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Carl Jung to Alan Watts on the "Wheel of Life"

To Alan W. Watts

Dear Sir, 21 December 1936

I’m sorry to be so late in thanking you for kindly sending me the “Wheel of Life.”

I have seen it already.

As you rightly point out, it is not exactly what I meant by mandalas, although figuratively it is a mandala.

There are as you certainly know two kinds: the one I would call a mandala proper, namely for purposes of magic and worship,
generally yoga practices.

And the other, the cosmic, geographical, “scientific” mandala.

The “Wheel of Life” belongs to the latter category.

It is a close parallel to our Western cosmological, geographical, and physiological representations, of which you find plenty of examples
in alchemistic philosophy and in the early mystical texts ( f.i. Hildegard von Bingen).

The Trinity is very frequently the centre.

Such mandalas are usually based upon even numbers.

That is as you see the reason why I said that I haven’t come across Buddhist mandalas based upon 3, 5, or 6 ( 2 x 3) .

I’m most indebted to you for mentioning the literature concerning the “Wheel.”

Yours truly,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Pages 222-223

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Carl Jung to Alan Watts on the "Wheel of Life"


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