MAYA-GAIA INTRODUCTION & SITEMAP Update 08 01 08
Note: My maya-gaia website, evolving since 1997, is a chronicle of my passing all considered opinion
through the lens of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi with both an open-mind and healthy skepticism.
A Review of Gary W. Seeman Dissertation on
Jung's 1932 Kundalini Seminar
Individuation and Subtle Body - Individuation and subtle systems: Observations on Jung's 1932 Kundalini Seminars. A dissertation submitted by Gary W. Seeman to Pacifica Graduate Institute in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology. An in-depth examination of Jung's psychological interpretation of the chakras and his various controversies with Indian Kundalini scriptures including his dire warnings to Westerners who attempt Asian meditation practices. Also highlights the role that alchemic tradition played in the formation of Jung's concepts- with independent perspectives of the seminar's co-presenter, J.W. Hauer, who Jung deferred to as authority on Kundalini yoga. The thesis references (p326) original work of philosopher Jean Gebser, Georg Feuerstein and other authorities on many of the issues Jung raised.
Revelations of Chance Roderick Main examines a primary concept of C. G. Jung regarding meaningful experience. - Chapter 3: The Spiritual Dimension of Spontaneous Synchronicities; The spiritual concepts whose relationships to synchronicity I shall discuss are numinosity, miraculousness, transformation, unity, transcendence and immanence, providence, and revelation.
Maya-Gaia Review of Individuation and Subtle Systems Dissertation
Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous. - Albert Einstein
(m-g note:) Since my maya-gaia website is a chronicle of my maintaining an open-minded but healthy skepticism as I pass any considered opinion through the lens of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi- I found Seeman's dissertation highly educational particularly in regards to it's historical value about Jung's intellectual process. That said- I hold a bias that although the psychic and transcendent manifestations overlap- they ultimately are separate Magisteria and that even Jung's powerful intellectualizing fails to move them to a knowing integration.
In a further reach, starting on p315: Future Directions- the author seems taken with a NewAge ecumenical tendency to imagine credibility for the entire subtle system paradigm which leads not only to discovering synchronicities among analytic psychology, kundalini and alchemy but to finding correlations in the etheric anatomies of acupuncture and Kundalini and detecting body auras using such questionable methods as Kirlian imaging. It suggests that the entire portfolio of subtle body concepts evolves from the same emergent process of religious constructs that Spinoza refers to in his warning that "imagination is the power on which all the errors, superstitions, and prejudices of revealed religion rests." The Magisteria of psychic things that seem to work but that we don't understand grows exponentially in inverse likelihood that we can rationally apprise them- and contributes to the rising popularity of the NewAge axiom 'you create your own reality'.
Note: In response to my comments above...Dr. Seeman sent the following Email (published with permission).
From: "Gary Seeman, Ph.D."
Subject: comments on my dissertation
Date: Sun, 3 May 2009 02:18:48 -0700
"That's quite a site you have! I appreciate your thorough review of my dissertation on Jung's Kundalini Seminar. I thought it might be helpful to respond to your comment that misreads my theoretical orientation a bit.
It is through imagination that we come up with new theories.That doesn't mean the theories or speculations are true, but once stated they can be further researched and tested. Although I was long ago interested in New Age orientations to
spirituality, I have since developed a preference for more tested and traditional methods taught by teachers qualified in those traditions.
The speculations at the end of my dissertation about future directions are just that, ideas for future research (including perhaps my own). What I was drawing upon to reach toward an understanding of subtle body was my own subtle body experiences and a desire to state my curiosity about instrumental measurements of such phenomena. One of these experiences, for instance, was seeing the petals of the chakras in meditation unexpectedly and prior to seeing literature about this (see Layayoga by S. Goswami).
The correlations of anatomies of acupuncture and Kundalini were found by examining another's dissertation on acupuncture. Other parallels were found in the literature I searched for the study, i.e., correlation between an alchemical image and a Kundalini Yoga image. Per my research, there are yogis who are alchemists. In this final part of the dissertation, I'm not asserting conclusions but am raising questions that these apparent parallels bring to light. i.e., these images are very similar, these acupoints are right where the chakras are located and have the same psychological aspects in both traditions -- might there be an underlying energetic reality that was perceived by people in different cultures? Can this be measured? Valerie Hunt's method is interesting, where she tuned EMG electrodes to where chakra points could be.
BTW, since doing the dissertation, I've worked with qualified teachers in two eastern traditions and was able to experience the non-duality that Jung denied. It's not an experience that's remembered because it apparently overwhelms the ability of the brain to store such intensity. I remember the approach of the experience and its after-effects that last to this day. I understand that accomplished meditators are able to sustain immersion in non-duality.
Gary Seeman, Ph.D."
Know Thyself ... Better!
Psychotherapy for self-discovery, better relationships, peace of mind. (sm)
Offices in San Francisco and Marin.
California Psychologist PSY19356.
To which I replied..........................................
From: ed fisher
To: Gary Seeman, Ph.D.
Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2009 10:32 AM
Subject: Re: comments on my dissertation
Apologize for the delay in answering your response to my comments about your dissertation on Jung's Kundalini Seminar.
I had 60 pages of my Maya-Gaia website on Geocities and have been rushing to relocate them since Yahoo announced they are closing down that free server sometime this summer.
Considering the infinite body of non dual reality I'm sure we share more percepts than we disagree with and as mentioned in my review I found much in your dissertation that was edifying for me.
No question that even the most trivial disagreements in spiritual/religious philosophy can escalate into major dialectics (re: the bloodshed between Sunni and Shia) and perhaps my direct experience with Kirlian photography as reported on my page at Credibility New Age and my traumatic experience with kundalini meditation reported at Spooky made me especially skeptical of those two topics. I remain more open-minded about acupuncture and suspect that chakra location concepts may have evolved out of the former's reality rather than visa versa. Had an interesting brief conversation with the author of "Self Hypnosis for Cosmic Consciousness" Ronald A. Havens, that involved some similar perceptual tensions between us which I published with his permission at Ronald Havens.
Since I'm happy to add opinions dissenting mine, I wonder if it would be OK if I published the response you Emailed within my review of your dissertation? I'd also like to include a link to your professional website?
Best Regards, Ed Fisher
As an old man facing death, Jung seems to acknowledge the ephemeral nature of his intellectual 'understandings' on which his entire analytic psychology teaching was based (and his faith-based psychological imperative) when he writes: p187: I am astonished, disappointed, pleased with myself. I am distressed, depressed, rapturous. I am all these things at once, and cannot add up the sum. I am incapable of determining ultimate worth or worthlessness; I have no judgment about myself and my life. There is nothing I am quite sure about. I have no definite convictions-not about anything, really . . . . In spite of all uncertainties, I feel a solidity underlying all existence and a continuity in my mode of being. (Jung, 1961/1989, p. 358)
(Seeman adds:) These remarkable words written at the end of Jung’s life reveal a letting go of the powerful intellectual drive toward meaning that so completely characterized the man. p188: If Jung had had this experience through the practice of one-pointed meditation rather than as an old man facing death, would he have realized unitary consciousness?
(m-g note:) It seems that as Jung nears the brink of realizing transcendent reality, he is finally, intuitively becoming aware that all the features of his psychological paradigms may be constructs of his imagination.
The Holy Grail of the Unconscious by Sara Corbett (NY Times, Sept 16, 2009) This is a story about a nearly 100-year-old previously unpublished epic- The Red Book by Carl Jung with illuminated images of phantasms the author encountered in dreams and visions over a ten year midlife crises. It goes as follows: Man skids into midlife and loses his soul. Man goes looking for soul. After a lot of instructive hardship and adventure - taking place entirely in his head - he finds it again. There are a lot of Jungians involved- a species of thinkers who think dreams are the windows to our souls and salvation.
(m-g note:) Excerpts I found of special interest for my personal edification.
p34: Jean Gebser's account of his Satori and a discourse on how such experience validates philosophical hypothesis - rather than visa versa.
p64: Jung understood synchronicity as an acausal principle which stands behind such events as telepathy, clairvoyance, etc. Synchronistic events are connected through “meaning”, a subjective factor, rather than cause and effect.
p97-98: On Jung's decision not to meet with Ramana Maharshi during his visit to India- explained in part by his belief that 'consciousness' and 'non dual' are antithetical ideas.
p166 In a single, lucid paragraph, (Jung) distinguishes the God-image from the metaphysical claims of religion without detracting from religious experience, and he establishes the relativity of the God-image if realized as an unconscious factor that first appears in projected form.
p172: In this early work, he says of the similarities between Eckhart and Eastern scriptures, “the numerous analogies with Eastern ideas are immediately apparent, and they have been elaborated by writers more qualified than myself” (p. 255). In salutary fashion, he adds, “in the absence of direct transmission this parallelism proves that Eckhart was thinking from the depths of the collective psyche which is common to East and West”.
p258: Kopi Krishna anecdote of his samadhi
p260: dualist philosophies of Samkhya and Patanjali’s classical yoga.
p283: Brahman, which, unlike the Godhead, has no attributes
p297: In his last works (1956)Jung softens his position that we cannot have consciousness without ego (unitive consciousness- become one with Brahman) Mysterium Coniunctionis (Jung, 1955-1956/1963), followed his heart attack of 1944 and an ensuing vision in which he saw himself being meditated by a yogin with his own face.
p305 There are a number of disagreements between Jung and Hauer as well as others in the seminar like Zimmer over assertions by both in regards to Kundalini and other Eastern philosophical concepts.
Start selected excerpts from Seeman's Dissertation
(White, 1996). H. H. Gyalwa Karmapa XVI, who headed the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan
Buddhism, visited San Francisco in 1977. I had been doing Tibetan Buddhist meditation
for a year. Within a week and a half, I had a dream experience of traveling out of my
body to witness a rainbow white light, and encountered two living saints. The first was
Rev. Patrick Young, a Christian psychic and healer who helped me open to
compassionate love and who encouraged my imaginal perception. The second was H. H.
Gyalwa Karmapa XVI, who granted an initiation of awakened mind that empowered my
spiritual awakening. At that time I became more aware of and moved by subtle energies
and spiritual experiences. I have had to cope with the physical, psychological, and
energetic transformations resulting from these blessings, for which I remain grateful. My
ability to cope with subtle energy awareness was greatly assisted by many years of
Jungian analysis. For these reasons, I am moved to increase my understanding of the
relationship between Kundalini rising and analytical psychology by creating a more
comprehensive dialogue between these two disciplines. Increasing my understanding and
sharing that understanding with other spiritual seekers are my reasons for pursuing this
Research Questions: My attempt to build a more integral bridge between analytical psychology and
Kundalini yoga is guided by the following questions. I note these awakening experiences to
suggest a powerful, personal transference to my topic, not to suggest that the depth of
my practice has made me an expert in tantric Buddhism or Kundalini yoga. I approach these
disciplines as a student attempting to become better informed.
The texts that inform my approach to hermeneutics are Palmer’s (1969) survey of
this field, Braud and Anderson’s (1998) text on transpersonal research methods, which
situates the choice of method by the extent of established knowledge already available,
Clarke’s (1994) discussion of Jung’s hermeneutics in his text about Jung and Eastern
thought, and Jean Gebser’s (1949-1953/1985) monumental study of Western cultural
philosophy. Georg Feuerstein’s (1995) critical review of the works of Gebser help bring
Gebser’s philosophy into focus.
The secondary sources that have helped me navigate the broad expanse of Jung’s
writings include Robert Hopcke’s (1999) A Guided Tour of the Collected Works of C. G.
Jung, Marie-Louise von Franz’s (1972/1998) biography of Jung, the General Index to the
Collected Works of C. G. Jung (Jung, 1979), and the electronic abstracts of Jung’s
collected works (Rothberg & Clemens, 1999). My understanding of Jung’s writing about
individuation is assisted by a summary chapter by Joseph Henderson 7 in that author’s
(1967) book on initiation.
I am indebted to several works by Georg Feuerstein (1990, 1998a, 1998b, 2000), a prolific
writer and scholar of yoga philosophy, practices, and history. For example, his citations
helped me locate key works by Goswami (1999), Aurobindo (1990), and White (1996).
The latter is an extensive survey and hermeneutic study of tantric alchemy that reveals
many links between that tradition and the alchemical texts studied by Jung.
Hermeneutics as Method and Philosophy
The term, hermeneutics, originates in the Greek word for interpretation and
invokes the name of the god, Hermes, who "is associated with the function of
transmuting what is beyond human understanding into a form that human intelligence can
grasp" (Palmer, 1969, p. 13). According to Palmer,"we understand something by
comparing it to something we already know" (p. 87). In Gadamer’s dialectical
hermeneutics, one also explores what is not said in a text, and revisits the question that
motivated its creation in an open spirit of not knowing (Palmer, 1969).
The notion of method, itself, has come under the scrutiny of such philosophers as
Heidegger and Gadamer, both of whom make convincing arguments that method implies
an illusory, Cartesian separation between the subject of study and the researcher, who
employs a methodological set of tools to dissect the material being studied. Instead,
Gadamer suggests that hermeneutics is a form of dialog. This is a profound departure
from biblical philology, which attempted to develop methods for objectively interpreting
text. Palmer demonstrates through his presentation of the hermeneutics of Dilthey,
Heidegger, and Gadamer that this discipline is essentially phenomenological. Thus "real
questioning, then, presupposes openness (i.e., the answer is unknown) and at the same
time it necessarily specifies boundaries" (Palmer, 1969).
"According to Gadamer, there is only one way to find the right question and that
is through immersion in the subject itself" (Palmer, 1969, p. 199). In this sense,
hermeneutics is a descriptive, postmodern discipline that balances recognition of being in
the world, that acknowledges intentionality, and that sets aside presuppositions while also
respecting historical context.
arational 17 nature. How can someone who lacks personal or spiritual experience of either
discipline be shown that the construction of this document is not wholly speculative?
Nathan Schwartz-Salant (personal communication, January 16, 2000) recommends that I
approach this study via the philosophy of Jean Gebser, which demonstrates the inevitable
limitations of such a rational, scientific perspective, or of any perspective at all. He also
emphasizes the importance of one’s personal consciousness in the present moment.
Gebser (1949-1953/1985) explicitly and exhaustively documents the origins of
thinking and its limitations.
17 This is a term used by Gebser (1949-1953/1985) to indicate that which is
experienced with no considerations of rationality, a word that is rooted in the “ratio” of
perspectival measurement and numerical comparison.
Like analytical psychology
and Kundalini yoga, Gebser’s philosophy confirms that truths are verified in lived
experience, and are only proven within limited contexts.
To live these [consciousness] structures together, commensurate with their
respective degrees of conscious awareness, is to approach an integrated, integral
life. And there can be no doubt that our knowledge of the particular structure from
which a specific event, reaction, attitude, or judgement originates will be of aid in
clarifying our lives. But it must be a clarity aware of the obscure, and a
wakefulness that knows of somnolence, for these are prerequisites demanded by
the transparency of the integral structure. (Gebser, 1949-1953/1985, p. 272)
Gebser, himself, can be credited with a living realization of his own philosophy.
Georg Feuerstein, a friend of Gebser, notes that Gebser privately informed him about his
achievement of satori,18 although Feuerstein (1995, p. 172) writes that Gebser was
only marginally aware of continuous satori, known in Hindu parlance as sahaja-samadhi,
or perpetual enlightenment characteristic of jivan-mukti, or "‘liberation in life.’"
18 In a letter to Feuerstein, dated May 10, 1971, Gebser described his satori
experience: "It was sober, on the one hand happening with crystal clarity in everyday life,
which I perceived and to which I reacted ‘normally,’ and on the other hand and
simultaneously being a transfiguration and irradiation of the indescribable, unearthly,
transparent ‘Light’- no ecstasy, no emotion, but a spiritual clarity, a quiet jubilation, a
knowledge of invulnerability, a primal trust . . . [sic] Since Sarnath I am as if recast,
inwardly, since then everything is in its proper place- and it continues to take effect and
is in a way an irradiation that is always present and at hand." Gebser asked Feuerstein to
keep this disclosure private and even destroy the letter. Feuerstein published it well after
Gebser’s death, seeing this satori as no longer being a skeleton in the closet that could
undermine the legitimacy of Gebser’s published works (Feuerstein, 1995, pp. 173-174). I
include this information because to me it confirms the validity of his work.
It is difficult to assemble a full and concise definition of the term psychoid from Jung’s
collected works, although it was one of his key concepts for discussing direct encounters
with an archetypal reality, such as the self. The most complete and concise description I
have found is by J. Marvin Spiegelman, who studied at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich,
experienced group seminars and a session with Jung and was supervised in his analytic
training by Marie-Louise von Franz, among others (personal communication, January 22,
2001). I include his description because it helps clarify an understanding of Jung’s
description of visuddha consciousness:
Jung concluded that beyond the world of the psyche and its causal manifestations
and relations in time and space, there exists a trans-psychic reality (the collective
unconscious), where both time and space are relativized. At that level, there is
acausality and space-time relativization parallel to the findings in physics. The
archetypes are then conceived of as “psychoid”, i.e., not exclusively psychic. Jung
referred here to the archetype per se, not traditional archetypal images. This
“psychoid archetype” is an unknowable factor which arranges both psychical and
physical events in typical patterns, much as the axial system of a crystal pre-exists
in the mother liquid of the crystal, although it has no material existence of its
own. The psychoid archetype, therefore, is a structuring element, like the “pattern
of behavior” in biology, that underlies typical situations in life such as birth,
death, illness, change, love, and so on. The psychoid archetype lies behind both
psyche and matter and expresses itself typically in synchronistic events. Jung
understood synchronicity as an acausal principle which stands behind such events
as telepathy, clairvoyance, etc. Synchronistic events are connected through
“meaning”, a subjective factor, rather than cause and effect. (Spiegelman, 1976, p.
108) Thus, according to Jung’s description, one experiences the psychoid nature of the
archetypes at visuddha. If our experience should reach such a level, we would get an extraordinary vista
of the purusa. For then the purusa becomes really the center of things, it is no
longer a pale vision, it is then the ultimate reality, as it were. You see, that world
will be reached when we succeed in finding a symbolical bridge between the most
abstract ideas of physics and the most abstract ideas of analytical psychology.
(Jung, 1996, p. 47)
During the seminar discussion, Jung interacts with the participants and
collectively they describe ether as an element that “penetrates everything,” yet “you
cannot catch it,” thus, it is a thought. He places ether with the other elements of
Kundalini yoga as an alchemical concept related to sublimation, one that connects with
the yogic concept of absorption (laya) of the grosser manifestations of the divine by the
The idea of the transformation of the elements shows the analogy of tantric yoga
with our medieval alchemistic philosophy. There one finds exactly the same
ideas, the transformation of the gross matter into the subtle matter of the mind-
the sublimation of man, as it was then understood. (Jung, 1996, p. 43)
Here, Jung suggests another important connection with his later writings, where
he explored psychoid elements in the transference and elsewhere in his voluminous
studies of alchemy.
Spiegelman follows Jung’s alchemical thread here and compares the sublimation
in Kundalini yoga reflected in its evolving animal images with the transformation seen in
the Zen ox-herding pictures. In these pictures, the ox whitens and then is forgotten 36
(Spiegelman & Miyuki, 1994, pp. 70-71). In a lecture at Pacifica Graduate Institute,
Spiegelman (1996b) interprets the whitening of the ox in the Zen ox-herding pictures of
36 Following the same line of inference, forgetting the ox and the man in the ox-herding
pictures corresponds with the disappearance of animal symbols in the highest two
centers of Kundalini yoga. A discussion of these centers follows that on visuddha. In his
exploration of the next center, ajna, Hauer also makes the connection with the Zen ox-herding
pictures and refers seminar participants to Ten Essays in Buddhism by D. T.
Suzuki. Because that book is not easily found, I refer interested readers to Suzuki’s
writing about the ox-herding pictures in Man and Transformation, Eranos Yearbook
charts comparing definitions of yoga terms Heur's and Jung's
I studiously avoided all so-called “holy men.” I did so because I had to make do with my own truth, not accept from others what I could not attain on my own. I would have felt it as a theft had I attempted to learn from the holy men and to accept their truth for myself. Neither in Europe can I make any borrowings from the East, but must shape my life out of myself—out of what my inner being tells me, or what nature brings to me. (Jung, 1961/1989, p. 275)
When I first came upon this story of Jung’s refusal, I was surprised that a pioneer of consciousness would not be interested in meeting a person who by all accounts had achieved advanced consciousness. Admittedly, in such an encounter, Jung would have found himself face-to-face with an adherent of a philosophy of consciousness he had rejected on theoretical grounds. Jung had read Maharshi’s writings, which clearly show that the holy man believed in Advaita Vedanta (Jung, 1944/1969; Torwesten, 1985/1991). Vedanta is the body of spiritual thought found in India’s ancient spiritual canon, the Vedas. The Sanskrit meaning of Advaita denotes “not-two” (Torwesten, 1985/1991, p. 115). As noted in the previous chapter, Jung took a Kantian position that one cannot perceive reality directly but must always do so through the preconceptions of one’s
individual consciousness. Otherwise, there is no entity to be a witness. Thus he sees “non-dual” and “consciousness” to be antithetical ideas.60 The quotes on the previous page suggest that (a) Jung rejects the Indian goal of dissolving ego to merge with Brahman because he believed that this choice flees the dark side of life rather than struggling to integrate it, (b) Jung adheres to attaining spiritual knowledge by facing oneself, (c) he places so much faith in his personal experience of the unconscious and his methods for achieving this that he rejects other methods, and (d) Jung may be inflated in rejecting a meeting with Maharshi.
The numinosum is defined by Gebser as a "vital experience: religious
‘trembling,’ tremendum, the awe and thrill of man’s encounter with the ‘completely
other.’ . . . ‘Numinous,’ derived from [the] Latin numen, ‘divine power or rule,’ is an
articulation of the prerational and irrational components of religious ‘holiness’ and is
primarily concerned with the vital experience rather than any valuative or ethical
category." Contrary to widespread belief, the term, numinosum, was originally coined by
Zinzendorf in his "Natural Thoughts on the Nature of Religion", published in 1745, not
by Rudolph Otto, who omitted citing that source in his book, The Idea of the Holy
(Gebser, 1949-1953/1985, p. 193; Otto, 1923/1958).
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" (Jung, 1943/1969, p. 571). In another passage that addresses Borelli’s items 1
and 4, he writes:
Since one cannot detach oneself from something of which one is unconscious, the
European must first learn to know his subject. This, in the West, is what one calls
the unconscious. Yoga technique applies itself exclusively to the conscious mind
and will. Such an undertaking promises success only when the unconscious has
no potential worth mentioning, that is to say, when it does not contain large
portions of the personality. If it does, then all conscious effort remains futile, and
what comes out of this cramped condition of mind is a caricature or even the
exact opposite of the intended result.
The rich metaphysic and symbolism of the East express the larger and
more important part of the unconscious and in this way reduce its potential. (Jung,
1936/1969, p. 535)
Differences between East and West. The latter part of the passage just quoted
suggests a cultural difference between East and West, with those in Eastern cultures more
fully contained by a spirituality that has not become detached from its roots. Jung
addresses that East/West difference more fully in the following passage:
The collective introverted attitude of the East did not permit the world of the
senses to sever the vital link with the unconscious; psychic reality was never
seriously disputed despite the existence of so-called materialistic speculations.
The only known analogy to this fact is the mental condition of the primitive, who
confuses dream and reality in the most bewildering way. Naturally we hesitate to
call the Eastern mind primitive, for we are deeply impressed with its remarkable
civilization and differentiation. Yet the primitive mind is the matrix, and this is
particularly true of that aspect of it which stresses the validity of psychic
phenomena, such as relate to ghosts and spirits. The West has simply cultivated
the other aspect of primitivity, namely, the scrupulously accurate observation of
nature at the expense of abstraction. (Jung, 1954/1969a, p. 499)
According to Coward, Jung rejects the idea of omniscience
through the destruction of this type of samskara (Coward, 1985a, p. 68). Here is an
example given by Jung:
I do not doubt the existence of mental states transcending consciousness. But they
lose their consciousness to exactly the same degree that they transcend
consciousness. I cannot imagine a conscious mental state that does not relate to a
subject, that is, to an ego. The ego may be depotentiated-divested, for instance,
of its awareness of the body-but so long as there is awareness of something,
there must be somebody who is aware. (Jung, 1954/1969a, p. 484)
Spiegelman and Vasavada respond that one does not need the involvement of the
ego and its dualities to perceive, and that the transcendent perception in a non-dual
consciousness may occur as perception via the self (Spiegelman & Vasavada, 1987, pp.
64, 67). Another report that contradicts Jung is that of Gopi Krishna (1967), who wrote
verses in languages with which he was unfamiliar, a form of omniscience that I report in
Chapter 7. In a related critique, Jacobs faults Jung for not acknowledging the need to
cultivate control of the mind through meditation that penetrates to the essence of the
senses (Jacobs, 1961, p. 146).
Jung had decided that one could not perceive without the agency of the self-sense,
62 Feuerstein cites two kinds of subliminal activators, or samskaras, as described
in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Vyutthana samskaras lead to externalization of
consciousness and nirodha samskaras cause the inhibition of conscious processes,
preventing the generation of vyutthana samskaras, helping one achieve samadhi. He adds
that “at the highest level of conscious ecstasy . . . [samprajnata-samadhi], a subliminal
activator is generated that obstructs all others and leads over into the condition of
superconscious ecstasy [asamprajnata-samadhi]” (Feuerstein, 2000, p. 258).
However, a visit to Sri
Ramana Maharshi might have revealed an alternative point of view that the ego is said to
disappear when the discursive mind goes quiet through training in intense concentration.
That disappearance of ego does not signal its annihilation, but rather its sublimation, so
that the adept’s orientation to the body enables the adept to speak and navigate the
material world. Yet, the adept’s actions may be spontaneously guided by the self, which
finds its expression in the world without selfish attachments.
Alan Watts notes the mystic sublimation of the ego and suggests that the Western
misunderstanding of this experience is an artifact of unexamined Western subject-predicate
syntax (Clarke, 1994, p. 173). In other words, our language includes the
presupposition that we are separate from objects of our attention and have causal effects
on these objects.
Jung is widely criticized for suggesting that the state of superconcentration in
meditation known as samadhi in which the ego goes quiet is equal to sleep.
...alchemy is the symbolic system that bridges his
psychology and Kundalini yoga. The alchemical model, and his late formulations of
archetypal and synchronicity theories, reflect Jung’s individuation construct in its
maturity. I use the term God-image rather than God in a manner congruent with Jung’s
use of the term. He sees the God-image as a demonstrable psychic reality in that most
people have an inner image of the divine. By limiting his remarks to the God-image, Jung
also seeks to preserve the status of his psychology as a scientifically-based treatment
modality that does not make metaphysical claims. He comments about his actual belief in
God only in his posthumously-published autobiography (Jung, 1961/1989, pp. 353-354).
The symbols or
archetypal elements of psyche that emerge during the individuation process tend to
initially reveal the persona (mask adopted to meet cultural expectations), then the shadow
(despised aspects of the person), the anima/animus (repressed, contrasexual element and
mediator with the self), and the self, although these archetypal images do not always
emerge in linear progression and are often seen in combination. During the individuation
process, the collective unconscious, which is formed from the sum of all human
experience, has a compensatory relationship to the ego. Jung envisioned the acquisition
of wisdom through the circumambulation of the ego around the unknowable and
numinous self. Harold Coward (1985a) has provided a great service in tracing the Eastern
equivalents of some of Jung’s fundamental ideas.
80 In his later years, Jung recognizes that the internal/external distinction does not
always hold, due to the psychoid nature of the archetypes.
81 To circumambulate, one walks (ambulates) around (circum) an object of
worship, (Gove et al., 2000) as when someone walks a labyrinth in meditation. Thus
circumambulation is the spiraling path of maturation that centers around one’s essential
As noted in the previous chapter, Spiegelman and Henderson believe that for
the most part, at least, Jung independently discovered his core concepts and found
parallels to them in Eastern texts. Shamdasani does not see Jung’s personal discovery of
these concepts as a straightforward, either/or proposition (Henderson cited in Coward,
1985a; J. M. Spiegelman, personal communication, February 20, 20001; S. Shamdasani,
personal communication, April 13, 2001).
shadow: despised aspects of the person
anima/animus: repressed, contrasexual element and mediator with the self
Jung explores the farther reaches of individuation with reference to religious
experiences and symbolism. In one way or another, religious texts and scriptures all
address one’s relationship with God, the Absolute.
His writing about the Gnostic way acknowledges its anticipation of medieval
mysticism. He explores the mystic motif of achieving union with God in his luminous
discussion of the writings of the 13 th -century German mystic, Meister Eckhart, that
compares Eckhart’s texts with Indian philosophy (Jung, 1920/1971, pp. 242-256).
Thus Jung writes, “strangely appealing is Eckhart’s sense of an inner affinity with
God, when contrasted with the Christian sense of sin. We feel ourselves transported back
into the spacious atmosphere of the Upanishads” (p. 242). Later he cites a quote from
Eckhart that is directly comparable to the Vedic idea that Atman is Brahman. In
Eckhart’s words, ’For man is truly god and god is truly man’ cliii ” (p. 245).
Jung formulates the role of psychology vis-ŕ-vis religion as follows:
Reverence for the great mysteries of Nature, which the language of religion seeks
to express in symbols hallowed by their antiquity, profound significance, and
beauty, will not suffer from the extension of psychology to this domain, to which
science has hitherto found no access. We only shift the symbols back a little,
shedding a little light on their darker reaches, but without succumbing to the
erroneous notion that we have created anything more than merely a new symbol
for the same enigma that perplexed all ages before us. Our science is a language
of metaphor, too, but in practice it works better than the old mythological
hypothesis, which used concretisms as a means of expression, and not, as we do,
concepts. (Jung, 1920/1971, p. 253)
Thus, in a few strokes of the pen, he expresses reverence for the religious vision
and reconciles religious experience with scientific thinking. This act is a reconciliation of
opposites that had for centuries alienated Western culture from spiritual experience and
elevated the illusion of scientific objectivity to its pedestal as the new, unquestioned
authority (Romanyshyn, 1989; Tarnas, 1991).
Jung’s amplification of Eckhart’s vision reflects the influence of Albert Einstein’s
revolutionary concept of relativity. In like fashion, Jung characterizes Eckhart as
relativistic because Eckhart found the relationship with God not to be a one-way affair,
with God determining the individual’s entire fate. Instead, one’s ability to consistently
experience the bliss of the divine presence can be disrupted by projection. To arrive at
this conclusion, one needs to find a way to locate the relationship with God within the
individual psyche. Jung does this by acknowledging the evidence for this relationship in
the God-image. This God-image is, by definition, overpowering.
From the empirical standpoint of analytical psychology, the God-image is the
symbolic expression of a particular psychic state, or function, which is
characterized by its absolute ascendancy over the will of the subject, and can
therefore bring about or enforce actions and achievements that could never be
done by conscious effort. (Jung, 1920/1971, p. 243)
In a single, lucid paragraph, he distinguishes the God-image from the
metaphysical claims of religion without detracting from religious experience, and he
establishes the relativity of the God-image if realized as an unconscious factor that first
appears in projected form.
For our psychology, which as a science must confine itself to empirical data
within the limits set by cognition, God is not even relative, but a function of the
unconscious-the manifestation of a dissociated quantum of libido that has
activated the God-image. From the metaphysical point of view God is, of course,
absolute, existing in himself. This implies his complete detachment from the
which means, psychologically, a complete unawareness of the fact
that God’s action springs from one’s own inner being. The relativity of God, on
the other hand, means that a not inconsiderable portion of the unconscious
processes is registered, at least indirectly, as a psychological content. Naturally
this insight is possible only when more attention than usual is paid to the psyche,
with the consequence that the contents of the unconscious are withdrawn from
projection into objects and become endowed with a conscious quality that makes
them appear as belonging to the subject and as subjectively conditioned. (Jung,
1920/1971, pp. 243-244)
This achievement of a conscious realization that makes one resilient to adversity
is more fully elaborated in Jung’s alchemical model, which is discussed below, where it
is recognized as the albedo, or whitening stage. At this stage of individuation there is still
work to be done in what Jung and Eckhart recognize to be an ongoing process. In the
following passage, Eckhart describes a breakthrough that seems equivalent to the
transcendent, non-dual state of Indian scriptures, where there is a blissful cessation of
desirous ego and the experience of omniscience.
“When I flowed forth, all creatures declared God . . . . And why did they not
declare the Godhead? All that is in Godhead is one, and of that there is nothing to
declare. Only God does; Godhead does nothing, there is nothing it can do, and
never has it looked for anything to do. God and Godhead are as different as doing
and non-doing. When I come home again in God, I do nothing more in myself, so
this my breaking through is much more excellent than my first going out. For
truly it is I who bring all creatures out of their own into my mind and make them
one in me. When I come back into the ground and the depths of Godhead, into its
flood and source, none asks me whence I came or whither I went. None missed
me. God passes away.clxix ” (Eckhart Works, cited in Jung, 1920/1971, p. 254)
About this breakthrough, Eckhart writes,
“I receive what God and I have in common. I am what I was, I neither increase
nor diminish, for I am the unmoved mover that moves all things. Here God can
find no more place in man, for man by his emptiness has won back that which he
eternally was and ever shall remain.” (Eckhart Works, cited in Jung, 1920/1971, p.
In this early work, he says of
the similarities between Eckhart and Eastern scriptures, “the numerous analogies with
Eastern ideas are immediately apparent, and they have been elaborated by writers more
qualified than myself” (p. 255). In salutary fashion, he adds, “in the absence of direct
transmission this parallelism proves that Eckhart was thinking from the depths of the
collective psyche which is common to East and West” (p. 255).
Gebser (1949-1953/1985) makes a useful distinction by acknowledging a divine
ground that shines through all structures of consciousness. He calls this divine ground
“the ever-present origin.”
Individuation and Alchemy
Through the study of . . . collective transformation processes and through
understanding of alchemical symbolism I arrived at the central concept of my
psychology: the process of individuation. (Jung, cited in Schwartz-Salant, 1995b,
This quotation reveals that Jung’s study of alchemical symbolism was central to
his mature view of individuation.
(paraphrasing: Jung draws on Western alchemy and Kundalini yoga to develope his concepts of
subtle body and the unus mundus (one world) and the related concepts of synchronicity and
the psychoid unconscious.)
reified: The law of correspondences compared the qualities of phenomena and often reified them using broad concepts. An
example of this reification is Aristotle’s description of the elements and their interaction,
so that any liquid was comprised of the water element, heated liquids were comprised of
water and fire, and so on (Schwartz-Salant, 1995b, p. 112).
I point out the central significance of alchemy
to Jung’s formulation of his life-work because alchemy offers the most extensive
symbolic framework for bridging his psychology and Kundalini yoga.
In Kundalini yoga, ida is envisioned as white and pingala as red (Avalon, 1972, p.
lvi). As the goddess, Kundalini Shakti, rises through the chakras, practitioners
experience intense heat ...The literature of alchemy spans almost two millennia. Alchemy
is said to originate in Egypt. Then it spread to Europe, India, China, and Tibet (White,
1996), so that the alchemy studied by Jung would naturally correspond with tantric
the correspondences between analytical psychology and Kundalini yoga are those of two
branches of an ancient tradition.
Jung’s individuation construct helps alchemy find its place in the modern world as
a mode of thinking and being that restores the visionary capacity that was submerged
during the so-called Enlightenment, which was marked by a conceptual separation
between subject and object. The
alchemical opus (work) was typically conducted by male and female partners, an adept
and his soror (sister). The separation of subject and object that began in the Italian
culminated in the scientific and industrial revolutions. The technological and economic
achievements of these cultural transformations have been purchased at the cost of the
rational person’s frequent separation from the lived moment. The depth psychologies of
Freud and Jung and the attraction of Eastern spirituality, hatha yoga and body therapies
arose in the West in response to that separation. This separation of subject from object,
which included an alienation from spirituality, passion, and the body, is eloquently taken
up by Gebser (1949-1953/1985),
98 Since alchemy was a compensatory movement to the patriarchal Church, I
wonder whether the soror could also be considered an adept.
Male and female were seen as opposites to be
combined in the materials, subject to the efforts of the male and female experimenters
and their subjective relationship. The goal of the alchemical opus was the creation of the
lapis, or philosopher’s stone, which could be at once poison or elixir and was capable of
transforming any substance into its transcendent self, which is symbolized by the
resurrected Christ in alchemical images.
aspect is its ability to overwhelm the person who is unprepared for an encounter with
spiritual, numinous power. A positive aspect of this poisonous quality is the killing of ego
to allow rebirth of the self (Edinger, 1984/1994, p. 29).
The mysterious and problematic attempts to control the transformation of the base
materials (prima materia) into noble ones were seen in the distillation of mercury- a
seemingly miraculous fusion of metal and fluid that reflected the observer. The
chameleon-like nature of Mercury and the potently possessive and paradoxical
relationships among materials and experimenters were personified in the Spirit
Mercurius, a chthonic (underworld) counterpart of the wholly good and spiritual Christ
represented by Church dogma. Mercury plays a similar role in the symbolism of tantric
alchemy (White, 1996).
Jung’s own individuation process is reflected in this description of alchemical
transformation. He deprived the anima of her power to possess him. This was one of the
two acts that helped him emerge from his fateful descent. In this regard, I include the
following lengthy quote, which says so much about the struggle to be an individual.
In this transformation it is essential to take objects away from those animus or
anima devils. They only become concerned with objects when you allow yourself
to be self-indulgent. Concupiscentia is the term for that in the church . . . . The
fire of desirousness is the element that must be fought against in Brahmanism, in
Buddhism, in Tantrism, in Manicheaism, in Christianity. It is also important in
When you indulge in desirousness, whether your desire turns toward
heaven or hell, you give the animus or the anima an object; then it comes out in
the world instead of staying inside in its place . . . . But if you can say: Yes, I
desire it and I shall try to get it but I do not have to have it, if I decide to
renounce, I can renounce it; then there is no chance for the animus or anima.
Otherwise you are governed by your desires, you are possessed . . . .
But if you have put your animus or anima into a bottle you are free of
possession, even though you may be having a bad time inside, because when your
devil has a bad time you have a bad time…. Of course he will rumble around in
your entrails, but after a while you will see that it was right [to bottle him up].
You will slowly become quiet and change. Then you will discover that there is a
stone growing in the bottle . . . . Insofar as self-control, non-indulgence, has
become a habit, it is a stone . . . . When that attitude becomes a fait accompli, the
stone will be a diamond.” (Jung, The Visions Seminars, cited in Edinger, 1994, p.
His article, “Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle,” presents
compelling arguments and amusing anecdotes to support the notion that timeless,
numinous, archetypal forces without location influence our lives through meaningful
coincidences. In this regard he even compares synchronistic events to interventions by
divine forces, although he studiously avoids metaphysical claims to that effect (Jung,
1952/1960). Jung’s discussion of the psychoid unconscious, which is defined and
described in Chapter 3, acknowledges a trans-psychic reality where both time and space
are relativized and events are structured by the archetypes (Spiegelman, 1976, p. 108).
Late in life, Jung envisioned synchronicity and the psychoid nature of the archetypes to
more accurately describe the nature of paranormal events than the effects of local,
measurable energy fields. Thus, he acknowledged a transcendent reality, the unus
mundus, which is aperspectival and time-free. Although he could not conceive of the
possibility of a universal consciousness where the ego is identical with the self, his own
writing illustrates what a movement in that direction may look like. These words do not
constitute a contradiction to his theory. They suggest to me what one may experience
before achieving a unitary consciousness.
The older I have become, the less I have understood or had insight into or known
I am astonished, disappointed, pleased with myself. I am distressed,
depressed, rapturous. I am all these things at once, and cannot add up the sum. I
am incapable of determining ultimate worth or worthlessness; I have no judgment
about myself and my life. There is nothing I am quite sure about. I have no
definite convictions-not about anything, really . . . . In spite of all uncertainties, I
feel a solidity underlying all existence and a continuity in my mode of being.
(Jung, 1961/1989, p. 358)
These remarkable words written at the end of Jung’s life reveal a letting go of the
powerful intellectual drive toward meaning that so completely characterized the man.
If Jung had had this experience through the practice of one-pointed meditation rather than
as an old man facing death, would he have realized unitary consciousness?
Concluding and Summary Remarks
Jung found parallels to many of
the core concepts of individuation in his study of Eastern philosophies, early Christian
Gnosticism most extensively from Western alchemy -although he acknowledged the
counterpart of that tradition in Eastern cultures.
Jung had had this experience through the practice of one-pointed meditation rather than
as an old man facing death, would he have realized unitary consciousness? He will
remain forever silent on this point. The answer to this question can only by discovered by
you and me in our personal experience.
Concluding and Summary Remarks
Jung’s understanding of the individuation process developed throughout his
mature career. This understanding was fueled by his close encounter with the numinous
and living psyche, which deepened during his courageous descent after his split with
Freud. He sustained an intense, spiritual dedication to unfolding the language of the
psyche as it appeared in worldwide spiritual traditions. Jung found parallels to many of
the core concepts of individuation in his study of Eastern philosophies. Others emerge
from his study of early Christian Gnosticism. His intuitions and innovations gained their
most extensive historical grounding and symbolic amplification in his studies of Western
alchemy. Although he acknowledged the counterpart of that tradition in Eastern cultures,
he pursued the Western approach with greatest zeal because he felt grounded in the
spiritual and scientific culture of Europe.
As seen by his description of containing one’s devils in the cauldron of the belly,
the development of the individuation construct reflects, as well, Jung’s increasing
capacities to experience and interpret the intensity of the transference and
countertransference. His descent into the unconscious was accompanied by his own
anima transit, where he struggled for and achieved a balance that could sustain instinctive
passions without overwhelming his spiritual, intellectual, and moral strivings. In this
regard, he has characterized the encounter with the anima and its intense affects as a
The tempering of one’s psychological self thus
achieved is a soul-building task that strengthens the subtle body and infuses it with divine
love and a symbolic attitude to withstand increasingly numinous archetypal experiences.
At the time of the Kundalini seminar, Jung characterizes the intensity of this development
through the imagery of the sun myth and its perilous plunge into the depths of the
unconscious. The sun rises as it is reborn from the sea, and the initiate passes through fire
before realizing the centering archetype of the self in the heart.104 The same psychic
development in the individual and the relational field finds a much richer description in
Jung’s writing about alchemy, the historic counterpart to his theory of individuation. The
next chapter examines the diamond that is forged at the completion of the alchemical
opus and its intermediate, transitional states. That diamond is the subtle body.
104 Although this does not occur in the heart chakra according to J. S. Harrigan
(personal communication, July 2, 2001).
From the dawn of history, people have expressed their incomplete understanding
of life’s mysteries in religious symbolism. The most profound of all mysteries is life
itself. A painting by Gauguin depicts this mystery with a panorama showing people of all
ages, wild and domesticated animals, and the statue of a goddess in a Tahitian paradise.
In a reference to the Garden of Eden, a strong, young man at the center of the painting
reaches up to grasp a piece of fruit on a tree. The painting bears the inscription,
D’ou venons nous
Que sommes nous
Ou allons nous
In translation this reads, “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”
People have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge for millennia, but science only offers an
incomplete response to the middle question. Our collective beliefs about subtle body
represent the best attempts to answer the first and last questions-the alpha of our origin,
and the omega of our ultimate destiny.
This chapter traces the evolution of the subtle body concept from the shamanic
tradition to the present. I begin by sketching the subtle body beliefs of ancient peoples
and the evolution of those beliefs. I employ Jean Gebser’s idea of consciousness
structures to connect the evolution 105 of culture with subtle body symbolism. Next, I
discuss Jung’s comments about subtle body phenomena in alchemical parallels to the
p105 Gebser himself would disagree with my use of the word evolution, because his
idea of the emerging integral consciousness structure sees all consciousness structures
rooted in the ever-present Origin, which is inherently time-free. These structures exist in
potential regardless of their emergence in history. I prefer to locate the historical,
evolutionary view within the time/space continuum and see the aperspectival Origin to be
ever-present in our world and in an acausal realm without distinctions. The usefulness of
this dual worldview is addressed in the next chapter. Feuerstein (1995) also takes care to
modify the historic dates of inception of Gebser’s consciousness structures.
Hence the magic world is also a world of pars pro toto, in which the part can
and does stand for the whole. (p. 46)
Hence, the alchemists’ law of correspondences begins with the emergence of
magic consciousness. The “points” that stand for the whole
can be interchanged at will. Herein . . . lies the root of plurality of souls, which to
magic man was a reality . . . . Man replies to the forces streaming toward him with
his own corresponding forces: he stands up to Nature. He tries to exorcise her, to
guide her; he strives to be independent of her; then he begins to be conscious of
his own will. (Gebser, 1949-1953/1985, p. 46)
Witchcraft and sorcery, totem and taboo, are the natural means by which [magic
man] seeks to free himself from the transcendent power of nature, by which his
soul strives to materialize within him and to become increasingly conscious of
itself. (1949-1953/1985, p. 46)
These are the ritual practices of shamanism. Roger Walsh writes that “shaman” is
derived from the word saman of the Tungus people of Siberia, meaning “one who is
excited, moved, raised.” It may be derived from an ancient Indian word meaning
“to heat oneself or practice austerities”xviii or from a Tungus verb meaning “to
know.”xix (Walsh, 1990, p. 8)
Gebser differs from Jung in not considering the scientific, rational
consciousness an evolutionary advance beyond earlier consciousness structures. Instead,
he sees all consciousness structures emerging from a numinous, ever-present Origin and
comprising fundamental aspects of human consciousness that are only suppressed to our
detriment (1949-1953/1985, p. 155). He sees scientific rationalism that is valid within its
own fields of application being superseded by an integral consciousness structure that is
not confined within measured calculations that neglect living wholeness.
107 For a classic discussion of the separation/individuation process, see The
Psychological Birth of the Human Infant: Symbiosis and Individuation by Mahler, Pine &
The Tao Korean symbol of Yin Yang = Gebser argues that the image of the T’ai-Ki is rooted in
the archaic consciousness structure, and is thus pre-symbolic (p. 221).
Subtle Body in Alchemy
The alchemical opus is a process of transforming base materials into noble ones
by an artifex (alchemical practitioner, either adept or soror) whose consciousness is
numinously conjoined with the materials being crucified and transformed in the vessel.
Jung writes that “the alchemical operation consisted essentially in separating the prima
materia, the so-called chaos, into the active principle, the soul, and the passive principle,
the body, which are then reunited in personified form in the coniunctio or ‘chymical
marriage’” (Jung, 1929/1983, pp. 122-123). Here the soul, as “active principle,” accesses
the eternal life of the spirit to vitalize the body and inspire the imagination. The fertile
imaginations of the alchemists created many terms for subtle body. The words that
suggest the vitalizing, inspirational function of the soul are breath-soul, pneuma (spirit),
prana (breath), hun (cloud spirit) (Jung, 1929/1983, pp. 38-39), corpus subtile (subtle
body) (Jung, 1946/1960, p. 194), and anima as ligamentum corporis et spiritus (soul as
binding factor between body and spirit) (Jung, 1950/1969a, p. 312). The soul in itself
was a being without extension, and
because it existed before taking corporeal form and afterwards as well, it was
considered timeless and thence immortal. (Jung, 1931/1960, p. 345)
The Latin words animus, ‘spirit’, and anima, ‘soul’, are the same as the Greek
anemos, ‘wind’. The other Greek word for ‘wind’, pneuma, also means ‘spirit’.
Chapter 7, Kundalini Yoga, Introduction
Kundalini yoga is an ancient, living tradition whose origins disappear into the
mists of time (Bhattacharyya, 1999). Its central concern is nothing less than complete
liberation from the sufferings of this life through realization of one’s divine nature.
Yoga’s promise of ultimate self-realization has had a profound and controversial
impact on the West since the arrival of India’s sacred texts offered a romantic alternative
to Europe’s so-called Enlightenment, which placed ultimate value in a dry, disembodied
rationalism. India’s timeless wisdom, its sanatana dharma, further challenged the
authority of Christianity and the claim of some of its denominations to mediate between
the individual born in original sin and a separate God-even though such mediation
contradicts Jesus’ assertion that God’s essence is immanent in all of us (John 10:34).
There is no single yoga tradition, but a variety of yogas to meet the varying
temperaments and sophistication of different people. The many yoga traditions are
inseparably embedded in a large and ancient body of written teachings. These teachings,
some of which include alchemical principles, seem to arise from archetypal roots that are
common to all. Evidence for this statement is found in the reports from people around the
world of spontaneous yogic experiences without prior knowledge. For instance, people
may be inundated with mystical light and heat, or may find themselves spontaneously
moved by an inner force to assume yoga postures (Greenwell, 1990). Without prior
knowledge, I have personally seen a vision of a rainbow white light and had a lucid
dream where I journeyed out of the body.
Kundalini yoga are the Vedas, Upanishads, Tantras, and Puranas (Goswami, 1999). There are
over 200 Upanishads. The Upanishads are esoteric spiritual scriptures that interpret the
essence of the Vedas to practice contemplation and meditation in order to have spiritual
experience (Feuerstein, 1998b, p. 99; J. S. Harrigan, personal communication, June 11, 2001).
The Puranas are myths and folktales that date back approximately to the time of the Vedas.
Puranas of the post-Vedic age include parts of the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata. The Vedas
comprise the earliest revealed literature (shruti)146 and consist of the Rig-Veda,
Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda.
The exclusion of people of the fourth estate from initiation into the Vedic tradition
established the need for a literature that met their quest for vital information. This
exclusion also set the stage for Buddhism as a revelatory alternative to the Brahmanism that
exalted the brahmana estate 147 (Feuerstein, 1998b; Bhattacharyya, 1999). The alternative
texts that emerged to meet this need were the Tantras. According to White, the root of
tantra is tan, which means “‘to stretch,’ as one would a thread on a loom.” Thus tantra has
the meaning, “‘the warp (of reality).’” Tantra is also related to the word, tanu, “a body
. . . to be sacrificed on an altar within the ritual framework.” He adds, “those persons who
followed the way of tantra were called tantrikas, and their written and orally transmitted
works the Tantras” (White, 1996, pp. 1-2). Thus the tantras offer information about the
weaving together of reality, a context for life, practical information, and spiritual
practices. Feuerstein (1997) notes that the sexual symbolism of tantra and especially the
often frowned upon left-hand path of tantra that includes maithuna, (ritualized sexual
union), has allowed some Westerners to equate Tantra itself with such sexual practices. He
criticizes the popularization of this misconception in New Age publications and
p147 Buddhism was, itself, challenged by the Advaita Vedanta of Shankaracharya, which is
discussed below (Bhattacharyya, 1999).
practices of what he calls “neo-tantra,” and distinguishes the traditional left-hand path as
being pursued for transcendence, not personal gratification. He cites a moving description
by a practitioner of the left-hand path of maithuna to illustrate a true initiation by an
adept (Feuerstein, 1998a, pp. 243-245). That adept, the anonymous Lady in Saffron,
offers the following majestic description of sexuality’s central place as one of the
mysteries of human existence. She also emphasizes the need to transcend sex-oriented
emotions in this teaching enunciated shortly before her death:
Of all the emotions man suffers from . . . sex and sex-oriented emotions demand
the most vital sacrifice. It is the most demanding and the most daring of emotions;
it is also the most self-centred, next to hunger. It adores the self most, and hates to
share its joy and consummation. It is wanted the most, it is regretted the most. It is
creative; it is destructive. It is joy; it is sorrow. Bow to sex, the hladini [the power
of ecstasy].xxv cites (Bhattacharya, Brajamadhava (1988). The World of Tantra.
New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, p. 42, cited in Feuerstein, 1998a, pp. 244-
According to N. N. Bhattacharyya (1999), Like the Vedas, the Tantras offered a
variety of information, including medical and psychological treatises. Tantras addressing
the last of these categories have unfortunately been lost. In all, they provided practical
and spiritual information without promoting the hegemony of the brahmanic estate. And,
they taught the equal importance of the Female Principle, embodied in the divine energy
of manifestation, Shakti. Bhattacharyya attributes the incorporation of the Shakti
principle to a syncretism with worship of the Divine Mother in ancient Indian matriarchal
society (Bhattacharyya, 1999). He also notes the strong possibility that much of the
spiritual technology of Tantrism may originate in China.
Indian Metaphysics Relate Macrocosm to Microcosm
Indian metaphysical debate down through the ages has dealt with the sensing of
two different perceptions of realities by adepts. The first is a transcendent reality or
creation in potential, the other comprises maya, the impermanent manifestation of
material existence inhabited by countless, apparently separate, mortal entities. India’s
spiritual traditions assist the seeker in realizing the commensurability of the microcosm
of the human body with cosmos.
Samkhya. The first Vedic conception of this apparent duality is Samkhya
(Enumeration), which envisions numerous transcendental selves (purushas) that are
omnipresent. These are separate from the transcendental matrix of Nature (prakriti).
...the extension of consciousness without an ego and the diminution of
ego approach infinite size and insignificance, respectively. I can only wonder whether the
anecdotal experience of Gopi Krishna, below, represents the asymptotically inverse
relationship of the extension of consciousness and retraction of ego in a way that the
purusha is described by Jung as “smaller than small, and greater than great” (Jung, 1996,
p. 39, citing the Katha Upanishad).
I felt the point of consciousness that was myself growing wider, surrounded by
waves of light. It grew wider and wider, spreading outward while the body,
normally the immediate object of its perception, appeared to have receded into the
distance until I became entirely conscious of it. I was now all consciousness,
without any outline, without any idea of a corporeal appendage, without any
feeling or sensation coming from the senses, immersed in a sea of light
simultaneously conscious and aware of every point, spread out, as it were, in all
directions without any barrier or material obstruction. I was no longer myself, or
to be more accurate, no longer as I knew myself to be, a small point of awareness
confined in a body, but instead was a vast circle of consciousness in which the
body was but a point, bathed in light and in a state of exaltation and happiness
impossible to describe.
After some time, the duration of which I could not judge, the circle began
to narrow down; I felt myself contracting, becoming smaller and smaller, until I
again became dimly conscious of the outline of my body, then more clearly; and
as I slipped back to my old condition, I became suddenly aware of the noises in
the street, felt again my arms and legs and head, and once more became my
narrow self in touch with body and surroundings. (Krishna, 1967, p. 13) (See also
more on Gopi Krishna)
Torwesten summarizes Shankara’s eschatology as follows:
For Shankara only one reality ultimately exists: the impersonal and attributeless
Nirguna Brahman. For some reason, however, this one reality does not have the
appearance of a seamless whole but of a plurality of separate entities: a personal
god (Ishvara), a world (jagat) and countless individual embodied souls (jivas).
Shankara calls this phenomenon and its potential power maya. Like a mirage,
maya cannot be said to exist or not to exist, to be light or darkness, to be good or
evil. As prakriti, maya is the womb of Nature, the origin of all form (including
divine ones) and also what makes the universe seem object-like and something we
can divide into constituent parts and analyze. As Shakti, maya has a more positive
connotation as the creative (female) energy and omnipotence of the Lord of the
Universe (Ishvara), who with her help projects the universe out of himself. In a
more philosophical sense, however, maya is in Shankara’s system only a
temporary aid, not unlike the unknown X in an equation which, while contributing
to its solution, has no intrinsic reality of its own. (Torwesten, 1985/1991, pp. 143-
144) The dual and non-dual approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Harrigan sees a complementary relationship between these approaches as a practitioner
The rest of us benefit from the
concepts and techniques offered by the dualist philosophies of Samkhya and Patanjali’s
classical yoga. She says in this regard that “the mind is a maya factory that creates
delusion, distortion, covers and hides reality so that the ordinary person is caught in the
play of the gunas. The methods of the dualistic traditions address the obstacles placed by
the gunas so the person can become increasingly sattvic” (personal communication, May
7, 2001). These dualistic approaches help us harness our yearning and expend the effort
to overcome our predominantly rajasic or tamasic temperaments, which are more easily
captured by the power of maya. She adds that
even people who understand and believe that the philosophy of monism is
absolutely true may still be held under the sway of the gunas. Dualistic spiritual
methods designed to purify tamasic and rajasic tendencies are more potent in
reducing those two gunas as a preparation for practice of Advaita Vedanta. The
latter approach tells us that there is One and that is all there is, and that we are
already enlightened, just not aware of it. (J. S. Harrigan, personal
communication, May 7, 2001)
Different Yogas, Different Temperaments
According to Harrigan, in contemporary India, “there are four major paths of
yoga: karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, and jnana yoga” (J. S. Harrigan, personal
communication, June 11, 2001). Karma yoga transcends ego through action. Bhakti yoga
transcends ego through loving devotion to God (Feuerstein, 1998b). Harrigan describes
raja yoga as “the path described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.” She says that “Jnana yoga
relies primarily on spiritual study, contemplation, and meditation,” (J. S. Harrigan,
personal communication, June 11, 2001) and adds:
Hatha yoga is used in all the paths in some way. Hatha yoga cultivates the body
and includes poses, breathing practices, and physical contractions to control the
functioning of the subtle body. Mantra yoga can be viewed as a subset of bhakti
yoga, because it relies on devotional repetition of a name of the divine or a
spiritually charged phoneme. Layayoga and Kundalini yoga both refer to the
understanding of the process of going from the gross to the subtle regardless of
the path that one chooses. (J. S. Harrigan, personal communication, June 11,
With such contextual material in place, we are ready to look at the phenomenon
of Kundalini rising, which occurs along any of the paths discussed above. The discussion
that follows is a summary of subtle body and Kundalini rising as it is understood by the
lineage of Joan Harrigan (believes in karma), an advanced Kundalini yoga practitioner.
Her lineage accepts Raja-Yoga and Advaita Vedanta, which are dualistic and non-dualistic
philosophies, respectively. These two philosophies are linked because the great monists,
Vyasa and Shankaracharya made profound commentaries on Patanjali’s dualistic
Yoga-Sutras (J. S. Harrigan, personal communication, June 11, 2001).
Jung states the impossibility of speaking in foreign tongues (Spiegelman &
Vasavada, 1987). Compare this passage by Gopi Krishna, which supports the claims of
yoga’s ancient rishis (seers). He writes that in December, 1949, he was walking with a
companion when he experienced an expansion of mind and
no longer heard the voice of my companion; she seemed to have receded into the
distance though walking by my side. Near me, in a blaze of brilliant light, I
suddenly felt what seemed to be a mighty conscious presence sprung from
nowhere encompassing me and overshadowing all the objects around, from which
two lines of a beautiful verse in Kashmiri poured out to float before my vision,
like luminous writing in the air, disappearing as suddenly as they had come.
(Krishna, 1967, p. 207)
He soon found himself writing additional verses in Kashmiri, then in English, then in
Urdu, then in Punjabi, then in Persian. These languages were decreasingly familiar until
he encountered Persian, with which he was unfamiliar although was able to recognize
many words (pp. 211-12). Gopi Krishna writes that he would receive an inner notification
to prepare to receive verses, but soon these were in a totally unfamiliar language:
German was followed by French and Italian. Then came a few verses in Sanskrit
followed by Arabic. Surely there could be nothing more convincing than the
phenomena I had witnessed during the previous few weeks to bring the idea
irresistibly home to me that I was in occasional contact with an inexpressible
fount of all knowledge and that but for my inability to understand and transcribe, I
could take down poetic pieces in most of the well-known languages of the earth.
(Krishna, 1967, pp. 212-213)
Findings of Similarity and Difference
Both disciplines (analytical psychology and Kundalini yoga) acknowledge the existence of a greater
reality beyond ego and even beyond God. Kundalini yoga calls this greater reality
Brahman, which, unlike the Godhead, has no attributes. Jung calls this reality the
collective unconscious, which he considers unfathomable. His conception of the
collective unconscious transcends the God-image, which he sees as a psychic content that
can be empirically verified. He takes pains to assert no metaphysical claims about that
image or its archetypal ground. He admonishes us to not worship the collective
unconscious as God ...
Jung never fully concurred with the belief of Advaita Vedanta that one can realize
one’s identity with Brahman. His formulation resembles that of the (dual) Samkhya school of
Indian philosophy that also rejects the idea of consciousness without a separate observer.
My research also reveals that both Indian spirituality and analytical psychology
recognize local, causal reality, and a transcendent, acausal reality. The transcendent
reality of Kundalini yoga is discussed above as Brahman. Jung’s version of this
transcendent, unknowable, archetypal source is the self.
What does the grain know of the
whole mountain, although it is visibly a part of it? (Jung, Letter to Vasavada of 25
November 1954, cited in Spiegelman & Vasavada, 1987, pp. 192-193)
Here, he appears to over-reach himself by claiming that there is “not the slightest
evidence” of such consciousness despite the claims of adepts past and present.
I admire Jung’s remaining open to experience and softening his position by 1956.
Both his letter to Vasavada (Spiegelman & Vasavada, 1987, pp. 192-193) and his
statement in his culminating work, Mysterium Coniunctionis (Jung, 1955-1956/1963),
followed his heart attack of 1944 and an ensuing vision in which he saw himself being
meditated by a yogin with his own face. While experiencing that vision he believed that
when the yogin ceased his meditation, he, Jung, would cease to exist. However, he
maintains his interpretative discipline by refusing to reify that thought (Jung, 1961/1989,
J. J. Clarke (1994) offers a balanced review of Jung’s
hermeneutic examination of Eastern thought. To address this issue, I summarize Clarke’s
list of Gadamer’s essential insights about the hermeneutic discipline. According to
Clarke, Gadamer states five main principles in his approach to hermeneutics: (a) “all
thinking is historically embedded,” (b) “thinking presupposes a tradition in which the
thinker participates,” (c) thinking always carries pre-judgments, which does not mean
such judgments cannot be reflected upon, (d) “historical understanding involves a
‘fusion’ or ‘overlapping’ of horizons,” and (e) the hermeneutic circle is characterized by
an iterative interplay among traditions, parts and the whole, a thinker and that thinker’s
tradition (Clarke, 1994, p. 43). Clarke notes several potential hermeneutic difficulties
in Jung’s interpretations. These include: 1. Translation difficulties:
2. Another problem with Jung’s hermeneutics cited by Clarke is the unavoidable
difficulty of that enterprise.
3. Perhaps the most trenchant critique Clarke issues about Jung’s hermeneutics is
Jung’s over-reliance upon drawing analogies. Clarke says that the use of analogy is not unusual in a
hermeneutic project, but adds that, “the drawing of analogies is a notoriously inexact
science which, at its worst, is capable of delivering any desired conclusion whatsoever”
(Clarke, 1994, pp. 167-168).
(Jung's admits his) lack of expertise in Kundalini yoga and was humble in refraining from any claims of an
authoritative interpretation (Clarke, 1994, p. 168; Jung, 1996).
Gopi Krishna writes that Jung misinterprets the symbolic passage in a Vedic text
of rubbing two sticks together as an example of male conjoining with female, stating
instead that this symbolism refers to lighting the fire of Kundalini Shakti (Krishna quoted
in Shamdasani, 1996, p. xix).
During the 1932 Kundalini seminar, Hauer makes a number of assertions, with Jung present, that
are not accurate comments about Kundalini.
Jung disagreed with Hauer’s interpretation of a three-sided figure
in the manipura pictogram as symbolizing an alchemical vessel rather than a swastika
because he had never seen a swastika with only three sides (Jung, 1996, p. 43). Also, my
review of the original version of the 1932 Kundalini seminar notes revealed that Heinrich
Zimmer attended and disputed Hauer’s interpretation of another point (Jung, 1933).
I note in Chapter 5 that Jung incorrectly equates yogic bliss, ananda, with the
carefree happiness of childhood (Jung, 1920/1971, p. 249).
Clarke faults Jung for stating that the East has no critical philosophy and cites an
Indian philosopher to the contrary (Matilal, cited in Clarke, 1994, p. 162). Surveys of
Indian literature by Bhattacharyya (1999) and Feuerstein (1998b) contradict this
erroneous assertion by Jung, which is very strongly stated as follows: “Critical
philosophy, the mother of modern psychology, is as foreign to the East as to medieval
Europe” (Jung, 1954/1969a, p. 475).
Jung stereotypes Indian gurus by asserting that they are of a uniform type when he
gives his reasons for avoiding a visit with Sri Ramana Maharshi (Jung, 1944/1969, p.
577). This is another strong statement that either demonstrates his lack of awareness or
evinces an angry response toward people like Zimmer, who criticized that refused
meeting. Perhaps his generalization is an artifact of seeing through the lens of his mana
personality construct, conceiving Indian gurus as mana personalities, people who are
possessed by the hero archetype (Jung, 1952/1956, p. 392).
I close this section by noting that many people underestimate Jung’s scholarship
and erudition, including many instances that I cite in Chapter 3 where he offers correct
interpretations of Indian spiritual concepts.
Insights: Analytical Psychology and Kundalini Yoga Offer Each Other
My final research question asks about the insights or wisdom that analytical
psychology and Kundalini yoga offer each other.
Jung’s philosophical offerings to Indian spirituality include: (a) a mapping out of the unconscious in a different
way than is done in India, (b) his appreciation of the scientific method within its
appropriate domain, (c) making the subtle realm the focus of scientific scrutiny, (d) a
precision of language influenced by the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and (e) offering a
secular entry point to spiritual life (J. S. Harrigan, personal communication, July 2,
Jung welcomes scientific validation, yet he is not constrained by what science
cannot measure or prove. He correctly notes that most classic Indian spiritual texts pre-date
the existence or awareness of Western scientific thinking, and that some
contemporary yoga practitioners are guided by metaphysical hypostases of those ancient
texts. His theories of synchronicity and the psychoid unconscious invite scientific
Blind faith in the guru risks abuses of disciples,
misses opportunities for relational learning, and may deprive the guru from growth, even
if liberated. A counter-example is found in a recent radio report of a statement made by
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama XIV of Tibet. When visiting the San Francisco area in
May, 2001, the Dalai Lama is said to have stated he is learning from ordinary people who
are dedicating their lives to service (H. H. Dalai Lama XIV, quoted by KCBS, 2001).
If the goal of yoga is
seen as relinquishing attachment to the thoughtwaves of the mind rather than
relinquishing the thoughtwaves themselves, the yogin can seek to achieve an inner peace
that remains joyfully open to lived experience. Seen in this light, the goal of nirvikalpa
samadhi is not escape from this world of suffering nor of yoga sleep, but is an opening to
full aliveness without being distracted by illusions or attachments. An opening to a
similar state was apparently achieved by Jean Gebser, when he experienced the
breakthrough of satori (Feuerstein, 1995).
Kundalini yoga’s philosophical offerings to analytical psychology: Kundalini
yoga draws upon a vast store of scriptures. Someone approaching personal transformation
from a relatively mundane worldview can find some of their personal narrative in India’s
spiritual literature, folktales, and philosophical discourses. As numinous awareness
begins to shine through, that narrative can help contain the wanderings of the discursive
mind. For analysts aware of subtle body phenomena, India’s spiritual texts offer valuable
hints and guidelines for subtle body transformation.
Kundalini yoga’s insights for the practice of analytical psychology. The
ashtangayoga of Patanjali and similar yogic phases of development described by other
rishis offer comprehensive maps of what people can do to achieve personal
transformation and intensive states of consciousness (Goswami, 1999). For the fortunate
few, the experience of what is perceived as unitary consciousness in Kundalini yoga is a
spiritual component of personal transformation that is beyond the reach of any
psychology. This is an area that the methods of analytical psychology can approach but
not adopt if that discipline is to remain a psychology.
I recommend another alternative to Jung’s casting Western and Eastern
spiritualities as opposites. I suggest instead that one can hold Indian and European
worldviews as possible alternatives, allowing the transcendent function to mediate these
opposites. To extend this recommendation as a Gebserian synairesis of more than two, I
believe that a person can benefit from the insights of many spiritual traditions. The only
caveat I offer here is not to become so enamored of gathering data that one fails to
persevere sufficiently in a practice.
My experience as an analysand and student therapist informs me that analytical
psychology is as an oral transmission lineage that reconnects the Western psyche with the
Divine Ground. My experience of H. H. Gyalwa Karmapa XVI affirms the numinosity
and love of that tradition, as does my experience of the Christian psychic and healer, Rev.
Dr. Patrick Young. It is probably no coincidence that my spiritual awakening was
simultaneously guided by living saints of Eastern and Western traditions. I prefer the
term Divine Ground to Jung’s primitive matrix because although It encompasses the
primitive, It cannot be reduced to a regression.
I briefly review what I found to suggest directions of future research for myself and others.
Dean Radin (1997) recently published a review of parapsychological research in
which he uses the discipline of statistical meta-analysis to demonstrate overwhelming
verification of telepathy, clairvoyance, distant viewing, precognition, and psychokinesis.
Detecting and measuring the human aura:
Valerie Hunt had a near-death experience, which awakened her interest in measuring the human energy field and
its transformations. Her book, Infinite Mind: Science of the Human Vibrations of
Consciousness- Identifies acupoints that correspond with the major chakras.
Hiroshi Motoyama holds doctorates in psychology and philosophy. He is an
advanced practitioner of Kundalini yoga. His book Theories of the Chakras: Bridge to
Higher Consciousness, an excellent summary of comparative chakra teachings
and traditional Kundalini yoga practice (Motoyama, 1981). The final chapter offers an
intriguing introduction to instruments he has developed to measure the activity of the
acupuncture meridians and chakras. Motoyama also finds that people can
experience extra-sensory perception abilities of telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychometry
via certain awakened chakras. However, the heart chakra must be awakened to enable
strong psychokinetic and psychic healing abilities (p. 269).
Beverly Rubik, a biophysicist who earned her doctorate at University of
California, Berkeley, has obtained results similar to Motoyama’s, measuring substantially
larger emissions of light from the auras of advanced meditators than from normal
subjects (personal communication, 1999). Rubik heads the Institute for Frontier Science.
She recently sponsored a visit to San Francisco by Konstantin Korotkov to demonstrate
his computerized Kirlian diagnostic imaging technology. She was subsequently featured
on the ABC network’s Good Morning America program, where she used Korotkov’s
machine to accurately diagnose a previously undisclosed underactive thyroid condition of
ABC’s science editor, Michael Guillan. During that program, Guillan mentioned that the
United States government’s National Institutes of Health is funding research on human
biofields, the scientific term for human auras (Guillan, 2000).
Konstantin Korotkov’s business card lists a variety of credentials from a career in
parapsychological research that began in the Soviet Union and continues at Russia’s Saint
Petersburg Federal Technical University. His recent book, Aura and Consciousness: New
Stage of Scientific Understanding, offers a detailed description of his Kirlian imaging
My research also uncovered a highly technical online article detailing a theory by
Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose about microtubules in brain tissue that may more
satisfactorily account for computations perceived as consciousness than previous
computer-like theories of brain function. This article offers the hypothesis that our
consciousness is capable of perceiving quantum events. From these brief and basic ideas I
infer that the microtubules discussed in the article may be the mechanism whereby our
physical brains in this time/space continuum interact with the acausal, synchronistic,
intelligent, and autonomous Divine Ground of existence (Hameroff & Penrose, 1998).
Another component of my working energy model is Schwartz-Salant’s
observation that in the realm of imaginal sensing, each complex “has a body” (Schwartz-Salant,
1989, p. 135). Jung notes that complexes are bipolar and affectively toned, with
an archetypal core (Jung, 1948/1960). These observations of Jung and Schwartz-Salant
suggest that in some way, complexes as subtle body phenomena may be conceptualized
as electro-magnetic fields with positive and negative poles. They entrain (sympathetically
vibrate) with archetypal affects and dramas encoded in the collective unconscious and are
held in the aura of a person who has an attraction, aversion, or both to such characteristic
myths and affects as seen in the major archetypes identified by Jung. Such archetypes
include the Great Mother, the Wise Old Man, the anima/animus, shadow, and so on, and
the gods and goddesses who have personified such affects and myths throughout human
history. The locations in the aura of these complexes correspond with their frequency of
vibration, and thus certain myths and complexes are repeatedly found to correlate with
specific chakras, or horizontal zones of the body. Thus, primitive, infantile states that
typify the earliest issues of attachment, abandonment anxiety, and the earliest forms of
identity as a separate body, for instance, are found at muladhara. Attachments and
aversions related to later developmental issues constellate complexes higher up in the
body. For instance, the development of empathy builds such energy formations in the
vicinity of the heart chakra. A complex may not be simply related to one chakra.
I share the subtle energy hypotheses of the previous few pages to suggest a useful
line of thinking that may help to reconnect the reasoning of science with depth
psychology, spirituality, and philosophy. The modeling I have just attempted is consistent
with my imaginal perceptions, which are not necessarily accurate, thus requiring further
investigation, preferably using today’s measurement modalities. This modeling is also
consistent with the phenomena of archetypal activation observed by Jung, with his ideas
of participation mystique and psychic infection, and with psychoanalytic conceptions of
projective identification and countertransference perceptions.
12 pages of references
KUNDALINI SAMADHI ANECDOTES
MAYA-GAIA INTRODUCTION & SITEMAP