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Contemporary Voices from Anima Mundi

A Reappraisal

Edited By Frédérique Apffel-Marglin and Stefano Varese

This book is a reconsideration of spirituality as a lived experience in the lives of the contributors. The authors speak both as well-informed scholars and as individuals who experienced the lived spirituality they give voice to. The authors do not place themselves above and outside of what they are writing about but within that world. They speak of living psychospiritual traditions of healing both the self and the world; of traditions that have not disembedded the self from the wider world. Those traditions are from indigenous North and South America (5 essays), a Buddhist/Shakta from Bengal, an Indo-Persian Islamic psychoanalyst, and a mystical Jewish feminist rabbi. The book also includes a historical essay about the extermination of the Renaissance worldview of Anima Mundi.

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Chapter Eight: Mapping the Chiasmus (Neela Bhattacharya Saxena)


chapter eight

Mapping the Chiasmus

Liberating Patterns in a Planetary Mandala

neela bhattacharya saxena

Stare at the canvas as if it is your own blank mind and locate the center. Concentrate and you can even see the grains on the page. Your eyes operate as your will as you find the point of composition. Put a dot there with your pencil. Then measure the distance from the sides, up and down. Depending on the state of your internal environment, the dot will either be left or right leaning, pushed up or drawn down. The canvas is your own body, so draw yourself; discover whether you are comparatively emotional or are stuck in brain chatter. Using your compass, draw a circle from the dot, which is the center of your anahata chakra, the heart center. (Satpurananda 2013, pers. comm.)

These were some of the instructions given by Kulavadhuta Satpurananda, my guru, as he taught a class recently in a small art school in Kolkata on the art and mathematics of Tantric mandalas. Satpurananda (also known in the sangha community as Baba or Khyapababa, “Crazy Father”) demonstrated how to make a Tara mandala through playful and yet serious instructions.

In 2013, when I first attended such a class that, in a strange synchronicity, my guru taught at my home in the United States, I had no clue what was going on. However, almost right away, I started to see the...

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