This is Post 35 in the ‘Meditation Guidance’ series.
Taking the mandala as our guide, I have been presenting the journey of self-enquiry into the nature of mind, as a four-fold one, and as a circumambulation of the mandala – a clockwise series of enquiries into Thinking (east), Sensation (south), Feeling (west), and now Intuition-Volition (north). There has been a traditional logic in this sequence, but in meditation practice there are many orders of priority that can be used, as we systematically progress our integration – or simply respond intuitively and spontaneously to the needs of our integration process.
In this post I shall be exploring, in conjunction with the symbolism and psychological dynamics of the mandala, the psychological symbolism of the stupa – the traditional symbolic monument that is seen in various forms across the Buddhist world. Much like the mandala, the stupa is a five-fold symbolic representation of an ideal state of psychological and spiritual integration. It is a very useful pointer to the nature of mind, because it brings us back to the enormous importance of the energy anatomy of the subtle bodies.
The Stupa – a Monument to the Experience of the Liberation
Whereas the mandala can perhaps be thought of as a larger symbol, which represents both Consciousness itself and also the tensions, or polarities, that exist within the egoic mind, the stupa represents the somatic embodiment, or reflection, or resonance, of Consciousness in the energetic fields of the body, in the so-called ‘subtle bodies’, and highlights the hierarchical dimension of the relationship between them – at the same time bringing a hierarchical dimension to the way we approach the corresponding brahmavihāras, and the egoic cognitive-perceptual functions (which Buddhist tradition calls the skandhas, as mentioned previously here). While different cultures have elaborated their symbolism in different ways, ultimately the stupas of the east are monuments that celebrate the profound mystery of the energetic embodiment of Consciousness in this world – in the lives of individual human beings.
Consciousness exists everywhere. Indeed it is because of Consciousness that life exists, and because of Consciousness that we are capable of knowing and experiencing life. Paradoxically however, although we are all resting in the field of Consciousness, very few of us have ‘recognised’ Consciousness and fully embraced the non-dual reality that pervades all experiencing. But it is only by deeply acknowledging Consciousness, and learning to ‘turn towards’, or ‘rest back into’ Consciousness, that we allow Consciousness to become energetically embodied in us. Continue reading