Our higher unity is the Self

Jenna Lilla in Buddhist Cave Monastery in Thailand, 2009
Jenna Lilla in Buddhist Cave Monastery in Thailand, 2009

In Thailand, some of the monasteries are built into caves. You go deep into the cave and there you find icons of the Buddha. This is reminiscent of Jung’s idea that “great treasure lies hidden in the cave of the unconscious.” This great treasure is often represented by a being, in this case the Buddha. As you see in the image above, the Buddhas are gold, as a form of spiritual treasure.

From the perspective of Vedanta, this treasure is the supreme Self, that is also coincident with one’s own self. In Buddhist terms, the treasure is empty of any world which might describe it, and thus even beyond ‘Self.’ In Jung’s terms, the image represents the Self as higher unification of the conscious and unconscious. Here is a quote from Jung that speaks to the unity of conscious and unconscious:

“The unconscious: “it potentially contains that “round” wholeness which consciousness lacks, it is the most significant of all. This “round” thing is the great treasure that lies hidden in the cave of the unconscious, and its personification is this personal being who represents the higher unity of conscious and unconscious.” (Carl Jung, CW 9I, para. 248)


  1. The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1)