Chakrasamvara: Syzygy as the paired opposites

Yab Yum, Chakrasamvara & Vajravarahi, Tibet, c. 15th Century, The Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, US Public Domain
Chakrasamvara, Tibet, c. 15th Century, The Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, US Public Domain

In the above image, we see a mandala image from 15th Century Tibetan Buddhism. The central deity in the mandala is Samvara. Samvara is considered the image of “Supreme Bliss” [1]. He is blue in color, with twelve arms, and four faces. He embraces Vajravārāhī, who is red in color. Vajravārāhī means the “”The Diamond Sow” [2]. In Tibetan Buddhism, the syzygy is called Yab-Yum, as metaphor of the union of bliss and emptiness.

Carl Jung understood that in archetypal terms the syzygy or yab yum “always takes the form of  the paired opposites, where the One is never separated from the Other, its antithesis”[3].  Jung realized the syzygy to be an image of the “experience of individuation, the attainment of the Self” [3] Here is an expended quote on the topic from Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious:

“It is a psychological fact that as soon as we touch on these identifications we enter the realm of the syzygies, the paired opposites, where the One is never separated from the Other, its antithesis. It is a field of personal experience which leads directly to the experience of individuation, the attainment of the self. A vast number of symbols for this process could be mustered from the medieval literature of the West and even more from the storehouses of Oriental wisdom, but in this matter words and ideas count for little. Indeed, they may become dangerous bypaths and false trails. In this still very obscure field of psychological experience, where we are in direct contact, so to speak, with the archetype, its psychic power is felt in full force. This realm is so entirely one of immediate experience that it cannot be captured by any formula, but can only be hinted at to one who already knows.” (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 194)

References:

  1. Ruthless Compassion: Wrathful Deities in Early Indo-Tibetan By Robert N. Linrothe
  2. Wikipedia
  3. The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1) para 194
Advertisements