In the course of its introduction to European civilization, Buddhism has been interpreted by its Western translators in a wide variety of ways, ranging from wild distortions to increasingly accurate and subtle translations. One of its earlier and better-known interpreters has been Carl Jung, and the school of psychodynamic psychology that he founded has continued to engage Buddhism both as a psychology/practice and as theory. Insofar as they bring considerable conceptual and theoretical background to bear on the issue, Jung and Jungian thought present significant commentary in the interpretation of Buddhism -- particularly Zen and Vajrayana -- and are therefore of importance in understanding and clarifying some of the distortions that arise in the encounter.
In addition, it appears that contemporary popular religious vernacular has to a significant extent borrowed its terminology from psychology. If nothing else, the constant references to the “ego” and its influences all originate with Freud. As the first serious interpreter of Buddhism within the field of psychology, Jung has given this aspect of the encounter a particular refraction; and as an influential and currently popular form of psychotherapy, Depth Psychology has actively engaged in the larger and growing dialogue between Western and Buddhist civilizations. In addition, Depth Psychologists comprise a growing number of practitioners of Theravadan, Japanese, and Tibetan forms of Buddhism. In this, they have a kind of double-edged role, in both translating Buddhism into psychodynamic psychology and psychotherapy, and in influencing the western practice of Dharma itself. There are, for example, more than a few psychotherapists who have been given formal approval as successors to Korean, Theravadan, and Japanese teachers.
This may represent the historically consistent way that Buddhism has entered new cultures, by way of adopting dominant modes of expression and clarifying and modifying them. In this, Vajrayana would seem to present (at least superficially) a compatible form of Buddhism to Jungian psychology. Jung was quick to draw parallels between Yidams, Dakinis, and the archetypes; and between Buddha-nature and the Self. These comparisons have been elaborated by subsequent writers, and a dialogue of sorts between Depth Psychologists and Tibetans seems to have been established. The validity of some of these parallels is the focus of this paper.
This paper will therefore follow the chronology of some of Jung’s writings on the subject (particularly his introductions to translations of Buddhist texts), and then examine some of the work of his successors.
In discussing the nature of the self, Jung turns to ( or is approached by) Zen, as in his introduction to Suzuki’s work, his interchange with Hisamatsu, and in commentaries by Masao Abe. Later elaboration on other archetypes and the Tibetan pantheon of tutelary deities is for the most part found in writings of Jung’s successors. Two major questions can be asked: how accurate was Jung himself in understanding Buddhism, and how relevant is Depth Psychology to a ‘western’ understanding of Buddhism, and to its assimilation into European civilization?
A significant part of the problem in negotiating this interface is that each system is experiential, and each system makes truth claims. This is not often explicit in Jung’s writing, as for instance in his argument that Westerners must take a different approach from “Easterners” to the same goal, and therefore utilize different techniques. That is the argument that “this is how it is for us;” and it is an undercurrent in Jung’s analyses which serves to use Buddhism as a vehicle for the validation of Depth Psychology, rather than an open investigation of their mutual limitations and strengths. This sharp distinction between “East” and ‘West” appears to serve Jung both in his argument that Buddhism is by and large not for Europeans (whereas by inference, Depth Psychology is) and in allowing his sweeping generalizations about the radically “introverted East” which Said has criticized as Orientalism. It is clearer in his apparent disinterest in actually investigating his source materials at any length. As Jungian analyst J. M. Spiegleman points out in a panel discussion, “Jung’s position on this is, which I think is subject to real criticism. . . was that he refused. . . for example he went to India and wouldn’t even talk to those masters because he was trying to protect his own alchemy. He took Western alchemy to India, he talked a little bit, but he was trying to protect that treasure. So he could have talked to some pretty big people, which how great for us all if he would have done that, but he didn’t.” (Vreeland, 1996). We have in addition Jung’s own assertion that “we do not assume that the mind is a metaphysical entity or that there is any connexion between an individual mind and a hypothetical Universal Mind. Our psychology is, therefore, a science of mere phenomena without any metaphysical implications.” (Evans-Wentz, 1954) While Jung here (unknowingly) takes issue with Evans-Wentz’s neo-Theosophical distortion of Buddhism rather than Buddhism itself, his assertion that he represents a science which is free of metaphysics seems polemical. It serves to establish a truth claim in the guise of an objective investigation, and risks creating a Buddhism that becomes an alien, subjective ‘other’ with which he contrasts his own presumably value-free psychology.
This position is argued in Jung’s forward to Suzuki’s “Introduction to Zen Buddhism.” The question immediately posed by Jung is whether Buddhism is comprehensible to Westerners; that is, if it is accessible at all:
Oriental religious conceptions are usually so very different from Western ones that even the bare translation of the words often presents the greatest difficulties, quite apart form the meaning of the terms used. . . . The original Buddhist writings contain views and ideas which are more or less unassimilable for the ordinary Europeans.
(Meckel and Moore, 1992)
The question here is whether this is because the translation is inadequate, or the perspective is inaccessible. Jung seems to argue for the latter, that “Satori . . . designates a special kind and way of enlightenment which is practically impossible for the European to appreciate.” (1992) Jung declares it to be ‘opaque,’ saying “The following may serve as a further example: A monk went to Gensha, and wanted to learn where the entrance to the path of truth was. Gensha answered him, “Do you hear the murmuring of the brook?” “Yes, I hear it,” answered the monk. “there is the entrance,” the Master instructed him.’ ” (1992) However, this is opaque only if one has no experience with Buddhist meditation. Jung sees this as an example of an inscrutable psychology, when in fact it is a simple ‘pointing out’ by Gensha, with no philosophical or psychological intent. It is a statement of the obvious, but it is obvious only when one experiences a certain state of mind. This is the equivalent of arguing that the taste of an orange is opaque because one has never tasted it. Rather than admitting that the taste is unknown, one insists that the taste is incomprehensible. Jung, however, does not admit to his limited experience, but instead appropriates this koan into his own framework where it becomes an example of alien thought processes. He then compares koans to European mystics’ experiences of hallucinatory visions, and states that “Many of the Zen anecdotes . . . not only border on the grotesque but are right there in the middle of it, and sound like the most crashing nonsense.” (1992) It appears to be nonsense because the anecdotes are state-dependent, a fact which Jung seems to acknowledge at one point. He states that satori is “ an experience of transformation, often occurring amid the most violent psychic convulsions. It is not that something different is seen, but that one sees differently. It is as though the spatial act of seeing were changed by a new dimension. When the Master asks “Do you hear the murmuring of the brook?” he obviously means something quite different from ordinary “hearing.’ ” (1992) Gensha most certainly is seeing differently, but the hearing he refers to is quite ordinary. It is the quiescent mind of the hearer that matters here, and it is a quiescence that does not depend on one’s introverted civilization for access to it. This is where Jung is brought up short by his own lack of direct experience (certainly of quiescence), and his failure to acknowledge it. Lacking this, he relies on his own model for his interpretation of the experience, making Zen not only exotic and bizarre, but also a species of inferior (unconscious) mentality:
Now if consciousness is emptied as far as possible of its contents, they will fall into a state of unconsciousness, at least for the time being. In Zen, this displacement usually results from the energy being withdrawn from conscious contents and transferred either to the conception of emptiness or to the koan. As both of these must be stable, the succession of images is abolished and with it the energy which maintains the kinetics of consciousness. (1992)
Mahayana Buddhism is quite clear about both the impossibility of emptying consciousness of its contents, as well as the undesirability of trying to. In its emphasis on the Prajnaparamita literature, Zen stresses the inseparability of form and emptiness which means that emptiness cannot be found outside of form. It is rather that emptiness is the essential --and discoverable -- nature of all form. Images are not "abolished" but allowed to manifest and disappear spontaneously. Emptiness is by definition not a "concept", since concepts obscure emptiness. It is, rather, that emptiness is 'full.' This is best illustrated by Keizan Zenji, who wrote that
Though clear waters range to the vast blue autumn sky How can they compare with the hazy moon on a spring night? Most people want to have pure clarity But sweep as you will, you cannot empty the mind.
In introducing his notions of consciousness, the unconscious and the psyche, Jung moves to a discussion of the nature of the self. In doing so, he approaches a Buddhist perspective insofar as he recognizes the radically limited, constricted field of ego-consciousness, and its reliance on deeper (or more subtle) levels of the mind or psyche. But he diverges in that he invariably posits the real existence of an ‘other’ which lies behind appearance and experiences itself through phenomena. In the context of his discussion of Zen, this essentially Judaeo-Christian notion is introduced in his comment on the famous koan “Joshu’s Mu” (or “Wu” here). In appreciating the fact that “Nature herself” answers the monk’s question “Does a dog have Buddha nature?” with Joshu’s answer of “Mu!” Jung goes on to introduce a very non-Buddhist interpretation. He reads “wu” as “wu-wu” (as in bow-wow) and comments “. . . how much wisdom there is in the Master’s “Wu,” the answer to the question about the Buddha-nature of the dog! One must always bear in mind, however, that there are a great many people who cannot distinguish between a metaphysical joke and nonsense. . . “ (1992). This would unfortunately seem to include Jung himself. Joshu was by no means indicating an essence, an essential dog-ness being expressed in the “Wu.” “Wu” or “Mu” in the koan has no meaning whatsoever, apart from the Chinese particle of negation. Its use in the koan demonstrates a specifically Ch’an (Lin-chi) technique by which the student can achieve quiescence and thereby a sudden glimpse his own Buddha-nature, in which both self and not-self are “mu.” (cf., R.H. Blyth, Mumonkan). Joshu was not known for his jokes.
It seems from the above and other interpretations, that Jung conflated Atman with Buddha-nature. He was in part explicitly misled in this by Evans-Wentz, who as Reynolds points out in Self Liberation Through Seeing With Naked Awareness, misinterpreted translations of Tibetan texts in his own idiosyncratic blend of Theosophy and Vedanta. However, such a conflation would seem consistent with Jung’s definition of the self, consciousness and the ego. These distinctions are brought into better relief in his dialogue with Hisamatsu.
This was a failed exchange, as Jung recognized, chiefly because the terminology being used was not adequately defined. However, Jung does clarify some of his suppositions in the exchange, and they can be seen as distinct from Buddhist notions. When asked for his understanding of the Zen “No Mind”, Jung states “It is the ‘unknown.’ But it is the unknown which excites and disturbs me psychically; it is the unknown which influences me positively or negatively. I am aware that it is, but I don’t know what it is.” (p. 104) In other words, it is that which is not available to or accessible to knowing, but it does exist. It exists as the collective unconscious, independent of consciousness or the ego, as the deepest part of one’s being. This is a dualistic position. As Masao Abe points out,
It would therefore be appropriate to say that in Jung, the collective unconscious, as the depth of the self, is seen from the side of the conscious ego as something beyond, or as something “over there,” though not externally but inwardly. It is in this sense that the unconscious is unknown. In contrast to this, according to Zen, the self is not the unknown, but rather the clearly known. More strictly speaking, the knower and the known are one, not two. The knower itself is the known, and vice versa. Self is not regarded as something existing “over there,” somewhere beyond, but rather is fully realized right here and now. (Reynolds, 1989)
Hisamatsu asks “Is ‘I-consciousness’ different from ‘Self-consciousness, or not?” and Jung replies that the Self is unknown, “for it indicates the whole, that is, consciousness and the unconscious. It cannot be known to Jung because the “ego is like a light in the darkness of night.” Jung has defined consciousness as identical with ego, and that which is not ego, as instinctual. As instinct, it is a ‘given’, preceding consciousness which is itself a developmental achievement. Thus, without ego there can be no consciousness, and the states of mind described in Buddhist literature must therefore be unconscious states, since they are allegedly experienced without ego. This is the genesis of Jung’s notion that Buddhism and “Eastern” thought in general is other-worldy, dream-like, and completely introverted.
Since the “I” consciousness arises from an undifferentiated universal psychic state, suffering precedes it: “An instinctive life of worries, joys, pains, hate and love exists before consciousness in the proper sense develops.” Suffering is thus posited in a dialectical relationship with ego, and is necessary in order to the ego/consciousness to expand its reach, and to find meaning. This leads Jung to state that “We need suffering. Without it, life is no longer interesting;” (Meckel and Moore, 1992) a statement which to Buddhist ears must sound completely absurd. Jung’s position is an exact converse of Buddhism, which states that the “I” consciousness is an in-born (deluded) intuition, and is the root of all suffering. Consciousness-as-conceptualization is therefore the sphere of the klesas. Jung concludes that Hisamatsu’s ‘self’ “means “something like klesa in the Yoga Sutra,” whereas his own definition of self corresponds to Atman or Purusa. This is a central point of difference, and one which Jungians seem to prefer to gloss over.
At this point it is necessary to clarify what Jung meant by “Self,” since the term is used by both sides but with radically different meanings. This is not easy to do, as Jung himself acknowledges that he is describing something which basically does not lend itself to precise definition. Since wholeness consists in part of that which is not known, an attempt to describe it runs up against the fact that it is by definition not finally available to description ( as opposed to being ineffable). For this reason, as Thomas points out, “Jung constantly sought figures, analogues and metaphors that were dynamic and specific enough without making pretensions to conceptual closure.” (Thomas, in Meckel and Moore, 1992) One of these analogues is Christ wherein “The self expresses itself through the conscious ego in just such a way as God seeks to become flesh through Christ.” (1992) The parallel to atman here is clear, and it is a designation which both Jung and Jungians seem to find central. Enlightenment must mean the breaking through of this Self into consciousness, and the subsequent transformation of both ego and unconscious. By way of contrast is the story of Bodhidharma’s reply to the Emperor of China's question about the acquisition of merit: "I have endowed these many temples and libraries for the Dharma. How much merit have I acquired?" Bodhidharma replied, "None." Shocked, the Emperor continued, "Why not?" “ Vast emptiness, no holiness.,” was the reply. When the Emperor asked "Who are you?" Bodhidharma replied " I do not know." In the same vein, the Sixth Patriarch’s comment upon seeing a statue of the Buddha was: “A poison dart in my eye!” We may take that comment as the Sixth Patriarch's wariness about conceptualization of any kind, particularly in reference to absolute reality. This same refusal to grant ontological status to a Self is reflected in the more popular phrase "If you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him." As Maezumi roshi stated in a lecture, "you don't have to say all that. Just 'Buddha!'"
Thomas breaks down Jung’s various meanings for Self into a schema of six facets. Some of these can be seen as at least somewhat compatible with some aspects of Buddhist notions, while others are less so.
The Self as “goal” reflects Jung’s idea that the self is not a given which arises with consciousness; it is instead latent within human unconsciousness, and must therefore be sought after and worked for to attain. In this sense, it can be seen as analogous to the seed of the unrealized Buddha nature which is latent within all sentient beings. The attainment of this goal is to Jung ‘individuation,’ wherein one strives to integrate both the primordial unconscious and the ‘deracinated’ ego through an unending developmental process. Thomas compares this “constantly changing, unstable pattern of feeling, thought, etc.” to the Bodhisattva whose quest is for the attainment of the goal of Nirvana. Thus, “Bodhisattvahood itself is described as the ideal goal of wholeness, completion of potentiality, at-one-ment. . . . This is exactly Jung’s description of self as goal.” (1992) The analogy does not hold, however, insofar as Buddhism recognizes an absolute as opposed to conventional reality. In the absolute sense, the Bodhisattva is him/herself “the most beautiful of delusions.” (Taizan Maezumi Roshi, lecture). There is no goal to be attained, and no one to attain it. There is no center, there is only a circumference.
The Self as Center of Opposites describes the Self as the “desired midpoint of the personality, that ineffable something betwixt the opposites.” The self here is expressed symbolically as a bridge or boundary, or a midwife.
As a Uniting Symbol, the self represents the resolution of the tension created by the opposites. The idea here seems to have two possibilities: that the self is either that which resolves the dialectical tension between polarities, that is, an agent and as such a reified ‘structure’ much like the ego in Freudian psychology; or as an expression of the dialect itself, which is to say, of the nature of mind as Jung sees it. In this latter sense, it is not reifiable, but appears only as a symbol.
This second perspective seems to be developed in the fifth aspect of Self as Agent. Thomas sees Jung’s emphasis on the proper role of ego in relation to self as of central importance here. If ego is experienced as the only agent within the psyche, then “inflation and disaster” inevitably follow. (1992) This is typical of the extroverted attitude which denies the existence of an unconscious, interior life capable of exerting decisive influence on what looks like a detached, objective rationality. With the reorientation of the ego in the process of individuation, the ego’s relationship to the unconscious becomes obvious. This is the goal of all psychodynamic psychotherapy; the difference in Depth Psychology is that an “ego-self axis” is established which allows for a relationship of mutuality between consciousness and the unconscious. The ego is therefore included within the self, which acts upon it in an ideally reciprocal fashion. Although self here is not described as a structure, it still bears the marks of an insubstantial ‘thing’ with permanent, that is, eternalist properties. It is rather like God, which may be beyond knowing, but its existence in and of itself is not questioned.
The parallel Buddhist concepts here are of self and of nirvana, but the analogy does not hold. For Madhyamaka, the self or ego is a conceptually created entity superimposed upon changing mental and physical states (Williams, 1989). Its ontological status is much the same as that of a mirage: when seen from a distance, it appears to be one thing, but when approached its actual character is revealed. When placed at a far enough remove, the viewer unknowingly imputes the existence of water or trees to a phenomenon which inherently has no such constituents. However, this cannot be understood until the mirage is more closely investigated. It then resolves into a series of other refractions, any and all of which will have the same tendency to evaporate if examined closely enough. Upon regaining 'ordinary' distance from the phenomenon, the mirage reappears. Thus, the mirage continues to exist, but its nature is now understood as merely a representation by the observer, who will not again mistake it for what it is not. Both the nature of the mirage/self and the fundamental process of conceptual imputation will have been ascertained. It follows that if the ego cannot be said to exist in any inherent, independent way, how can it be in a developmental relationship with a separate, independently existing unconscious or Self? Madhyamaka denies the existence of any Ultimate, inherently existing reality, saying only that the characteristic of reality “is to be not dependent on another, calm, not differentiated by verbal differentiations, beyond discursive thought, without diversity.” ( p. 68) Non-duality is not the same as Jung’s conjunctio oppositorum, wherein opposites are united. This is a point which Jung misses entirely. Nirvana is the “calming of all representations, the calming of verbal differentiations, peace.” ( p. 67)
The fifth aspect of Self is as archetype. In this sense, the self “seems to operate from an archetypal base and present itself as an image which seeks fulfillment in consciousness and action.” (Thomas,. 226) As in its function in the dialectic, it is seen as “the organizing archetype or the archetype of order.” Jung states that it is “the real organizing principle of the unconscious.” ( p227) One is reminded here of Einstein’s faith that “God does not play dice with the universe.” The Buddhist correlate here would appear to be karma, but again the parallel does not hold. As Reynolds puts it, “To the first question found in the catechism, “Who made the world?,” the Buddhist teachings unhesitatingly reply, “It is karma that has made the world.” ( p. 88) Karma, however, is not intentional, nor does it seek anything other than its expression. It is simply the law of cause and effect. We should also keep in mind that insofar as all phenomena are mirage-like, karma itself when seen from the absolute view is illusory itself. Nothing is organized, because nothing is really happening. As a central tenet of Buddhist thought, it offers the clearest difference from Jung’s position. In terms of intention or organization, on the relative (as opposed to absolute) level it is without intention and ineluctable. Far from establishing useful dialogues with it, individual sentient beings are completely driven in relationship to it. It does not operate exclusively within the human domain, although given the right conditions, it can constellate in human form. In this sense, the individual self is karma itself rather than atman. This, however, does not close off possibilities of convergence. We are left with asking what it is that is aware of karma. While we cannot say that there is a self that is aware of its objects, we still are aware. There is no observer, but there still is the observation, even as the object observed dissolves. It can never be known in any definitive way, and is the mysterious aspect of being which Tibetan Buddhism refers to as 'presence.' It may well be that awareness is a correlate to the archetype of the Self. While it cannot be represented as the center of anything (as Thomas would have it), much less as the organizing principle behind experience, awareness does suggest a possible avenue -- far too long for this paper -- worth exploring.
The Self as superordinate system is explained by Thomas as a comparison of the self to the structure of an atom: it is an abstraction which is posited for heuristic reasons rather than directly experienced. “It is at once a hypothetical center (and unity) and a total content of personality. . . . In an ideal sense the self and the conscious ego hold one another in mutual regard.” (p.227) Thomas quotes Whitmont as saying “The Self as a predisposition which is ‘empty’ in itself actualizes as representational images and as patterns of emotion and behavior.” (p. 228) This second description is reminiscent of the Alaya or Kunzhi, “the receptacle or storehouse of consciousness.”(Reynolds, p. 111) Much as the Self is seen as the non-substantial container from which patterns emerge, so the Kunzhi, the “base of everything” functions to store all karmic traces created by intentional actions. Reynolds points out that the Kunzhi is not merely a passive “dust bin of the mind,” but instead is dynamic in that it “organizes, integrates and structures the individual’s experience of himself and his reality.” (p.111) Thus, there appears to be a convergence of thought on this point, insofar as the Self as it functions within the unconscious can be seen as the equivalent of the Kunzhi. The two systems differ, however, in the same consistent way as before. Jung takes the Self to be the ultimate reality, the final goal, and as a psychological cognate of the metaphysical term “God.” From the Buddhist (Yogacara) perspective however, the “tainted mind takes the substratum consciousness [Alayavijnana] as its object and mistakenly considers the substratum consciousness to be a true Self.” (Williams, p. 90) In as much as Alaya consciousness is a consciousness, the term consciousness “always implies a dualistic distinction between subject and object. Therefore, consciousness is an awareness or knowing of something that is separate or discursive. It is a subject knowing or apprehending something, whether external or internal, as an object that is apprehended.” (Reynolds, p. 111) It is therefore mistaken. This Tibetan definition is fully consistent with the Japanese critique of Jung offered by Abe above.
In exploring Jung’s definition of the Self, one can see his consistent emphasis on the duality between the knower --consciousness -- and the known, the Self. As consciousness integrates more of the unconscious, it becomes transformed and in turn transforms the unconscious by way of its coming into consciousness. Thus, while its precise identity is beyond knowing, the self still is seen to exist as “other” which acts upon ego/consciousness. As Jung states, “The limitation of an individual ego as the knower of the Self means that there will always be both external and internal contents left unknown.” (Coward, in Meckal and Moore, p. 258) As we have seen, the closest analog in Buddhism is the Yogacara notion of the Alayavijnana, or Kunzhi, which Coward claims “is seen to parallel Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious.” (p. 256) The Jungian argument would therefore seem to be that the “True Self” or Buddha Nature is contained within the Alayavijnana just as God or Self is within the collective unconscious, and realized through individuation; that is, the reorientation of ego into the “ego-self” axis. However, this parallel collapses when examined more closely. In Yogacara the mind of enlightenment is achieved through the purification of defilements which are produced by conceptualization. This is diametrically opposed to Jung’s idea that the klesas are pre-egoic, instinctual, and therefore to be modulated utilizing the ego or conceptual mind. Where Jung holds to the ego’s ability to conceptualize as the singular capacity that leads to individuation, Buddhism sees that same capacity as the primary obstacle to enlightenment. This is possibly the key point that differentiates these two systems. In addition, where Jung posits the Self as the ultimate reality and goal, Yogacara recognizes that to take the Kunzhi as the Self is a mistake. It is in fact the conceptual mind’s inherent tendency to create generic, non-experienced categories that leads to the mistaken apprehension of an independently existing self, where in fact none exists. From the Buddhist perspective, Jung’s “active imagination” as a means to further the integration of unconscious symbols into consciousness is therefore seen as only the imputation of a self which does not essentially exist. It is, in fact, actively imagined into existence.
Having clarified some of the distinctions between Jung’s psychology and Buddhism, we can discuss his analysis of Tibetan texts in his “Psychology of Eastern Meditation,” “The Tibetan Book of the Dead,” and the introduction to the Tibetan Book of Great Liberation.
In his discussion of the Amita-yur-Dhyana Sutra, Jung approaches the Sutra as one would an alien world. As a product of Indian culture, he would have the reader appreciate what he feels is “an attitude of mind and a vision quite foreign to the European” ( p. 31) Whereas for the European, reality is the world of appearance, for the Indian, reality is the soul; in India the world is therefore a facade, and Indian reality “comes close to being what we would call a dream.” (p. 32) With the kind of generalizations that helped inspire Edward Said, he writes that “We believe in doing, the Indian in impassive being. Our religious exercises consist of prayer, worship and singing hymns. The Indian’s most important exercise is yoga, an immersion in what we would call an unconscious state, but which he praises as the highest consciousness.” (p.33) While these generalizations are dubious at best, they serve Jung’s purpose of establishing a dialectical basis for his interpretation of the Sutra. The East is introverted, withdrawn, and passive, while the West is extroverted, aggressive, and active. This polarity is behind the rest of his analysis, so that for instance samadhi is defined as “‘withdrawnness,’, i.e.., a condition in which all connections with the world are absorbed into the inner world.” (p. 35) Consonant with their supposed predilections, Jung claims that all of Indian meditative technique is aimed at replacing the outer world with the psychic world which becomes concrete reality.
This established, Jung can then argue that if we wish to understand this (Indian) polar opposite of our own way of thinking, “we can do so only in the European way.” This must entail an understanding of the meaning of the content of the symbols presented in the Sutra’s Tantric visualization. By comprehending the significance of a symbol, one is led on a series of associations which lead to the psychic sphere. Symbols have a power inherent within them to give meaning to conscious experience; meaning which rises “from unknown depths.” Thus, for example, a translucent stone of lapis is to be visualized, and “through its transparent layers one’s gaze penetrates into the depths below.” (p. 39) The transparency is to be seen as having meaning, that is, that the meditator “can penetrate into the depths of the psyche’s secrets. There he sees what could not be seen before, i.e., what was unconscious.” (p. 43) What the yogi sees is a banner, which represents an image of the source of consciousness itself. Jung seems to be saying that the archetype itself is what allows consciousness to integrate psychic content; that the inherent meaning of the symbol transforms experience by giving experience meaning; i.e., making it conscious. Symbols are therefore mediating structures between consciousness and the unconscious, and provide avenues through which the self may approach the ego complex within consciousness.
Dhyana is an important term to clarify here. To Jung it is an intentional abaissement du niveau mental which allows the unconscious to take on form. After sinking below the chaotic level of the personal unconscious, the immutable realm of the collective unconscious becomes visible, “which in contrast to the chaotic disorder of the kleshas is pervaded by the highest order and harmony, and, in contrast to the multiplicity, symbolizes the all-embracing unity of the bodhimandala, the magic circle of enlightenment.” (p. 45) This, Jung says, the “Indian assertion of a supra-personal, world-embracing unconscious that appears when the darkness of the personal unconscious grows transparent.” The term, however, denotes rather the opposite meaning that Jung gives it. Dhyana refers to the absorption of awareness into an object for the purpose of achieving a quiescent state of consciousness. or samadhi. These absorptions are the inverse of a lowering of the mental level. They are states of mind in which distractions and all mental formations -- including order and harmony -- are absent, leaving the mind clear, pliable, and extraordinarily alert.
Buddhism makes no assertions about a supra-personal, world-embracing unconscious. In fact, as we have seen it tends to deny them. Jung appears to have taken a Tantric visualization and produced Plato. . As Reynolds points out, “Buddhism does not assume that the mind is a metaphysical entity or that there is a connection between an individual mind and a hypothetical Universal Mind; all this represents the speculations of Evans-Wentz, in line with his understanding of Neo-Platonism and Vedanta.” ( p. 110) Tantric visualizations are not exercises of free association, they are techniques designed to focus attention and lead to quiescence. So far as Jung was unfamiliar with his subject matter and relied on the very unreliable Evans-Wentz for his interpretations of the Tibetan, we should not look to Jung for an understanding of the text.
His understanding of the problems Westerners are likely to encounter in beginning a Buddhist practice, however, are prescient. For the Westerner this form of yoga leads immediately and most importantly to a confrontation with what Jung designates as the personal unconscious. He argues that insofar as this confrontation is merely proof of Christian doctrine regarding man’s originally sinful nature, it has been (until Freud, at least) culturally taboo, leaving one unable to deal with the kleshas, or mental afflictions. This has therefore been historically avoided, leaving Western civilization only the most “limited kinds of parallel yogas such as in the Jesuits’ Exercita.“ The closest the West has come to a yoga is Freudian psychoanalysis, a comparatively recent development, and one which deals exclusively with the kleshas. The particular definition given by both Freud and Jung of the kleshas as instinctual has had a distinct influence on the limitations of psychoanalysis in providing a bridge to Buddhist psychology, which seems (at least in theory) to be more amenable to the academic study of cognition.
Jung argues that for Europeans the kleshas represent a “moral conflict” thereby making it exceedingly difficult to overcome them. We insist, in other words, on taking these things personally, and when encountering negative emotions, assuming that they represent something veridical about who we are as individuals. It is taken as demoralizing proof, as it were, of original sin. In both Freud and Jung, this notion is transposed to the instincts, but the meaning remains: they represent the essentially dual nature of man as animal and spirit. This is in distinction to Buddhism which sees them not as ‘sin’ but as hindrances, and the essential nature of humans as enlightened and compassionate. Thus, Jung states that “an ethical dilemma divides us from our shadow,” which is to say our need to see ourselves as morally decent people makes it next to impossible for us to deal directly and objectively with our capacity for evil. So long as we avoid looking “as little as possible into this dark corner” (p.44) we can go no further into the depths of the mind. For it is the kleshas that first arise as consciousness is focused on inner rather than outer experience, and if one is overwhelmed by the intensity of this encounter with fear, anger, lust, etc., the yoga practice itself will only function to damage individual stability. This is one reason why Jung suggests that Westerners read the Bardo Thodol backwards: because for us, the encounter "with the mind is first characterized by our “abysmal fear of the lurking horror, our personal unconscious.” While his generalization about the ease with which “Easterners” practice yoga is insupportable, his point is nonetheless well taken. The cultivation of personal insight and the understanding of projective phenomena has not been typical of European culture. One need only compare historical India’s traditional tolerance for diversity with European hostility to it to understand Jung’s point.
The visualizations are therefore of no use to us until we can objectively understand the nature of the kleshas and overcome them; i.e.,, integrate the shadow. This entails an ethical struggle wherein we come to see that in Jung’s words “the last amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yea the very fiend himself, -- that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved.”
The important point here is not that Jung indulged in his distinctions between Europeans and Indians in a kind of Orientalism that is embarrassing to contemporary readers. What is of note -- and one infers this from Jung’s writing -- is that the cultural elites of traditional India and of 19th and 20th century Europe, those who created and shaped social and cultural forms, are different in some significant ways. As Weber pointed out in the Spirit of Capitalism, Protestant obsession with production, rationality and the mastery of the external world as an antidote to spiritual anxiety has left us with no systematized methods for dealing with precisely those elements of experience which obscure our capacity to recognize the source and nature of experience. His description of Western capitalist society as “Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a kind of civilization never before achieved” ( p. ) is what Jung is speaking to. In contrast, those individuals in Buddhist societies who choose to practice Dharma have a culturally sanctioned methodology for doing so, as is evidenced by the Pali Canon and everything that followed. It is this unquestioned authority and efficacy of the methodology that allows the practitioner to “traverse the shadow world of our personal fantasies;” not, as Jung would have it, the fact that “the spirit of India grows out of nature” (p. 44). The notion that the Indian mind is unapproachably ‘other’ and exotic is both irrelevant to the practice of meditation and simple Orientalism at its worst, and it draws attention away from the value of what Jung has to say.
We can say that there are two major themes which appear in Jung’s work on Buddhism. One is the unfortunate Orientalist tendency to generalize without foundation in order to use his subject matter as a canvas on which to paint his own theory; the other, his understanding of the need for insight and the cultivation of a proper attitude as preliminary requirements to undertaking the study of the psyche/mind.
In his commentary on the Bardo Thodol both themes are evident. Jung reads the text as a direct statement of the psyche itself “which has the divine creative power within it which makes the metaphysical assertion . . . Not only is it the condition of all metaphysical reality, it is that reality.” p. 83) The text is thus a statement directly from the psyche about its own nature. It is therefore fundamentally a psychological work. In the wrathful and peaceful deities one sees the psyche reflected in the contradictory “both-and” quality of their being simultaneously both illusory and real: “The ever-present, unspoken assumption of the Bardo Thodol is the antinomial character of all metaphysical assertions” rather than the “niggardly European “either-or.” (p. 82) Jung’s main point is that the existential world is “given” by the nature of the psyche. It does not exist in some objective way independent of the observer, however much one is accustomed to seeing it that way. “It is so much more straightforward, more dramatic, impressive, and therefor more convincing, to see all the things that happen to me than to observe how I make them happen. Indeed, the animal nature of man makes him resist seeing himself as the maker of his circumstances.” ( p. 85) Although we do not appreciate the fact, it is the psyche and its capacity for consciousness that gives shape to and illuminates the entire world of experiential phenomena. Jung does not appear to be questioning the reality of all objective phenomena, however. His is not a Yogacara position; he is speaking of the subjective interpretation of psychological experience and of projection of psychic contents. It is this unthinking tendency to see one’s idiosyncratic way of organizing reality as objective reality itself that must be seen through before the nature of the psyche can be appreciated.
This forms the basis for his analysis of the Bardo Thodol. In his own psychological, reductionist use of the text he states that “in the initiation of the living, however, this “Beyond” is not a world beyond death, but a reversal of the mind’s intentions and outlook, a psychological “Beyond” or, in Christian terms, a “redemption” from the trammels of the world and of sin.” ( p. 85) He has thus replaced a Tibetan description of direct reality with the metaphor of a Western initiation rite. After this point, his analysis of the text has rather little to do with the meaning or intention of the text itself, but it is a useful analysis of a Westerner’s approach to yogic practice.
He thus points to the difficulty Westerners have in accepting the view of reality proposed (as he sees it) in the text. It is a world view which runs counter to fundamental Western metaphysics, which are grounded in the assumption of the insignificance of the individual and the individual soul in relation to the immensity of a God which is “other.” “Somehow,” he says, “we always have a wrong attitude to these things.” (p. 84) The basis for this wrong attitude is the difficulty Westerners have in granting to the psyche its primacy; it is therefore from the world of objects and mistaken objectivity that one must be liberated. Thus, it from this world of given things that the dead man liberates himself, and Jung interprets the text as offering instruction on how to do it; that is, to recognize that it is the psyche which gives rise to one’s experience of the world, not the obverse. This to Jung is the crucial “great reversal of standpoint.”
Jung ascribes the difficulty in making this reversal to “the animal nature of man [which] makes him resist seeing himself as the maker of his circumstances.” By animal, Jung refers to the instinctual, purely physical, and ultimately reductionist tendency to see all experience as rooted only in biology or in tangible physicality. Such a position even in its most sophisticated formulations always reduces the mind to physical processes, and conscious to epiphenomenal or even non-existent status. In an elegant (mis)use of the text to criticize Freudian reductionism, Jung points out that “Freud’s theory is the first attempt made by the West to investigate, as if from below, from the animal sphere of instinct, the psychic territory that corresponds in Tantric Lamaism to the Sidpa Bardo.” ( p. 87) As Jung would have it, Freud could go no farther because he was in the thrall of this instinct, as expressed in his insistence that all psychic processes are driven by their biological/sexual bases, and could be reduced to that level. Thus, “anyone who penetrates into the unconscious with purely biological assumptions will become stuck in the instinctual sphere and be unable to advance beyond it, for he will be pulled back again and again into physical existence.” (p. 87) He will, in other words, reincarnate psychologically in undesirable intellectual realms. Insofar as the Buddhist description of the animal realm identifies it in part as characterized by stupidity and an inability to understand priorities, Jung’s argument offers a very pleasing additional dimension.
Unfortunately, however, Jung does significant violence to the text itself. After offering a startlingly acute analysis of the difficulties inherent in Western approaches to the practice and understanding of the text, he proceeds to commit these same errors himself. For example, based on the text he was given he states that “Thus far the Bardo Thodol is as Dr. Evans-Wentz feels, an initiation process whose purpose is to restore to the soul the divinity it lost at birth.” (p. 86) Evans-Wentz, as Reynolds points out, is an unfortunate source to rely on. In a brief biography in his Appendix to his translation of Self Liberation through Seeing with Naked Awareness, Reynolds describes him as basically fraudulent in his use of Tibetan material, influenced not by any sustained contact with Tibetans, but by his immersion in Theosophy and Vedanta. Evans-Wentz used Tibetan texts as a field in which he could propound his own theories while exploiting the authority of another culture’s tradition.
Thus, what for Tibetans is simply a description of reality gained through yogic vision has been transformed into a ‘teaching’ about metaphysics. As such, Jung can do with it as he will, and in the same unfortunate tradition of intellectual colonialism he condemns, he reverses the order of the text, as “This knowledge also gives us a hint of how we ought to read the Bardo Thodol -- that is, backwards.” (p. 88) Since in Jung’s view this is primarily a psychological treatise, it can be modified so as to conform to Western psychology and his own critique of that psychology. To a Tibetan, this is the rough equivalent of proposing that since the laws of physics are understood through the mind, they are subject to psychological reevaluation or re-interpretation. One can then feel free to suggest that “one is perfectly free, if one chooses, to substitute Christian symbols for the gods of the Chonyid Bardo.” (p.93) This may be a plausible thing to do, but one wonders if Jung really understood the nature of function of tutelary deities in Tibetan description of the bardo state. Given his translator, it is safe to guess that he did not.
In the same vein, karma and reincarnation are declared to be impossible to prove and therefore open to being reframed as purely psychological phenomena. “Karma implies a sort of psychic theory of heredity based on hypothesis of reincarnation, which in the last resort is an hypothesis of the supratemporality of the soul. Neither our scientific knowledge nor our reason can keep in step with this idea. There are too many if’s and but’s.” (p. 88) Jung must have been clearly aware when he wrote this that the same charges were being made against his own psychology, and the implausibility of the collective unconscious. The centrality of karma and reincarnation to Buddhism is thus reduced to the category of Platonic archetype, a reductionism which Jung rightly condemns when he criticizes Freud. Jung chooses to disbelieve reincarnation as it is inaccessible to direct proof, yet insists on the ‘scientifically’ validated existence of archetypes and the collective unconscious. By science, he can only mean correlation, since he offers only patterns across cultures as data rather than identifiable causal agents. His problem is that by definition, the unconscious is not knowable; it can only be inferred through the appearance of contents within consciousness. Without direct (conscious) experience of the source of this material these claims do not rise to the level of knowledge through inference; they are no more than speculative. It thus appears that Jung is making an arbitrary choice regarding what it accept or what to reject as valid and reliable information. The choices seem to be based on a lack of familiarity with the material; in making them, he joins the ranks of ‘armchair anthropologists’ like Frazer, Freud, Goodenough and Spencer; all of whom projected colonialist Victorian values and European civilization’s shadow onto alien cultures.
In light of the limitations Jung dealt with both in terms of unreliable translations of Buddhist texts and the fact that he was writing about it at a time when it was virtually unknown in Europe, it is of interest to see if Jungian thought regarding Buddhism has changed within the last forty years. The question is whether what appear to be irreconcilable differences between the two systems have been acknowledged, or if Jungians continue Jung’s tradition of selecting only what is appropriate to their own perspective. How, for example, to evaluate R.C. Zaehner’s (Meckel and Moore,p.3) claim that “it would hardly be an exaggeration to say that Jungian psychology is a re-emergence of some aspects of Buddhism and Taoism in modern dress.?” The question posed by this statement is whether Depth Psychology has acknowledged valid differences and similarities, or whether this reflects the final expropriation of Buddhism as no more than Jungian psychology itself.
In the very limited range of this paper, there does not seem to be much of a shift from Jung’s original position. Writers such as Peter Bishop, James Thomas, Harold Coward, Mokusen Miyuki, Radmila Moacanin and Marvin Spiegelman all continue to explore the importance of cultural difference, the problematic nature of the introduction of Buddhism into European culture, and most importantly to shy away from profound differences between the two systems in the attempt to find convergence.
Thus, Peter Bishop cautions in “Jung, Eastern Religion, and the Imagination” ( in Self and Liberation) that “studies on Jung and Zen fail to bring out the issue of pre-structured meditational imagery.” (p. 174) The problem is in how Eastern ideas are used at random in the West, reducing Buddhism to a series of techniques. Vajrayana, he says, is particularly vulnerable to this reduction; which can lead to “a stress on psychic powers, magical masters, spiritual technocrats, mystical astronauts and religious athletes. . . . . The myth of inner progress can easily be substituted for the myth of outer progress.” This is a trenchant observation, and a critique of those tendencies which Weber identified as having roots in Calvinism and its transmogrification into capitalism. As such, it is in line with Jung’s critique of “Eastern” yogas in Western living-rooms. The problem, however, is that it leaves the Tibetans as passive, non-existent on-lookers in the issue, as if they have no opinions or experience in the matter. A reading of Patrul Rinpoche’s critique of the state of the Dharma in Tibet in the last century will reveal the same concerns. The Buddha himself warned about the “eight worldy dharmas,” and recognized that his Dharma was difficult, exceedingly subtle, counter-intuitive, and not easily understood. If the depth of Buddhist thought on precisely these issues is considered, Jungian psychology may have little new to offer beyond a different vocabulary.
When considering practice itself, Bishop states that “It has been the task of esoteric (religious, occult, hermetic) language through the ages to transform and re-educate cognition. The symbol calls for a response and a commitment.. . . . The use of riddles, koans, and other forms of paradox, to block the rational mind, and hence to force the intuitive, the imaginative leap, are common.” (p. 177) This is a statement which ignores the fact that in Zen, for example, language is considered inadequate and an obstacle, and koans are used only in the context of deep shamatha practice. The point is not to block the rational mind, much less to make imaginative leaps. Cognition is not to be re-educated, it is to be abandoned altogether. To acknowledge this, however, is to risk exposing a gulf between the two systems that simply may not be bridgeable.
This is acknowledged by Coward, who in his comparison between the collective unconscious and the Alayavijnana, states that “Although Jung would agree that psychic processes such as over-attachment to thinking as opposed to intuiting and ignorance of contents of the unconscious are obstacles to individuation of the archetypes, he would never agree that the perfect enlightenment implied by Bodhicitta is humanly attainable. This is one of those points where Jung draws the line in his acceptance of the claims of Eastern Yoga.” (p. 258) In light of the sometimes dubious bases on which Jung placed his acceptance, drawing this line in reality must unravel his acceptance entirely. If Bodhicitta is not attainable, then none of the system of thought which leads to it is valid. So long as the full corpus of Buddhist thought remains unrevealed, it can be interpreted and psychologized. “Drawing lines” is another way of concealing irreconcilable truth claims.
Radmila Moacanin draws the same conclusions as Thomas regarding the collective unconscious and the Alaya in her article, “Tantric Buddhism and Jung: Connections, Similarities, Differences” (1992) In her description of the unconscious, however, she says that “the unconscious may be a valuable guide in pointing the way to one’s true destination, a destination that is true to one’s self and not falsified by prejudices of the conscious mind.” (p. 277) It has the capacity to perceive, be purposeful, and feels and thinks as does the conscious mind. She then, however, claims that “The notion of store consciousness clearly corresponds to Jung’s concept of the unconscious” (p. 278) and quotes Lama Govinda as a Buddhist source. This is problematic in two ways. A reading of Yogacara and an understanding of karma would reveal that the Kunzhi does not correspond to Jung’s notion of the unconscious, insofar as the unconscious is seen as intentional and developmentally inclined. It is in fact just the opposite; “In the context of Buddhist teaching, it is quite clear that there is no law of inevitable progress operative in our world. Samsara, as conditioned existence, is cyclical in structure. . . “ (Reynolds, p. 95) Moacanin, however, would have it otherwise: “For the Buddhist there is pressure toward Buddhahood, which is man’s quintessential nature, and for Jung it is the urge towards wholeness.” (p. 280) Moacanin has borrowed Jung’s use of Evans-Wentz and subsumed Kunzhi into Theosophy. Her almost exclusive use of Govinda as her Buddhist source is revealing as well. Neither Reynolds nor David Lopez has anything kind to say about Govinda: Lopez points out that
throughout his career Govinda seems to have drawn on a wide variety of Western-language sources but never on untranslated Buddhist texts. . . . . he cites Martin Buber, D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, Heinrich Zimmer, and Evans-Wentz. Nonetheless, he represents himself as a spokesman for Tibetan Buddhism in ways that are above all reminiscent of the Theosophy of Evans-Wentz.” (Lopez, 1998 )
Lamentably, it appears that Evans-Wentz continues to be the referent for a significant amount of Jungian discussion of Buddhism, possibly because he presents a version of it that does not conflict with Depth Psychology, and is easily understood and appropriated by Jungian psychologists.
Lastly, the writings of Marvin Spiegelman and Mokusen Miyuki represent more of the psychotherapist’s perspective on the dialogue. In their book, Buddhism and Jungian Psychology, the authors see themselves as carrying on in the spirit of Jung’s essays on Buddhism. Spiegelman writes that “A present reader can only be dumbfounded by the perspicacity and perception demonstrated by Jung in his commentaries on Tibetan Buddhism, India . . . and Zen Buddhism.” (1994 ) It appears, however, that Spiegelman is also referring to Jung’s commentaries on Evans-Wentz rather than on Buddhism when he praises Jung. His references to Buddhism are full of unexamined allusions to Theosophy, as in his belief that
the psyche is trying to incorporate all the religions and ethnicities of the earth in order to create a large synthesis. This goal, I hope, does not aim at replacing any of them, but towards building a larger temple of the soul where all individuals and groups might find a treasured place. ( p. 11)
Jung himself was not this enthusiastic about the notion of One Mind: he states in fact that “we do not assume that the mind is a metaphysical entity or that there is any connexion between an individual mind and a hypothetical Universal Mind” in his introduction to Evans-Wentz’s Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation.
In his commentary on the “Ten Ox Herding Pictures,” Spiegelman introduces the same conflation of Self and Buddha-nature, stating that “It is the Self of the Buddhist, or that Self of the Jungians, which is the center and higher authority within, or the totality of his being. . . “ ( p. 51). He goes on to claim that the Ox represents “the God within,” a statement certain to confound Zen Buddhists. This is some 58 years after Jung first attempted to understand Buddhism from a psychological perspective; not much appears to have happened in the interim. Commenting on another Ox Herding picture, he says
Now he knows it by the “sound he hears,” not by what he reads. He listens, it seems. Does he hear the voice of God? Does the Self speak to him personally, now, just to him and to no other? . . . I think so, particularly when Kaku-an tells us: “when the eye is properly directed, he will find that it is no other than himself.” So Kaku-an sheds the light that the eye must look in the proper place. Is that not into one’s being, one’s fantasies and dreams, affects and strivings: Was it not the ox itself that was driving him to the ox? (p. 58)
Spiegelman is not praising the practice of shamatha and vipassana here: he is describing Jung’s use of active imagination. It is as if nothing has happened in the field of Buddhist scholarship since 1936 to challenge Jung’s interpretation of Buddhism. This seems to represent most clearly a certain tendency in Jungian thought about Buddhism that refuses to acknowledge that Buddhism really is alien; not necessarily to Westerners who wish to understand it, but to Depth Psychology and the premises on which it rests. He does acknowledge important differences, as when he says
Jung is a representative of twentieth century Western spirituality focused on the individual. For example, as we work in analysis we don’t have a path, we don’t have a direction, we have none of those things, and our relationship to the psyche is quite different. We allow it to determine the path we go. (Vreeland,1996)
He goes on to state, however his belief that “underneath all this, that it’s no different. . . that [Buddhist] path is not one that we do, so far. It could well be that it could happen.” (1996) The problem, of course, is that ‘underneath’ it may very well be entirely different, and that if it happened, it might have to happen as Buddhism, not Depth Psychology.
Miyuki states that “The Zen teaching of “no-mind”. . . and the Shinshu teaching of “naturalness” ... are both directed to the realization of this total personality and can be considered as examples of the way in which the Japanese mind has transformed the other-worldy Buddhism of India into a pragmatic system for dealing with everyday life.” (p. 119) Zen’s “true man” is no-personality, as expressed by Bodhidharma when asked who he was: “I do not know.” This is a distinction which simply is not compatible with Jungian notions of individuation. While he does not explain his meaning of “other worldly” one can guess that he refers to Jung’s analysis of Indian culture as withdrawn and introverted.
In his debate with Spiegelman in 1996 (Vreeland, 1994) Tenzin Wangyal, Rinpoche gives poignant voice to the Tibetan experience of exile and Western appropriation of Buddhism:
People study for thirty of forty years, very intensive training as they learn all these things. Now when you bring this to the West, the difficult part is everyone is taking pieces out of it. The psychologists take pieces away and sometimes they don’t mention about it, and the healers take pieces away, and all people, even scientists take pieces away. The medical community takes pieces away; it’s like taking away from that and somehow it’s hard in some sense, the whole thing is tearing apart, not only the culture is being ripped apart, but also the knowledge, because it’s in pieces. On the other hand when I think about it, as long as it benefits anybody, this is the word of the Buddha and people should use it and integrate it together and learn it.
I conclusion, it is interesting to pick up a piece of the dialogue between Jung and Hisamatsu. As Masao Abe points out
Towards the end of the conversation, however, Jung clearly agreed with Hisamatsu on the need of overcoming even the collective unconscious for a complete cure of the patient. According to Tsujimura Koichi, who acted as interpreter for the dialogue, Jung’s affirmative response surprised people in the room, for if the collective unconscious can be overcome, then Jung’s analytical psychology must be fundamentally reexamined. (p. 136)
It is curious that this statement was apparently never taken up by either Jung or his successors interested in Buddhism. One can only speculate that to have done so would have meant precisely what Abe states: the possibility that in order to find convergence with Buddhism, Depth Psychology would have to give up central tents of its own system, such as reliance on conceptualization, the notion of self, the dialectic, and the centrality of content. The possibility of finding convergence is certainly limited when Depth psychologists don't attend to subjects such as emptiness, dependent origination, karma, or the lack of inherent existence as they are explained in the very large and challenging corpus of Buddhist literature. In failing to really see that Buddhism is fundamentally very different from Western thought, we risk both underestimating the difficulties inherent in the dialogue and making facile and superficial comparisons. Perhaps when Western psychology can understand the Buddhist view that all reality is conceptually designated by the mind, and that the mind itself is not inherently real, a conjunctio of civilizations can begin.
REFERENCES Blyth, R. H. (1966) . Zen and Zen Classics, Vol. Four, Mumonkan, Tokyo: Hokuseido Press. Evans-Wentz, W.Y. (1954). The Tibetan Book of Great Liberation. New York: Oxford University Press. Lopez, Donald. (1998.). Prisoners of Shangri-La. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Meckel, D, & Moore, R. (1992). Self and Liberation. New York: Paulist Press. Reynolds, John. (1989). Self-Liberation Through Seeing with Naked Awareness. New York: Station Hill Press . Spiegelman, J.M. & Miyuki, M. (1994). Buddhism and Jungian Psychology. Tempe: New Falcon Publications, . Vreeland, A. (1996). Common Ground. Transcript. Dallas: C. G. Jung Society of North Texas. Dallas . Weber, Max. (1951). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Glencoe, N.Y.: Free Press. Williams, Paul. (1989). Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations. New York: Routledge.
by Ron Sharrin