Light and Shadow
Transformation and Assimilation of the Dark Side
In the Eye of the Storm
An individual response to the Global Crisis
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.
Because of its unconscious component the self can only be partially expressed by human figures; the other part of it has to be expressed by objective, abstract symbols. (Jung, 1934/1954/1968, p. 187)
The young man’s relationship to the elephant taught me new ways to engage the world. Each of them has their own mobility and yet significantly influence each other. The man tends the elephant including bathing, which they are about to do. He guides him into the lake and the elephant not only lies down in cooperation but seems to enjoy it. The elephant appears affectionate and agreeable during the entire process. It appears the man oversees such a giant being. However, there is one significant factor looming. The elephant does have a mind of its own, with its own instincts for survival. It has accommodated, for now, but could at any moment disobey or even crush the man easily to satisfy unknown needs.
In this time of the pandemic and racial protests, the dynamics of power and control are paramount. Mankind is threatened by a tiny virus. It seems like it should be easily controlled or eliminated because that is how our species often interacts with the world– through domination.
Those who have been treated as “other or beneath” not only have a voice but also the support of many who believe in equality for all. This is a time of uprising to shift the dynamics from domination to living in the United States to living an engaged life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.
If we analyze the present situation in a Subjective level of consciousness, we may have a better resolution of the Pandemic/Protests twin crisis. What are we as individuals and as a Collective/Society projecting onto the Objective theater? I propose that we are dealing with our own twin crisis of Shadow and Narcissism. Every society projects their individual and collective shadow on other groups. Indians projected their shadow onto the untouchable class, Nazis projected their Shadow onto their Jewish citizens, Britain projected their Shadow onto the Colonized and Americans project their Shadow onto its Black citizens. To resolve this crisis, we will have to examine this Shadow dynamic.
When we confront our Shadow – our own dark side that we project onto others; then we also discover our Light.
When we observe how people behave when they are faced with a situation that has to be evaluated ethically, we become aware of a strange double effect: suddenly they see both sides. They become aware not only of their moral inferiorities but also, automatically of their good qualities. … To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light(Jung, 1970), para 872.
Let us work towards discovering the LIGHT in those we project our inferiority. Let us also find our own light. We can be better than this. This will take humility. If we are caught in our Narcissism as individuals and as a Society, we will add fuel to the fire of injustice and amplify our own Shadow.
The Shadow does not need to be accepted as is but transmuted and assimilated. If you despise someone because they are aggressive, then consider that you may be projecting your aggressive tendencies on them. When we become conscious of these attributes, you need to transform these into healthy self-assertion. The reason we project ourselves onto others is because we feel incompetent to deal with these traits.
Some Points to Ponder:
- How have these crises impacted your life?
- Do you relate to them the same as other times you have lived through?
- How have you tended these issues?
- How do you listen and when do you speak when engaged in power negotiations?
- List things you do not like about the individuals and groups that you hate and despise?
- Now, if these were your own qualities, how would you deal with them?
- How can you transmute and assimilate the negative traits that you project onto others?
Photo taken in Kerala, India.
Jung, C. G. (1934/1954/1968). The archetypes and the collective unconscious (2d ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Jung, C. G. (1970). Civilization in transition, Volume 10 (2 ed. Vol. 20). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH. D