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Jul 29, 2013

THE READER: The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga by C G Jung

When ever some one talks about Kundalini, Tantric or Cakra’s, an image appears of wild and lurid psycho spiritual rituals and sexual forms that even most imaginative sex industry will find hard to replicate. But in our scriptures, this is not fiction but a science that was developed from the beginning. Starting from Laya yoga, transforming into a defined practice, that is aimed at attaining higher state of living, through inner search and meditation. Kundalini meditation, in my opinion, is what westerners call now as ‘Psycho-analysis’ with steps to really know ‘Who Am I”. 

In search for something that shares my views about Kundalini, I came across C GJung’s lecture of 1930 on the subject which I think is quite an interesting way to look at it from a Western point of view. So here you are, with some of the thoughts that I liked from the book. Hope you will enjoy it. If you would like to know more about my own thoughts on the subject, leave me a comment, or connect with me at various places like Google+ or Twitter @VerseEveryDay.

As early as 1912, in Transformation and Symbols of the Libido, Jung provided psychological interpretations of passages in the Upanishads and the Rig Veda.  Jung claimed that “important parallels with yoga [and analytical psychology] have come to light, especially with Kundalini yoga and the symbolism of tantric yoga, Lamaism, and Taoistic yoga in China. These forms of yoga with their rich symbolism afford me invaluable comparative material for the interpretation of the collective unconscious.” His definition of yoga was a psychological one: “Yoga was originally a natural process of introversion. . . . Such introversions lead to characteristic inner processes of personality changes.

Jung specified his psychological understanding of tantric yoga as follows: Indian philosophy is namely the interpretation given to the precise condition of the non-ego, which affects our personal psychology, however independent from us it remains. It sees the aim of human development as bringing about an approach to and connection between the specific nature of the non-ego and the conscious ego.

Jung’s aim was to elucidate the psychological meaning of spontaneous symbolism that resembled that of Kundalini yoga.

Cakras symbolize highly complex psychic facts which at the present moment we could not possibly express except in images. The cakras are therefore of great value to us because they represent a real effort to give a symbolic theory of the psyche. The psyche is something so highly complicated, so vast in extent, and so rich in elements unknown to us, and its aspects overlap and interweave with one another in such an amazing degree, that we always turn to symbols in order to try to represent what we know about it.

Any theory about it would be premature because it would become entangled in particularities and would lose sight of the totality we set out to envisage.

You have seen from my attempt at an analysis of the cakras how difficult it is to reach their content, and with what complex conditions we have to deal when we are studying not just consciousness but the totality of the psyche. The cakras, then, become a valuable guide for us in this obscure field because the East, and India especially, has always tried to understand the psyche as a whole. It has an intuition of the self, and therefore it sees the ego and consciousness as only more or less unessential parts of the self.

The spiritual point of view of India in general is a standpoint of this sort. Hindus do not begin as we do to explain the world by taking the hydrogen atom as the starting point, nor do they describe the evolution of mankind or of the individual from lower to higher, from deep unconsciousness to the highest consciousness. They do not see humanity under the Sthula aspect. They speak only of the sukshma aspect and therefore say:

“In the beginning was the one brahman without a second. It is the one indubitable reality, being and not-being.”4 They begin in sahasrara; they speak the language of the gods and think of man from above down, taking him from the Sukshama or para aspect. Inner experience is to them revelation; they would never say about this experience “I thought it.”

Looked at from the aspect the collective culture of India really is in Muladhara, whereas ours has reached anahata. But the Indian concept of life understands humanity under the sukshma aspect, and looked at from that standpoint everything becomes completely reversed. Our personal consciousness can indeed be located in anhata or even in ajana, but nonetheless our psychic situation as a whole is undoubtedly in Muladhara.

We now understand that the diving into the water and the enduring of the flames is not a descent, not a fall into the lower levels, but an ascent. It is a development beyond the conscious ego, an experience of the personal way into the suprapersonal—a widening of the psychic horizons of the individual so as to include what is common to all mankind. When we assimilate the collective unconscious we are not dissolving but creating it.
And as long as the ego is identified with consciousness, it is caught up in this world, the world of the Muladhara cakra.

The symbols of the cakra, then, afford us a standpoint that extends beyond the conscious. They are intuitions about the psyche as a whole, about its various conditions and possibilities. They symbolize the psyche from a cosmic standpoint. It is as if a super consciousness, an all-embracing divine consciousness, surveyed the psyche from above.

LECTURE 1 (12 October 1932)
Expressed in psychological terms, that would mean that you can approach the unconscious in only one way,
namely, by a purified mind, by a right attitude, and by the grace of heaven, which is the Kundalini. Something in you, an urge in you, must lead you to it. If that does not exist, then it is only artificial. So there must be something peculiar in you, a leading spark, some incentive that forces you on through the water and toward the next center. And that is the Kundalini, something absolutely unrecognizable, which can show, say, as fear, as a neurosis, or apparently also as vivid interest; but it must be something which is superior to your will.

Of course the idea of an impersonal, psychical experience is very strange to us, and it is exceedingly difficult to accept such a thing, be-cause we are so imbued with the fact that our unconscious is our own— my unconscious, his unconscious, her unconscious—and our prejudice is so strong that we have the greatest trouble disidentifying.

1st Cakra: Muldhara
Here, of course, in this conscious world where we are all reasonable and respectable people, adapted individuals as one says. We are in our roots right in this world.. And then the self is asleep, which means that all things concerning the gods are asleep.

It is a place where mankind is a victim of impulses, instincts, unconsciousness, of participation mystique, where we are in a dark and unconscious place. We are hapless victims of circumstances; our reason practically can do very little.

Only at times have we an inkling of the next cakra. Something works in certain people on Sunday mornings, or perhaps one day in the year, say Good Friday—they feel a gentle urge to go to church.

We must realize, or take into consideration at least, that Muladhara is here, the life of this earth, and here the god is asleep. And then you go to … the unconscious, and that is understood to be a higher condition than before, because there you approach another kind of life. And you move there only through the Kundalini that has been aroused.

That the Hindu commentaries put the conscious world inside the body is to us a very astonishing fact. According to their idea Muladhara is a transitory thing, the sprouting condition in which things begin.

2nd Cakra: Svadhisthana
So in crossing from Muladhara to Svadhisthana, the power that has nourished you hitherto shows now an entirely different quality: what is the elephant on the surface of the world is the leviathan in the depths. But it is one and the same animal: the power that forces you into consciousness and that sustains you in your conscious world proves to be the worst enemy when you come to the next center. For there you are really going out of this world, and everything that makes you cling to it is your worst enemy. The greatest blessing in this world is the greatest curse in the unconscious.

LECTURE 2 (19 October 1932)
3RD Cakra: Manipura
Now this third center, the center of emotions, is localized in the plexus solaris, or the center of the abdomen. I have told you that my first discovery about the Kundalini yoga was that these cakras really are concerned with what are called psychical localizations. This center then would be the first psychical localization that is within our conscious psychical experience

Now, in manipura you have reached an upper layer where there comes a definite change.9 The bodily localization of this cakra under the diaphragm is the symbol for the peculiar change that now takes place.

So this third center is rightly called the fullness of jewels. It is the great wealth of the sun, the never-ending abundance of divine power to which man attains through baptism.

4th Cakra: Anahata
In anahata you behold the purusha, a small figure that is the divine self, namely, that which is not identical with mere causality, mere nature, a mere release of energy that runs down blindly with no purpose.

Through Manipura he is in the womb of nature, extraordinarily automatic; it is merely a process. But in anahata a new thing comes up, the possibility of lifting himself above the emotional happenings and beholding them. He discovers the purusha in his heart, … In the center of anahata there is again jiva in the form of the linga, and the small flame means the first germlike appearance of the self.

So anahata is really the center where psychical things begin, the recognition of values and ideas. When man has reached that level in civilization or in his individual development one could say he was in anahata,  and there he gets the first inkling of the power and substantiality, or the real existence, of psychical things.

You see, that is a picture of psychical existence over or beyond the manipura form. It is nothing but a thought—nothing has changed in the visible world; not one atom is in a different place from before. But one thing has changed: the psychical substance has entered the game. You see, a mere thought, or almost an indescribable feeling, a psychical fact, changes his whole situation, his whole life, and he can step across to anahata, to the world where psychical things begin.

But to cross from anahata to vishuddha one should unlearn all that. One should even admit that all one’s psychical facts have nothing to do with material facts. For instance, the anger which you feel for somebody or something, no matter how justified it is, is not caused by those external things. It is a phenomenon all by itself.

LECTURE 3 (26 October 1932)
Each of the four lower centers has an element belonging to it— Muladhara, the earth, svvdhisthana, the water, then comes fire in manipura, and finally air in anahata. So one can see the whole thing as a sort of transformation of elements, with the increase of volatility— of volatile substance.

5th Cakra: Vishudha
In Vishuddha center one reaches a sphere of abstraction. There one steps beyond the empirical world, as it were, and lands in a world of concepts.

If you have reached that stage, you begin to leave anvhata, because you have succeeded in dissolving the absolute union of material external facts with internal or psychical facts. You begin to consider the game of the world as your game, the people that appear outside as exponents of your psychical condition. Whatever befalls you, whatever experience or adventure you have in the external world, is your own experience.

6Th Cakra: AJNA
God that has been dormant in Muladhara is here fully awake, the only reality; and therefore this center has been called the condition in which one unites with jiva. One could say it was the center of the unio mystica with the power of God, meaning that absolute reality where one is nothing but psychic reality, yet confronted with the psychic reality that one is not. And that is God

And yet there 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.

Therefore it is rather bold to speak of the sixth cakra,10 which is naturally completely beyond our reach, because we have not even arrived at vishuddha. But since we have that symbolism we can at least construct something theoretical about it.

And yet there 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. You see that this condition in which the white elephant has disappeared into the self is almost unimaginable. He is no longer perceptible even in his strength because he is no longer against you. You are absolutely identical with him. You are not even dreaming of doing anything other than what the force is demanding, and the force is not demanding it since you are already doing it—since you are the force. And the force returns to the origin, God.

7th Cakra: Sahasrara
To speak about the lotus of the thousand petals above, the sahasrara center is quite superfluous because that is merely a philosophical concept with no substance to us whatever; it is beyond any possible experience. In Ajna there is still the experience of the self that is apparently different from the object, God. But in sahasrara one understands that it is not different, and so the next conclusion would be that there is no object, no God, nothing but brahman.

There is no experience because it is one, it is without a second. It is dormant, it is not, and therefore it is nirvana. This is an entirely philosophical concept, a mere logical conclusion from the premises before. It is without practical value for us.

Some interesting thoughts from his Q & A in the seminar
Mrs. Sawyer: I would like to ask you if the Eastern idea of going up through the cakras means that each time you have reached a new center you have to return to Muladhara?
Dr. Jung: As long as you live you are in Muladhara naturally. It is quite self-evident that you cannot always live in meditation, or in a trance condition. You have to go about in this world; you have to be conscious and let the gods sleep.

Mrs. Sawyer: Yes, but you could think of it in two ways: as doing all these things together, or as making a trip up and down.
Dr. Jung: The cakra symbolism has the same meaning that is expressed in our metaphors of the night sea-journey, or climbing a sacred mountain, or initiation. It is really a continuous development. It is not leaping up and down, for what you have arrived at is never lost.
And if you get through the water and into the fire of passion, you never can really turn back, because you cannot lose the connection with your passion that you have gained in manipura.

Mrs. Crowley: Do you think the idea is to experience those cakras, which one has gone through, simultaneously?
Dr. Jung: Certainly. As I told you, in our actual historical psychological development we have about reached anahata and from there we can experience Muladhara, and all the subsequent centers of the past, by knowledge of records, and tradition, and also through our unconscious. Suppose somebody reached the ajna center, the state of complete consciousness, not only self-consciousness. That would be an exceedingly extended consciousness which includes everything—energy itself—a consciousness which knows not only “That is Thou” but more than that—every tree, every stone, every breath of air, every rat’s tail—all that is yourself; there is nothing that is not yourself. In such an extended consciousness all the cakras would be simultaneously experienced, because it is the highest state of consciousness, and it would not be the highest if it did not include all the former experiences.

LECTURE 4 (2 November 1932)
Mrs. Baynes: What does Professor Hauer mean by the metaphysical aspect?
Dr. Jung: That again is the aspect. We can speak of it only in symbols. Such symbols, for instance, are water and fire, the metabasis into the unconscious.

Mrs. Crowley: Is there a connection between the sa.skvra and the creative principle? And is the puer aeternus related to them?
Dr. Jung: The samskara can be compared to Muladhara, for they are the unconscious conditions in which we live. The samskara are inherited germs, we might say—unconscious determinants, preexisting qualities of things to be, life in the roots. But the puer aeternus is the sprout that buds from the roots, the attempt at synthesis and at a release from Muladhara. Only by synthesizing the preexisting conditions can we be freed from them.

Mrs. Crowley: Is there any connection between citta and Kundalini?
Dr. Jung: Citta is the conscious and unconscious psychic field, collective mentality, the sphere in which the phenomenon of Kundalini takes place. Citta is simply our organ of knowledge, the empirical ego into whose sphere Kundalini breaks. Kundalini in essence is quite different from citta. Therefore her sudden appearance is the coming-up of an element absolutely strange to citta. If she were not entirely different from citta she could not be perceived.

नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
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