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Part II: Individuation and De-Individuation as sacrifice

This is part two of a five part excerpt from my book on the YiJing and DaoDeJing discussing the process of Ego sacrifice as the fundament of the dynamic between Individuation and De-Individuation.

In contrast to this idea of the anti-anthropomorphism of God, perhaps the most famous appreciation of the figure of God from the Bible, the prophet Ezekiel, shall find a voice here: "And above the likeness of a throne sat something that looked like a man, for from what looked like the loins I saw something like shimmering amber, something that was like fire enclosed all around; and from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and all around was splendor. Like an arch in a cloud on such was the appearance of splendor all around. This was the appearance of the glory of Yahweh" (Williams, 2009, p. 27). Yet even in its most magnificent descriptions, the image of God remains untouchable, incomprehensible, and even imperceptible to the human eye. This is true in the Christian, Semitic, and Islamic traditions. Its Islamic expression is evident in the following two descriptions, "Even deities seek shelter from the radiant splendor of the greater gods: 'O my lady (Inann the Anunna, the great gods,/Float away from you like bats in crevices [in the rock], who dare not walk [?] in your terrible gaze, who dare not walk before your terrible countenance'" (Williams, 2009, p. 24). This appearance of God as a body of light, flame, or haze is echoed in the Judeo-Christian halo common in many artistic images of God and saints. Moreover, it can be noted that the choice of this representation of the divine as an untouchable entity resembles the notion of his de-anthropomorphic, God-like nature. Williams adds, "In the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean tradition, the divine body was thought to be so exalted that it bordered on the non-body" (Williams, 2009, p. 23) and additionally:

Yahweh has a body, clearly anthropomorphic, but too sacred for human eyes . . . Yahweh was seen as incompatible with everyday human existence: he has a being other than human bodies ... It is a transcendent anthropomorphism, not in form but accessible only to the holiest and absent in material form in worship ... The body of God was defined in Israelite culture as both similar and dissimilar to the human body (Williams, 2009, p. 25)

Notwithstanding this potential starting point, its echoes can be clearly seen in Eastern philosophies. It is in a Buddhist meditation where this concept is clarified. The Buddhist meditations of the Pure Land aim to achieve the experience of the Buddha (or better, the Buddhas) in one's own body (or existence). Their goal is to transcend the images in which one's mind is trapped and to achieve a state of spiritual purity. Their artful description reveals many interesting images and therefore shall find a concise representation in this analysis:

One turns to the west, arranges one's thoughts through a meditation focused on the setting sun, fixes one's consciousness and vision on it, and then closes one's eyes while maintaining this clear and stable image. This is the first meditation, a mental perception of the sun. Next, one must create a perception of water: the contemplation of clear water while maintaining the image unchanged. Then one must create a perception of ice: imagining it to be bright and transparent, and then imagining an appearance of lapis lazuli. "The ground is made of lapis lazuli. In its translucent depth one sharply distinguishes the golden banner of the seven jewels that extends in the eight cardinal directions. On this ground of lapis lazuli are cables of gold connected in crosses." Once this perception is formed, meditate on each of its components in turn, keeping the images absolutely clear, without wavering, eyes open or closed. You do this continuously, except during sleep. Those who have reached this state of perception, who have reached the state of samadhi (concentration, introspection), are able to see clearly the land of happiness, the sukhavatī. It is a state that cannot be fully explained. It is the third form of meditation. You must meditate on the Tree of Jewels of Amitabha's Land; in it you must "visualize" the water distributed in seven lakes. In the center of each lake are sixty million lotus flowers made up of seven jewels. All the flowers are perfectly round and of the same size. The water flowing between the flowers creates melodious sounds. After that, you must practice the Amitabha meditation itself by forming the perception of a lotus flower on the ground of seven jewels. Each flower has eighty-four thousand petals, each petal: many veins, each vein has many branches, each of which can be clearly distinguished. the Buddha, because the body of each perfect Buddha is a body of essence (dharmakaya), so that he can enter the consciousness of all beings. When you perceive the Buddha, your consciousness has the thirty-two signs of perfection that you see in the Buddha. Finally, it is your consciousness that becomes Buddha or, better yet, is actually Buddha. The ocean of true and universal knowledge of all Buddhas has its source in our own consciousness and thought. Therefore, you must direct your thoughts with undivided attention to a perfect meditation that forms the perception of this perfect Buddha (Tathagata) - the Arhat, the Saint, the enlightened Perfect One. [...] This flower envelops you in itself, and then it opens. When it opens, your body is surrounded by five hundred rays of clear light. Your eyes are opened so that you can see the multitude of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas filling the whole sky. (Corbin, 2014, pp. 34 - 36)

First, one focuses on the setting sun as the disappearing source of light i.e. of consciousness and certainty: a metaphor of the horizon in which consciousness and the unknown merge at the blurred boundaries of the mind. Cobin comments on this image, "It is about making oneself translucent as in an inner 'sunset'" (Corbin, 2014, p. 37). One takes a position in which the global view of one's own consciousness becomes possible and thus glides over into the space of the unconscious. The subsequent water meditation is no longer supported by the perception initiated in our senses, but by the process of active imagination that spreads from the reflective surface of our mind and mirrors that of the water. The same imagination transforms this water into a luminescent layer of ice. In this structure of meditation, one can discern a process that corresponds to the stages of alchemical transmutation discussed in detail elsewhere. A first transmutation, carried out by the means of meditation (Active Imagination), is that of the immaterial light of the solar image into the matter of water, which also remains in its subtle liquid state. Eventually, this water takes on the crystallized stability of ice. The vision underlying the process of this transformation undergoes a concretization, thanks to which the Imagined Creation solidifies, congeals and finally manifests itself. The world of perceptible matter from natural space is transformed into a novel reality located in the realm of Imagination. The ice is then transformed into lapis lazuli, and with this ground of mineral consistency, real and absolute matter is created. The alchemical gold is grasped at the bottom of this manifestation as a diamond, which infinitely reflects the meditator and allows him to experience his own 'buddhahood'.

From successive transmutations one experiences the birth of the symbol. The alchemy of meditation further intensifies the radiant energy of the original solar image. The Ogdoadic symbol shines like a thousand million suns, while the golden cables that extend its net throughout proclaim that stability is assured, that no external disturbance can threaten the imaginative process and the inner peace that comes with it. The symbol of the Pure Land therefore unites the symbolism of the process of alchemical transmutation, religious ecstasies and the opposite of Jungian individuation - de-individuation.


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