Mandala is a Hindu and Buddhist word which in the Sanskrit means “circle.” It usually takes the form of a diagram for mediation.¹
In Buddhism, mandalas represent the totality of all existence. Tibetan Buddhist art (tankhas) depict different mandalas containing both gods and demons.
These spiritual beings encircle a center point symbolic of the (alleged) absolute bliss of nirvana. Contemplating these images is said to help the aspirant attain a supreme consciousness that lies beyond gods (heavens) and demons (hells).
The innovative Beatles song on Sgt. Peppers could be seen as finding the center of the mandala.²
Life flows on within you and without you.
Sometimes Jung seems to equate Christian and non-Christian symbols, fitting them into his interpretation of the mandala; other times he says Eastern and Western religions differ.
Contradictions seem to run throughout Jung’s work but Jung, himself, doesn’t shy away from contradiction or inconsistency.
I had to obey an inner law which was imposed on me and left me no freedom of choice. Of course I did not always obey it. How can anyone live without inconsistency?³
Myself, I think the concept of the mandala is helpful in achieving what some call being “centered.” But in my journey that has been a beginning point, not just an endpoint.
There’s so much more than merely experiencing “zero” consciousness.
² Innovative because George Harrison was trained in sitar and knew that he was departing from the traditional raga format, which is heavily structured. Also innovative because, as far as I know, no rock band had done a tune entirely with Indian instruments before.
³ See Michael Clark, Synchronicity and Poststructuralism, 1997, pp. 13-14