Vajravarahi Mandala: integrating the world of opposites

Vajravarahi Mandala, Tibet, 19th century. US public domain via wikimedia.
Vajravarahi Mandala, Tibet, 19th century. US public domain via wikimedia.

In the image above we see the mandala of Vajravarahi. Vajravarahi is a goddess invoked in Tantric meditation. Her name means ‘Diamond-like Sow’. According to the Met: “The goddess represents the triumph over ignorance (symbolized by the sow).” In archetypal terms, Vajravarahi is an image of the Self.

Notice the six-pointed star in the middle of the mandala. “The Sadhanamala describes the six-pointed star as the union of male (the upward-pointing triangle) and female (the downward-pointing triangle) energies” (ibid).

In archetypal terms, the two triangles may represent the integration of the creative tension of opposites, an essential aspect of Self-realization. Carl Jung believed that the tension lies between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. In archetypal terms, the conscious mind is masculine and the unconscious is feminine.

In spiritual terms, we might say there is a tension between the temporal and eternal dimensions, or the modified and unmodified dimensions of awareness. Integration of these dimensions is the Self. These two aspects work together to form a whole: the mandala, the star, the Self.

In meditation, Vajravarahi is visualized as emerging from the heart. The heart is an archetypal space and place for the integration of opposites. It is in the heart that we realize the emergence of the Self.”Early Tibetan translations of Sanskrit texts, such as the Sadhanamala (Garland of Means for [Spiritual] Attainment), the Nishpannayogavali (Garland of Perfection Yogas), and theHevajra Tantra, describe Vajravarahi’s mandala as unfolding within the heart of a practitioner” (ibid).


  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art



Jung, C. G., (1934–1954). The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious. (1981 2nd ed. Collected Works Vol.9 Part 1), Princeton, N.J.: Bollingen. 0-691-01833-2


4 thoughts on “Vajravarahi Mandala: integrating the world of opposites

  1. I’m trying to understand your statement that the conscious mind is stable, directive, and constant while the unconscious is chaotic, unknown, and I assume you intended to say [in]articulate. In my own experience, while my conscious self does perform a directive role in my life, I hesitate to say it is stable and constant. In fact, half my life is being spent waiting for my conscious self to get back to the task and move us (me) toward the goal at hand. Likewise, though my unconscious self is unknown and inarticulate in comparison to my conscious self, I wouldn’t come close to calling it chaotic. It seems the part of me always patiently waiting for the conscious self to get with it and fulfill its directive function or to that end sending the conscious self messages in the form of dreams, etc. Also, as I look out at humanity, it seems that my experience is probably typical of the masses of people. I’m not saying that your statement of Jung is incorrect or that Jung was incorrect. I am just trying to resolve the tension between what I believe to be my experience and what you wrote reflecting Jung’s thought. 🙂

    1. David,

      Thank you for expressing your understanding. What you have stated illustrates the dialectical development of consciousness quite well.

      As you seem to know from you comments on Archetypal Dialectics, the mind is quite dialectical. It splits things apart and then seeks integration. This appears to be one of the ways we grow, though integrating dualities.

      What Carl Jung has noted is that for some the conscious mind appears stable, constant, directive while the unconscious appears unknown, chaotic, dark, and even overwhelming. One thing that is interesting about the dialectical tension of the psyche is that these two can flip back and forth. When we realize the divine nature of the unconscious it may be experienced as more stable, constant, even directive.

      As you very well noted, our dreams can be our constant internal guide. Once we realize this a new dialectical tension may appear– between consciousness and the ego. For instance, they may be noted as entwined and yet separate. If so, we can begin to sort this dialectical tension out. This is another level of integration in which we realize the difference between awareness as consciousness and ego as image identification (i.e. Lacan said ego is an imaginary function).

      Many people have not made the realization that the unconscious has constancy and offers guidance. For such people the unconscious may feel chaotic, overwhelming. I want to honor that experience as well.

      One of the great characteristics of Jung is that he writes in a dialectical tension. He looks at things through one lens and then another. It is difficult to reflect these tensions in a blog. So, I am especially thankful that you have expressed your own subjective experience here. It very well highlights the dialectical movements seen in the development of consciousness.

      We are blessed to have you here sharing with us.
      Thank you also for correcting my mistake. You are right, I meant un-articulated. It is very helpful to me to have someone with eyes to catch my errors.

      Jenna Lilla

      1. Thank you for responding to my comment, Jenna. I along with the other people who have discovered your blog are very fortunate, not only because of your comprehensive grasp of jungian thought, but also because you seem to so aptly embody the consciousness that we are striving for. 🙂

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