Samantabhadra: Syzygy in the form of divine union

Adi Buddha Samantabhadra, Unknown artist, unknown date, via Wikimedia Public Domain.
Adi Buddha Samantabhadra, Unknown artist, unknown date, via Wikimedia Public Domain.

As a basic principle, archetypes are not realized in static form but present in dynamic form, expressing transformations in consciousness. Archetypal images transform as awareness transforms. Or said another way, archetypes appear in various forms as consciousness shifts.

In terms of enlightenment, sacred images represent transformations in consciousness, expressing a movement from duality to integration and wholeness. Archetypes are therefore expressed in symbols of transformation: representing transformations in consciousness; transforming as consciousness transforms. [1].

The syzygy is a potent symbol of transformation, representing core transformations in the phenomenology of the Self [2]. The transformations in the syzygy archetype emerge along with transformations of the self, movements from duality to integration.

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Divine Union: creative force & origin

Mural depicting the Shiva lingam in base from the Mehrangarh Fort Palace in Jodhpu. Creative Commons via Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
Shiva lingam in base from a mural at the Mehrangarh Fort Palace in Jodhpu. Creative Commons via Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung explores the dynamic relation between the masculine and feminine poles of the psyche. This relation is revealed in images of “sacred cohabitation”. One such image is the Lingam and Yoni. Jung says:

“The motif of continuous cohabitation is expressed in the well-known lingam symbol found everywhere in Indian temples: the base is a female symbol, and within it stands the phallus.”

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Dialectical struggle & the Elixir of Immortality

Kurmavatara, Made in Himachal Pradesh, India,1760-65 Artist/maker unknown, India, Himachal Pradesh, Basohli or Chamba, US Public Domain
Samudra manthan, churning of the Ocean of Milk, Artist unknown- C. 1760 US Public Domain

To live is to struggle. Whether we are rich or poor, beautiful or plain, famous or more humble, we will struggle. The struggle arises from within. It is a struggle of the mind. Yet it is this very struggle that brings forth the potential for growth and Self-realization. It is our ability to be with the struggle, to work with the tensions of life, that opens a horizon for growth and awareness.

The Vedic tradition speaks to this struggle. We are said to live within the world of Maya, the world of duality: good and bad, dark and light, sun and moon, day and night, up and down, inside and outside.

In Vedanta, this struggle of duality is related to avidyā. Avidyā is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘ignorance’ and ‘delusion.’ This word is opposed to Vidya, meaning ‘correct knowledge.’ Avidyā is represented in images of the demons. Avidyā is said to be the ignorance which prevents an understanding of the true nature of the Self, as cosmic or universal Self.

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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.

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