Buddhas in Babylon

The Tibetan Bhavachakra or Wheel of Life can be understood as a cross-section of human reality in six of its most salient permutations. I have taken the liberty to loosely translate them into English vernacular as Diva, Demon, Victim, Addict, Muppet and Muggle. In most depictions of the Wheel of Life, you will find an image of the Buddha outside the Wheel, usually on a cloud somewhere above it.

If we can identify six archetypes in our Human-All-Too-Human Wheel of Samsara, what archetypes might we hope to find in a Buddha’s Nirvana beyond the Wheel? If human psychology includes some constellation or other of these six subpersonalities, what constitutes a Buddha’s psychology?

I contend that we can identify six matching archetypes in awakened Buddha Consciousness, if we “looking-glass” the human ones. What we end up with is the Mystic, Shaman, Warrior, Monk, Philosopher and King archetypes, corresponding to the six yogas, Dhyana, Kundalini, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and Raja yoga.

A Self-Realised Master Yogi, who embodies all six yogas and personifies all six archetypes is a Living Buddha. Strictly speaking, he or she is no longer human, and so no longer transmigrates around the Wheel of Life. He or she is “in the world but not of the world”. He or she is identified with Gaia rather than Ba, with the planet as a whole rather than their individual bodymind or the distributed cognition of the human social matrix. He or she is a “Buddha in Babylon”.

Buddha recognises Buddha. But human consciousness cannot see beyond the limits of the human Wheel of Life. This state of affairs creates a paradox: spiritual teachings can only be understood by spiritual beings, but it’s human beings that need them. Which is why we must suppose that all human beings have Buddha Nature, an incipient germ of spiritual awakening buried somewhere in their psyches, a pearl of great price smaller than a mustard seed, ready to sprout at any moment.

Once this baby Buddha (or baby Jesus) is born in the soul, the business of spiritual training in the yogas can begin in earnest. For as Dogen Zenji said, “training and enlightenment are one”.