Carl Jung, January 1938 – India
Map of Jung’s Travels in India (from his notes)
I often wonder if Carl Jung had visited Ramana Maharshi during his three-month visit to India in 1937-38 (December – February), would the world of psychology be any different today? He clearly and profoundly was interested in the Eastern view of the world why not go to its roots, the Realizers? He is said to have written of the sage: “In India, he is the whitest spot in a white space. What we find in the life and teachings of Sri Ramana is the purest of India” (Forward, in The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi, Shambhala: Boston, 1972 – I can find no direct reference from Jung’s writings nor from second-hand sources verifing this quote).
Having been in the company of genuine transmission realizers (as was Ramana Maharshi from all accounts), I can’t help but think that Carl Jung would have been profoundly influenced and psychologically illuminated by Ramana’s presence. Jung always had ‘tone down’ the mystical side of his psychological insights, which reached far beyond the traditional notions acceptable. To this day, Western psychology is still bogged down and disabled in brain-based, materialistic, genetically based views. Suppose Carl Jung HAD visited Ramana Maharshi during his visit to India.
Ed Reither – Beezone
Why didn’t Carl Jung visit Ramana Maharshi after being told by both Zimmer and Brunton?
C.G. Jung, The Collected works, Volume Eleven, Psychology and Religion: West and East. Part V111, The Holy Men of India, Paragraph 952. Page 577.
“We often think of you and did so quite particularly at the last Eranos meeting, where a Hungarian Hellenist and mythologist, Kerenyi, did his best to take your place for us, though it didn’t quite come off because there is, after all, only one Zimmer who, we concluded, is inimitable.”
C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Page 303
Carl Jung and Heinrich Zimmer, 1936
From – Margaret Case – “Heinrich Zimmer – Coming into His Own”
Heinrich Zimmer (1890-1943) is best known in the English-speaking world for the four posthumous books edited by Joseph Campbell and published in the Bollingen Series: Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, Philosophies of India, The Art of Indian Asia, and The King and the Corpse. These works have inspired several generations of students of Indian religion and culture.
All the papers in this volume testify to Zimmer’s originality and to his rightful place in that small group of great scholars who were part of the first generation to confront the end of European empires in India and the rest of Asia. In her introduction, Margaret Case contrasts Zimmer’s approach to India with that of Jung. There follow two recollections of Zimmer, one by his daughter Maya Rauch, the other by a close friend and supporter in Germany, Herbert Nette. Then William McGuire describes Zimmer’s connections with Mary and Paul Mellon and with the Jungian circles in Switzerland and New York. A brief talk by Zimmer, previously unpublished, describes his admiration for Jung. Wendy Doniger picks up the question of Zimmer’s intellectual legacy, especially in the light of Campbell’s editorial work on his English publications. Gerald Chapple raises another question about how his influence was felt: the division between what is known of his work in the German-and the English-speaking worlds. Kenneth Zysk then summarizes and analyzes his contribution to Western knowledge of Hindu medicine; Matthew Kapstein evaluates his place in the West’s appreciation of Indian philosophy; and Mary Linda discusses his contributions to the study of Indian art in the light of A. K. Coomaraswamy’s work and more recent research.
Originally published in 1994.
Jung in India is a meticulously undertaken archival research based on noted Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung and his history with India. It establishes for the first time Jung’s journey to the subcontinent in 1937-1938 and the links that he held with India over many decades. Spread over ten chapters, the narrative covers four decades of history and includes rare archival footage from the thirties, extracts of Jung’s interviews, talks and lectures, the prestigious commemorations where he was honored in India, as well as images of the people he met and the places he visited during his tour. The book reveals what Jung gleaned from his Indian experience and how he engaged with India in the course of that history.
The author Sulagna Sengupta is a post graduate in English Literature from Visvabharati, Santiniketan and Jadavpur University, Kolkata. After a brief stint in organisational psychology at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, UK she joined The Jung Centre, India in 2005 for an intensive, two-year study on Analytical Psychology. She is also an independent scholar of Jungian Studies based in Bangalore.
The following are pages 198-199, Chapter 6, Jung in Konarak, Madras, Mysore, Trivandrum, Madura, and Ceylon.
Certain other incidents marked Jung’s stay in Trivandrum. He met up with a Dutch scholar, Gualthernus H. Mees, and reportedly stayed with him. Gualthernus Mees had come to India in 1936 to meet Sri Ramana Maharshi, and like numerous other oriental enthusiasts, had become drawn to the holy man at the very first meeting. Mees later took on the name of Sadhu Ekarasa and founded an ashram in Trivandrum, initiating other Westerners into Indian spirituality.
Mees was already acquainted with Jung, and when he met him in Trivandrum, they had long confabulations over Sri Ramana Maharshi. Being an ardent devotee of Sri Ramana and the Indian spiritual way of life, Mees found Jung’s skepticism about the Maharshi objectionable. Jung would not be persuaded to visit Sri Ramana by Mees. Glimpses of their differences can be found in Jung’s scathing response to Mees in a letter, written in September 1947.
(“I’m well aware of the fact that my very western criticism of such a phenomenon as the Maharshi was rather upsetting to you.” Jung, Letters, Vol 1, p. 477)
Jung’s refusal to meet Sri Ramana would have been considered presumptuous, given that thousands of travelers from the Western world came to Sri Ramana to catch a glimpse of him and receive his blessings. The Ramana Maharshi ashram at Tiruvannamalai was in fact inundated with spiritual devotees from the West in the decade of the thirties (including W. Somerset Maugham, who visited the ashram in 1938).
Jung’s avoidance of the holy man would have been considered a sign of irreverence toward Eastern gurus. But Jung was firm about his views. He wrote a stirring psychological commentary on the Maharshi and the holy men of India in his introduction to Heinrich Zimmer’s Der Weg zum Selbst: Lehre und Lebn des Indischen Helligen Shri Ramna Maharshi aus Tiruvannamalai (1944), in which he put across his carefully thought out considerations on Indian holy men and spirituality. (“The Holy Men of India”).
The Eastern peoples are threatened with a rapid collapse of their spiritual values, and what replaces them cannot always be counted among the best that Western civilization has produced. From this point of view, one could regard Ramakrishna and Shri Ramana as modern prophets, who play the same compensatory role in relation to their people as that of the Old Testament prophets in relation to the “unfaithful” children of Israel. Not only do they exhort their compatriots to remember their thousand-year-old spiritual culture, they actually embody it and thus serve as an impressive warning, lest the demands of the soul be forgotten amid the novelties of Western civilization with its materialistic technology and commercial acquisitiveness.
The following is from –
JUNG, RAMANA MAHARSHI AND EASTERN MEDITATION,
by Dr. J. Glenn Friesen,
© 2005. Revised notes from lectures given at the C.G. Jung Institute, Küsnacht (May 4-5, 2004)
ung was aware of Ramana and of Ramana’s teachings. He obtained this knowledge from Paul Brunton and from Heinrich Zimmer. Let us look at Brunton and Zimmer.
Jung and Paul Brunton
Paul Brunton was an English writer on Yoga and related subjects. Brunton kept details of his own past as something of a mystery. We know that Brunton’s original name was Raphael Hurst. He was a bookseller and journalist. Brunton wrote under various pseudonyms, including Raphael Meriden and Raphael Delmonte. He changed his name when he visited India and decided to write on spiritual matters. At first he chose the pen name Brunton Paul. He later changed this to Paul Brunton.
Brunton was the one who made Ramana well-known to the western world. Brunton met Ramana in 1931 [6 years before his meeting with Jung], and in 1934, he published a book about his meeting with Ramana. The book was called A Search in Secret India (London: Rider & Co., 1934). Even Indian writers refer to Brunton’s works. For example, Yogananda visited Ramana in 1935 after reading Brunton’s books. He met Brunton at Ramana’s ashram, and he praised Brunton’s writing . There are several reference to Brunton’s book by Ramana. Ramana expressly says that Brunton’s book is useful for Indians [footnote in PDF below].
I have already referred to Jung’s meeting with Brunton in 1937. In 1937, Jung met Brunton, together with V. Subrahmanya Iyer, who represented India at the International Congress of Philosophy at the Sorbonne. Jung invited Iyer and Brunton to Küsnacht, where they discussed problems of Indian philosophy. It was at this meeting that Jung told Brunton that he was a mystic but that he could not acknowledge this because he had to protect his scientific reputation.
Jung and Zimmer
Jung was also made aware of Ramana through the Indologist Heinrich Zimmer. Jung met Zimmer in the 1930’s when Zimmer was Professor of Sanskrit at Heidelberg. Zimmer attended some of the meetings at Eranos. Most importantly, Zimmer translated some of Ramana’s writings into German, in a book entitled Der Weg zum Selbst [the Way to the Self]. The book was published in 1954, and Jung wrote an introduction to it . In 1946, the book came to the attention of Ramana Maharshi. Dr. B.K. Roy reviewed Zimmer’s book and advised Ramana it was only a translation [footnote in PDF below].
Jung’s Introduction to Zimmer’s book is included in Jung’s Collected Works as “The Holy Men of India.” (CW volume 9). The introduction makes it clear that Jung had read the translated ideas of Ramana.
Zimmer urged Jung to visit Ramana on his trip to India. Zimmer was greatly disappointed when Jung did not do so. Clarke speculates why Jung did not see Ramana:
It may be that Jung, in order to maintain his stance of independence, felt it necessary to avoid a man who, by repute, may well have been able to penetrate his defences, for just as he had since his boyhood refused to bend his knee to the Christian way of faith, so with regard to Eastern spirituality his attitude remained one of guarded objectivity. He could not, as he expressed it, “accept from others what I could not attain on my own, or make any borrowings from the East, but must shape my life out of myself’.” [footnote in PDF below]
Zimmer himself never traveled to India. Jung’s failure to meet Ramana greatly disappointed Zimmer. Jung says:
Heinrich Zimmer had been interested for years in the Maharshi of Tiruvannamalai, and the first question he asked on my return from India [in 1939] concerned this latest holy and wise man from southern India. [footnote in PDF below].
In a letter to Gualthernus H. Mees, a Dutch sociologist whom Jung had met in India, and who was a disciple of Ramana, Jung comments on Zimmer’s book:
Concerning Zimmer’s book I must say that I had no hand in its publication except that I took it in hand to be published by my Swiss publisher. Thus I was fully unaware of how the text came into existence or what its defects are. I had to leave the entire responsibility to my friend Zimmer who was a great admirer of the Maharshi. [footnote in PDF below]
Jung’s introduction to Zimmer’s book is still referred to today. Parts of it have been reprinted as an introduction to Ramana’s teachings. The book The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi (Boston: Shambhala, 1988), includes excerpts of Jung’s introduction. But it leaves out many passages expressing criticism of Ramana.
Jung’s introduction to Zimmer’s book is reproduced in the Collected Works as “Holy Men of India.” [footnote in PDF below] In his introduction, Jung says that Ramana’s thoughts are “certainly beautiful to read” (“Holy Men” para. 955). He compares Ramana’s method to that of Western mysticism, where there is a shift from the ego to the self:
The goal of Eastern religious practice is the same as that of Western mysticism: the shifting of the center of gravity from the ego to the self, from man to God. This means that the ego disappears in the self, and man in God. It is evident that Shri Ramana has either really been more or less absorbed by the self, or has at least struggled earnestly all his life to extinguish his ego in it. [footnote in PDF below].
Jung refers to Ramana’s ideas about the self:
The Maharshi also calls the atman the ‘ego-ego’–significantly enough, for the self is indeed experienced as the subject of the subject, as the true source and controller of the ego, whose (mistaken) strivings are continually directed towards appropriating the very autonomy which is intimated to it by the self. This conflict is not unknown to the Westerner: for him it is the relationship of man to God [footnote in PDF below].
Here is an interesting 7:46 clip of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh giving his impression of why Carl Jung did not visit Ramana Maharshi.
Jung says that Ramana equates Self and God, and that although this may seem shocking to Europeans, in fact psychology cannot distinguish them:
The equation self=God is shocking to the Europeans. As Shri Ramana’s statements and many others show, it is a specifically Eastern insight, to which psychology has nothing further to say except that it is not within its competence to differentiate between the two. Psychology can only establish that the empiricism of the ‘self’ exhibits a religious symptomatology, just as does that category of assertions associated with the term ‘God’. [footnote in PDF below].
Now these quotations make it seem like Jung and Ramana’s ideas about the self are very similar. But devotees of Ramana will be surprised to learn that these excerpts from the introduction by Jung do not tell the whole story. In fact, Jung was very critical of Ramana. Jung disagreed with what he saw as the message of Ramana. Jung says that Ramana is by no means unique:
For the fact is, I doubt his [Ramana’s] uniqueness; he is of a type which always was and will be. Therefore it was not necessary to seek him out. I saw him all over India, in the pictures of Ramakrishna, in Ramakrishna’s disciples, in Buddhist monks, in innumerable other figures of the daily Indian scene, and the words of his wisdom are the sous-entendu of India’s spiritual life. [footnote in PDF below].
But in India he is merely the whitest spot on a white surface (whose whiteness is mentioned only because there are so many surfaces that are just as black. [footnote in PDF below].
Jung says that this longing for complete simplicity can be found in any Upanishad or any discourse of the Buddha. The goal of that kind of spirituality is the extinction and dissolution of the ego: “the ego struggles for its own abolition, drowning the world of multiplicity in the All and All-Oneness of Universal Being.” Ramana was just chiming in with this melody of extinction. And the consequence of this kind of spirituality is “the depreciation and abolition of the physical and psychic man (the living body and ahamkara) in favour of the pneumatic man.”
Jung disagrees with this acosmic kind of spirituality. He says that without the ego or ahamkara, there is nothing to register what is happening. He is not interested in this kind of spirituality:
The man who is only wise and only holy interests me about as much as the skeleton of a rare saurian” [lizard, dinosaur] [footnote in PDF below].
Unadulterated wisdom and unadulterated holiness, I fear are seen to best advantage in literature, where their reputation remains undisputed. [footnote in PDF below].
Jung says that he ran into a disciple of Ramana in Trivandrum [actually it was a disciple of Ramakrishna]. Jung says this disciple was an unassuming little man,a primary school teacher, with innumerable children to feed. But he goes on to say,
Be that as it may, in this modest, kindly, devout, and childlike spirit I encountered a man who had absorbed the wisdom of the Maharshi with utter devotion, and at the same time had surpassed his master because,
notwithstanding his cleverness and holiness, he had “eaten” the world. [footnote in PDF below].
Jung refers to this disciple as “an example of how wisdom, holiness and humanity can dwell together in harmony, richly, pleasantly, sweetly, peacefully, and patiently, without limiting one another…”
In his letter to Mees, Jung refers to this man, Raman Pillai, who was living so harmoniously in the world. Jung says,
I’m sorry that I was under the impression when we met in Trivandrum that you introduced your friend Raman Pillai [referred to in intro to Holy Men of India] as a remote pupil of Shri Ramana. This however doesn’t matter very much, since the basic coincidence of most of the Indian teaching is so overwhelmingly great that it means little whether the author is called Ramakrishna or Vivekananda or Shri Aurobindo, etc.
Jung seems to be saying “If you have seen one Indian holy man, you have seen them all.” That kind of arrogant generalization shows a distressing lack of knowledge on Jung’s part, and reveals an impatience in him that is not at all in keeping with the psychological method of investigation, of circling around a theme without coming to any preconceived judgments about what it might mean.
In his introduction to Zimmer’s book, Jung refers to a contradiction between the Hindu longing to escape the earth for the cosmic Self, and the desire to be a part of the earth:
The insane contradiction, on the other hand, between existence beyond Maya in the cosmic Self and that amiable human weakness which fruitfully sinks many roots into the black earth, repeating for all eternity the weaving and rending of the veil as the ageless melody of India—this contradiction fascinates me; for how else can one perceive the light without the shadow? [footnote in PDF below].
Jung says that the Indian lacks the epistemological standpoint; he is still pre-Kantian, with no psychology:
To the Indian it is clear that the self as the originating ground of the psyche is not different from God, and that, so far as a man is in the self, he is not only contained in God but actually is God. Shri Ramana is quite explicit on this point. No doubt this equation, too, is an ‘interpretation.” [footnote in PDF below].
Jung says that Ramana’s desire to escape the ego is self-contradictory, because without the Maharshi’s personal ego, there would be no Shri Ramana at all [footnote in PDF below]. There must be a balance between the goal of self as final goal (entelechy of the self) and the ego.
The entelechy of the self consists in a succession of endless compromises, ego and self laboriously keeping the scales balanced if all is to go well. [footnote in PDF below].
Jung believes that Ramakrishna had a more tolerant attitude towards the world:
Whereas Shri Ramana displays a ‘sympathetic’ tolerance towards the worldly callings of his disciples, while yet exalting the extinction of the ego as the real goal of spiritual exertion, Ramakrishna shows a rather more hesitant attitude in this respect. He says: ‘So long as ego-seeking exists, neither knowledge (jñana) nor liberation (mukti) is possible, and to births and deaths there is no end. All the same, he has to admit the fatal tenacity of ahamkara (the ‘I-maker’):; “Very few can get rid of the sense of “I” through Samadhi “We may discriminate a thousand times, but the sense of “I” is bound to return again and again” “If this sense of “I” will not leave, then let it stay on as the servant of God.” [footnote in PDF below].
Jung quotes Angelus Silesius:
I know that without me
God can no moment live;
Were I to die, then he
No longer could survive [footnote in PDF below].
Jung disagrees with the practice of meditation divorced from temporal life: “reflection as an end in itself is nothing but a limitation if it cannot stand firm in the turmoil of chaotic extremes…” [footnote in PDF below].
Brunton’s Criticisms of Ramana
Now it is interesting that Brunton had very similar criticisms of Ramana. Excerpts of Brunton’s book A Search in Secret India are still published and distributed by Ramana’s ashram. What the ashram does not say is that Brunton had a profound disagreement. Brunton says that there were threats of violence against him. In fact, he says he felt forced to leave the ashram. He says he left “abruptly” [footnote in PDF below].
Brunton says that he did not see Ramana at all in the 12 years before Ramanaˆa’s death, even though he passed within a few miles of the ashram . In a book written in 1941, The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, Brunton refers to “threats of physical violence” and “malicious lying ignorance.” He speaks of being “harshly separated by the ill-will of certain men.” He speaks of “hate” and “low manners”, which he attributes to jealousy over his success [footnote in PDF below]. The main problems were:
In March, 1939, Brunton arrived at Tiruvannamalai, where he stayed at Ramana’s ashram, not for the expected three months, but for three weeks. Brunton describes the situation at the ashram as:
… a highly deplorable situation in the Ramana ashram which represents the culminating crisis of a degeneration which has been going on and worsening during the last three years. [footnote in PDF below]
And he complains that Ramana was not exercising any control over the ashram:
But during my last two visits to India it had become painfully evident that the institution known as the Ashram which had grown around him during the past few years, and over which his ascetic indifference to the world rendered him temperamentally disinclined to exercise the slightest control, could only greatly hinder and not help my own struggles to attain the highest goal, so I had no alternative but to bid it an abrupt and final farewell (Hidden Teaching, p. 18)
It is clear that there were disagreements between Brunton and Ramana’s brother, who was in charge of the ashram. Masson says that Brunton had given interviews in the Indian papers about Ramana which the brother had not found satisfactory [35A]. Were these disagreements even earlier than 1939? Brunton had not been at the ashram since early 1936. In September, 1936, Ramana was asked about “some disagreeable statements by a man well known to Maharshi.” Ramana replied,
I permit him to do so. I have permitted him already. Let him do so even more. Let others follow suit. Only let them leave me alone. If because of these reports no one comes to me, I shall consider it a great service done to me. Moreover, if he cares to publish books containing scandals of me, and if he makes money by their sale, it is really good. Such books will sell even more quickly and in larger numbers than the others […] He is doing me a very good turn. [footnote in PDF below].
Now Brunton is not specifically identified here. But the dates fit with Brunton leaving for the Himalayas “in exile.”
A legal action had been commenced for control of the ashram. Some people said that Brunton was involved. Brunton felt he had to deny this allegation [footnote in PDF below].
Brunton complained that Ramana didn’t impart to him the guidance that he was seeking (Hidden Teaching, p. 15). Now what did Brunton want? He certainly had Ramana’s instruction of the method of self-enquiry. It seems that perhaps he wanted the magical powers or siddhis associated with yoga. Examples are the power of telepathy or of foreseeing the future. We know that Brunton was interested in such powers. And he refers to the “higher mysteries of yoga.” It seems he wanted some kind of initiation from Ramana. But Ramana never initiated anyone. And although such powers may arise in the course of enlightenment, the Hindu traditions state that it is a mistake to seek these powers in themselves. Interestingly enough, Brunton himself was criticized by his own followers for not following through on his promises. Brunton told his own young disciple Jeffrey Masson about his powers. Masson says that Brunton always carried a magic wand or glass rod. Masson was disappointed that he did not get these powers. [footnote in PDF below] (For the relation between Masson and Brunton see chart of relationships).
Brunton says that meditation apart from experience is “inevitably empty” (Hidden Teaching, p. 19). The illuminations gained by yoga or by trance states are always temporary ones. Although a trance may produce a feeling of exaltation, this feeling goes away and one must repeat the experience daily. He cites the Hindu philosopher/sage Aurobindo:
Trance is a way of escape–the body is made quiet, the physical mind is in a state of torpor, the inner consciousness is left free to go on with its experience. The disadvantage is that trance becomes indispensable and that the problem of the waking consciousness is not solved, it remains imperfect. (Hidden Teaching, p. 27).
Brunton refers to the “sheer shrivelled complacency” of some of Ramana’s followers, and their “hidden superiority complex.” He refers to this mystical attitude as a “holier than thou attitude,” and an assumption that total knowledge had been reached when in fact it was only a partial knowledge (Hidden Teaching, p. 16). He says that without the healthy opposition of active participation in the world’s affairs, they [mystics] have no means of knowing whether they were living in a realm of sterilized self-hallucination or not (Hidden Teaching, p. 19).
Brunton had ethical disagreements with Ramana. For Brunton, it was not sufficient for a realized person to meditate. Interaction and involvement with the outside world is necessary. He felt that Ramana took no stand on issues like the coming war. Brunton seems particularly upset by an incident when news was brought to the ashram that Italian planes had gunned undefended citizens on the streets of Ethiopia (the Italians invaded Ethiopia in October, 1935). Brunton reports that Ramana said:
The sage who knows the truth that the Self is indestructible will remain unaffected even if five million people are killed in his presence. Remember the advice of Krishna to Arjuna on the battlefield when disheartened by the thought of the impending slaughter of relatives on the opposing side [footnote in PDF below]
Now I believe that Brunton’s criticism of Ramana is correct, at least with respect to ethics. Ken Wilber also says that, however realized Ramana was, he had ethical shortcomings [footnote in PDF below]. I see the problem as an inconsistency in Ramana’s teachings between different views of the self. On the one hand, the self is seen as static and unmoving, uninvolved in the world. On the other hand, there is the view of the self as dynamic and participating in the world. Brunton says that the field of human activity is meant to be not in the trance-world, but in the external world, this “time-fronted and space-backed world.”
Brunton’s previous experiences of yoga and meditation. In Hidden Teaching, Brunton says that he still regards Ramana as “the most eminent South Indian yogi.” But he also says something quite surprising: that he had known about meditation and yoga before he came to Ramana’s ashram, and that his experience with Ramana was no new experience. He makes the “confession” that when he first came to India, he was no novice in the practice of yoga. Even as a teenager
?the ineffable exstasis of mystical trance had become a daily occurrence in the calendar of life, the abnormal mental phenomena which attend the earlier experience of yoga was commonplace and familiar, whilst the dry labours of meditation had disappeared into effortless ease (Hidden Teaching, p. 23).
Brunton claims that he not only had practiced yoga, but that he had experienced the abnormal phenomena or siddhis. He refers to the experience of being seemingly extended in space, an incorporeal being.
What I omitted to state and now reveal was that it was no new experience because many years before I had met the saintly yogi of Arunachala, I had enjoyed precisely similar ecstasies, inward repose and luminous intuitions during self-training in meditation (Hidden Teaching, p. 25).
Brunton says that Ramana only confirmed his earlier experiences:
When later, I came across translations of Indian books on mysticism, I found to my astonishment that the archaic accents of their phraseology formed familiar descriptions of my own central and cardinal experiences…(Hidden Teaching, p. 23).
This last statement is almost exactly what Ramana claimed for himself–that his experience was direct, and that the later books that he read were only “analysing and naming what I had felt intuitively without analysis or name.” [footnote in PDF below]
Is Brunton being honest here? Or has he invented this story of previous experience in view of his disenchantment with Ramana? Surprisingly, the independent record seems to show that Brunton may be telling the truth. There is evidence that Brunton had had earlier experiences. A 1931 report of his first meeting with Ramana reports Brunton (then known as Hurst) as telling Ramana that he had earlier experienced moments of bliss. [footnote in PDF below]
Brunton says that his experiences with Ramana brought back these earlier experiences. This may be true, but what Brunton says about his first book, A Search in Secret India, must give cause for great concern insofar as it relates to the record of Ramana. Brunton says that he used the story of Ramana as a “peg” on which to hang his own theories of meditation:
It will therefore be clear to perspicacious readers that I used his name and attainments as a convenient peg upon which to hang an account of what meditation meant to me. The principal reason for this procedure was that it constituted a convenient literary device to secure the attention and hold the interest of western readers, who would naturally give more serious consideration to such a report of the “conversion” of a seemingly hard headed critically-minded Western journalist to yoga (Hidden Teaching, p. 25)
God as an illusion. Brunton also criticizes Ramana’s view that even God is an illusion:
The final declaration which really put me, as a Western enquirer, off Advaita came later: it was that God too was an illusion, quite unreal. Had they not left it at that but taken the trouble to explain how and why this all was so, I might have been convinced from the start. But no one did. I had to wait until I met V. Subrahmanya Iyer for the answer. [footnote in PDF below]
This is a rather strange criticism, and reflects a rather naïve view of Vedanta. Brunton’s own later teaching moves from a personal to an impersonal Absolute.
Finally, Brunton seems to criticize Ramana for a lack of originality. He says, “some years after I met Maharshi I discovered in an old Sanskrit text the same Who Am I method.” [footnote in PDF below]
Beezone – Highlights and Summary
Carl Jung visited India from December 1937 to February 1938.
During his stay in Kolkata (Calcutta), he was admitted to The Presidency General Hospital on January 3rd for dysentery and discharged on January 8th.* He later told Fowler McCormick that he “could not digest India, and that is why I had to be so ill in Calcutta.”
Jung wrote later that the six days* were a “blessed island in the wild sea of new impressions, and I found a place to stand on from which I could contemplate the ten thousand things, and their bewildering turmoil.” (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p.280).
*In ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections,’ Jung wrote his stay in the hospital was for ten days. But his notes from his private journals say his visit was from January 3 -8 (six days. (‘Jung in India,’ Sulagna Sengupta, p. 173, fn #25).
After getting discharged from the hospital, Jung returned to The Grand Hotel and had a dream about the ‘Holy Grail’ and its home, ‘The Castle.’ Later, he interpreted the significance of the dream in conjunction with his ‘mission’ or purpose. In the dream, he was called to find the grail and return it to where it belonged, the castle.
It should be understood that Jung’s importance to western psychology and the mythical (archetypal) origins of western civilization is of profound significance in the history of the 20th century. Jung is often seen as a dreamer or mystic and consequential dismissed in his high meaning of things. But in other traditions that still have the ancient meaning intact, he would be seen as a ‘shaman.’ Jung’s role in 20th century thought had to be disguised – he has said so many times – for fear of being dismissed as delusional (and many people understand him as such). Why was his ‘Red Book’ held for almost 50 years before being published? The only person who understands Jung in the light I’m addressing is Peter Kingsley in his two-volume work, ‘Catafalque’ (Ka-tuh-falk). In it, Kingsley says the dream “to him ..wasn’t just about some individuals quest for psychological integration. It was about his work in – and for the sake of – the whole world.”
Carl Jung understood his mission, and India showed him his limitations. He understood he was not capable of understanding – nor really had an interest – in visiting a ‘holy man.’ He thought that if you’ve read about one, you’ve ‘seen them all.’ Jung had his ‘charge’ to bring western civilization back to its roots.
To take Jung’s study further and bring the west to its roots in India, see:
India and the Identity of Europe: The Case of Friedrich Schlegel