May 1, 2021
The meeting between the narrowly delimited, but intensely clear, individual consciousness and the vast expanse of the collective unconscious is dangerous, because the unconscious has a decidedly disintegrating effect on consciousness. (Jung, 1967, p. 9 para 46)
The plant in the image is Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Brunfelsia). When it first blooms the blossom is purple, then it changes to pale lavender, and finally to white. Each flower not only transitions from bud to blossom, but also reveals its age in color.
The parent plant encourages and supports the individual flower growth. Each blossom is not the plant and yet they contribute to it, much like we are part of the collective but are not it. When I step ten feet away from the bush, I see a variety of color but cannot appreciate each story of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,
Each of us might have three views of a time defined collective like the plant’s common name. However, there is a timeless dimension to the collective that is beyond the limits of time and space. My ego struggles to stay conscious when I consider the vastness of where I came from. So, I find it challenging to imagine beyond time and space, yet I am limited to only stay aware of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. At times in meditation, my imagination is drawn to what lies beyond beyond.
Our unconscious is an Alchemic vessel that dissolved our consciousness, adds the relevant bits from the unconscious, seals the vessel in form of an individual life and slow cooks it over time. The gods preside over this process disguised as archetypes that further directs this alchemic process to our individual destiny in the collective space, in the Unus Mundus – the world soul. This personal alchemy defines our presence in the larger scheme of the flow of time and universe. This is disorienting to the individual but unbeknown to us, we became a crucial spoke in the wheel of the universe. Sometimes, our role is only apparent downstream, many generations on, in lives and destinies of our grandchildren and great grandchildren. Life goes on as time and tide, ebb and flow, up and down, confusing and disorienting to us; yet there is an inherent meaning, pattern and purpose in every individual’s narrative – but only a precious few are fortunate to decipher it in their own lifetime.
The process seems disorienting and chaotic to an individual but there is deeper, inherent order and purpose in the non-linear flow of life, events and consciousness. There are no redundancies in the economy of the psyche – every bit is meaningful. We may not know it, but not knowing is the path to deeper knowing. We cannot prove this yet, but absence of proof is not the absence of truth.(Gödel, 1962)
Often, what seems chaotic becomes a meaningful pattern if observed from an altitude, where an object fits into a pattern of the environment of its surroundings. In matters of individual consciousness, we may claim this altitude by creating contemplative space for self-reflection. Then order may emerge from entropy. Now the individual trees make and enchanting forest! Memories of the past, challenges of the present, and hopes for the future establish a mandala of emerging order in life.
Points to Ponder:
- What aspect of time are you living in your consciousness (memories, present, or future)?
- How has the collective contributed to your life?
- What part of you is yet to blossom?
- How do you treat the older/well-seasoned aspects of your life?
- What limits of your life are helpful, and what others are not?
- Do you feel a sense of chaos in your present life?
- How do you incubate this chaos and reflect on it?
- Does your process of self-reflection render any order, pattern or purpose in terms your life story?
- Do you get an occasional glimpse of larger purpose in your life’s tides and ebbs?
- Do you trust the flow of the Universe and your place in it?
Gödel, K. (1962). On formally undecidable propositions of Principia mathematica and related systems. New York: Basic Books, Inc.
Jung, C. G. (1967). Alchemical studies (Vol. 13). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
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