July 25th, 2020
It is curious how often the medieval symbolists give diametrically opposed interpretations of the same symbol, apparently without becoming aware of the far-reaching and dangerous possibility that the unity of the symbol implies the identity of the opposites. (Jung & Hull, 1959/1968, p. 129 para 196)
This piece of limestone offers contradictory characteristics. It is rock solid, and it has a hole in the middle created by water erosion. It is rock solid, and the roots of the plants are embedded into it as they grow. It is not alive and contains fossils of life lived long ago. It is a wall that disrupts the view, and a frame for what is behind it. It is in contrast and in harmony with its environment.
The challenge of our times with Covid-19 and the racial injustice protests is their interpretations hold the tension of opposites. The rules of engagement are followed and challenged. The dynamics protect and deconstruct. The value of each is open to interpretation of distinction and inclusion. The leadership wavers depending on where you live and is often drawn along political party lines. The position often depends on whether there is belief in the value of science. Our current events are contradictory and complex. They demand consideration, dialogue, and negotiation.
I know I like things to be simple; a rock is a rock, no wavering. The image gives the complexity beauty and illustration of the importance of flexible thinking. So, my challenge is to hold the image of contemporary living and include the opposites so I can find resolution rather than destruction. It is up to me to provide guidance to the separation and inclusion dynamics living in our society today.
Each one of us believes that our value system, our perception of our reality is rock solid. This may be based on our personal experience, our religious and political beliefs, our cultural framework, our racial history and our subjective view of ourselves, others, the world and the future. We project this subjective and limited reality onto the objective world and create our own relative reality. But each one of the seven billion earthlings have their own objective world. So our personal, rock solid world-view has 7 billion holes in it! The task of a civilization is to reconcile these 7 billion worlds in one continuum. The saving grace is that these holes give us a rich view of the world beyond our apparently rock solid but porous subjective world-view into the world beyond our puddle of personal consciousness. While this is humbling to our Narcissistic sensibilities, but if we can transcend this injury to our healthy Narcissism, we get a glimpse into a mysterious world with its infinite possibilities. Can you accept that while it is broad daytime in America, at the same time, it is the middle of the night in India and Australia?
That is the way.
Some Points to Ponder:
How do you determine what guidance to follow?
How do you engage/avoid contradiction?
What do you do when your thinking and feeling are not in alignment?
How do you create a bridge of opposing ideas?
What is your personal, subjective world-view especially as it relates to Racial Justice and Pandemic response?
Are you open to other opinions especially of experts and victims in the matter of managing the pandemic and restoring social and racial justice?
Are you willing and able to synthesize a complex and nuanced response to these contemporary crises rather than a black or white, simplistic response to these challenges?
Do you have humility, wisdom and courage to implement difficult solutions to these problems even if they mean challenging your personal views and making necessary sacrifices?
Do you feel alone or part of human community in these crises?
Do you see the potential of a new and exciting world through the holes in your rock-solid view?
Photo taken in Sydney, Australia.
Jung, C. G., & Hull, R. F. C. (1959/1968). Aion : researches into the phenomenology of the self (2nd ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst
Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist
In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick an image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH. D