Carl Jung and the Golden Elixir

Carl Jung and the Golden Elixir

Lu Dongbin, legendary writer of The Secret of the Golden Flower. Enamel glazed stoneware, 2002, by Lin Kuang-I. Picture courtesy of the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore. 

One fundamental distinction between Western dance types and Asian non secular dance types is the co-existence of a complementary inside approach inside the Asian types. When it comes to complexity and spontaneity, these inside methods are as difficult because the bodily motion methods with which they’re built-in. Certainly, the inside methods are actually nothing aside from kinds of meditation; the activation and use of various elements if the psyche; a form of psychological focus and management that features whereas the bodily physique is dancing. The dancing thoughts is one other thoughts. Transmitting inside teachings of non secular dance traditions is as delicate as instructing meditation.

Padmasambhava, legendary writer of The Tibetan Guide of the Lifeless. Statue at Samye Monastery, Tibet. From

As a result of there are numerous specific meditation methods within the Asian non secular traditions of Buddhism and Daoism, and since these methods are inextricable from bodily embodiment by a practitioner, Buddhism and Daoism have been generally understood as philosophies or practices for private cultivation relatively than as “religions” because the time period is known within the West: a set of binding beliefs. Since meditation methods activate—and deactivate—elements of the thoughts by shifting consideration and cultivating power, they end in a metamorphosis of consciousness, past mundane consciousness. A special a part of the mind-body complicated is working whereas training tai chi, for instance, than in a single’s comportment whereas grocery buying. What is that this frame of mind? What’s the transferring meditation of sacred dance? How does one focus on psychic realities whereas on the identical time performing prescribed dance actions?

 Fuxi, legendary writer of the I Ching. Portray, Fu Xi and the Eight Trigrams, 18th century, China. From 

This column, Historic Dances, has been lucky to have the ability share descriptions of dancing from the dancers themselves, in addition to from monks, mountaineers, teachers, cartographers, anthropologists, philosophers, painters, and psychologists. Early Western contact with three basic Asian texts: The Secret of the Golden Flower, attributed to Lu Dongbin, translated by Richard Wilhelm with C. F. Baynes’ English translation (1931); The Guide of Modifications,  attributed to Fuxi, additionally translated by Wilhelm and Baynes (1950); and the sooner Tibetan Guide of the Lifeless, attributed to Padmasambhava andtranslated by W. Y.  Evans-Wentz (1927), arrived on the doorstep of the Western Thoughts with commentary by seminal Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung (1875–1961), who based mostly basic ideas about Japanese non secular practices on the supposed exercise of the Unconscious. Ancestors Fuxi, Lu Dongbin, and Padmasambhava, founding father of Vajrayana Buddhism, arrived in Western fashionable literature, filtered by way of the nascent psychological interpretations of Jung. It’s no shock, then, that the psychedelic era made bestsellers of those books. Jung was involved in psychedelics too. There was an natural fascination with a thoughts aside from the Western thoughts.

Neurologist and founding father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud. Picture courtesy of the writer.

The time period “the unconscious” was coined by the 18th century German Romantic thinker Friedrich Schelling (1775–1854). The phrase first appeared in English within the translations of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834). As a thinker, Schelling was a transcendental idealist. For him, the unconscious referred to forces past and out of doors of acutely aware consciousness. The Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) borrowed the phrase and used it as a medical time period, describing not solely psychological exercise, however naming a psychological repository the place recollections, repressed feelings, desires, and hidden impulses had been saved.

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung outdoors the Burgholzli, Zurich, 1910. Coloured {photograph}. Photographer unknown. Picture courtesy of the Library of Congress

Tapping into the unconscious, and describing a “collective unconscious,” utilizing archetypes and symbols, was popularized by the work of Jung, who disagreed with Freud in regards to the nature of the unconscious, partially by offering the unconscious with some optimistic actions, together with creativity. Jung was fascinated by states of thoughts unfamiliar to Western ideas of the thoughts, or Western research of the thoughts. He explored the common which means of mandala designs as maps of consciousness, and past that, as gateways to the unconscious. He experimented with conventional psychedelics, he explored dream states, and investigated his personal ecstatic visions. Jung was naturally fascinated with these translations of Asian non secular classics, as a result of they had been conversant with states of thoughts unfamiliar to the West. The “dancing thoughts” of Buddhist monks and tantric monks is a transparent instance of a extremely cultivated Asian frame of mind with which the West was not acquainted.

Theologian, sinologist, and missionary Richard Wilhelm, translator of the I Ching and The Secret of the Golden Flower, each with commentaries by Carl Jung. Photographer and date unknown. Picture courtesy of the writer. 

Jung didn’t consider that Westerners might fathom or observe Japanese modes of spirituality and meditation, believing that the “two minds” had been too far aside. His prolonged commentary on the non-sectarian instructing to entry one’s primal essence, The Secret of the Golden Flower,* spends a lot power defending Western intellectualism and the scientific strategy to phenomena. In Jung’s framework, he can not take the evanescent deities of Tibetan Buddhism severely as a faith, however he absolutely sees the tantric methods as educated of psychic situations of thoughts; vivid mechanisms of interactions with the unconscious. In these Asian classics, Jung expressed appreciation for the lengthy expertise and finesse with instinctual and intuitive processes of thoughts, together with the usage of symbols, which transcend rational thought. Buddhist and Daoist meditation strategies had been neither rational nor mental to Jung. They had been psychological to him.

There’s maybe one thing completely incongruous in having three of probably the most outlandish, magical, and colourful characters of Asian non secular historical past launched to the West by a set of mustachioed European intellectuals, intrigued with elements of the thoughts undeveloped within the West, however extremely developed in historic China and the Himalayas. A scientific fascination with the unknown, a nascent psychology, contributed to our understanding of the I Ching, The Golden Flower, and The Guide of the Lifeless.

There’s one drawback with the entire notion of utilizing the “unconscious” to unlock Japanese non secular practices. That is one thing which psychoanalyst and thinker Leonard Feldstein (1930–2022) factors out and upon which he elaborates. The “unconscious” is “scientifically” outlined by what it isn’t. It has no optimistic definition. There’s consciousness, after which . . . there’s every little thing else: a broad—even handy—concept. Asian non secular dance traditions have already got phrases for states of consciousness past discursive thought and sensory notion. It’s a manifold manifestation, and a discipline of private consciousness and motion, cultivated for 1000’s of years by private transmission.

Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz, translator of The Tibetan Guide of the Lifeless, with commentary by Carl Jung. Photograph by Jim Colt, date unknown. Picture courtesy of the San Diego Theosophical Society

Feldstein, a thinker of science by career, means that so as to have a coherent idea of the mind-body complicated, any notion of the thoughts having acutely aware and unconscious elements have to be complemented by the physique having the identical. There have to be an “unbody.” The Secret of the Golden Flower is exactly about accessing one’s primal nature at any time, and persevering with, with important nature and manifest conduct functioning collectively in a luminous consciousness that embraces each as enlightened comportment. That is the Dancing Thoughts. That is what Shaolin monks research to change into warriors in addition to monks.

Buddhist monastic cham dancer, Peling Nga Cham, Yungdrung Cheoling Dzong, Trongsa, Bhutan. 2006. Photograph by Joseph Houseal for Core of Tradition

And that’s how this complete dialogue pertains to Buddhist monastic cham dance, and the dance of Newar tantric monks, the sacred artwork of Charya Nritya: examples the place meditation approach and dance approach come collectively. How does a monk “change into the deity?” How does the dancing priest “embody the deity,” so as to impact the transformation of their thoughts right into a stabilized contemplative state whereas they carry out? Their physique additionally has to faucet right into a larger intuitive physique data than is required or accessed for mundane actions. Each the thoughts and physique activate the “unconscious-unbody.” Collectively, they embody the rarified deity, as modalities of power managed by the thoughts. Tantric meditation sustains the frame of mind in the course of the efficiency of a exact and infrequently fairly lengthy dance. The illusory nature of actuality being on the core of expertise, the deities dissipate and a uncooked expertise of primal actuality is feasible, certainly experiential, and in a position to be carried out by adepts.

Newar Tantric priest dancer, Prajwal Vajracharya, Charya Nritya dance of Vajrapani. 2009. Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Photograph by Jonathan Greet for Core of Tradition

Each the meditative immanence of the second about to emerge from non-being, and the transcendence of sensory and psychological stimulation, come collectively in a yogic dance. The dwelling expertise of vacancy, the attribute-less state, is dropped at the monastic custom of cham dance, and the Newar custom of Charya Nritya.

I’ll conclude this temporary introduction to some concepts about understanding the Dancing Thoughts with quotes from Jung’s commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower. It’s wonderful to see the brilliance of Jung as he hungrily takes on these newly launched historic works of Asia, together with his personal new concepts that allowed him a pathway of understanding. It’s equally astonishing to see how far we have now are available our mutual insights in the course of the previous 100 years.

The acutely aware will can not attain such symbolic unity as a result of the acutely aware is partisan on this case. Its opponent is the collective unconscious which doesn’t perceive the language of the acutely aware. Due to this fact it’s essential to have the magic of the image which incorporates these primitive analogies that talk to the unconscious. The unconscious can solely be reached and expressed by symbols, which is the rationale why the method of individuation can by no means do with out the image. The image is the primitive expression of the consciousness, however on the identical time it’s also an concept comparable to the best instinct of consciousness.

. . . our time is so totally godless and profane, for we lack data of the unconscious psyche and pursue the cult of consciousness to the exclusion of all else. Our true faith is a monotheism of consciousness, a possession by it, coupled with a fanatical denial that there are elements of the psyche which might be autonomous. However we differ from the Buddhist yoga doctrine in that we even deny that such autonomous elements are experienceable.

(Carl Jung, Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower)

Compounding the Golden Elixir, from a Qing dynasty (1649-1911) Daoist Inside Alchemy scroll. Non-public assortment. Picture courtesy of Christies

* See The Secret of the Golden Flower, Half One  (BDG) and The Secret of the Golden Flower, Half Two (BDG)

See extra

Core of Tradition

Associated options from Buddhistdoor World

Nabji, Half One: Bearing Relics
Dance Survival
Dance as Data, Half One
Three Elements of Buddhist Dance

Extra from Historic Dances by Joseph Houseal

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