Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sri Aurobindo's New Yoga & the Inadequacy of Jung's Psychology

The Inadequacy of Jung's Psychology in
the Realization of the Soul 
by Robert E. Wilkinson
[Responses to: David Johnston's - 'Jung’s Psychology of the Living God
and Transformation of Individual and Community']

Response to Part I: Let me begin by saying that David Johnston has made an admirable presentation of the psychology of CG Jung. As I read it, time and again I found myself saying, ‘yes… but’. Many of the concepts employed in Jung’s thought reflect well respected metaphysical propositions some of which touch upon certain Supramental truths but in the final analysis, when Jung’s thought is used in an attempt to clarify the deeper principles of Sri Aurobindo’s, the Mother’s and Thea’s work, it falls miserably short of the goal. To his credit David has included the appropriate caveats that he is not attempting to synthesize the work of Carl Jung and Sri Aurobindo, but my sense is that he believes, as some have written, that Jung's psychology is capable of preparing the ground for the Gnostic experience. In fact it has even been said that the Jungian Individuation is a pointer, a stepping stone to the Aurobindonian transformation. I do not agree with this proposition for a number of reasons but I understand why many of Sri Aurobindo’s devotees would embrace Jung’s work with this expectation, especially those living in the West.

Anyone familiar with Sri Aurobindo’s work will understand that it represents a radical departure from the goal of an old spirituality which sought in its entirety an escape from birth and death through a transcendental experience which dissolved the nexus of consciousness that held the individual in the world. But very few appreciate that the success of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga turns upon that same nexus of consciousness or Soul only realized more profoundly as the foundation and support of the Supermind. In the Vedic age this point or nexus was known as 'Skambha' (the 'pillar', 'support') of the Veda and it was considered to be the Supreme Principle or ‘fulcrum of creation’ but with the advent of a transcendental spirituality bent on escape from a so-called illusory world of becoming, knowledge of ‘Skambha’ fell into obscurity and was soon considered irrelevant. No one since the Vedic Age has actually realized Skambha but we find mention of its supreme importance in the writings of the renowned Indian guru Ram Chandra. In his Complete Works, in a chapter entitled “The Final State”, Ram Chandra writes of the final stage of yogic practice:

“[T]he final approach…where we are nearest to the Super-active Center, or Zero, which is the primeval cause of the entire manifestation. …This can best be expressed as the state of Tam – “no light and no darkness.” This is what takes us along now and there is no end to it. We may go on and on but this will remain with us forever. If there be a great soul of caliber who may be able to comprehend what lies beyond, he may be able to discover that there is a point, rather a ring, there. The conception of a ring around a centre is indispensable. Such a one as is capable of having an experience of the central point is very rarely born. Still let me reveal something about it. Suppose there be such a great soul in existence who wishes to discover what exists within, tries to peep into the ring around which all the powers of Nature originate, then he is pushed back from it. Anyhow, if after undergoing all shocks he is finally able to make out something of it then words would fail to express it. This is the final limit of human approach and none so far has been able to go beyond. Advancement even up to this point is well nigh impossible” [bold emphasis added]

In this extraordinary passage, Ram Chandra confirms that the realization of what he calls ‘Tam’ is well nigh impossible. That such a one as is capable of having an experience of this central point is rarely born. For me his statement parallels the statement of the Mother when she wrote that, ‘… at each great epoch there has been one great being capable of adding one more step to the ladder and reaching a place where the ordinary consciousness has never been… and this is the work of the Avatar...’ But what few have understood is that ‘adding one more step’ was not just limited to Sri Aurobindo’s realization of the Supermind. Each of the members of the Solar Line, Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Thea, have realized what heretofore has been considered impossible or unattainable. For Sri Aurobindo it was the transcendent heights of the Supermind, exceeding Krishna’s Overmental consciousness. For the Mother it was the highest realization of the Cosmic Divine and its expression in Her Vedic temple as the greatest feat of sacred architecture ever conceived. And for Thea, it is the realization of the Soul, Skambha, the sacred ‘Point’ whose attainment Ram Chandra reserved for the rarest of individuals. It is this very same Point that is expressed in the translucent globe that captures the descending light of the Supreme in the Mother’s Inner Chamber.

This extraordinary realization is recorded in Thea’s book, The New Way, Volume 3, where she writes:
‘As most of you know, the essence of my contribution to the work of the Solar Line has been that POINT and penetration into a special ‘zone’ where alignment can come into being. … Ram Chandra had attained something solid of the ancient Way, and knew it to be that. But he held that one could not enter that Point. He got to its portals – what he calls the ‘ring’ (around the Point – which of course describes the symbol of the Sun, the Supermind). He held that one could not enter that tam, as he called it – or darkness, absolute ‘ignorance’, or unknowing; actually it is the Absoluteness of Immanence; and he himself never did. He got to its portals, but since he did not go into the Point, he did not find the Golden Seed which that darkness hides; as Sri Aurobindo explained it, the Sun of Light, the luminous Zero, not emptiness but Light. Not having the Supermind, he could not make that passage. But he knew that was IT. How extraordinary. The most remarkable ‘coincidence’ is that the supreme realisation I had and which began on 17 April 1983, is what Ram Chandra-ji stated was only for very rare individuals. Two days later he left his body, 19 April 1983.’
In the November 1969 Agenda (at age 91) the Mother confirmed the utmost importance of this realization writing that '...this new world is nothing other than a rapid convergence upon the knowledge of the point and the whole. ‘The whole is brought with lightening speed toward the consciousness that will be this Consciousness of the point and the whole at the same time.’ [see 'The Vedic Circle of 9 and 0']

For those of us who appreciate the indispensable role of the Soul as the solid foundation of the Supermind, it is patently obvious that Carl Jung’s discoveries, grounded as they are in the old Anatmic schools of dissolution, do not even approach being able to provide the inner alignment that Sri Aurobindo insists be sought out first before any ascension into vertical dimensions can begin:
“FIRST, there must be a conversion inwards, a going within to find the inmost psychic being (Soul) and bring it out to the front, disclosing at the same time the inner mind, inner vital, inner physical parts of the nature. Next, there must be an ascension, a series of conversions upwards and a turning down to convert the lower parts.” Sri Aurobindo - Letters on Yoga, December 2, 1946, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, India, 1946, Planes and Parts of the Being. p. 251
In the final analysis, I am compelled to agree with Sri Aurobindo who described psychology, including Jung’s, as, ‘…an infant science, at once rash, fumbling and crude, which has the universal habit of the human mind to take partial or local truths, generalize them unduly and try to explain the whole field of human nature in its narrow terms.’ In fact, the only reason Jung is mentioned at all in conjunction with Sri Aurobindo’s yoga is through a misguided attempt by some to fill the void left by Auroville’s rejection of Thea as the Third member of the Solar Line. This inappropriate substitution has been a predictable failure given the lack of realization among the Auroville elite.

Response to Part III: Having read his presentation there can be no doubt that David Johnston is one of the more erudite students of Jung’s work. I think it is fair to say that his exposure to Sri Aurobindo’s knowledge, as far as he has taken it, has provided unique insights into the structure of Jung’s vision that one cannot glean from Jung alone. There are however a number of fatal flaws in his analysis of Jung in the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s teachings on the Integral Yoga, flaws that proceed from a ‘partial’ view of the lines of that yoga and a truncated vision of the Supramental Descent.

In an earlier posting I mentioned that one of the critical differences between Sri Aurobindo and Jung was that Sri Aurobindo came to fulfill a divine ‘evolutionary action’, an action that the Mother described as being ‘direct from the Supreme’. In his paper David Johnston has provided us with a means of insight into that ‘action’ by including the legendary dialogue between Osiris and Maria Prophetissa which reveals the central axiom of Alchemy; "One becomes Two, Two becomes Three, and out of the Third comes the One as the Fourth". This alchemical formula, grounded in the quaternion model, precisely describes the stages or octaves of the Supramental descent through a living bridge made up of the four members of the Solar line; Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, Thea and the Fourth, Kalki, who is Sri Aurobindo returned, the One as the Fourth. This formula describes, among other things, the descent of the Transcendent Divine into what Thea calls the ‘Absoluteness of Immanence’ or hidden foundation of the Supermind. It is also the formula which clarifies the occult process by which Spirit becomes Matter; how Brahman, ‘THAT in its transcendent form’ becomes the Vedic Skambha ‘THIS in its immanent form’. It is this Immanent ‘Golden Seed’, this ‘Sun of Light’ hidden in the depths of Matter that provides the basis of Sri Aurobindo’s Supramental Gnosis - a knowledge he described as being, ‘…free from doubt, self-evident, self-existent, irrefragable and absolute’.

We can follow this process of unveiling in the lives of each member of the Solar Line. One may observe, for example, that Sri Aurobindo's actual work on the spiritual plane is almost never revealed. The Mother's work in the occult planes is somewhat clearer yet even she was not inclined to explain the details of what she did and saw. It isn't until the Third level of the descent that these details become revealed because that is the nature of the Third – ‘precision in truth’. With Thea’s level of the work, we begin to perceive this precision in its myriad aspects. Take for instance the Supramental Time Vision that Sri Aurobindo introduced in the last chapter of ‘Synthesis of Yoga’. While he knew that Time was the key to the yoga, it was not until the Third level that the details of this synthetic Time Vision are finally revealed. The ability to see with such detail at this level comes about because the action is observed from the most intimate dimension the human consciousness can experience, the 'center' or individual Soul. But this is most certainly NOT the Soul postulated in the psychology of Carl Jung, nor can it be obtained through his Individuation process.

What I find totally lacking in David Johnston’s presentation is a realistic view of the Becoming. Search as we may, there is nothing of the New knowledge and precision in detail to be found in Jung’s work. It is primarily a product of the Overmental Plane, highly speculative and incapable of providing access to a genuine integral experience. Moreover, it leaves the student stranded ‘up there’ on the Transcendent/Mental-Cosmic planes and unable to link the Vedic Truth-Consciousness to the Earth. When I read postings by David Johnston or RY Deshpande, erudite as they may be, they do not even begin to acknowledge or describe the sublime purpose and perfect control in the unfolding of events accompanying the Supramental Creation. And perhaps worse, even though they have been given indisputable evidence to the contrary, they mislead their readers by suggesting that there are no Third and Fourth levels of the Supramental Descent. Clearly the wisemen will continue to talk and sleep but for those who are tired of playing in the antechambers of the higher mind and aspire to a more satisfying non-speculative realization, I will leave you with this quote from Thea:

‘May we not seek miracles…let us rather have Realization. This is the solid way. Let us not see visions or lights or etheric forms…let us BE light, let us SEE IN UNDERSTANDING, let us be the ‘new seeing’. Thea

The response to Part I  was originally posted on Robert's Commentaries on THE FUTURE REALISATION blog. These responses are a good introduction to more 'Letters from Skambha' which I will soon be posting in which Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea) writes about the necessity of her contributions to the Supramental Yoga, which are often ridiculed and belittled by certain members of the Integral Yoga community. Such ridicule/belittling took place in commentaries/discussion of D. Johnston's articles ... much of the 'Irrelevant-vicious-abusive-disrespectful-rude-extraneous-repugnant... comments' were deleted from the Mirror of Tomorrow by the blog's editor R.Y. Deshpande. Previous posts of 'Letters from Skambha' by Thea include 'Fission and Fusion: The Old Consciousness in Contrast to the New' and Feminism's Conundrum.

Links to David Johnston's Jung article on Mirror of Tomorrow: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IVa, Part IVb

T O   S H O W E R   T H I S   B L O G / P O S T  with   W E B   L O V E 
S H A R E   IT  using  A N Y  of  the  I C O N S  below  


  1. Hi, thanks for sharing your blog

  2. Why did Jung advise his readers to study yoga but not to practise it.


    The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga by Carl Jung


  3. I would have preferred to hear a more in-depth study of Jung's conception of the Soul, and the Self, because I don't believe the comparisons between Aurobindo's philosophy and Jung's psychology are so incompatible. Particularly, the alchemical dimension, which seems to affirm the idea of a hidden light in matter. No doubt, Jung's psychology is vastly different. But as far as unhelpful? I see little evidence in this essay provided for that. They are not, as far as I can see, incompatible, but complementary. Psychology is not a Yoga! But it can be, to some degree, grounds to enter such a Yoga.

    While the author of this blog seems to be familiar with Aurobindo (far more than me!), the Mother and Thea, I don't believe there is a fair assessment of Jung's psychology. Particularly, I'd be curious to hear an analysis of Jung's Self with Aurobindo's Psychic Being. Aside from that, I acknowledge there is *less* of an emphasis on *becoming and *evolution, the historical framework.

    Even still, there is plenty of room for such a historical view in Jung's psychology, as the unmanifest Self, at the center, is only manifested, or made realized *through history. This is just a start for a comparison, I thought I'd leave it here for other readers, the blogger himself, or passer-byers to note on their way through.

  4. Hi Jeremy, my colleague Robert Wilkinson wrote this article. I will pass on your comment to him. Since I have not studied Jung's psychology at all, I cannot really say much on the matter. Will see if Robert has any interest in writing more on the matter. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Hey Lori - a quick response might be that, as far as I understand Jung, his 'Self" is not experienced directly as our essential "I am", our essential Consciousness. I think in his commentary on Ramana Maharshi, Jung acknowledged that the "Self" Maharshi spoke of was a mystery to him. Sri Aurobindo has written that Maharshi's realization was actually that of the psychic being, but the impersonal aspect of it, rather than the more personal aspect which is more common among devotees of Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Hope that helps:>)

  6. by the way, does Robert still live in Asheville, NC?

  7. Thanks for your thoughts on this Don. And yes Robert does still live near Asheville, NC.