taken from the Grail Legend.” (Jung 1938, page 43).
 MDR, p. 323.
 MDR p. 324
 MDR p. 325.
 CW 5, para 349, n. 85.
 Bair, Jung, p. 284
 See Sonu Shamdasani , “Reading Jung Backwards? The correspondence of Michael Fordham and Richard Hull concerning ‘The type problem in poetry’ in Jung’s ‘Psychological Types’,” Spring: Journal of Archetype and Culture, 55 (1994), pp. 100 – 127) for a discussion of this section of the text between Richard Hull and Michael Fordham, two of the three translators of Psychological Types.
 Shamdasani, in C. G. Jung, The Red Book, Liber Novus, Edited and introduced by Sonu Shamdasani (New York: Norton, 2009), p. 239, n.93.
 Jung’s ambivalence about symbolic versus literal reality can be seen in the opposite treatment of Elijah and Salome, who correct Jung by telling him that they are not just symbols but rather are real. Izdubar, on the contrary, must become symbolic in order to survive.
 Liber Novus, p. 287.
 The following pages contain painted egg images: 45, 50, 51, 53 (by text), 55, 59, 60, 61, 63, 64, 91, 92, 93, 115, 125, 154 (Philemon holds a glowing egg in his hands). Other images also contain egg-like shapes.
 Jung labels page 45 “atharva veda 4.1.4,” which would seem to refer to the fourth verse of the first hymn in book 4 from the Atharvaveda. Shamdasani, however, quotes a translation of a verse from another hymn, Atharvaveda 4.4 verse 1 (i.e., 4.4.1) which is a magic formula for virility. While this might seem to fit the Izdubar context, it is not compatible with the painting, which is part of the “egg” series of images showing how Izdubar is reborn. Hymn 4.1 is actually a poem to the god Skambha, the anthropomorphized “Pillar” that props apart heaven and earth. This very common theme in Vedic literature is associated by Jung with the mythologem of the Golden Egg (Hiranyagarbha, the title of page 59). In page 45 an egg is in the center of the painting, at the mid-point of the vertical pillar that rests on the head of a human figure (Skambha as god?) standing below a circle that may represent the heaven, midspace, and earth (dyaus, prthivi, rajas in the hymn). Shamdasani was likely misled by the fact that Jung owned the Sacred Books of the East volume of Bloomfield’s translations from the Atharvaveda (vol. 32), which includes hymn 4.4 but not 4.1. One place Jung might have read 4.1 is in the 1895-1896 English translation by Griffith:
“For he, true to the law of Earth and Heaven, established both the mighty worlds securely. Mighty when born, he propped apart the mighty, the sky, our earthly home, and air’s mid-region.” (Ralph Griffith, Hymns of the Atharva Veda, http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/av/av04001.htm, accessed 6/24/2013).
Translations of Atharva Veda 4.1 in German by Deussen and others were also available (personal communication, Indology list serve, April 2012).
 CW 6, para 183.
 CW 7.
 In MDR Jung wrote “Only when I began to paint the mandalas did I see that all the paths I took, all the steps I made, led back to the one point, that is, to the center.” (p. 221). This suggests that the mandalas expressed the idea of the self as the center and goal of the personality.
 CW 7, para 512.
 CW 6, para 183, n. 85.
 CW 6, para 404
 CW 6, para 177.
 CW 6, para 182.
 CW 6, para 183.
 MDR, p. 185.
 MDR, p. 188.
 MDR, p. 185.
 CW 6, para 188.
 Murray Stein, Jung’s Map of the Soul (Open Court Press, 1998).
 The Sanskrit word tapas is cognate with English “temperature” and “tepid.”
 CW 6, para 194.
 CW 6, para 195. In 1928 Jung had his famous “Liverpool” dream of the self appearing in the form of a reddish, flowering magnolia tree of unearthly beauty.
 CW 6, para 202.
 CW 6, para 326.
 Murray Stein, Jung’s Map of the Soul.
 CW 12, CW 13, and CW 14.
 CW 9ii.
 CW 6, paras 327-374.
 CW 6, para 356.
 MDR, p. 325.
 CW 6, para 357.
 CW 6, para 326.
 CW 6, para 355.
 Jung refers to Deussen, Oldenberg, Bergaigne, Whitney/Lanman, Weber, Keith, Griffith, Garbe, Hume, Dutt, Radhakrishnan, Dasgupta, and others. He quotes from the Rg and Atharva Vedas, several Brahmanas, and a number of Upanisads, law books (Dharmasastras), the Yoga Sūtra, Buddhist tantric texts, and the Bhagavad Gita. He consulted with Emil Abegg of the University of Zurich in this study.
 Or “rotundum.”
 Solid mandalas appear in the last chapter of Aion (CW 9ii), where Jung also refers to the functions as being arranged mandalically. In Tibet, most mandalas are implicitly three dimensional.
 Jung’s first mandala paintings were done in 1916-1917.
 Jung, Kundalini Yoga, ETH lectures on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Jung met S. N. Dasgupta, who lectured on Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtras in Zurich in 1939, during his visit to Calcutta in 1937-1938.
 Jung had already lectured on tantric yoga, based on books by Sir John Woodruffe (Arthur Avalon) as early as 1930 (Shamdasani, Kuldalini Seminars, pp. xxxiv and 71-78).
 Shakti, like other Indian concepts, Jung thought to be “metaphysical” as distinguished from his own “psychological” libido, etc.
 The interpenetration of symbolic association and power to affect “outer” events has frequently been noted in Indian culture.
 Harold Coward, Jung and Eastern Thought. (Albany: State University of New York Press), 1985.
 Jung, Kundalini Yoga, p. 13.
 The sea monster in Red Book pages 55 and 64, and the figure of Atmavictu painted several times suggest this danger.
 Jung, Kundalini Yoga, p. 57.
 Jung, Kundalini Yoga, p. 56.
 Jung, Kundalini Yoga, p. 57. In his Forward to D. T. Suzuki’s Introduction to Zen Buddhism (CW 11, paras 877-907) Jung later made the same point, concluding that in Zen enlightenment, “an empty consciousness stands open to another influence. This ‘other’ influence is no longer felt as one’s own activity, but as that of a non-ego which has the conscious mind as its object. It is as if the subject character of the ego has been overrun, or taken over, by another subject which appears in place of the ego.” (CW 11, para. 890).
 Barbara Hannah, Jung: His Life and Work: A Biographical Memoir, (New York and London: Putnam, 1976) p. 206.
 Liber Novus, p. 287.
 Sabina Spielrein, “Destruction as the cause of coming into being,” Journal of Analytical Psychology , 39, no.2 155–186 (1994).
 Liber Novus, p. 287.
 Possibly impoṛtant because Fowler McCormick noted that Jung was preoccupied with the color red during his Calcutta illness a few weeks later. (Bair, Jung, p. 428).
 “Vishvanatha-Tempel und die engen Gassen erfullen die Seele Jungs mit Grausen und zwingen ihn umzukehren.” Alice Boner in Boner, G, Soni, L, and Soni, J. Alice Boner Diaries. India 1934-1967. (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers), 1993, p. 60. It is interesting that the same word, “horror,” appears in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as the last word of Kurtz, the European “gone native.” Luis O. Gomez, in “Jung and the Indian East” in Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (ed.) Curators of the Buddha. The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism, pp. 197-250. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1995, argues that the culturally “other” is a profound threat to the sense of self. “The other is always other, . . . not natural, not quite human. In the end, the other becomes the bizarre. In Jung, a chasm separates. . . the world of the self and the world of the other.”
 Alice Boner, India Diaries, pp. 253, 60.
 See David Shulman, The Hungry God: Hindu Tales of Filicide and Devotion. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).
 MDR, p. 218
 CW 11.
 Jung, Notes on Lectures, 1938-1939.
 Dasgupta was the teacher of Mircea Eliade during his residence in Calcutta and the father of his paramour.
 May, 1939; see Shamdasani in Jung, Kundalini Yoga, p. xxi, n. 17.
 His History of Indian Philosophy is a classic, multivolume work on the subject.
 Jung apparently queried Dasgupta about Indian alchemy, as his “copybook” pages from 1938 contain a reference to a communication from the Indian scholar about two alchemists mentioned in the work of the grammarian Patanjali (Sonu Shamdasani, C G. Jung, a Biography in Books (New York and London: W.W. Norton), 2012, p. 179).
 Jung, Notes on Lectures, 1938-1939, Lecture VI, December 9th, p. 42.
 Evident here is the close relationship between yogic creation (emanation) of psychological realities and the widespread Indian phenomenon of “possession” (ā-deṣ, pra-deṣ) of one person (or other being) by another discussed at length by Frederick Smith (2006). The Hindu self is fluid and transactional, lying between persons as much as within them. Cf. Alfred Collins and Prakash Desai, “Selfhood in the Indian context: a psychoanalytic perspective”, T.G. Vaidyanathan and J. Kripal (eds), Vishnu on Freud’s Desk. A Reader in Psychoanalysis and Hinduism. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 367-398.
 Swami Muktananda, Play of Consciousness (South Fallsburg: Siddha Yoga Press), 2000.
 Collins and Desai, “Selfhood.”
 Cf Collins and Desai, “Selfhood” for some of the vedic texts and discussion of this process in terms of self psychology.
 Jung, Notes on Lectures, 1938-39, p. 73.
 Or “fanciful speculation” (Coward, Jung and the East, p. 67).
 Heinrich Zimmer, The King and the Corpse: Tales of the Soul’s Conquest of Evil (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 1945.
 Of course it is exactly this continuity that much Indian thought—particularly Buddhist—denies.
 Jung, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 264.
 Jung, Notes on Lectures, 1938-1939, P. 147.
 Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press), 1958, p. 87.
 This imbalance was partly overcome in Jung’s eyes by the “assumption of the Virgin” into the God image by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
 At CW 11 para 435 mistakenly written “nirdvanda.”
 CW 11, paras. 296-448
 CW 11, para 427.
 The same or similar ideas were also expressed by D. W. Winnicott and J. Lacan. Later, they were developed in detail by Heinz Kohut.
 CW 9ii, para. 418.
 CW 9ii, para. 410. The diagram remarkably reproduces the details of Jung’s 1927 Liverpool dream where the central square of the city mandala was surrounded by “individual quarters,” “themselves arranged radially around a central point. This point formed a small open square . . . and constituted a small replica of the island [in the center of the square, where grew a red-flowered magnolia].” (MDR p. 198). In Aion the square of individuation contains four subsidiary squares within which the overall movement of individuation is reproduced in miniature.
 For instance, the order of the four elements is somewhat at variance. In the kundalini sequence the progression is from earth to water to fire to air. In Aion, earth leads to water but then to air and finally fire.
 CW 9ii, para. 271.
 CW 9ii, para. 348.
 CW 9ii, para. 352.
 Alfred Collins, “The three selves of Indian psychology and psychoanalysis” in G. Misra, ed. Psychology and Psychoanalysis. (Delhi: Center for Study of Civilizations), 2013.
 Coward, Jung and Eastern Thought, distinguishes between a “rupture of planes” in yoga and Zen Buddhism and “integration” of levels in Jungian individuation.
 In the 1938 lectures on yoga and active imagination, Jung states what he takes to be the Indian position that “one emerges from the personal ātman into the universal ātman through Yoga, the Yogin becomes aware of himself as the universal essence.” But at the same time he directs his audience of Westerners that “on no account should you meditate on such a text. . .” (Jung , Notes on Lectures, 1938-1939, Lecture VI, December 9th, p. 42, emphasis in original).
 Jung refers to “the fear which the conscious mind has of the unconscious” in Aion (CW 9ii, para. 355).
 We are reminded of Jung’s retreat in “horror” (greisen) from the Vishvanath temple in 1937 recorded by Alice Boner (Boner et al, India Diaries).
 “The unconscious God-image can therefore alter the state of consciousness, just as the latter can modify the God-image once it has become conscious.” (Aion [CW 9ii], para 303).
 Most Indian demons are usurpers who attempt to assert illegitimate authority or power.
 CW 9ii, para 347.
 CW 9ii, para. 303.
 Rudolph Otto, The Idea of the Holy (New York: Oxford University Press, USA), 1958.
 MDR, p.3.
 David White, Sinister Yogis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 2011.
 Jung, CW 14, para. 778 (italics in original).