The Path to Enlightenment: karma & jnana

Moksha is a Sanskrit word meaning “free, release, liberate“.  This word is related to the Sanskrit word mukti meaning “liberation”.The root word of both is muc meaning “to be free” * .

In his commentary on the Upanishads, 8th century CE philosopher and theologian Adi Shankara speaks of Moksha. Shankara tells us that the Upanishads, the Gita, and the scriptures establish a path to Moksha. Sankara says:

“The Upanishads exhaust themselves simply by determining the true nature of the Self, and the Gita and the scriptures dealing with moksha have only this end in view” [Intro to the Isa Upanishad].

The Upanishads ‘liberate’ the soul through the removal of spiritual ignorance. Shankara explains:

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The Hero as Soul Image: aims and instincts

In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung says that the hero myth “symbolizes the ideas, forms, and forces which grip and mold the soul.” (para. 259) The hero is an image or form of the living soul, expressing trials and tribulations as encountered upon the path of soul. While we often think of the hero in terms of idealized images of triumph and even of immortality, getting at the soul of the hero takes a more subtle insight. Such insight includes an understanding of the subtle realms of psychic life: perceptions that extend beyond idealized images, perceptions of the movements in the life of the soul.

At the time that Jung wrote Symbols of Transformation, Freud and Jung were engaged in a stormy debate regarding the nature of psychic life, each seeing the psyche from a different perspective. Their two perspectives formed two basic viewpoints on psychic life: the egoic and the transpersonal. This schism played out in their perspectives on myth interpretation, and particularly their interpretation of the Oedipus myth. Freud’s understanding was focused on the development of the ego, reflecting ego development taking place within the first half of life. Jung’s psychology was focused on archetypal elements, and his reading of the myths focused on the movement beyond ego, into transpersonal and archetypal motifs. Jung often took the perspective that the transpersonal aspects of psychic life were collective and biological, arising from evolutionary determinants. My aim is to read Jung’s writings from a spiritual perspective, understanding that archetypal images express the telos of the soul– the aims and instincts of the soul.

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Vishvarupa: Cosmic Man

Vishnu as the Cosmic Man (Vishvarupa), Jaipur, Rajasthan- c. 1800-50. US Public Domain, Wikimedia
Vishnu as the Cosmic Man (Vishvarupa), Jaipur, Rajasthan- c. 1800-50. US Public Domain, Wikimedia

In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung speaks of the ‘cosmic man’, drawing upon a passage from the Shvetashvatara Upanishad:

“Without feet, without hands, he moves, he grasps; eyeless he sees, earless he hears; he knows all that is to be known, yet there is no knower of him. Men call him the Primordial Person, the cosmic man. Smaller than small, greater than great ….” (cited in CW5, para. 182)

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Christ’s Androgyny: image of the Self

Consegna della legge (dettaglio cristo imberbe), santa costanza roma IV secolo. US public domain via wikimedia
Consegna della legge (dettaglio cristo imberbe), santa costanza roma IV secolo. US public domain via wikimedia

Christ is an image of the Self. When images of the Self take on anthropomorphic form, we often find androgynous characteristics.

The androgyny appears from time to time throughout history, taking various forms. Images show up in art, myths, alchemy, as well as in our dreams and imagination, as an archetypal symbol of integration of opposites. Continue reading “Christ’s Androgyny: image of the Self”

Ganesha: the child represents the urge toward Self-realization

Image from Martin-Dubost, Paul (1997). Gaņeśa: The Enchanter of the Three Worlds. US Public Domain via wikimedia
Image from Martin-Dubost, Paul (1997). Gaņeśa: The Enchanter of the Three Worlds. US Public Domain via wikimedia

In the above image we see the baby Ganesha, with his parents. Martin-Dubost describes the image:

“This square shaped miniature shows us in a Himalayan landscape the god “Śiva sweetly pouring water from his kamaṇḍalu on the head of baby Gaṇeśa. Seated comfortably on the meadow, Pārvatī balances with her left hand the baby Gaņeśa with four arms with a red body and naked, adorned only with jewels, tiny anklets and a golden chain around his stomach, a necklace of pearls, bracelets and armlets.”

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