Carl Jung explored the psychological meaning of mandalas. He saw mandalas as symbolic of the inner process by which individuals grow toward fulfilling their potential for wholeness. In the
mandalas created by his patients, Jung saw a natural process of generating and resolving inner conflicts that brings about greater complexity, harmony, and stability in the personality.
Mandalas are important indicators of the process of personal growth that moves you toward fulfilling your particular identity and purpose in life. The mandalas we create indicate our
"premonition of a center of personality, a kind of central point within the psyche, to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which is itself a source of energy.
The energy of the central point is manifested in the almost irresistible compulsion and urge to
become what one is, just as every organism is driven to assume the form that is characteristic of its nature, no matter what the circumstances" (1973: 73).
According to Jung, the powerful, generative center of our inner reality is the Self. This point of focus within us cannot be directly
known. It remains outside of awareness, in the unconscious, and yet its pattern guides our psychological development throughout
life. The Self is the true center of personality, but we are much more familiar with the ego, that which we know as "I." The ego
seems to us to be of central importance because we can know it directly with our conscious mind.
Whether or not you are aware of the Self, it exerts a powerful influence on your life. The quality
of your conscious existence --your level of energy, your sense of harmony or confusion, and whether or not your life feels meaningful-- all are largely determined by the connection between
ego and Self. When ego and Self are in harmony, much energy is freed for thinking, caring, and creating. When ego and Self are not closely connected, life can seem flat and boring. There is
little energy available for accomplishing things in the outer world.
The Self exists from the beginning of life and guides the development of your ego. Your ego
develops within the matrix of the Self and even after it separates from the Self-- when, as a child, you begin to speak of yourself as "I"-- your ego remains connected to the Self (Edinger, 1987).
Throughout life the Self acts as a guarantor for your ego. When stress, inner conflicts, or expanding consciousness challenge your
ego, the natural order of the Self comes forward and restores harmony. Sometimes the Self instigates change when your ego is stuck in a pattern that is not in keeping with your true character…
During such times we feel compelled to create mandalas. Jung found that, "mandalas usually appear in situations of psychic
confusion and perplexity" (Jung, 1973:vi). People who have little training in art suddenly find themselves drawing and painting
mandalas because it just feels right to do so. Instinctively they turn to mandalas to contain their experience, to open themselves to the guidance of the Self, and to listen to the voice of God within.