Mandalas & Minds

Archetype of Wholeness: Jung and the Mandala

by Elle

Peter Patrick Barreda
Waking Times

In his writings on mandala symbolism, Carl Jung refers to the mandala as “the psychological expression of the totality of the self.” Within everyone’s psyche, to one degree or another, can be found a seed-center of the self surrounded by a chaotic maelstrom of issues, fears, passions and countless other psychological elements. It is the very disordered state of these elements that creates the discord and emotional imbalances from which too many of us suffer on a regular basis. The mandala is a template for the mind, a state of peace and order, a resolution of the chaos within. In Jung’s words,

“The severe pattern imposed by a circular image of this kind compensates the disorder and confusion of the psychic state—namely, through the construction of a central point to which everything is related.”

This central point is the absolute seat of the self, the anchor for all the extraneous elements of your environment and your psyche. In actuality these two are not separate entities, rather they are intimately combined, inextricably linked. The effects of the world within and the world without are often indistinguishable as far as your self is concerned. Internal elements (ideas, emotions, compulsions) interact freely with external elements (news, relationships, taxes) in the interface that is your mind. Understanding this exchange helps us see more clearly how certain patterns and symbolic elements from our most ancient origins have been internalized and carried through the ages, only to be unconsciously externalized in the beauty of the mandala.

Ritualistic mandalas from specific cultures display a style and variety of elements with special significance to that culture. There are nearly as many types of mandalas as there have been societies in the history of Humankind. But the essence of the pattern of the mandala, the “squaring of the circle,” is a basic motif in the architecture of so many dreams and fantasies whose unifying similarities stretch across the ages. The quaternary pattern imposed upon the circle symbolizes the application of an orderly architecture upon the infinity of the cosmos. It gives the psyche a safe place on which to stand, a solid foundation upon which it can gather itself to achieve completeness and harmony. Furthermore, the central point, or bindu, is the reference point for the self to identify with. Jung refers to this pattern as the “archetype of wholeness.”

This ordering effect on the human psyche is not, Jung stresses, the result of conscious reflection or cultural effort. It is a pre-existing condition of consciousness that such patterns help bring it into focus or return to an earlier, more peaceful state. This is why Jung found the mandala to be present in so many cultures and mythologies spanning the globe and the history of Humanity itself. It is an integral part of the collective unconscious that is shared by every person that has ever lived. The mandala is an unconscious state in which all opposites come together and are united, where the polar aspects of the cosmos and the individual can become one. This union of opposites is the very process by which we achieve wholeness, and through which we find peace.

A great deal of Jung’s psychotherapy dealt with the interpretation of individual mandalas created by his patients. In addition to the soothing, focusing effect he noted as a result in his patients’ psychological states, there was also a great deal of commonality between the images they created. Patients who had no prior knowledge of mandalas or any other conscious symbolistic expression repeatedly put to paper strikingly similar images in the course of their progress. Jung writes of the significance of these similarities:

“In view of the fact that all the mandalas shown here were new and uninfluenced products, we are driven to the conclusion that there must be a transconscious disposition in every individual which is able to produce the same or very similar symbols at all times and in all places. Since this disposition is usually not a conscious possession of the individual I have called it the collective unconscious, and, as the basis of its symbolical products, I postulate the existence of primordial images, the archetypes.”

It is these archetypes, ageless connections between every conscious being, in conjunction with the elemental pattern of the quaternary and the cardinal points, that create the powerful effect the mandala exhibits on the human psyche. It is as if there were a common reference point at which all our seemingly individual consciousnesses are connected, and it is from this realm that the form and effect of the mandala are drawn. The mandala can be considered a blueprint for the essential structure of our existence, and something about this structure is instantly recognized by the unconscious within us. We perceive the shapes, the patterns, the elements within the mandala, we see their relationships to each other, and within that sacred matrix we recognize our self and our place in the cosmos. It is an ancient and fundamental relationship from which we have strayed. The mandala is the key that can help us return to it.

Jung also equates the mandala with the eye in form as well as spirit, stating that “the eye is the prototype for the mandala.” The eye symbolizes seeing and light, and therefore consciousness itself. The eye is the part of us that beholds the universe and sees our place in it. It is knowledge, awareness and wisdom. The eye takes in light, the pure energy of the universe, and presents it to the inner spirit. It is the gateway, indeed the very union, between the self and the cosmos. As is the mandala. In addition to the structural similarities between the eye and the mandala, the image of the eye is a common element in individual mandalas. Often one can find a repeating pattern of eyes in a mandala. Jung refers to this as polyopthalmia (many-eyed), and considers this a representation of the unconscious as multiple consciousnesses.

It is evident that the mandala is the link, albeit a mysterious one, between our modern consciousness and our most ancient origins. Jung concluded that “their basic motif is the premonition of a center of personality, a kind of central point within the psyche, to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which is itself a source of energy.” Somewhere in the vast, forgotten reaches of time lies the answer to this wondrous mystery, but also does it lay, quiet and dormant, deep within each one of us. It is for us to rediscover, and to cherish. It is for us to hold this inexhaustible source of energy close to our hearts. Within it we will discover ourselves, we will find each other, and we will reconnect with the essential center of existence.

About the Author

Peter Patrick Barreda is a mandala artist, occasional writer, chronic over-thinker, and webmaster of mandalaZone.com. He is fascinated by origins and causes, and the deeply-hidden reasons behind everything. He believes that mandalas are the underlying pattern for everything in the universe—physical, mental and spiritual, though at their core these three are essentially one. Please visit his fascinating website, where this article was originally featured.

from:    http://www.zengardner.com/archetype-wholeness-jung-mandala/

Caroline Myss on Sacred Contracts

Sacred Contracts

Sacred Contracts

Story by: Caroline Myss

Have you ever wondered what your mission in life is supposed to be?

You probably know people who seem to have had their entire life mapped out from the day they were born. You may have envied their sure sense of what they were born to do — their work, career, marriage, and personal goals.

And yet you have probably also wondered whether that was really all there was to it. So have I. The answer I found is that there’s much more involved. I believe that each of us is guided by a Sacred Contract that our soul made before we were born. That Contract contains a wide range of agreements regarding all that we are intended to learn in this life. It comprises not merely what kind of work we do but also our key relationships with the people who are to help us learn the lessons we have agreed to work on. Each of those relationships represents an individual Contract that is part of your overall Sacred Contract, and may require you to be in a certain place at a certain time to be with that person.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that free will plays no role in your Sacred Contract. At any given moment — or “choice point” — your Contract may provide you with an opportunity for growth. It can come in the form of a challenge at work, the dissolution of an old relationship or the formation of a new one. As you work with my book “Sacred Contracts,” you will keep notes on each of the significant Contracts in your life. I recommend that you keep a notebook or journal for just this purpose. (I’ve designed a Journal of Inner Dialogue to help you organize all the information you’ll accumulate as you review the key relationships in your past and present by answering the many questions in my book.)

Your Contract is made up of all these components of your life, yet it can’t be reduced to any one of them by itself. One way of viewing your Contract is as your overall relationship to your personal power and spiritual power. It determines how you work with your energy and to whom you give it. Finding and fulfilling your Sacred Contract also depends on how much you are willing to surrender to divine guidance.

 

The Basis of Sacred Contracts

I believe that we each agree to the terms of our Contract before entering the physical realm of this world. This applies whether you accept the concept of reincarnation, or believe in a single lifetime followed by heaven or hell — or neither. I go into the background for my beliefs in much greater detail in “Sacred Contracts”, but one fascinating parallel occurs in the writings of Plato. In the tenth and final book of his great work The Republic, Plato relates the Myth of Er.

In brief, the story concerns a Greek soldier named Er who is left for dead on the battlefield. Twelve days later he awakens on his own funeral pyre, and later tells a remarkable tale of what he observed while he was suspended between life and death. Er found himself in a kind of way station between heaven and earth where souls were passing from one plane to the other. Dead souls were waiting to be judged and assigned to their reward or punishment, while other souls prepared for their journey to earth. Some were old souls returning for another go-round; others were freshly minted and awaiting their first life on Earth.

At one point the waiting souls are presented with many possible life scenarios, and are advised to choose from these “samples of lives.” Plato informs us that “there were many more lives than the souls present, and they were of all sorts. There were lives of every animal and of man in every condition,” including tyrants.

Before entering life on the Earth plane, however, the souls were led to the plain of Forgetfulness, a barren waste with no vegetation, where they were required to drink from the river of Unmindfulness. They then promptly forgot everything that had just happened to them. The reason should be obvious: if you know in advance exactly what’s going to happen in your life, you would have great difficulty making decisions or taking actions that are intended to teach you something, often through painful experiences. You might naturally be reluctant to begin a relationship with someone who you knew would hurt you, even though you needed to learn a valuable lesson from that person.

Whether we take this myth literally or simply as a teaching device of Plato’s, we can use it to gain a higher perspective on our life. If you think of your life’s direction as something to which you have agreed, then what formerly seemed like arbitrary or even absurd conditions can be seen in another light. They are part of the roadmap that you’ve agreed to follow. Each event, each person of any significance whom you encounter, has an agreed-on role in your learning experience. Sometimes the learning is difficult because you don’t always surrender to the situation. It may take time for you to see the reasons for it. But the sooner you do, the less painful it becomes. In time, you can learn to accept each event as it happens without struggling against it and prolonging your psychic — and physical — suffering. To have a serious illness or injury is difficult enough; seeing it as a punishment or the cruel caprice of fate only makes it harder to bear. The resulting stress will probably also make it worse, and you will take longer to heal or recover.

Naturally, you can’t be expected to see everything immediately, or in advance. But if you have a way of looking at the symbolic meaning of your experiences, you will be better prepared to accept the inevitable changes to your life. Fighting change builds up emotional scar tissue. Surrendering to divine will allows you to accept the changes, and get on with your life.

To help you understand and fulfill the terms of your Sacred Contract, you have been encoded with a set of 12 primary archetypes. Four of these are universal archetypes of survival: the Child, Victim, Prostitute, and Saboteur. The other eight are drawn from the vast storehouse of archetypes dating back to the dawn of human history. “Sacred Contracts” shows you how to determine the identity of your eight personal archetypes from a comprehensive Gallery of Archetypes in the Appendix.

from:    http://spiritofmaat.com/magazine/july-2014-purpose/sacred-contracts/

Stanislav Grof on Science & Spirituality

Science and Spirituality: Observations from Modern Consciousness Research

by STANISLAV GROF on JULY 30, 2010

The leading philosophy of Western science has been monistic materialism. Various scientific disciplines have described the history of the universe as the history of developing matter and accept as real only what can be measured and weighed. Life, consciousness, and intelligence are seen as more or less accidental side-products of material processes. Physicists, biologists, and chemists recognize the existence of dimensions of reality that are not accessible to our senses, but only those that are physical in nature and can be revealed and explored with the use of various extensions of our senses, such as microscopes or telescopes, specially designed recording devices, and laboratory experiments.

In a universe understood this way, there is no place for spirituality of any kind. The existence of God, the idea that there are invisible dimensions of reality inhabited by nonmaterial beings, the possibility of survival of consciousness after death, and the concept of reincarnation and karma have been relegated to fairy tales and handbooks of psychiatry. From a psychiatric perspective to take such things seriously means to be ignorant, unfamiliar with the discoveries of science, superstitious, and subject to primitive magical thinking. If the belief in God or Goddess occurs in intelligent persons, it is seen as an indication that they have not come to terms with infantile images of their parents as omnipotent beings they had created in their infancy and childhood. And direct experiences of spiritual realities are considered manifestations of serious mental diseases—psychoses.

The study of holotropic states has thrown new light on the problem of spirituality and religion. The key to this new understanding is the discovery that in these states it is possible to encounter a rich array of experiences which are very similar to those that inspired the great religions of the world—visions of God and various divine and demonic beings, encounters with discarnate entities, episodes of psychospiritual death and rebirth, visits to Heaven and Hell, past life experiences, and many others. Modern research has shown beyond any doubt that these experiences are not products of pathological processes afflicting the brain, but manifestations of archetypal material from the collective unconscious, and thus normal and essential constituents of the human psyche. Although these mythic elements are accessed intrapsychically in a process of experiential self-exploration and introspection, they are ontologically real and have objective existence.

In view of these observations, the fierce battle that religion and science had fought over the last few centuries appears ludicrous and completely unnecessary. Genuine science and authentic religion do not compete for the same territory; they represent two approaches to existence, which are complementary, not competitive. Science studies phenomena in the material world, the realm of the measurable and weighable, spirituality and true religion draw their inspiration from experiential knowledge of the aspect of the world that Jungians refer to as “imaginal,” to distinguish it from imaginary products of individual fantasy or psychopathology. This imaginal world manifests in what I call “holotropic states of consciousness”—the altered states in which experiences surface that are very similar to those that inspired the great religions of the world—visions of God and various divine and demonic beings, encounters with discarnate entities, episodes of psychospiritual death and rebirth, visits to Heaven and Hell, past life experiences, and many others. Modern research has shown that these are not products of pathological processes afflicting the brain, but manifestations of archetypal material from the collective unconscious, and thus normal and essential constituents of the human psyche. The matrices for them exist in deep recesses of the unconscious psyche of every human being.

Spirituality is a very important and natural dimension of the human psyche, and the spiritual quest is a legitimate and fully justified human endeavor. However, it is necessary to emphasize that this applies to genuine spirituality based on personal experience and does not provide support for ideologies and dogmas of organized religions. To prevent misunderstanding and confusion that in the past compromised many similar discussions, it is critical to make a clear distinction between spirituality and religion.

Spirituality is based on direct experiences of ordinarily invisible numinous dimensions of reality, which become available in holotropic states of consciousness. It does not require a special place or officially appointed persons mediating contact with the divine. The mystics do not need churches or temples. The context in which they experience the sacred dimensions of reality, including their own divinity, is provided by their bodies and nature. And instead of officiating priests, they need a supportive group of fellow seekers or the guidance of a teacher who is more advanced on the inner journey than they are themselves.

Organized religions tend to create hierarchical systems focusing on the pursuit of power, control, politics, money, possessions, and other worldly concerns. Under these circumstances, religious hierarchy as a rule dislikes and discourages direct spiritual experiences in its members, because they foster independence and cannot be effectively controlled. When this is the case, genuine spiritual life continues only in the mystical branches, monastic orders, and ecstatic sects of the religions involved. A deep mystical experience tends to dissolve the boundaries between religions and reveals deep connections between them, while dogmatism of organized religions tends to emphasize differences between various creeds and engenders antagonism and hostility.

There is no doubt that the dogmas of organized religions are generally in fundamental conflict with science, whether this science uses the mechanistic-materialistic model or is anchored in the emerging paradigm. However, the situation is very different in regard to authentic mysticism based on spiritual experiences. The great mystical traditions have amassed extensive knowledge about human consciousness and about the spiritual realms in a way that is similar to the method that scientists use in acquiring knowledge about the material world. It involves a methodology for inducing transpersonal experiences, systematic collection of data, and intersubjective validation. Spiritual experiences, like any other aspect of reality, can be subjected to careful open-minded research and studied scientifically.

Scientifically conducted consciousness research has brought convincing evidence for the objective existence of the imaginal realm and has thus validated the main metaphysical assumptions of the mystical world view, of the Eastern spiritual philosophies, and even certain beliefs of native cultures.

The conflict between religion and science reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of both. As Ken Wilber has pointed out, there cannot be a conflict between science and religion if both these fields are properly understood and practiced. If there seems to be a conflict, we are likely dealing with “bogus science” and “bogus religion.” The apparent incompatibility is due to the fact that either side seriously misunderstands the other’s position and very likely represents also a false version of its own discipline.

from:    http://ervinlaszlo.com/forum/2010/07/30/observations-from-modern-consciousness-research/

Archetypal Astrology

Archetypal Astrology and Transpersonal Psychology:
The Research of Richard Tarnas and Stanislav Grof
Renn Butler
In the mid-1960’s, a young Czechoslovakian psychiatrist working at the Psychiatric 
Research Institute in Prague made some epoch-making discoveries concerning the 
fundamental structures of the human psyche. Working with a wide range of individuals 
involved in supervised LSD psychotherapy, Stanislav Grof and his clients encountered 
experiences that gradually and then irrevocably challenged the orthodox Freudian model 
in which he and his colleagues were working.
The content of the sessions suggested a far deeper understanding of the human psyche 
and the cosmos itself than had been previously imagined. After supervising 3,000 LSD 
sessions and studying the records of another 2,000, Grof eventually systematized a farreaching model that accounted for the observations of his client’s sessions, integrated the 
diversity of competing psychological theories, and reached into areas of human 
spirituality described by the great spiritual traditions of the world.
Stanislav Grof’s Expanded Cartography of the Human Psyche
In 1976, Grof and his partner Christina developed a comparable non-drug technique for 
entering non-ordinary states of consciousness, which they called Holotropic 
Breathwork™ (from holos=“wholeness”; and trepein=“moving toward”). Throughout his 
long career of more than fifty-five years of research using powerful drug and non-drug 
catalysts, Grof discovered that individuals who enter holotropic states of consciousness 
have access to three broad layers of experience.
to read the whole article, go to:    http://www.stanislavgrof.com/pdf/Richard%20Tarnas%20and%20Stan%20Grof.pdf