Psychology of Yoga and Meditation
1939 3 MARCH Lecture 15 Psychology and Yoga Meditation
Shrî-chakra-sambhâra Tantra Alchemy
III. Mount Meru
- City of Brahma
- Four-headed vajra, colors
- Lotus with yoni
- Moon with lingam
- Civitas, castrum
- Flos auri
- Al-baida (Beya)
- Hermetic vas
XII. Lapis, hermaphroditus, homunculus
To recap: we got as far as the medieval parallels with shûnyatâ, the void: chaos.
This is a sort of watery sphere that contained a mixture of all the elements.
The four elements that emerge from shûnyatâ are the division into four psychic functions or four elements of nature.
This corresponds to the divisio aqaue of the primordial water into four elements.
An action that is consummated symbolically in the Catholic church on Easter Saturday, where the priest divides the water with the sign of the cross.
The holy water is divided again into four elements in order
that this water may acquire the ability to effect spiritual rebirth.
This meaning also exists in mediaeval philosophy.
The primordial water is divided so that it acquires the power to create a new world.
Then to Mount Meru.
You know many parallels related to this: Mons, upon which the lapis philosophorum is found, or where the miraculous plant lunaria (flax or darnel) grows.
A sign that it concerns the head.
And a mystery that is explained in alchemical language.
In fact, it is a psychological mystery.
This mountain is identical to Christ, also to the mother of God.
The small stone has been hewn from the mountain without hands, the stone that dashed the feet of the metal statue.
In the book of Daniel.
This stone was always related to the cornerstone, the lapis angularis, and hence Christ was also called lapis angularis or parvulus or exillis in mediaeval language.
It was hewn from the mountain, and for this reason the mountain is also Mary.
In psychology we must return to these things because otherwise we cannot understand the symbolism used by our unconscious.
We must know how the human spirit was originally created.
This is a kind of comparative anatomy of the spirit.
In comparative anatomy we cannot understand the form if we don’t know the biological antecedents.
If we seek to understand the unconscious psyche, we must understand its history and hence reach back to the earlier functioning of the human spirit.
There we will find all those forms that we encounter in dreams.
In such texts as I am explaining them you will see how the unconscious is mobilized for the aim of the transforming the conscious personality.
This is active imagination. All yoga exercises are relevant here.
In the summer we will have the opportunity to discuss the exercises of Saint
Ignatius of Loyola, the only official medieval form of yoga in the West.
The unofficial Western yoga that concurs fully with that of the East is precisely this yoga of alchemy.
But there are no comprehensive works on it because today the whole history of alchemy is handled by chemists who naturally have no interest whatsoever in psychology.
When one understands the contents of the mysteries better, one can understand why they kept these things secret, as was done with these Tibetan texts that I’ve presented to you.
They have become known only in the last few years, after the lamaist scholars declared their intention to gradually make these texts known to the West.
Thanks to a series of eminent researchers, chiefly Woodroffe and the American Evans-
Wentz, they have now been introduced to the West.
Last time we stopped at the symbol of the mountain.
I already said that on the one hand the mountain is identified with Christ, on the other hand with Mary, and thirdly with the Holy Spirit, Divinitas Sancti Spiritus, who has a remarkable relationship with Mary in the early church.
It is known that the Sapienta Dei or Sophia was considered to be feminine and identical with Mary, the bearer of God.
So we have three divine forms, identical with the mons.
If we recall that the world emerges out of the four elements, then in the same way the world-form also emerges out of it, and in mediaeval philosophy this appears personified in divine forms.
The protruding form is declared to be identical with the mountain.
By the way, we also do this when we personify a mountain with a name like “Jungfrau,” for example.
Now for the symbol of the city of Brahman.
In alchemy we have parallels with civitas (city) or castrum (castle).
Mainly we find that civitas or castrum is a symbol of Mary, therefore feminine in meaning, because the city is the cherishing one.
So in Alanus de Insulis from the twelfth or thirteenth century, Mary is called acies castrorum, castellum, civitas, or even gazophylacium, i.e., the treasure house (also domus thesauria).
These descriptions all stem from the Church Fathers but were also applied in alchemy to
account for the wisdom (sapientia) or the truth (veritas) of natural philosophy.
Here is what one of these ancient Latin philosophers says: Wisdom is a castle that cannot be stormed.
And he says that this stronghold secures a treasure that will be removed after death.
Clearly, the Idea is that this city safeguards a prize that after death will be borne away.
Evidently it’s taken to heaven or in any case is destined for post-mortal existence.
Here we find the idea suggested by the fifth symbol, namely the vajra.
This actually means diamond; due to its hardness and incorruptibility, it symbolized eternal endurance.
Hence, you may well translate all those Sanskrit compounds with vajra as “eternal.”
That’s the treasure secured in the castle.
The same idea was present in mediaeval alchemy, that the sapientia Dei was like four castles: one is crystal, the second silver, the third diamond (vajra), and the fourth beyond the domain of the senses, i.e., humanly indiscernible.
There is always something remarkable associated with the fourth number.
I simply want to direct your attention to it, namely, that this fourth quality can no longer be understood with ratio [reason].
It has a peculiar parallel with the four psychological functions of consciousness: among
sensation, thinking, feeling, and intuition, intuition as a fourth function is much harder to understand.
We can define it only as apperception through the unconscious.
We don’t know how we arrive at intuition.
This is where the quality of the fourth type comes in, which is rather peculiar and can be described only with difficulty.
You can see that even the ancient alchemists recognized this, who also say: the castle is where the “philosophicus amor” is contained: “Videtisne relucens illud et inexpugnabile castrum?
In eo se continet philosophicus amor, de cujus fonte fluunt aquae vivae quas qui desgustarit semel non sitit vanitatem amplius” [“See you not that shining and impregnable tower? Therein is Philosophical Love, a fountain from which flow living waters, and he who drinks thereof shall thirst no more after vanity.”].
The love of philosophy, the striving for truth, of transformation into incorruptible substance: for these natural philosophers, philosophy was a way to the inner transformation of man, and therefore, as I said, a problem we no longer know anything about.
There is still the idea of the heavenly Jerusalem, which we know from the Revelation of John.
That’s a proper castle, richly bejeweled in the author’s fantasy.
All these ideas also turn up in alchemy, where the philosophical gold is a wonderful glass, a vitrum aureum, evidently an amalgamation of the idea of crystal, diamond, and gold, the idea of the most valuable substance.
Rather later, Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola, the nephew of the famous Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, used the same image in his book about fantasy: the soul dwells in a royal castle.
So it’s no surprise if Christ himself is described as civitas, the walled city, he being the one who takes the human soul upon himself.
This idea comes up very early, not only in the Christian Church Fathers but also among heretics of the early church.
Hippolytus informs us that there used to be Gnostics who spoke of walls and a castle in which the human soul resides.
There is in fact such a text in the Bodleian library in Oxford, the Codex
There, a Coptic text has been discovered that is a proper gnosis.
These things are very rare because they were vehemently persecuted by the church, and virtually the entire literature of gnosis was destroyed, leaving us with fragments.
Some of these were retained by the Church Fathers who condemned this thinking, but who could not help but mention it, naturally in a grossly obfuscated form.
In Egypt, a series of such texts has been discovered in which there, too (thank god), the writings of Mani were found.
In this codex one comes across the idea of the monogenes or autogenes, of autogenesis, of self-generation, the indigenous one: “who dwelleth in the Monad as in a metropolis.”
In the Gospel of John, the monogenes is replaced with Logos, the Word, the Son of God.
This primal being corresponds absolutely to the Indian idea of the purusha, i.e., the original man.
Of him too it is said that he dwells in the monad, in the metropolis, in a city.
It is imagined that this city holds the treasure of the monogenes, the word itself.
And it is even said that the city has four gates that correspond to the four limbs of the monogenes.
This is the idea that you have in India.
Now we come to the next symbol: the four-headed vajra, or thunderbolt.
Linked to the four colors.
These four colors play a great role in alchemical philosophy, first of all in the form of the cauda pavonis, the peacock’s tail.
Some alchemists celebrate the appearance of the peacock’s tail as a marvelous apparition.
When these wonderful colors appear in the chemical retort, then the goal is not far off, they say.
The four colors that combine within it are, as a rule, black, white, red, and yellow.
These are the colors that Heraclitus already mentions as the elemental or basic colors available to Greek painters.
The other colors emerge from their mixture.
These four colors simply indicate the four-headedness, the quartered disposition, of the vajra.
It is already an attempt to somehow bring together the separated elements through enclosure, incorporation, and incubation, and out of this to compose a unity once again.
The four-headed vajra symbolizes a unitary being, which one can still see is composed out of four.
Certain alchemical texts express this idea, e.g., there is a letter translated into Latin, from Aristotle to Alexander the Great—of course, from Pseudo-Aristotle.
This letter was addressed to Alexander only hypothetically and probably came down to the Latin Middle Ages via the Arabic tradition.
It is among the oldest documents of this type that we have: “Divide lapidem tuum in quattuor elementa et conjunge in unum.”
This is the formula of the first five symbols.
The number four in itself is a very important medieval idea, also called the quaternio.
Which is also called the quaternarium, that is, the four-fold, and again as fourness, quaternitas.
There are all sorts of explorations of this concept. It is also described as sacrum, as holy.
Already in gnosticism, in this Codex Brucianus of Coptic gnosticism, we encounter the idea that Christ is the monogenes, standing on a fourlegged podium.
That’s the gnostic idea of Christ on the Tetramorph.
This four-leggedness is always understood as the four pillars upon which Christ rests, being the four evangelists or four gospels.
Everything is construed according to this number four, for one had wonderful paradigms, e.g., out of paradise stream four rivers.
This idea featured in wonderful illuminated books in which Christ the King was combined with the four evangelists, the four-streamed allegory, with river gods, paradise, etc.
This produced wonderful mandalas, which were apportioned strictly according to this number four (4,8,16,32, … etc.).
Of course the ancient doctrine of the four elements also belongs here.
As well as the idea of the tetraktys, the number four, which is the number of the living being, of the creation, as it were.
It underlies all living beings. This view is attributed to Pythagoras.
And it extends to another gnosis, the Barbelo gnosis.
One conjecture is that the first four world-beings, aeons, arose from the uterus of the
primal being Metra, fructified by the pneuma. This number four is the tetraktys.
Other Gnostics describe man as a tetrad, probably referring to our four extremities.
Also one revelatory goddess is the tetrad.
In the Middle Ages this tetrad was also characterized as quadrangulum secretum sapientiae.
The secret rectangle of wisdom in whose center resides the mediator, the master.
It is also described as the pelicanus.
There was also a medieval retort built for circulatory distillation; that apparatus was called the pelican:
This was always depicted as a symbol of Christ, because only the pelican nourishes its young from its own blood.
It tears open its breast with its beak, and the young drink of its blood.
This matter is substantiated inasmuch as the pelican has a small blood-red spot at the front of its beak.
Pelican noster “our pelican”: this is our redeemer who has poured out his blood and nourishes us with it.
This is the mediator who is inside the quadrum.
This is the quadratur of the circle, the original roundness, into which the tetrad is brought.
This process of enclosure was mystically represented in the symbol of the quadratura circuli.
The four qualities and their unification within the point at the center: the quinta essentia or our savior who dwells in the fourness.
It is said of the mediator that he is the one who effects the quadratur of the circle and in this way both represents and solves the mystery.
There is an extensive literature about this, but it is chiefly art-historical in nature, which I cannot go into here.
In many churches there are roses, that is, rose windows high in the Western part of the
nave, very often in the transept, and sitting in their center is the Rex gloriae, as a rule laid out exactly in factors of four, that is either doubled or squared to eight or sixteen.
Such is the representation of this mystery.
The rose leads us directly to the lotus.
The Western version of the lotus is the rose.
It played a very great role in the Middle Ages.
The Rosa is the typical beloved, especially in Dante’s Commedia.
But she is a very abstract beloved, namely, a secret: the rosa mystica whom you encounter in the Laurentian litany, where the attributes of Mary are enumerated.
One of them is the rosa mystica, the mystic rose.
The motif of the jewel in the lotus is very common in the East.
You will of course recall the mantra “Om mani padme hûm.”
Oh, treasure in the lotus, i.e., treasure in the rose.
There is also the idea that Christ hid himself as a wild bird in the rose, or in the water flower, and was born again out of it.
In our text it says that the Buddha reappears in the lotus bud in the Amitâbha land.
The bud opens, and he sits there in the lotus pond, surrounded by swans, geese, and ducks.
The idea of the flower also plays a significant role in medieval alchemy.
It is a synonym for the stone of the wise.
There are countless places where the stone is described as the golden flower.
Or the wonderful water, the aqua permanens out of which the philosophical stone is
produced which can never be exhausted, or the flos mundi, the flower of the world, or flos solis, the flower of the sun, also flower of gold, because the sun is of course identical with gold.
Or it is likened to Christ as the stone.
At the same time he is the flos virgae florentis, i.e., the flower that appears on the rod, the blooming rod of Aaron, a simile often used by Alanus de Insulis.
In the language of the Church Fathers, this flower describes the glorious flesh of Christ’s body, the bud containing Christ’s divine spirit.
Thus the idea of the flower as a vessel.
One also encounters the idea that the steam or spirit rising from the heated vessel is the bloom from this substance, also named flos.
The wonderful stone or the philosophical gold is prepared out of this.
The vessel was understood as the floral bud from which the spirit rose, and one had to seal it tightly so that these blossoms, as that steam or spirit, would not disappear or escape.
The blossom is called the potency of the miraculous water, the baptismal or holy water of alchemy. In Greek alchemy the word psyche [soul] is used very often here.
What arises from the alchemical retort is the soul, and its ascent is called “blossoming.” Comarius, the archpriest, instructed Cleopatra that the dead who dwell in Hades, i.e., in chaos, will become spring blossoms by sprinkling chaos with the divine water.
This is the resurrection of the living elements of the shûnyatâ to their being, to their becoming-one-again with the original being through being contained in the lotus.
Now the actual parallel with the lotus is the whole of Mary hymnology.
There are highly descriptive expressions in it: The rose grows from the reeds for the salvation of man, hence the description in Middle High German: the “himelbluome,” the “noble rose of Heaven” or the “rôse sunder dorn,” the rosa coeli.
This is that rose that Dante invokes in the conclusion to his Paradiso, a rose that encompasses the whole of Heaven.
Here we also have a fourteenth century hymn from Germany in Latin, which I simply must show you:
Ave rosa delicata,
Quae, de regum ramis nata,
Es trans coelos exaltata,
Et per mundum dilatata
Sis nobis umbraculum.
[Hail, precious rose born from the royal branch high above all of Heaven spread throughout the whole world, May you protect us.]
This is consummately the idea of the lotus, the flower bud containing the emerging being that passes through transformation, which we must save for next semester. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Yoga Meditation, Page 163-169