Bhuwan Joshi


Bhuwan in 1955.

Book about Bhuwan published by his students and family, including reflections by Brewster Smith and John Dizikes.

Book about Bhuwan published by his students and family, including reflections by Brewster Smith and John Dizikes.

Obituary, University of California:

Bhuwan Lal Joshi, Psychology: Santa Cruz


Associate Professor

Bhuwan Lal Joshi developed a profound analysis of the stark realities of the modern world and its malaise, which he worked to counter by a reconstruction of thought, with human dignity and greatness as nonnegotiable core values. As his ideas developed from historical, philosophical, and psychological study, he chose to articulate them as teacher to an increasing number of dedicated, intelligent, and hardworking students.

He had nothing in him of a cult figure. His vision of a teacher had traditional sources from the East and West, but his mind was absolutely his own. Both his students and his colleagues, not a real distinction, journeyed with him, because he had the capacity to express ideas as unavoidable truths. Those who had the privilege to know him invariably felt an urgency about giving practical effect to his ideas. He had a tough-minded vision of education that transcended any egotism, or any disposition to treat ideas as his own possession or discovery.

Bhuwan Joshi was born in Kathmandu, Nepal on June 15, 1930. As a boy, he studied economics and mathematics at Kathmandu. His interest in education was shown early, when, at the age of fourteen, he helped organize the first private school in Nepal as a coeducational high school. He continued his studies in Nepal, and then in India, where he took his B.A. with distinction in economics, mathematics, and English literature at the University of Patna. Now twenty, he founded a boarding high school in Kathmandu. He took his M.A. Ed. degree at the University of Delhi and was awarded “best student” certificate in 1954. He was appointed instructor at the National Teacher Training Center in Kathmandu and then left to study at the University of Oregon (M.A. 1956), where he was among the first group of Nepali students to come to the United States. A further period of educational work in Nepal followed, after which he was admitted to the psychology department at UC Berkeley for graduate work. He took his doctorate in 1964, and began teaching at Berkeley. He was in the first group of faculty when the campus at Santa Cruz began in 1965. He became Associate Professor in 1967.

At Santa Cruz, Bhuwan Joshi played an important role from the beginning. He served as chairman of the Cowell College Faculty, and in his quiet way he was a unique presence in the College. An important book (with Leo E. Rose, Democratic Innovations in Nepal: A Case Study of Political Acculturation, 1966) came out soon after his arrival, and there were other studies in the psychological analysis of political ideology and class perceptions. In his last years, he was engaged in a major restatement of his scholarly interests. He developed a critical appraisal of Western psychological and social thought, which he was able to put forth in a manner that–if it did not find acceptance from his colleagues in his own discipline–was treated with great respect, and its importance was generally admitted. His force as a thinker and as a person was expressed in his project for relearning the alphabet of psychology by purifying it from the madness of systematic manipulation. He proposed a perspective that could regard the constituents of psychology, and ultimately humans, as unique, nonrecurring, and therefore nonstatistical. This accorded with his deep appreciation for the arts, his vision of necessary restraints in both occidental and oriental culture, and his persistent encouragement toward his friends and students to undertake lives of creative endeavor.

Bhuwan Lal Joshi suffered a heart attack in his office, where he was preparing for a class, on October 17, 1977. He is survived by his widow, Sushila Devi (Shrestha) Joshi, and three remarkable children, Ashok Lal, Sushil Lal, and Uma Haimavati Joshi. Sushila, an exceptional person in her own right (M.A. in English literature, Mills College), has her great loss shared and understood by many friends who much wanted and needed Bhuwan Lal to have his full time.

Richard Mather, Richard Randolph, Andrew Schelling, Page Smith

Bhuwan Lal Joshi Memorial Plaque

I recently found out that a bronze memorial plaque named “Bhuwan’s Peace” had been set in a rock near the front entrance to Cowell College.  It is under some small redwoods and is not noticed unless someone knows it is there.  I also found out that Bhuwan’s widow, Sushila, was not happy with the location.  When I found this out, I informed the current Cowell Provost, Alan Christy, that I knew exactly where it should be.  So we took a walk and he understood that a placement next to the great oak on the upper lawn would be the proper place because that is where Bhuwan liked to teach his class.

“Bhuwan’s Peace”, the rock at its current location. Photo courtesy of Angie Christman, Cowell College Activities.

The Great Oak at the Upper Lawn, Cowell College. Bhuwan would sit below the tree with students circling in a ring.

The current location (June 2018) — you can hardly see it tucked in the trees, upper left.

More pictures to come when the rock is moved!

Hurray!  Bhuwan’s Piece/Peace has been moved (September 2018).  Here is a better picture of the rock and plaque:

These two pictures show the location by the oak tree on the Upper Lawn of Cowell College (Photos courtesy of Angie Christman). 

At the Cowell College Alumni Memorial gathering (April 2019), I offered to transcribe my notes for the classes I had taken with Bhuwan. These notes are more than double in length than the ones in The Voice from the Himalayas. They will be added to the Cowell College Archive, and are provided here.

Bhuwan Lal Joshi: Class Notes by Peter Kirkup

During my years at Cowell College, UCSC, I took 2 classes from Bhuwan.  These included Psychological Theories and Systems of the East, and the first in his Consciousness Series:  Archaic Consciousness, Modern Consciousness, and Consciousness for a Post-Modern World.

Although I did not take his last two classes (he died during Post Modern, which was completed by Norman O. Brown), I following the course and course readings for Modern Consciousness (by this time he was my thesis sponsor).  I was on leave during the Fall of 1978 when he died teaching Consciousness for a Post Modern World.

When I returned in the Winter Quarter of 1978, Bhuwan had died.  Although I was able to attend the Memorial Service held on the Upper Lawn at Cowell College, I was not aware until recently that some students and colleagues had put together a book of memories (Voice from the Himalayas, 2005).  

In 2017, I was informed by Cowell Provost Alan Christie that there was a memorial stone to Bhuwan, but placed where it was not easily seen.  Alan let me know that Bhuwan’s widow, Sushila, was concerned that the stone be placed in a more suitable location.  I helped Alan locate the most proper location for the memorial — under the oak tree in the upper lawn at Cowell College where Bhuwan loved to hold classes seated in a circle.  The stone is now located next to where Bhuwan’s sat, where people can sit and ponder the wonders of nature on one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.

In 2019, during the Cowell Memorial Service at the UCSC Alumni weekend, I promised to transcribe my class notes and submit them to the Cowell College Archives.  This is because I realized that my class notes are more extensive than those included in The Voice from the Himalayas.

Notes on Style

The pace of Bhuwan’s talks and his aphoristic style of presenting material lent itself to a chant-like taking of notes — the telegraphic style of hand recording notes somehow matching Bhuwan’s expository cadence.  Breathing, speaking, and writing had an entrained rhythm for me in his classes.

Aside from the acoustic environment created by Bhuwan, he also presented material in mandala form.  I doodled a number of these, and have tried to keep that format intact without having to learn how to re-create them electronically.  Specifically, I hand drew the mandala circles after printing out the text, and then scanned the result into the transcribed notes.  In one example, I scan the original diagram to show how I included the information while adapting the format somewhat to make the electronic version easier for me to create.

The notes are almost all verbatim.  I have made some spelling corrections, and have tried to verify the spelling of a number of Sanskrit words.  That being said, Bhuwan often presented spellings somewhat different than the current standard dictionaries, often leaving out vowels that historically, or popularly, are not included (e.g. Rta for Rita:  cosmic order).  I have also made minor format and grammatical changes to clarify the meaning.  The few clarifying comments that I added are presented in [brackets].  I have also added some internet pictures for the fun of it.

Bwuwan’s “Anthropology”

Not included in my notes, but still very vivid in my mind, are Bhuwan’s perspectives on Human Evolution and Anthropology.  Included in his studies of materialism, individualism, and reductionism, was a critique of the Hunter/Tool-Maker image of the first humans.  I don’t know the reason I have no notes on this:  it may be that his views were shared outside of class, or it may be that I was so intrigued with his views that I had no need to write them down.  In any case, I have viewed human interactions and taught students about Bhuwan’s views on fire, cooking, and storytelling (which includes music and dance) for 40 years now (as a clinical social worker).

Bhuwan was aware that the mother of all tools is language, and that no technological innovation occurs without the aid of language.  Other animals make primitive tools (birds, monkeys), but humans need to cook in order to store food and digest it sufficiently to support the growth of our human brains in infancy.  

But what is the birthplace of language, as well as its nursery and classroom?  Around the fire, where cooking and storytelling occurred.  Certainly not on the hunt, where signals serve to direct the group effort (which also included hunting dogs — grey wolves).  No, it was remembering the hunt, extolling the hunters, and planning the next hunt, that language serves.  And even more so, motivating the people to work harmoniously for the survival and benefit of all. 

So when someone tries to tell you that we are basically grunting individuals who would turn on each other at the drop of a hat, give them a vague smile and tell them that Bhuwan has a class for them!

Of course, The Far Side has a perspective on this:

I think Bhuwan (and St. Francis) would be please to know that there is a new academic discipline call “Anthrozoology.”  It studies the co-evolution of humans and animals, particularly the mammals of dogs (all domestic dogs are descended from grey wolves), cats (human’s fiercest predator before domestication as “mousers”), and horses (which give us “horse-power”).  Even Freud had a therapy dog!

Psychological Theories and Systems of the East

Tivo Bhava:  given phenomenon — veiling, mystery

Explicate the cosmic mystery by personalized mysteries — our natural mode.

We do not grow up, we forget.

The understanding of nuclear physics is child’s play in comparison to the understanding of child’s play.

Maya:  Mind, Man, to Measure.

Ma:  to measure.

The errors of measurement — we always produce an error in measurements.

How much error is there?  Fact vs. Artifact.

Imagination/Magi:  The ability to appreciate and do magic.

Myth:  magical reconstruction of the universe.

A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy

Vedas 1,500 BC to 900 BC

Upanishads 900 BC to 700 BC


Yoga Sutras Attempts to systematize archaic knowledge

Other Systems

Stop at 2nd century BC.

People didn’t have the historic sense of Westerners or Chinese.  They had no sense to calibrate time.

Disease = the loss of tradition.

To Know = re-minding.

The future will take care of itself if we remind ourselves of our origin.

Memory is for those who have forgotten.

Civilization is a diffusion of culture.

If we can harmonize what we do with the dead, there is nothing left to be done.

Yajma:  Sacrifice

Yaj:  to join.

Unification Ritual — balance relationships with the dead.  Without it, the universe would collapse.

Rta:  The Order of the Universe  [Rtavan, AnRta]

Science = the search for hidden likenesses.

Commitment comes once we understand purpose.

How to use language responsibly?  injunctions   Vac:  speech

Original meaning of cosmetics was to help understand the cosmos, not misleading.

Amrita:  immortality.  When one has embodied the cosmos.

Mritu:  Physical body loses Rta.

Riltu:  Seasons.

Satyam:  truth (is) — Asat

Brhat:  big (to grow)

Satyam Rtam Brhat

what is     what is true     what is great

Swami Nikhilanande:  The Upanishads

Heinrich Zimmer:  Philosophies of India


  1. Commentary on an Upanishad
  2. Compose an Upanishad for modern times (learn to become a translator)
  3. Whatever…
[Modern Upanishads: Death of a Salesman (Henry Miller), Moby Dick (Herman Melville)]

Causality:  Why does the human mind engage itself in what it does?

Lila:  a dance, the body coming out

The Cosmic Dance (bronze statue)

The Cosmic Dancer

5 Sequences

  1. the creation 
  2. the preservation of what is created
  3. destruction
  4. the veiling (mystification)
  5. release from the veil of ignorance

11th chapter of Gita — revealing of truth (absolute)

Free from pleasant preoccupation, fear and anger

Fascinating & Horrifying

Raised Right Hand — drum (sound)

Instrument of Creation

Speech (vac)

create whatever world you want — rhythm

Gesture of Protection — 2nd Hand

Flame — Instrument of Destruction

Dance is a Mystification

Hand pointing to raised foot

Trunk of the Elephant

Uplifted Foot represents release

Foot of the Cosmic Dancer planted firmly on the earth

Forgetfulness:  human condition

Uplifted Foot:  release

Circle, ball of fire, friends of fire, the fiery dance with which we warm our lives

All this is fire, the fire is latent in the world — the vanity of ownership (appropriating the earth)

Re-collection of Tuesday

Every day is covered by a particular veil — ambiguous expression

Swa bhava:  true, intrinsic, innate nature

Must penetrate the veil of ambiguity, the curtain of empirical reality

“truth” is also a veil

enigmas can only be restated in ambiguity

art, poetry — ambiguity is genuine

Sam Vega:  aesthetic shock — it will move, it has power

Kavi = Seer (poet)

their reflection is one step removed from experience, intuition

Civilization — systematization of culture

Sam Vega languishes in civilization — they have forgotten

Mimansa:  reflection

Unitive Vision is lost

Sam Vega is the essence of being alive

With this, we can never be things (commodities)

To pour out rather than take in, this is what a child does

the search for truth is intellectual greed

Rta is a delicate system

must be kept in balance by humans who pour themselves out

Agui:  Fire

Yojma — come with fuel in hand

Faith is the greatest fuel, a willingness to be moved

Samaya:  Time (come together) — time is when we come together (human time)

Kala:  Absolute Time (death)

When we come together, we form Samsara (the world — not equivalent to the earth)

Reformer — altruism or vanity?  Tries to make the rest of the world in the image of his own (the world is psychological)

Trivium:  language, grammar, rhetoric

Quadrivium:  arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music

Education:  6 Roles

  1. Kalpa (sacrifice rituals)
  2. Siksha (correct enunciation)
  3. Chhanda (verse)
  4. Nirukta (etymology)
  5. Vyakarana (grammar)
  6. Jyotisha (astronomy)

Bhu (earth)

Bhuva (atmosphere)

Swa (sky)

Aesthetic Shock (Sam Vega)

experience can be made into a concept (personal, as a baby)

A Vega = Arousal (alive)

Sam Vega — to be aroused with the rest of the universe (personal & cosmic) makes you a participant.

There is life in the universe, there are only potentialities

There are not things, but energy

Vega = Passion, Force

A = uncontrolled, egocentric

Sam = participant in Rta

Reification = making things out of the universe

Inert & Alert — principle of motivation

Concoct an energy force to put in action

Everything is Alive

A Vega:  the condition we are born in

question is not to find a motive force, but to tame this innate force

We are all born artists — how can individual passions be translated into compassions?

— incorporate the transpersonal into art for it to be great art.

Artistic Creation

  1. artistic impulse (intuition) Samsara:  moved by passion in a confluent way by any facet of life
  2. modulate the arousal into a statement of beauty and truth (Sam Vega) impersonalization/personalization
  3. technique (craftsmanship) express in social way, externalization
  4. critics — pours himself into the world of art, and renews the life of the artist

By his interaction, he brings beauty to art, pouring out rather than taking in

Critic is as important as the Artist.

Sandhya:  coming together of two contrary forces (day and night come together in the morning)

The Fusion of Opposites — every sentient being must participate in this fusion.

Descartes:  discourse on method.  Fission:  Hammer apart to reconstruct.  How to penetrate doubt (tiro bhava).  

Explication — enemy of ambiguities.

Implication — poetry, metaphor, art — to exploit ambiguities (what lies in between the words)

John Weaver, The Universe as Home for Man (American Scientist, Nov./Dec. 1974)

Life – Continuity – Death

human universe, ambiguity

“a consequence of having held the veil”  release = freedom

Critics trying to understand this work of art called the world

You must pour out more for release

Knowledge is a process of participation — reenact the past

Proper emotional attitude is necessary for the reenactment

It is innate to us, but may be forgotten

You cannot learn or live passively

No such thing as a detached knower — participation in the production of knowledge

What he brings to bear in what he is looking at — any knowledge

Upanishads:  explication through implications.

Reflecting — isomorphic (equal forms, metaphoric)

The same symbols in a wide variety of situations (richness of imagination)

We are always at home — nothing is to be excluded

6 Systems:  Categorical Reflections

Categories are not to be questioned

Vid:  to know

Veda:  knowledge (not to know)

Vidyartha:  student

Artha:  desire

re-source — meaning

money, power — utility

To put meaning into the Universe

— problem of modern age is meaninglessness — utility without meaning

Vita Raga Bhaya Krodha:  without pleasant preoccupation, fear, anger; i.e. tranquility, peace.

9 Emotions:  erotic, heroic, odious, furious, comic, terrible, pathetic, wondrous, peaceful

Vidyartha:  use the first 8 to obtain the 9th.

To feel at home wherever we are:  Modern Man, “the syndrome of topophobia.”

The navel of the universe is where you are — there are many ways there

— Pagan  Attitude — when we are born, we are all pagans

Vrata:  Commitment

  1. Tapas — practice (adequate emotional condition — glow, warmth, heat); after obligation, you must engage in practice for originality.
  2. Then the Desire (then the world comes into being)

       the nature of desire — a centering process (how to focus yourself)

       Out of this vast array of objects, we focus on certain ones (object-relationships)

       Cathexis/valient:  a sign of vitality — centering is the key activity

       We must learn non-egocentric centering

       We must learn non-ethnocentric centering

Buddhist:  we must stay in the human world, or

Brahman (non-anthropomorphic):  to bring the human mind to its ultimate ends, even if it isn’t human.

The Innocent Eye (conceptual barrier obstruct):  

Everything has a Center (the art of self-deception)

The Wheel:  It Turns and Returns (something we find)

Veda:  Inspiration

Upanishads:  Isomorphic Meditations

Inspiration — Hidden Likenesses (All Traditions):  This is always the Center

Extrapolate these things for social purposes

6 Orthodox Systems (externalizations)

Nyaya:  Logic and Epistemology (that which leads you from here to there)

Vaiseskhika:  Particularities (accepts empirical reality — how to use knowledge for transformation?)

From Information to Transformation:  How to be Reborn (atomic theory)

Samkhya:  enumeration, descriptive analysis — roots of Buddhist Thought

How to transform through exhaustive analysis

Yoga:  oldest systematic psychological handbook, technique of transformation

Purva Mimamsa:  antecedent reflection, transformation through ritual (“headless tradition”)

Uttara Mimamsa:  consequent reflection (Vedanta), end of knowledge (pinnacle) and theory of perception (the world is mental)

Ontology:  Theory of Being

Satyam Tram Brihat (the real, the true, the great)

Satyam Siram Sundaram (the real, the good, the beautiful)

Knowledge (cognition), Action (volition), Feeling (connation)

Perception, Will, 9 Moods

Expression is ambiguous:  Veil cannot be removed, only uplifted

Epistemology:  Source and Limits of Knowledge

4 Steps in Artistic Creation

  1. inspiration:  image
  2. intermediation:  idea
  3. externalization:  expression via symbols
  4. criticism:  renewal of the creative process


  1. Indra-Urtra Struggle
  2. the opening of the cave
  3. the golden gem
  4. Ka Who
  5. That one
  6. Purusha:  the Person
  7. Prajapati:  the source of life (Gods, men, demons)
  8. Kala:  Time

Natarata:  genesis (why all this?)

Deep Image

The Universe as a Dance of Matter

Life as a Dance.  Consciousness as a dancer.

The individual as a dancer.

The Universe as a stage.

The Universe as a Play of Consciousness

The Dancer and the Stage are inseparable.

The Mind and Matter are inseparable

  1. Sristi:  Creation
  2. Sthisti:  Preservation
  3. Samhara:  Destruction
  4. Tiro bhava:  the veil of appearances
  5. Anugraha:  Freedom (the veil uplifted)


  1. the overcoming of amnesia (apasmara)
  2. psychology of re-minding (re-membering, re-cognition, identification, unification)


  1. Sam Vega:  aesthetic shock
  2. Vrata:  commitment
  3. Tapas:  the glow of incubation

Mandala/Perception Matrix 

Mandala Matrix


Da:  adequate emotional condition

Gods:  self-control (power)

Man:  to give (greed)

Demons:  be compassionate (cruelty)

Ontic-Thirst:  to saturate the self with being (to live as fully as possible)

Modern Man:  the ability to capture the surfaces of things.

To live without ontic-thirst is to slay the Self.

I am my brother’s keeper vs. I am my brother.

Translators  [Joshi considered English to be the best language for Indian philosophy]

We all translate, put things in our own terms

Major part of learning is not to get in our own ways

How to unveil the ambiguity of the Upanishads?  translation

Try not to impose a new veil

Gross Veils vs. Transparent Veils (no attempt to mislead, this is necessary)

We are all born poets — reconstruct the Upanishad

Etymology — to understand the blossoms, you must understand the roots

Delusion = Ideology, a cultural view of the way things should be (seen as truth)

The ignorance of the learned is more profound than that of the simpleton.

Once-Born = Innocent Bodies, they will manage their lives

Twice-Born — always inventing chains, intellectual addiction

All that is wrong with the world is seen by intellects

Knowledge of the Many & Knowledge of the One

Abstract Mentality always “knows” what is right, most rigid rules

Must not feed vanity — teaching can be dangerous (problem of exploitation)

Concrete Mentality — less stringent rules

How to re-unite the knowledge of the many with the knowledge of the one.

Knowledge is a tool — know its limitations — truth is one step removed from the real

Reconstructing:  Two Aesthetic Choices

digital processing

analog processing

See yourself in the Mirror, you have invented


Where do ideas and meanings come from?  (desire for profit or power?)

Why were the Upanishads written?  

The Lady of the River comes from a source greater than individuals

We are space-time vehicles

You understand to the extent that you are ready to understand — openness

What time is it for you?  Right emotional condition

9 Qualifications for Being a Student

  1. sense of discrimination (what is transient and what is permanent)
  2. attitude of indifference towards pleasure — seek not only pleasant knowledge — all that has been acquired can be dis-acquired
  3. state of mental quietness
  4. sense of control of the senses (mastery)
  5. cessation of the active and passive faculties of the mind (reaction — sense organs present the world to us passively)

Action — attributes of the participator (speech, grasping, locomotion, evacuation,   reproduction)

6) patience

7) constant concentration of the mind

8) faith (in student, teacher, subject)

9) yearning — desire for release from ignorance or knowledge

A Self Portrait

What does it mean?  The artist gazing at the viewer and the viewer gazing at the artist

When does one truly understand a self-portrait?

Self Significance:  The meaning of anything lies within itself.

When somebody tries to perceive their self-significance, they are both subject & object (I & Me)

Self-Consciousness:  “Me “ has self-significance/“I” is trying to extrapolate this self-significance.

Historic Consciousness — History is the highest form of communal self-consciousness

What is the way out of historic-consciousness?  Shared subjectivity

A way to penetrate other people and things.

The medium for understanding?  Enter Mythic-Consciousness, an exemplar of the universal human mind penetrating the world.

Two modes vacillate:  Historic & Mythic

Time & Eternity

Myths exist in us (trans-historical)

We must overcome historical amnesia

Reconciliation of opposites, the fusion of opposites/melting of dichotomies

True knowledge is healing

(wet is the way we define the state of water)

—the self-healing property of organisms — doctors only remove the barriers that stand in the way of healing

Surrogate living is fractured — we need healing

Medicine should be preventative, not curative

Psychoanalysis is part of the disease trying to cure itself

Knowledge should unify — if it doesn’t, it is part of the disease

To see the Unity is to destroy Self-Consciousness

Marriage is one of the best educational institutions

1 + 1 = 1

Self & Other to Self & Self-Reflection

Civilization — Material prosperity covering up ontological vacuity

Cosmogony (Mythic Consciousness)

Inner richness — renew artistic perception of childhood, remove your censor that you put in the way.

Upanishads:  psychological translations of Vedic Poetry

Cosmic Battle

An inquiry into the origins of mythical translation

The Renewal of the Universe:  

New Years

Twilight Hours

Meals (renewal of cosmic body):  even the myth must be renewed 

Indra tore the Universe in half, but there was no existence

Vrtra covered the cosmic waters — cannot be killed, but can be subdued

Sources:  1) Gita (chapters 2, 11, 16), 2) Sankhya, 3) Yoga-Sutras

Fear, at any time in life, is a form of the´original fearfulness of childhood

Thinking in the presence of others:  you fear what you know, you fear what you don’t know

Sankhya:  Ideology, 1st System (physics/psychology/evolution)

Descriptive Analysis (Yoga/Buddhism)

Yoga Sutras:  A Book of Psychological Techniques — a psychology of will transformation from one level of consciousness to another

  1. enjoyer (through the senses)
  2. actor (operator) we leave our marks on the environment

5 Sensory Modalities, passive and active

In both cases, mind is involved

the 6th sense of reception & the 6th sense of action process all sensory inputs (thought, cognition)

  1. receives sensations, perceives sensations, cognizes sensations
  2. will — to learn non-egocentric centering

Kratu — that which transmigrates

Willfulness:  the will to find the right will, the will to remain unwilled.

Kena:  Why?

Brahma:  the Eternal

Atma:  the Universal (I)

Agni:  Fire, Will

Vayu:  Wind, Life-Force

Indra:  Thunder, Lightning, Rain — Intelligence (luminous mind)

Uma:  Celestial Light over the snowy summits (female principle)

Sara Swati:  lady of the streams, the first light when the sun comes up

Drama — out of tension emerges truth

Indra (Thunder, Lightning) —> Parjanya (Rain, giver of other lives)

Indra as the rain-giver

Myths can be handled on many levels — a naturalistic experience, elemental forces

Vrtra — lid that covers where the rain-clouds have been hidden — an expert in the art of weaving illusions (the reluctant rain-bearing cloud)  

[note:  Vritra is a snake that blocks water and causes draught — the snake was slain by Indra to bring rain]

Tatvamasi:  That Thou Art  

Soham:  That I Am

Hansa:  Swan

Can separate the milk from the water in the milky-ocean (apparent from the real)

Human Consciousness:  an awareness of coherence

knowledge is always centered

we are trying to cohere the world that we see

Yajnu:  fire sacrifice — renewing the cosmos

This & That

Sandhya:  meditation — renewing the microcosmos 

Man is defined as a mental being (etymologically) — composite of thoughts, sensations, will

Fire is a Being who has 7 Tongues:

Mental being specialize in truth constructions

  1. Kali:  black smoke
  2. Karali:  frightening spread
  3. Manojava:  fast flame tips “swift as thought”
  4. Sulohita:  bloody red
  5. Sudhumravarna:  white flaming smoke
  6. Sphudingini:  scintillating
  7. Viswarnchi:  Phoenix (cosmic delight) 
Life Force


Mental beings specialize in truth constructions

All truths are approximations to the real

Truth:  an attempt to make correspondence between subjective and objective worlds

Consciousness:  a state of coherence

Disappointment:  something predicted didn’t come out

— negative feedback, criticism — one of our greatest resources

Katha Upanishad:  lessons of death, the disappointment of mortality

Yama:  Death (negation, limits, ordainer)

(Spain, Russia, Ireland, India, Hebrews, etc.)  (Schopenhauer, Goethe)

Nachiketa:  innocent, naive, thoughtless, impertinent

Svadda:  openness, sincerity, faith — more than a perception (cognition and will)

knowledge and practice of truth are inseperable

[Parable] Father:  Conspicuous Philanthropy

Disguised act of self-promotion

was not giving up his most treasured property, but rather his useless objects

“To whom shall you give me, father?”  verbal arrow

No = symbolic version of death

— “to death I will give you” (answer hidden in the question — need to learn to state question correctly)

The Power of Svaddha

Yama:  the first step in Yoga

Manu:  the first man (mental being)

Yama:  the first mental being who died (experienced the limits of life)

Role:  the one who waits for everyone

he takes them to the land of the forefathers (reconcile the present with the past)

the one who judges

The Yoga Path (will over habit to regain freedom)

  1. Yama:  death to habituation — requires simplicity of Svaddha
  2. Niyama:  counter-negation — do not let non-conformity become a habit, it is not a personal crusade
  3. A Soma:  centering — literally, learning to sit
  4. Prana Yama:  link with cosmos — learning to regulate respiration (individual contact with the universe)
  5. Pratyahara:  turning away from food (intake) — mental reduction diet for self-indulgent fantasies
  6. Oharana:  process of holding
  7. Dhyana:  the point of holding
  8. Samadhi:  putting it in harmony — the effortlessness of will

Intermediaries to Brahman

Uma:  a certain grasp of truth which not even Indra has — represents a degree of complexity which is a reflection of the truth

Playing is the Given

Display is the social function

Power of Reproduction — Power of Death

Truth by Correlation (correspondences)

How do we establish Correspondences?

  1. constant connection
  2. necessary connection
  3. acausal connection

How do we Learn?

  1. disappointment
  2. imprinting (mantra)
  3. imagination

How do we make errors?

  1. fear
  2. anger
  3. passion
  4. sloth

How do we avoid errors?

  1. non-attachment, openness, integrity
  2. effort

Society and my body (senses)

taming the wild powers of imagination

everything had to be imagined before

The Thirst for Being (what is the full being?)

Atman is the acausal connection with the universe

Mundakha — 1) know your self-portrait, 2) learn to watch someone sleep


The Gita (The Song)

Confrontation with Fear, Death, Confusion

Archer rationalizes his unheroic behavior

“had lost his memories” — recovers in 18 chapters

“Man is never what he says he is, he is always what he wants to be.”  Schopenhauer

Freud and Marx missed the sovereignty of the will — means of running away from the problem in sophisticated ways.

The Art of Living and the Art of Dying involve commitment



Person:  Multiverse


  Transcendental Ego (Atma)

            Vijnaya (subjective knowledge)

  Empirical Ego (Jiva)


Self (Swa)

Celestial Beings (Bhuva)

Natural Sciences (Bhu) 

[For formatting purposes, I changed the diagram.  Here is how it first appeared in my notes.]

Time:  The Interpretation

You must take hold of your own perceptions — do not bask in others’

Yoga-Sutras:  Touch is the only immediate verification, the only way to build a personal sense of reality

Life is a tension between living and dying.

The Veil can never be removed (like a man trying to sit on his own shoulders, you can think of it)

Man is both the subject and the object of nature.  Disappointment is the greatest teacher — leads to introspection.

Nature:  Prakriti:  Maya

nature is differentiation (error)

Person:  Parusha

the subject who understands he is object

critical self-consciousness

dialogue is the given — develop it

Veil cannot be uplifted, only penetrated through effort and non-attachment

abhyasa vairagva (removing the colors)

Sankhya:  elaborate classification

Without introspection, we are preoccupied with Maya

First understand what is around us (Prakriti)

5 Gross Elements (earth, air, fire, water, space)

5 Subtle Elements (sound, smell, touch, taste, light)

Human Body:  10 Organs

5 of perception, 5 of action (speech, grasping. locomotion, reproduction, procreation)

receiver and actor in the environment

Manas (the mind) still defined in bodily terms

the 6th organ of perception and action

The Integrator

Ahankara:  I am-ness

Developmental History

Child begins to understand the difference between I and Me.

— the unequal situation (appears) — playful ways to get even.

Transpersonal I:  kinship with other humans and the universe (Boddhi)

awakening — “alarm clock” — discrimination

Mahat:  the great discriminator

Prakriti ——————> Purusha

Clarificaton:  beyond inertia and motion and tranquility

Gunas:  tamas, rajas, sattwa (isness, thatness, tranquility)

Develop your self without trampling others

Rajas:  activity (hysteria)

Tamas:  inertia, darkness (depression)

Beyond the 3 Gunas, to be free even from freedom!

[Gunas = going out]

Archaic Consciousness

Upasana:  meditation, education

Sandhya:  meeting point (time)

Sunrise/Sunset:  moment of birth

Regeneration of time, agreement

Tirtha:  ford, a place of crossing (space)

Acceptance of Universe

We are caught in temporal and spatial processes, but these can be suspended any time we want to regain ontic-fullness — a break from the ultimate pursuit of activity.

Images, Visions:  stimulation of the mind’s eye

Comes out of language in metaphor

Indwelling — plunging into the greagt lives of mythical heroes

Ritual is very important to transcend the ego — pay homage to great mythical heroes.

Cannot be neutral during moments of Inspiration

Sam Vega:  aesthetic shock, transports from mundane historical existence

There are times more conducive to awakening — how much do we have to lose in order to gain emotionally that is harmonized.  Contrast to A Vega  — rank emotionality (unharmonized).

Universe is governed by obligations.

Teacher has 3 Main Functions

  1. to enunciate the body of knowledge that is being transmitted — set basic outline (siksha = sounds right)
  2. exposition or filling out (upadesa upapatti = formed right)
  3. Initiation — to plunge into (diksha):  once the knowledge is received, make it a part of oneself — diffuse it through your being

Exemplary Beings:  prophets, visionaries who suspended or transcended time and space (the sense of eternity).

Darsana:  Vision — philosophy is the ability to see the unknown regions of knowledge

Kavi:  Seer — poetry is the ability to see images, how to differentiate authentic images from spurious images.  Concern with the genesis of knowledge rather than the self. 

Superimposition = Adhyaropana

3 Different Kinds of Events

  1. synchronous and non-synchronous
  2. contingent and non-contingent
  3. causal and non-causal

Art is the expression of the information of ideal beauty.

Men perceived as gods, animals, machines…

How to raise the I-It relationship to an I-Thou relationship [Freud/Buber]

Superimposition of signs on symbols, making them common-place.

Not only can we regenerate the life in life, but we can also generate life in tokens.

How the Universe Affects Us:  9 Principal Moods (tranquility)

  1. sense of mystery (strangeness)
  2. erotic sense
  3. heroic mood
  4. comical
  5. tragic
  6. disgust
  7. frightening
  8. anger

Ek-Stasis:  breaking out

En-Stasis:  developing within

a sense of unification (love) with concreteness

4 modes:  lovers, parent-child, friends, master-servant

Overcoming the I-It barrier.

The Idea of the Holy Rudolph Otto

“Erschauern” [shiver] (fear, respect, majesty, fascination) the affective presence of an immediate presence.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom (Kali, Yahweh)

Humans try to assimilate the “wholly other” into the human realm

There are things beyond the human grasp — must remind ourselves that it is an alien force that supports the universe. (Atman was the attempt to know Brahman)

Mysterious, furious, terrible

Atithi Devo Bhava:  God is the stranger

Atithi, Tithi = date (one who follows a different calendar — cannot be made to follow human calendar)

The Progression of Fire

  1. blackness
  2. terrifying energy
  3. tongues of flame (thoughts)
  4. conflagration — overflowing red
  5. purple overflowing
  6. scintillating sparks
  7. phoenix (golden) arises out of the ashes

The Supreme Assertion:  to defy death willingly until the bitter end — to die willingly with no complaints — assert life through death


To strive for fullness of being — only true activity

— become like cultural heroes

— become like the gods

— become like the source

To free oneself from Subjectivity

Creation = over-flowing generosity, comes from (has a share in) the Creator — the original creation.

Every worship is poetry in action, to participate in the creation

Ritual of Eating = Primal Man Consuming Time

The Transformation of Nature in Art, Ananda K. Coomaraswany

The Crest Jewel of Discrimination, S. Prabharananda, C. Isherwood

4 Types of Mentality (Temperaments), Hymn to the Primal Person (Rig Veda)

  1. intuitive, imaginative, mythic, poetic (subtle)
  2. bridge between subtle and gross
  3. pre-occupation with gross (visible)
  4. happy and unconcerned with distinctions

How do we tame individuality (subjectivity)?

The New World:  symbol of the individual separating from society — wandering as a process of emergence

Develop a strong “I” in order to shed it.

To be a great teacher, you must merge with the greatness of your teacher.

Initiation:  restoration of lost memory (recollect)

5 Barriers to Overcoming Subjectivity (Yoga Sutras)

  1. primordial delusion (superimposition) that universe is to be understood strictly in terms of ego-processes (mistaken identity).
  2. sense of personal authorship (“I am the doer”)
  3. hedonistic model of behavior — search for pleasure and avoidance of pain(ful truths)
  4. clinging to habit

Wise Man should not be co-opted by society, but neither should be co-opted by pride.


The drummer who drums alone and obliterates time and space

After the performance, he abideth alone in his happiness 

(The Primordial Drummer Who Never Stops Drumming)

A true Dancer is unaware that she is dancing (freedom)

To attain freedom from error — time trying to attain eternity

Deep Sleep as the state before and beyond Desire

Desire creates dualities

Deep Sleep absorbs dualities

The beats of the drum, the steps of the dance, come together in a statement of life

Must be done correctly, but correctness is not enough to become a symbol

Play (Lila):  not instrumental behavior, has no discernable purpose (games are corrupted play)

The King of Dancers:  where does the cosmic dance take place?

The Center of the Universe and the Center of the Heart (Shiva)

The Drum:  creation of the universe

The Fire:  destruction of the universe (changes, but does not obliterate)

The Palm:  fearlessness, security — the finger points to uplifted foot = ambiguity (but to those who know, it is freedom)

Creation —>  Preservation —>  Destruction —>  Freedom

One foot is always grounded in subjectivity (forgetfulness)

Ambiguity:  it is, and it is not

destruction (negation) is the taming of subjectivity

the multiverse of the universe

Sense Heirarchy

sight (modern emphasis)

sound (archaic synthesis of all senses)




One cannot see the invisible, but there are ways of sensing it

The Sounds of the Universe

With the right sounds, we can penetrate the mysteries of the universe that cannot be penetrated by sights (Om)

Bali — The Dawn of the World [Bhuwan used the clashing of symbols to re-enact the birth of sound, such as heard in gamelan music.]

Truth is always ancient, never new — that which steers things through all things

Sanatana:  that which is eternal

(Scriabin:  Poem of Ecstacy)

Logos Rta

Ariostos (character) Dharma

Breathing as the basic repetition.

2 Kinds of Sounds

Unstruck Sounds:  silence (universe of unstruck sounds is the original universe)

Struck Sounds:  audible universe comes from unstruck sounds — this is the smaller universe

Is the sound of a Bell from the Clapper or the Bell?  — it comes from the two against each other

Language reveals not through adjectives, but interjections

world cursing and universe bestowing

these reveal rather than hide

Regenerate time = now

Regenerate space = here

Regenerate life = we are the primordial beings

Brahma Muhurta:  primordial moment before creation or dissolution

Regeneration of Time — body, mind, speech

Vedic Initiation (Sandhya)

  1. Achaman — sipping of water, purification
  2. Indriya Sparsa — touching of body parts (body becomes center of universe)
  3. Sprinkling of water on body parts — energizing the body
  4. Pranayama — learning to breathe with dignity, keeping the whole body of the cosmos alive (layers)
  5. Repetition of Vows:  protection from corruptions in mundane world
  6. Second sipping of water
  7. Mental Circumambulation — traveling through the universe mentally — 10 directions (4 cardinal directions, 4 diagonal directions, 2 zeniths)
  8. Upasthana:  approaching the presence of the great one, a series of praises (if the other steps have been done with the proper attitude)
  9. The Great Savitri (mantra):  this is asking permission to meditate on the splendor that illuminates the whole world (The Great Vivifier, inner and outer)
  10.   Offerings — homage, submission
  11. Further Offerings
  12. Peace Incantations

The Mystery of Sounds (the flesh and blood of rituals)

Science as Magic vs. Science as Technology (science that has lost its head)

Works of Art as Magical Products — can accomplish purposes 

Science as Mythology, principles of explanation (scientists as storytellers who incessantly worry that their story may be wrong)

Sounds that help us transcend the profane space

Pure sound is above lyrics and words — the ultimate ingredient is very simple:  the voice as recreating the primordial time

What does the profane say to the sacred?  Samsa (praise) — if you truly praise the ancestors, you will become like them

Mellifluous:  the creation of sounds spiraling up

Shattering:  the destruction of sounds descending, falling down

Praise is the bond of affectivity — to learn the non-judgmental mode (or positive judgment)

Suspending Space — The Fire Sacrifice — the ultimate transformer

Fire as the best messenger upwards — the power of the daemon

The efficacy of the sacrifice depends on the faith of the practitioner (sraddha)


  1. lay the bricks in a certain way (sometimes in the shape of a phoenix)
  2. 3 People:  conductor (chants), assistant (libations), silent witness (spirit of sacrifice)\


  1. Sipping of Water (maintain attitude of faith) 
  2. Symbolic washing of parts of person (sense and locomotion)
  3. Fire put in sacrificial plate (ask permission to contemplate fire)
  4. Fan the Fire
  5. Feed fire with fuel
  6. Offer liquid fuel
  7. Sprinkle water and repeat incantation
  8. Offer more clarified butter:  sparks — the sign of the messenger
  9. Praise (Projapati, the lord of life)

How did the Lord of Life create the universe?  The basic element, desire.

How we copulate with our desires

Projapati wanted to be many, so he copulated with his desires

We create our desires and copulate with them — incestuous relationship

a single desire becomes many, but when Projapati is tired, we must maintain the world for him/her  — desire always eludes.

3 Levels of Initiation

  1. participation in the cosmic heirophany
  2. teacher and initiate (new life and/or power) — life is a condition of potency
  3. human social indoctrination

Always a Process of Renewal

Must be an incredible process, results in ascending, regeneration, re-invigoration — then return to the credible.

Fire is the support of the universe — it dwells in the hearts of the wise

Katha Upanishad  (Initiation by King of Death)

there is the good and the pleasant — he who chooses the pleasant misses the end

Pleasure & Knowledge — knowledge that is beyond reason, beyond cause and effect

Om:  light and shadow

Nachiketa (नचिकेत) The Thoughtless One

naive mind, free from preoccupations —> the perfect learner

Death initiating Life —  qualified as a teacher, death verifies life

(The Origin of the Species is the presence of death in life — the transformation of life)

Affirmation through Negation, Life Devouring Life (the tragic sense of life)

3 Deeper Urges than any normal temporal temptation (power, profit, fame — the temptations of death)

The True, the Beautiful, and the Good as One

Judgement is a human intervention

It is incumbent on teachers to find students to transmit the knowledge, pass on the tradition of truth

One should not travel to wander aimlessly in pleasant obscurity

A pilgrimage should always return to where it started from — must return to the affair of life.

Romantic Hero fights to return from exile, to regain paradise.

Indians did not believe they were ever in exile, that we only forget the home in which we live

They did not separate Sky from Earth, but rather it was meant for them to be married [Black Elk]

Black Elk

Submission:  purification prepares the initiate with the proper attitude

Submission is not just a personal act, but something with an inherent community responsibility.

Dance:  an affirmation of life (balancing of tensions)

Why do we affirm?  

a time of need — every time is a time of need, particularly when the presence of death is the strongest

recognition of the symbols of death — irrelevant things become relevant

Infiltrators of Truth/Practitioners of the Profane

Phillip Rieff,, The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud, Fellow Teachers:  Of Culture and Its Second Death, Freud:  the Mind of a Moralist

researchers & therapuetics

want money want praise

Truth cannot be learned without submission and discipline, free from sadism and masochism

Cultural Revolution in China put man over machine, put peasant over technician

must turn inward to find truth rather than run wander (or run) away

Endless resources to solve a difficulty (or problem) exist at any place and time

A culture has the resources of its own solution

Must understand the Local, or you don’t understand the Universal

If there is a problem, the worst thing you can do is to ban it (must deal with your culture)


Buddhist Reaffirmations (3 Jewels)

  1. submit to the exemplary being
  2. submit to the truth
  3. submit to the community of truth

Breathing:  Intercourse with the World

doesn’t draw in air properly

doesn’t let out air properly


True understanding and true delusion both have a mandala

Pure form — not determined by contents or uses

Archaic people did not segregate psychotic people from social life

Mandala — as it divides, it unifies

They exist in all cultures, but can be forgotten (amnesia)

Depression — unwillingness to wake up

Freud studied neurotics, Jung studied psychotics

Neurotic Triangle:  hypomania, depression, hypochondria

6 Human Conditions (psychological states)

Poetic Speech  the mandala of grammar is almost broken — a different kind of mandala communicates

  1. gods (power and philanthropy)
  2. titans (power)
  3. humans (weakness)
  4. night spirits (haunting paranoia)
  5. animals (deliberate forgetfulness)
  6. citizens of hell (loss of will)

Schizophrenic Speech  the mandala of grammar is broken — a different kind of mandala fails to communicate

Mandala  statement of integration inherent in consciousness

mandala as a means of reintegration

Initiation  to reground, bring back the mandala 

Pure Form:  contentless (empty)    <Grace>

Grounded by content (ego)          <Causality>

Breaking sunlight into constituent elements:  white light —> colored lights (truth as colors)

Pacifiers (Suppressors of Thought)

Chewing Gum (for mouth)

TV (for eyes)

Muzak (for ears)

Difference between perceptual truth and conceptual truth (e.g. mathematics)

From a stable to a dynamic universe

  1. red – differences
  2. yellow – unification of differences
  3. blue – a return to source  (origins, human system of truth —> numinous system of truth —intimations of immortality (reality) should be approached effortlessly, without ambition (truth as life-enriching)
  4. white – transcendent

Mutuality:  relative (blue) reaching out for white (absolute)  empirical <—> transcendent

Causal Nexus:  Links to 6 human conditions

the tying of knots and the untying of knots (effect <—> cause)


12.   Death:  Corpse

11.   Birth:  Childbirth

10.   Pregnancy:  Copulation

9.    Clinging:  man reaching for fruit

8.    Craving:  woman offers drink to seated man

7.    Feeling:  man and woman embracing

6.    Touch:  man with arrow in his eye

5.    6 Sensory Fields:  6 empty houses

4.    Name/Form:  boat with 4 passengers, monkey steering

3.    Consciousness:  monkey climbing a tree

2.    Habits:  potter making pots endlessly   

1.    Ego Delusion:  blind man feeling way with stick

Mythological Landscape:  walking as initiation, the land as a feeling

To lose a sense of self and become the land in a flow of (hidden) moods

The Absolute is in the Relative

energy = father matter = mother

Alchemy:  Philosopher’s Stone

turn matter (base metal) into gold (pure consciousness)

Matter is Gold

Elixir of Life:  turn mortality into immortality (essential juice of matter)

truth — mortality is immortality

Consciousness is embedded in Matter

Matter is the Potentiality of Consciousness — different gradations of matter

(Waiting is a Period of Grace — letting results become manifest) (receptivity and the gift in the process of transmutation)

3 Processes of Alchemy

  1. dissolve everything (mass of confusions)
  2. wait for coagulation
  3. resulting metal synthesis (rebirth)

Joyous acceptance of the world — we need the base metals for the new synthesis

Tantra:  Sexual Symbolism

The Miracle of Life (birth)

Symbol of Creation as Union of Opposites

Mating as the fulfillment of Love

Creation as a Consummation

The world is inherently lovable

(Manipulation:  first we turn ourselves into an object — ego — then we turn everything else into an object)

Sulphur (male) & Mercury (female)

Salt (synthesis)

Subjective Alchemy vs. Objective Alchemy — objective alchemy needs modern physics

Ramakrishna  [Joshi assigned Romain Rolland’s biography]


What do you do when the ground pulls you down?  You raise yourself up with the help of the ground.

Ramakrishna used the passions — they were not hindrances, but vehicles (as is the intellect)

World is not to be rejected — use Maya to transcend Maya

(distinctive of alchemy, Tantra, Ramakrishna)  [include Hasidic concept of the Evil Urge]

Everything you need, you have — process of self-realization

(coiled spring = latent energy)

Lust — learn how to become a child (woman as mother)

Envy — community as life-style, community as devourer

Woman as Sukti (Maya which allows itself to be transcended)

Sukti as Shiva

The Earth always assimilates the foreigners

The return of the Goddess to foreign masculinity (the intrusion of Calcutta)

It is at the Lotus of the heart that one hears the unstruck sounds (lotus-meanings)

(struck sounds = sounds of duality)

Central nervous system and Conceptual nervous system (Donald Hebb) 

Susamna (?) Potentiality

Ida (vowels) — negation

Pingala (consonants) — affirmation

16 vowels, 36 (-2) consonants


  1. Basic Source  (basic) — red:  4 petals
  2. Individuated Self (genital) — vermillion:  6 petals
  3. Navel Plexus (navel) — blue-black:  10 petals
  4. Unstruck Sounds (heart) — red:  12 petals (transition – divine enters)
  5. Purity Center (vowels) — purple:  16 petals
  6. Command Center (white) — 2 petals
  7. White — 1,000 petals

50 Letters in 20 Mandalas

This is the end of my notes from Bhuwan’s classes.

Mircea Eliade
Author of:
The Sacred and the Profane
Rites and Symbols of Initiation

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