Found at the Albany BulbIn the Kundalini Yoga lectures, Jung continues in his role as physician for the Western world. In this role, Jung takes it upon himself to, first and foremost, understand the condition of Western society and through this understanding perhaps offer a course of treatment. Throughout his research Jung uses different works of religious, mystical or mythic nature as lenses through which to view his own culture. These various lenses afford him different points of view and therefore unmask issues that cannot be seen clearly when viewed from inside the culture itself.

In a similar way I find myself looking at maps of consciousness and of the spiritual path, looking for correlations between different maps and connections to my own experience. These comparisons have been useful to me in different way. Finding correlations between my personal experience and what has been described before has been supportive, especially in difficult times. Similarly, knowing what may be about to come can help me prepare and accept it when it does. Last, from looking at the various maps, I’ve learned about myself and about who I can be – what hidden potentials lie in me that I’ve not explored yet.

Lately two such systems that have been on my mind are the Buddhist process of awakening and Jung’s process of individuation. There are a several maps that describe the progress of awakening (for example Zen’s Ox Herding Pictures and the Theravadan Progress of Insight described in Buddhaghosa’s Vissuddhimagga), a few of which I’ve used over the last couple of years. More recently, I’m finding Jung’s exploration of Individuation through various lenses to be enlightening as well.

I find this comparison to be particularly relevant at this point in my practice as my movement towards transcendence (awakening) seems to have taken a second seat and instead I find myself focused more on wholeness (individuation). Some similarities come up, for example Jung’s descriptions of ‘letting things happen’ and ‘observing objectively how a fragment of fantasy develops’ in his commentary to Secret of the Golden Flower are similar to Eastern practices of non-attachment and mindfulness. Some striking differences come up as well, for example, Jung’s claim that the crown chakra, sahasrara, is “merely a philosophical concept with no substance to us whatever; it is beyond any possible experience.” (p. 57)

Statements such as the one above can be found in many of Jung’s studies of Eastern spirituality. They may demonstrate a misunderstanding on Jung’s part but they also seem to point to Jung’s focus on living a life that is more consciously in touch with one’s internal world. Jung saw Western civilization as disconnected from the internal life of the soul and therefore his focus was more on the instincts that move us and the archetypes that guide us. As I am naturally drawn toward living in a world of concepts and transcendence, Jung’s focus on the lower chakras (up to the heart chakra) may be a useful pointer for my own practice as well.