In the image above, we see an 18th century painting of the Buddha. Although Buddhism denies the existence of the Self, from the perspective of depth psychology the Buddha is an archetypal image of the Self.
For Carl Jung, the Self is defined as “a psychic totality and at the same time a centre, neither of which coincides with the ego but includes it, just as a larger circle encloses a smaller one.” (ibid para 247). Jung adds, “it is a figure comparable to Hiranyagarbha, Purusha, Atman, and the mystic Buddha.”
Images of Buddha such as the one above may be seen as representing the totality and wholeness of the self. Image such as the one above help the conscious mind to represent the ‘psychic totality’ of the self. “Because of its unconscious component the self is so far removed from the conscious mind” it must be “expressed by human figures” (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 314-315).
- Jung, C. G., The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious – CW 9i (1934–1954) (1981 2nd ed. Collected Works Vol.9 Part 1)