February 13th, 2021
There is no position without its negation. In spite or just because of their extreme opposition, neither can exist without the other. It is exactly as formulated in classical Chinese philosophy: yang (the light, warm, dry, masculine principle) contains within it the seed of yin (the dark, cold, moist, feminine principle) and vice versa. Matter therefore would contain the seed of spirit and spirit the seed of matter. (Jung, 1934/1954/1968, p. 109 para 197)
This image is from a Chinese garden which displays the interplay of opposing forces—a doctrine of harmony and balance. As I celebrate the Chinese New Year, my contemporary self feels in touch with their ancient wisdom.
As I look at the image, I find many opposing forces, still, flowing, hard, soft, straight, curved, liquid, solid, light, dark, constructed, natural, air, earth, etc. Internally, I experience beauty and serenity as I resonate with the balance in the photo. Everything seems to be in peaceful harmony. I am grateful to a culture that promotes true wholeness.
My challenge is to allow opposing forces within myself to exist in balance. There are times that I identify with one side and engage resistance against the other, even making the other an enemy to eliminate it. I get caught up trying to have one aspect “win” over the other. Then, in that victory, want that other to no longer exist. This dynamic does not allow inner diversity nor is it real. When I see my inner life like a photograph, I see foreground and background. I can ask myself what is in focus, and what needs be in focus without losing the benefit of the whole picture. I also can ask what is out of focus and what effect does that have.
I benefit when my wholeness includes yang and yin, each a seed within the whole of the other. It is proper balance of opposing forces, the right amount of the right ingredient at the right time.
In the Hindu scriptures of Samkhya Sutra(Aniruddha, Mahādevānandasarasvatī, Garbe, & Asiatic Society of Bengal., 1888; Kapila, 2016 (1850); Kapila, Vijñānabhikṣu, & Garbe, 1889; Podgorski, 1974; Sovanī, Īśvarakr̥ṣṇa, & Kapila, 1935), it is said that originally, all of creation was undifferentiated as Brahman. Then it got bored and split into two, Spirit and Matter – Purusha and Prakriti. However, both remained isolated without communion. They are like a strong blind person – the Purusha and the lame seeing person, the Prakriti. They decided to collaborate, the lame person on the shoulder of the blind person, guiding the blind person. Now the blind person could go to different places and experience the smell, the sounds, the tastes, the music, the vibrations of infinite environments; but they had to work as a team. Whenever Purusha and Prakriti collaborate, a new universe, a new consciousness is created. This is the creation myth of the Hindus.
The three modes of engagement between mind and matter, consciousness and body are the three Gunas – Tamas or passive, Rajas or active and Sattva or balanced. When Tamas and Rajas are in optimal balance for a given time, individual and situation, then it goes into a lucid or balanced Sattvic state of balance or lucidity. A Sattvic mind/body continuum is essential for physical, mental and spiritual health of an individual, society and the Universe. The forces of light and dark, activity and passivity, masculine and feminine, Purusha and Prakriti must be balanced. Then we get it right.
At this juncture, I do not plan to overwhelm the readers with a detailed exposition of the correlation between the Gunas and the Doshas. However, for sake of completion for those of you who are initiated into this wisdom, I would clarify that the Tamas Guna has primacy of Kapha Dosha, the Rajas Guna has excess of Pitta Dosha and the Sattvic Guna has preponderance of Vatta Dosha.
Each one of us must assess how you balance these tendencies in your nature and are they consistent with the call of the situation at hand. As the Book of Ecclesiastes counsels, us wisely,
On Appointed Time
1 To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
For every time there is an optimal response by each individual and society. For humanity, it is a time for peace, for reconciliation and collaboration. Our existence and survival depends upon it.
Points to Ponder:
- In this time of Chinese Lunar New Year, what is my wish?
- How do I balance my life?
- What does wholeness mean to me?
- What seeds inside me will growth this year?
- Have you been passive in midst of the current pandemic?
- In what ways have you been passive?
- Have you been active in response to the pandemic and other crisis?
- In what manner have you been active?
- Do you feel that your response to the present world and personal crisis is balanced with passive when called for, active when necessary and discerning?
- Have you displayed the courage to change what you can change, accept with humility what you cannot change and have prayed and contemplated to know the difference?
Aniruddha, Mahādevānandasarasvatī, Garbe, R., & Asiatic Society of Bengal. (1888). The Sâṃkhya sûtra vṛitti, or, Aniruddha’s commentary and the original parts of Vedântin Mahâdeva’s commentary to the Sâṃkhya sûtras. Calcutta: Asiatic Society.
Jung, C. G. (1934/1954/1968). The archetypes and the collective unconscious (2d ed. Vol. 9). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Kapila. (2016 (1850)). A Lecture on the Sankhya Philosophy. Mirzapure, Benaras University, India: Wentworth Press.
Kapila, Vijñānabhikṣu, & Garbe, R. (1889). Sâṃkhya-pravacana-bhâshya, Vijñânabhikshu’s commentar zu den Sâmkhyasûtras. Leipzig: In Commission bei F. A. Brockhaus.
Podgorski, F. R. (1974). Śaṃkara’s critique of sāṃkhyan causality in the Brahma sūtra bhāsya. Boston?: Seton Hall University, Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy?
Sovanī, V. V., Īśvarakr̥ṣṇa, & Kapila. (1935). A critical study of the Sāṅkhya system on the line of the Sāṅkhya-kārikā, Sāṅkhya-sūtra, and their commentaries : being the research paper submitted to the University of Allahabad with the addition of an English and Sanskrit introduction and the texts of the Sāṅkhya-kārikā, and the Sāṅkhya sūtra. Poona: Oriental Book Agency.
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