The Buddhist Unconscious (Alaya-vijnana) and Jung’s Collective Unconscious: What Does It Mean to Be Liberated from the Self?

Chapter
Part of the Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Mysticism book series (INTERMYST)

Abstract

At the interface of Buddhist psychology and Jungian psychology, there has been a lot of confusion about whether Jung’s archetype of Self is the same as or different from the Buddha’s teachings on No-Self. In this essay, I argue that the archetype of Self arises from the collective unconscious which is analogous to the alaya-vijnana (“storehouse consciousness” or “substrate consciousness”) and is not the same phenomenon as No-Self. I will draw on the scholarship just now emerging in Buddhist studies that analyzes the development of the Buddhist “unconscious” through the evolution of Abhidharma psychology into Yogacara psychology in third- to fifth-century India. My interest is the phenomenology of experience both in Yogacara and in Jungian psychology. By clarifying the Self from this perspective, we can clarify the functioning of the collective unconscious as it arises in dreams, culture, language, and individuals. We also, then, clarify the possibilities of becoming free or liberated from the collective or consensual world in our everyday reality. I will focus especially on the nature of consciousness/unconsciousness, unconscious complexes, subjectivity, intersubjectivity, and human suffering.

References

  1. Bhikkhu, Thanissaro. 2011. Wings to Awakening: An Anthology from the Pali Canon. Retrieved from https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/wings/index.htmlR.
  2. Jacobs, Beth. 2017. The Original Buddhist Psychology: What the Abhidharma Tells Us About How We Think, Feel, and Experience Life. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.Google Scholar
  3. Jung, Carl G. [1916] 1969. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. Translated by R. F. C. Hull, 2nd ed., vol. 8. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 1977. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by G. Adler and R. Hull, vol. 18. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Meckel, Daniel J., and Robert. L. Moore. 1992. Self and Liberation: The Jung-Buddhism Dialogue. Mahwah, NY: Paulist Press.Google Scholar
  6. Waldron, William. 2002. “Buddhist Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Thinking About ‘Thoughts Without a Thinker’.” Eastern Buddhist XXIV (1): 1–52.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2003. The Buddhist Unconscious: The Alaya-vijnana in the Context of Indian Buddhist Thought. London and New York: Routledge-Curzon.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2006. “On Selves and Selfless Discourse.” In Buddhism and Psychotherapy Across Cultures: Essays on Theories and Practices, edited by M. Unno, 87–104. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.Google Scholar
  9. Young-Eisendrath, Polly, and James Hall. 1991. Jung’s Self Psychology: A Constructivist Perspective. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  10. Young-Eisendrath, Polly, and Shoji Muramoto, eds. 2002. Awakening and Insight: Zen Buddhism and Psychotherapy. East Sussex, England: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VermontBurlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations