By George R. Elder, 6/13/23
I have just published a new book: The Self and the Lotus: A Jungian View of Indian Buddhism. You can buy it now on Amazon.com where I describe it. But you can get a 20% discount at BookLocker.com--just type in the Discount Code "Save20" at Step 2 in the purchase process It is there, too, that you can read excerpts before buying. In a month, there will be an ebook option.
The Self and the Lotus is in large-format paperback (in two volumes) of over 600 pages and more than forty images in color. The work is heavy in the hand, five pounds—obviously a "substantial" contribution to the field of psychology and religion!
What is truly substantial is the Buddhist material itself—from its beginnings in India in the sixth century BCE, through its development over many centuries, to its disappearance from India in the twelfth century CE. It thrived elsewhere (China, Japan, Southeast Asia, and Tibet). But all these “missionary” expressions looked back to India for inspiration and for “authentication” of any changes that they made.
In my view, however, we cannot really appreciate this wisdom today without a psychological understanding. So, as with The Snake and the Rope: A Jungian View of Hinduism, I pause periodically in the discussion and interpret the ancient tradition from the point of view of Jung’s modern psychology. (Incidentally, The Snake and the Rope is currently out of print, but a second edition is forthcoming.)
Let me note in brief what the reader can expect for each volume:
Part 1: Basics (introductory materials; Jung’s psychology, and a review of his essays on Buddhism)
Part 2. Context (the historical context; and, then, the cosmological context—without which the Buddha’s sermons do not make sense)
Part 3. The Life (the biographical life; but, most important—for the tradition and for modern psychology—the mythological “Life” of Gautama Buddha)
Part 4. Early Buddhism (the early teachings; the path or practice; the cult and its art)
Part 5. Mahāyāna Buddhism (new teachings on emptiness, the Buddha’s “Mother,” and Nirvāṇa; the cult of Bodhisattvas and cosmic Buddhas; analysis of key scriptures like the “Lotus Sūtra;” and, then, the philosophy of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra)
Part 6. Tantric Buddhism (“mainstream” tantric practices; mantras, mudrās, and the maṇḍala in both Tantra and Jungian psychology; and, finally, “transgressive” tantric practices, the tantric body of cakras and channels, and a discussion of Jung’s seminar on Kuṇḍalinī Hindu yoga)
That is a lot of material, some of it quite technical—yet still accessible, I believe, to the attentive reader. Too often our society displays a “Sunday School” version of religion, when it is actually serious business: the creator and sustainer of culture, the carrier of meaning. Without a “living” religion (as we, unfortunately, are learning today) culture withers and dies—and must await a new “revelation.”
In the meantime, serious individuals can stir the cremation ashes in search of relics, i.e., the eternal truths.