In the small village of Nayakpatna near Puri, there is a school that teaches palm leaf engraving. The photograph depicts the intricate detailed artwork that is being engraved and painted with soot and water. The artist decides the content of the entire panel then etches scenes depicting the god or goddess in various situations. The panel can take one to three months to complete, working daily from sunrise to sunset.
Time moved out of my awareness as I watched this man engrave. In the room with him, I lost access to language to describe my experience. Now, in this moment hours after being with him, I can only say that I was touched so deeply that words cannot do justice to what I felt. There was only that present moment where nothing else existed nor mattered. There seemed no separation between what he was doing and who he was. The engraving was making him as much as he was making it.
I believe I witnessed divine inspiration and a life dedicated to living in the place of no place; a life carried by inner images that must be shown to the world in an ancient art form. He gently awakened something very deep inside me: a place where only image lives; a place where language is inadequate; an experience of the eternal present.
The bloggers: Ashok Bedi and BJ Jakala presently are on an annual study tour to India under the auspices of the New York Jung Foundation and the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago. They will post a daily blog for the next few days. BJ who is an avid photographer shares an image that captures his imagination in a deeper way and Ashok Bedi amplifies the image with analytical context.
About the Presenter
Robert “BJ” Jakala, PhD is a Depth Psychologist, Educator, Writer, and Photographer. He is a graduate of Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, CA. He is also a Registered Nurse who worked at Linda and Stewart Neuropsychiatric Hospital for thirty-three years. He was a Nursing Supervisor for seventeen years and lead Group Psychotherapy on the Adult Service for ten years. He has taught the First Year Nurse Residents Self-Care and Stress Management at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for over twelve years. He is the former Assistant Director of the Men’s Center of Los Angeles for 5 years. He retired from thirty years of Private Practice in Woodland Hills, CA in November. 2017.
Dr. Jakala promotes the idea of transformation and change as a function of image and language in patients, as well as clinicians. He teaches the rewards of deep listening to the images created by language and the value of an image’s experience before words emerge. He aligns with Carl Jung’s ideas regarding a universal consciousness that is often hidden beneath the surface of our ego consciousness. He encourages clinicians to appreciate the collective in order to assist clients become more of themselves.
Ashok Bedi, M.D. is a Jungian psychoanalyst and a board-certified psychiatrist. He is a member of the Royal College of psychiatrists of Great Britain, a diplomat in Psychological Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of England, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is a Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and a training analyst at the Carl G. Jung Institute of Chicago. His books include The Spiritual Paradox of Addiction, Crossing the Healing Zone , Awaken the Slumbering Goddess: The Latent Code of the Hindu Goddess Archetypes, Retire Your Family Karma: Decode Your Family Pattern and Find Your Soul Path and Path to the Soul. He is the liaison for the IAAP for developing Jungian training programs in India and travels annually to India to teach, train the consult with the Jungian Developing groups at several centers in India including Ahmedabad and Mumbai. He leads the annual “A Jungian Encounter with the Soul of India” study group to several centers in India under the auspices of the New York Jung Foundation. His publications and upcoming programs may be previewed at www.pathtotheosul.com
In the ancient art of alchemy, the alchemist is engaged in the work of creating gold from lead, a higher value from the base value, soul from the ego. This culminates in achieving one’s personal best potentials our Sva Dharma and putting these potentials in service of our families- Ashrama Dharma, serving our community – the Vrana Dharma and honoring the universe via engaging higher good- the Reta Dharma. Such an alchemic endeavor takes devotion, knowledge and divine inspiration, symbolized in the ancient texts as the presence of a bird- a symbol of the Spirit. It is a slow process, a gentle heating of the alchemic vessel with patience and wisdom. Such a slow heating of the vessel is called “Tapas” in Sanskrit which also means devotion and meditation done by the holy men – the Rishis of ancient India. The Meditator, the Alchemist, the Palm leaf Engraver becomes one with the work and the divine, establishing a state of communion between Self, Work and the Spirit. Here the Self, Work and the Spirit are indistinguishable. It is a state of “Participatio Mystique” or primal unity between the subject, object, work and the universe. In such a state of higher coniunctio, the Spirit flows through us. We become the instrument – the channel for the creative energy of the Universe to flow through us. This state of reverie is the matrix of creation by the great artists like Nietzsche, Goethe, Shakespeare, Picasso, and every unsung creator doing their work in obscurity of their sacred space. Each one of us has access to this creative space by creating our virtual studio by invoking Silence, Solitude, Studio time, and making time for journaling, recording our dreams, self-reflection, meditation and honoring the Small – the marginalized aspects of Self – those neglected creative cravings and aspirations of our childhood that are squeezed out in hustle and bustle of Ego’s striving for survival and material success. Often, an Alchemist like a Palm leaf engraver or a stone sculptor reminds us of our neglected creative Self and beckons us to our core, creative Self. When we balance the four sectors of our life: work, love, play and creativity, we live out our higher Self, what Nietzsche calls our “Ubermensch”.