In this article we will examine the understandings of mysticism as offered by Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras I:41-51 and Carl Jung’s Western psychology. For our purposes, mysticism is not to be understood as something “misty,” vague or emotional (to list but three current misinterpretations). Rather, as understood by the great mystics of all religious traditions, mysticism is experienced as something like sensory perception – only more direct and more vivid! In Patañjali’s Yoga, for example, mysticism is a case of intuition or supersensuous perception (pratibhā) from which distorting emotions have been purged by disciplined meditation. While Western philosophers such as Bertrand Russell have attempted to dismiss mysticism as merely subjective emotion, or the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud as an “oceanic feeling,” Patañjali’s claim is just the opposite. According to his Yoga psychology, mystical experience is a case of the direct supersensuous perception of reality. The Western psychologist Carl Jung made a serious attempt to read and understand Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras. Thus it is of interest to compare to Jung’s understanding of mystical experience with that of Patañjali. We will begin with Patañjali.

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