Sunday, July 22, 2007

Jung is very diffident about appropriating the wisdom to be found in Yoga, to serve the ends that have culturally determined the development of Western civilizations. He warns that if yoga is just taken as yet another technique, it will not serve its original purpose, which was to understand the process of embodiment out of nature. Purush is not meant to control and dominate over Prakriti, any more than the Yang principle in Taoist thought is meant to take over, and subsume the Yin force which is essential if nature is to be respected. The purpose of yoga is both to differentiate, and to integrate. It’s concern is a kind of wholeness which is at once a recognition of the way in which Purush and Prakriti complement each other, but also a strict acceptance of their different domains. In that sense Yoga is as much about separation, as it is about unity. For Jung the problem in western forms of civilization, is a kind of pride, which believes that everything can be brought under the scrutiny of human consciousness. This ultimately denies the fact that there is a whole world of potency that we can never be conscious of. This is not to deny the importance of consciousness, but to understand its limits. What we are calling creativity, or the energy which is also able to transform the reality which we can learn to see, is that it has its root in that which lies beyond our power of will, or active capacity to be conscious. All great traditions of art in the East recognize that the creative impulse comes from a level, which is beyond the capacity of the individual person’s domain of self -control.

It is this mysterious domain, which governs the way in which we become conscious, but yet remains beyond the reach of our conscious will, which can be called “prana”. Here again Jung perceptively notes that what is taken just to be breathing exercises, is in the praxis of Yoga much more than just the mechanism of inhaling and exhaling oxygen with the motor functions of the lungs. Prana is in fact the life force. And in the same way that we are not able to be conscious all the time of our breathing, even though throughout the day and night we breathe unconsciously, so also we are not conscious of the life force which is the real energy which keeps us alive

Meditating on the features of Christ as we find him present in the heart, we might think of the two elements of water and fire. Jesus is present in the waters of the heart as he was when he was baptized in the river, and the Holy Spirit descended on him. But Jesus is also present in the fiery furnace of the heart, as when he judged the world, and said he had come to bring fire down onto the earth.

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