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Book Reviews Perceptions Magazine, October 2021

Revised Edition of The African Unconscious [originally published in 1999]
Our African Unconscious:
The Black Origins of Mysticism and Psychology
By Edward Bruce Bynum, Ph.D., ABPP
Foreword by Linda James Myers, Ph.D.

Inner Traditions
Bear & Company
One Park Street
Rochester, Vermont 05767
September 2021, 480 pages, 6 x 9 Paperback, $22.99
27 b&w illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-64411-396-7

Reviewed by Brent Raynes

The author of this book does a very comprehensive and compelling job of revealing the all too often neglected role that Africa played in the earliest stages of humankind’s development. And that would not be just in regards to the fossil record evidence, but also our very humanity, of the emergence of civilization itself – that while Western thought tends to emphasize how civilization was spawned from the Greeks, Egypt, and various other Mediterranean cultures, we all have a deep connection to what he describes as a kind of primordial African unconscious.

Carl Jung is mentioned and quoted a good bit in this volume. He is best known for the term “collective unconscious,” and all of those archetypes that reside therein. To Dr. Bynum all humans, irregardless of their ethnic or racial backgrounds, are part of a deeper core identity that draws upon psychic and genetic processes that are intertwined with the “African unconscious,” or Jung’s “collective unconscious” if you wish.

Dr. Bynum is a clinical psychologist and the former director of the behavioral medicine program at the University of Massachusetts Health Services, in addition to being a 2005 recipient of the Abraham H. Maslow Award from the American Psychological Association. He’s the author of other books such as The Dreamlife of Families, The Roots of Transcendence, and Dark Light Consciousness, and maintains a website at: www.obeliskfoundation.com. He remains in private practice in Hadley, Massachusetts and is also a practitioner of Kundalini Yoga. “At base, all the great world religions and mythologies share a common language and symbol system that is a reflection of our shared human unconscious,” Dr. Bynum explains. “The great lineages of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and the Yogas of India that spawned Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, in this sense, have an African unconscious root.”

The author then points out that these traditions, at their core, are linked with the phenomenon of Kundalini. “It is ubiquitous throughout the whole of African and African diasporic peoples, especially in the realm of psychospiritual experiences.”

Dr. Bynum touches upon how West African disciplines are very relevant to the concept of Kundalini, and though Kundalini’s association is usually with Kundalini Yoga’s origin with India’s warrior class of the Sikh religion, the practices of the !Kung people of southwest Africa clearly, for example, are manifesting the same psychic energy as India’s Kundalini.

The author taps into today’s quantum physics, linking the NDE (near-death experience) with a self-contained “energy” presence that passes from this world to another via a tunnel, or what the physics people call a “wormhole,” the “Einstein-Rosen bridge.” Another bridge connecting science with spirituality.

Sunday, July 14, 2024