Carl Gustav Jung and the Buddhist Mandala
A one-time disciple of Sigmund Freud's, Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) is credited with contributing significantly to the burgeoning field of psychotherapy by formulating some of the first ideas regarding dream analysis, psychological complexes and archetypes (paradigmatic images or instinctive impulses to action). As part of his search for universal keys to the human psyche, Jung also studied and wrote numerous commentaries throughout his career on Eastern religious texts and practices. His reading of Buddhism however, is fundamentally faulted as evidenced by his misunderstanding and misrepresentation of mandala symbolism.
Originally, Buddhist mandalas1 aide-mémoires that helped…show more content… He writes "[the mandala is the] living conception of the self. The self, I thought, was like the monad that I am, and which is my world. The mandala represents this monad, and corresponds to the microcosmic nature of the psyche." (196).
Buddhist mandala meditations thus functioned to deconstruct self-centeredness, but Jungian mandalas served to affirm, sustain and maintain the health and integrity of the "monad" of the self. And while Buddhist mandala visualizations culminated in the existential act of dissolving elaborate self-constructions into emptiness, Jung's mandala therapy ultimately culminated in "individuation" or the personal and conscious realization of the universal Self that lies at the unconscious center of our being. 5
In light of his universal psychologizing of the mandala motif, one must ask just how or why Jung hermeneutically superimposed his psychological balancing act of conscious and unconscious elements over the mandala motif, when