This is Post 32 in the ‘Meditation Guidance’ series. Summaries of the other articles in this series can be found by clicking here.
In this ‘Meditation Guidance’ series, I have frequently drawn on the wisdom that Carl Jung articulated in his mandala-form psychological model of the ‘Four Functions of Consciousness’, as we have been exploring the corresponding mandala of the four brahmavihāras – the ancient Indian ‘attitudes’ of Consciousness that were adopted so enthusiastically by the Buddha. Also, drawing on the Tibetan Buddhist form of the mandala, I have, in recent months been looking in detail at the dichotomies within each of the first three Quadrants of the mandala. Sometimes these dichotomies appears as clear oppositions, but I have endeavoured to show that they can also resolve into relationships in which we recognise the two poles as expressions of the same archetypal principle – but manifesting as dysfunction and limitation on the egoic level, and as wisdom and supreme benefit on the level of Consciousness. We saw this in the apparent opposition of the egoic Thinking function and Equanimity in the East; then the apparent opposition of the egoic Sensation function and Appreciative Joy in the South; and most recently the apparent opposition of the egoic Feeling function and Loving Kindness in the West.
In each of these polarities, I have been highlighting the spiritual choices that are presented to us in life, between the ‘attitudes of Consciousness’ (the brahmavihāras) that we experience when we rest naturally as Consciousness, and the egoic expressions of the same archetypal principles, that we experience when we fall into identification with psychological parts. By exploring the imagery of the Buddha’s Six Realms, we have seen that the extreme of egoic identification through Thinking (rūpa skandha) is expressed in the archetypal psychology of the Hell Realms, or Narakas (here); that the extreme of egoic identification through Sensation (vedanā skandha) is expressed in the archetypal psychology of the Human Realm (here); and that the extreme of egoic identification through Feeling (samjñā skandha) is expressed in the archetypal psychology of the Preta Realms (here).
The Northern Quadrant – Compassion versus the Egoic Will
I would like now to move on clockwise round this mandala, to the Northern Quadrant, where we shall be looking at the egoic function of Intuition / Volition and the corresponding Volitional aspect Consciousness, which expresses itself in the brahmavihāra of Compassion. In Buddhist tradition, the archetypal Buddhas who preside over the Northern Quadrant are the male Buddha Amoghasiddhi and the female Buddha Green Tara, who embody two aspects of the All-Accomplishing Wisdom.
In the next few articles I will be addressing the core of the egoic will, that deep volitional aspect of the egoic mind, which the Buddha personified, in an extreme but very illuminating way, in the archetypal imagery of the Asura Realm – a realm of demonic, power-seeking anti-gods, or ‘Jealous Gods’. It is extremely valuable to have a familiarity with, and an acceptance of the style of egoic identification with Intuition/Volition (samskaras skandha), which the asura archetype represents – our envy-based, and fear-based drives for control. By first recognising this category of obscuring egoic energies (the kleshas of Buddhist tradition), we can in turn learn to let them go, and can thus reveal the universally present and universally benevolent spiritual energies that are hidden by them. Continue reading