A Matter of Balance

The tension of the opposites

In the Eye of the Storm

An individual response to the Global Crisis

ISSN 1939-3407

May 13, 2020

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.

It became abundantly clear to me that life can flow forward only along the path of the gradient. But there is no energy unless there is a tension of opposites: hence it is necessary to discover the opposite to the attitude of the conscious mind.(Jung, 1956, p. 53)

The spectrum of life shows in the branches. Some buds are just beginning to sprout out of the stem while other blossoms have opened and are closer to the end of their life. I can feel the reaching of youth and the relaxation of age. The primary colors in the photo are the key combination ingredients for our visual engagement. There is a contrast between space and plant life.

Jung’s statement regarding the flow of life is a notable foundation. My mind chews opposing ideas like bubble gum that I stretch out or make a bubble then chew it again. When I engage an idea, I consider its favorable and unfavorable aspects, benefits and risks. But, of course, all of that could just be within my thinking function. Then, I might move it into the feeling function which might not be in complete agreement to my thinking. So there does not have to be opposition necessarily, just simply more reflection before proceeding along the decision path.

There can be guard rails for the path as well. The plant in the photo has its branches to live on. Similarly, I can have a moral code, philosophy, or religious support, etc. to steer my life in its direction. Then the choice then becomes keep the guard/guide rail or not. The tension of the opposites creates an ongoing energy of living.

Our unconscious has its own mysterious to create a tension arc that we call the Flow of our Life. Each one of us is riddled with these tensions of the opposites in our psyche. We struggle whether we will be guided by heroism or love, bravery or trickery, battle or dialogue, fight or run, survive to strive. Any of these is a tension arc which creates a unique energy flow in each one of us and between us, others and the world around us.

Some of these tensions of the opposites in our communal response to COVAD-19 pandemic. It creates a unique tension arc. If we explore these tension arcs with integrity and openness, we will be enriched in a collective and unified response to the crisis. If we set up an adversarial attuite to those who offer these tension arcs, we will degrade our response to detriment of all.

The most apparent tension of the opposites that I choose to amplify today is the Typological tension between individuals.(Jung, 1981) I chose this theme because of the dream I had this morning and I wish to gift it to all of our readers as their individual dream. Here is part of that dream

I am presenting a lecture to a group of my patients at a local Addiction treatment program. I have been presenting to this group on Baby Steps on the Path to Recovery for over 15 years. I am discussing with them that each individual carry two pairs of opposites in their personality. But for optimal adaptation to life and recovery, we need to put all four into play. After my lecture, I go to the central building, which now happens to be my primary Jesuit school in India: the St. Xavier’s primary school. There a bunch of school girls are putting marigold garlands as headbands – a common practice in India. Later, I go to the school cafeteria and the chef, a nice matronly lady feeds me some vegetarian tacos.

The pair of opposites in discussed in the dream are as follows

The dream had a very soothing impact on me. It outlined the formulae that we could use in the pandemic response. We need to factor in the logical, scientific thinking and balance it with feelings about reclaiming our freedom of movement and economy, the information we have about the pandemic with the intuition we have about restoration of life and function going forward. The dream showed playful, pretty primary school girls celebrating marigold garlands in their hairstyle, usually an auspicious occasion in India and the chef mother feeding me – the blessing of the archetype of the Great Mother in these difficult times.

Each one of you may treat this as your own dream to balance your response to the pandemic.

Some Points to Ponder:

  1. What gradient was your life on before the pandemic?
  2. What has the pandemic done to it?
  3. How does discovering the opposite influence your journey/decision?
  4. How do you engage the energy of opposition to resolution?
  5. How do you choose your life guidelines?
  6. Are you responding to the pandemic from a context of logic or feelings?
  7. Do you have an intuition of how you need to optimize your response to the crisis versus the information you have?
  8. Are your intuition and information in sync.?

Photo taken in Palm Desert, California

Jung, C. G. (1956). Two essays on analytical psychology: Meridian Books.

Jung, C. G. (1981). Psychological types, Volume 6 (Vol. ol. 6). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.