Today I decided to talk about Carl Jung and mandala and I will start with explaining you why, because I feel it’s important to do that in this context.
I was always fascinated about ancient civilizations, their customs and their social behaviors, because our evolution is based on what they made and on their beliefs. I also think they were closer to nature and less influenced by superficial pleasures. Of course, we can notice that over time things became better if we look at our quality lifestyle, but there are many ancient spiritual traditions that could enrich our lives now, as much as they did in the past.
We run everyday for new technologies and we often forget about ourselves and about our spiritual side. I don’t say that we should run in the woods, but I think we should try to see and enjoy life and simple things more than we do and also share and combine our cultural and spiritual traditions, because they are all interesting and beautiful and there’s a very powerful meaning and essence in each one of them.
Carl Jung studied this side of the world along with the psychological side, so that’s why I’m going to bring more information about him and about the connection between him and mandalas.
Who Is Carl Jung?
Carl Gustav Jung was born on 26 July 1875 in Kesswil, Switzerland and he died on 6 June 1961. He was doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist and the founder of analytical psychology.
He studied general medicine and psychiatry in Basel (city of Switzerland, near the three borders of Germany, France and Switzerland) and he was a professor at The Medicine University of Zurich.
Jung’s work was influential in areas like: psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, literature, anthropology, archaeology and religious studies.
He met Sigmund Freud (the founder of psychoanalysis) and the two collaborated for a while, until Jung decided to go on his own and to found a whole new system of psychoanalytic interpretation, based on his own clinical experience.
He had some visits to Nord Africa, Arabia and India and he started to focus on individuation, which is one of the central concepts of analytical psychology. He studied the conscious, the subconscious, but especially the unconscious elements of each individual and he created new concepts as: extroversion and introversion, synchronicity, collective unconscious, archetypal phenomena and psychological complex.
Carl Jung was also an artist and a very productive writer. Many of his books were published only after hid death and there are still some that wait to be published.
He was the man who brought the mandala concept to the Western Countries, because he was attracted to mandala rituals and had a revelation about it while he was visiting India.
He said he started to be interested in mandalas and to draw his first mandala when he felt he was ready to evolve as an individual. He also said the mandala helped him to discover and understand his inner self and he used mandalas to heal his patients as well.
Carl Jung is also the only one who makes the association between mandala and The I Ching system and I explain what this is in the paragraph below.
The origin of mandala – I Ching System
The I Ching is also known as The Classic Of Changes or The Book Of Changes and it is an ancient Chinese text. It is the oldest text of the Chinese Classics (texts originated before the imperial unification).
The Book Of Changes is from more than two and a half millennia, an infinite source of interpretation and commentary and also a valuable text for psychoanalysis, literature, religion and art.
The base of this book is a sort of map, which is known as the map of the world’s original laws and here it is:
In the center we find the kian, which is the sky, but also the world’s point of origin or the self-generated creation energy.
Around it we find the four sky forces:
- heng – the all-encompassing force (including and covering everything and everyone)
- yuen – the generating force (make things create)
- li – the beneficent force (creates good)
- ching – the immutable force (permanent and steady)
All this forces and what is around them are made by ropes with knots and given that it is an ancient text, they stand for numbers. The odd numbers are masculine and the even numbers are feminine.
The sky (kian), which is masculine unifies with the feminine (kun) and together they create the foundation of the whole existence. This idea is very common in most ideologies and it is also a natural fact.
Carl Jung believes that this Chinese map is the origin of the Indian mandala, seen that it is older, but there is no evidence that can confirm this. At the same time, he believes it could be a coincidence, because people around the world often create similar things in similar periods, without knowing one about the other. He proved in other writings of his own that ideas are created everywhere and everytime independent of each other, from a mental matrix which is present far and wide.
So this could be the origin of mandala which makes sense if you look at the meaning of both, or it is only a coincidence which is also interesting and fascinating.
Carl Jung’s Definition for “mandala”
“The Sanskrit word “mandala” means “circle” in general. In the field of religious practices and in psychology, it represents circular images, which are drawn, painted, suggestively shaped or “danced”. We find this type of structure in the Tibetan Buddhism, and as dancing figures we find circular images in dervish monasteries. As psychological phenomena, those images appear spontaneously in dreams, in some conflicting states and in schizophrenia.
Very often, those circular images contain a quaternity or a multiple of four as a cross. They can also contain a star, a square, an octagon etc. In alchemy, this subject appears as quadratura circuli. The circle quadrature is one of the many archetypal themes, which are the foundation for our dreams or phantasms configuration. The circle quadrature is especially distinguished by the fact that it is one of the most important archetypal themes, from a functional point of view. We can actually call it the archetype of totality.”
Putting aside the difficult terms, I think Carl Jung’s definition for “mandala” is the best, if we look from a psychological and a psychoanalytic perspective.
The mandala was often studied around the world, but no one offered such a complex perspective as Jung. So mandala is not only a spiritual tool, but also a scientific tool.
Mandalas Of Carl Jung’s Patients
I’ve chosen some examples of mandalas which are drawn by three of Carl Jung’s patients and I will describe them briefly, of course, using the information I found in Carl Jung’s book, “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious” (Collected Works of C. G. Jung), which I strongly recommend.
So here they are:
Those two mandalas drawn by a young woman represent a conflict between civilization and nature. This woman was 35 years old and she wanted another child, but she wasn’t sure about it. On the other side her destiny guided her to a cultural life. At the end she resolved the conflict, by choosing to not have another child.
The first mandala displays a dark night with the four stages of the moon. On the second mandala the sun appears, and we can see the sun and the moon moved outside the mandala. Jung says this may mark a strict difference between unconscious and the surrounding world.
On the third mandala drawn by the same patient, the dark seems to return. Inside the mandala, different forms of life like humans and animals seem to appear. Jung couldn’t fully understand their meaning, because the patient died meanwhile and he discovered the mandala after his death.
Those two mandalas are drawn by a woman and the first one indicates the dark of the outside, which is the lack of love and sexuality. She felt embarrassed and stupid, but all her pain was self-inflicted.
When she drawn the second mandala, she became conscious about her situation and she felt more comfortable with that. Her mandala started to send brightness on the outside and she represented the four functions of consciousness with colors as follows:
- intuition – yellow
- mind – light-blue
- feeling – red
- sensation – brown
Carl Jung asked his patients, who were schizophrenic, to draw mandalas and to talk about their drawings, about their feelings and about the dreams they had. Based on his advanced knowledge of psychology and psychoanalysis, Jung was able to interpret his patient’s drawings. His main purpose was to discover the archetypes of the unconscious, so the causes of illness.
Illness or wounded soul?
Carl Jung discovered that neuroses have spiritual causes and can be cured only by spiritual resources, and the mandala method was a huge innovation in medicine.
So people affected by neurosis can be healed, but are there enough doctors who can do that? Traditional medicine still doesn’t sustain that, because it’s easier to give people pills than to really cure them.
I think we are still primitive if we look at this aspect. We can learn about anything by simply doing a search online. We also accumulate information in school, university, but most of those information are about what’s around us and not about us. And what’s the point of all those information if we get ill, only because we don’t have the courage to know ourselves?
The inner self doesn’t have thoughts and doesn’s overwhelm us with lots of information. It simply wants to be noticed and loved, and if we try to do that, we can create a different world, where humans, technology and nature live in harmony and balance.
So take some time for yourself first, and then for other things, whatever those are!
I hope you found my post useful and if there is anything you want to ask or add about Carl Jung and mandala, just feel free to leave a comment below and I will be more than happy to make discussions with you. Blessings!