Serpents: image of the instinctive psyche

 

Painting of Konagamana Buddha by unknown painter. Photo taken by Hans A. Rosbach- 2011, Creative Commons via Wikimedia.
Painting of Konagamana Buddha by unknown painter. Photo taken by Hans A. Rosbach- 2011, Creative Commons via Wikimedia.

Carl Jung notes that the serpent is an image of the “instinctive psyche” (CW 9i, para. 282). In dreams and imagination, “dragons and serpents point to the danger of the newly acquired consciousness being swallowed up again by the instinctive psyche, the unconscious” (ibid).  The instincts (as snake image) is seen as a treat to “one’s inmost self” (ibid).

In the mural above, we see an image of the Buddha. The Buddha is sitting over a serpent. The image shows that the Buddha has mastered the impulses arising from “instinctive psyche, the unconscious.” He is no longer threatened by the idea of being swallowed up by the forces (serpents) of the unconscious. The instinct is now the ally of the self.

Reference:

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