Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s
and unto God the things that are God’s.
In the Eye of the Storm
An individual response to the Global Crisis
May 28, 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.
When we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness. (Jung, 1960b, p. 389)
The hummingbird nest is so small. It is hard to imagine two lives need it for home. The nest would fit in the space made by touching my thumb and index finger in the same hand (the “okay” sign). The natural camouflage blend of nest and baby feathers give them predator protection. Look for the beaks and eyes pointed up; you can see two babies standing on the nest.
They are not interested in anything except their parents bringing food. They do not want to hear how far their parents had to fly, or the number of flowers they had to gather nectar from, they only want food. They are hungry and want to be satisfied, now.
This image caught me today as a parallel to our wanting out of the restrictions of the pandemic. The focus for some, is on one thing—getting things back to the way they used to be. There is little or no capacity, for some, to pay attention to guidelines, or medical advice. They do not want to hear the number of cases or deaths as a result of the virus. The drive to have what they want now, obscures the ideas of precautions.
As Jung suggests in the quote, there are times that the answers are not so quick. There is an old saying about the best medicine. It is prevention. I know what my health is like now and preventing (as best through practicing safety guidelines) the virus from finding me as its host is my goal. I must find ways to manage impatience and days that feel like forever. The question of “when will it end” is easier to ask when I am healthy, than to ask that same question if I get the virus.
So, like the baby hummingbirds, I will look different when I emerged from this staying at home time. As I encounter strengths and weaknesses every day, I look for nurturing elements to help me grow more into who I am meant to be. Sometime in the future, I will look back on this time as a challenge and a gift–the gift of a better life when challenges have been met.
In time of crisis, we have three theresolds of response: these are
Immediate Survival Response
The Emotional Second Response
Discerning Third Level Response
Each of these have adaptive and Survival value and have increasing levels of complexity, nuance and value to the individual and community. It corresponds to our evolution as humans and the development of our brain and our consciousness in three stages – the Triune Brain (MacLean, 1990).
The first response comes from our Reptilian or Survival brain. This is the primal brain which constitutes our Autonomic Nervous System, a sort of our Autopilot for Survival. Here the only goal is physical survival. Things ae done reflexively, without much emotion or feeling. For evolved human consciousness, this is best left to only the direst situations, where the only choice is Fight, Flight or Freeze responses. Importunely, for some less evolved individuals, this becomes their default mode rather than the emergency mode of response. When we are in presence of such individuals, we feel unsafe, as if with a reptile who will attack or devour us based on their distorted and limited perceptions.
The second groups of individuals response from their Emotions. They are guided by their Limbic brains, from their intuitions and memory but not tempered by conscious discernment. They get caught in a certain Archetypal energy and get possessed by it. They do not use the Archetypal wisdom as a consultant but rather as their Master. They get inflated. For example, if they are caught in the Archetype of personal myth of the Hero, than their responses will be dramatic and warrior like rather than what the situation calls for. The circumstance may call for a Lover Archetype – the dynamics of relatedness rather then Conflict. In presence of such individuals, we may feel awe and light or despair and darkness of great magnitude.
The most evolved humans are aware of their legitimate survival needs, are well informed by their archetypal context based on inner work and they use these two data points in the alchemic vessel of consciousness, will power and choice to come up with a measured and proportional response. They factor in their Reptilian and Archetypal/Limbic brain in their cognitive process of Neocortical assessment. This is the Higher being in human development.
In the pandemic, each one of us must discern as to what level of consciousness we are reacting from. When we integrate these three levels of consciousness, we are able to choose to respond from our highest potentials: e.g. Altruism, Humor, Repression of reptilian dominance, Anticipation, Sublimation and Symbolic and Reflective functions of consciousness. We strive not just for Survival but Meaning, Purpose and Service. We then focus on cultivating our personal best potentials and then put them in Service of our family, our community and for higher good. This becomes the foundation of our Civilization. We do what we must for Survival but always then strive for a higher purpose.
Matthew 22:21 King James Version (KJV)
21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
Points to Ponder
What are your questions about the future?
How do you decide what guidelines, if any, you follow?
What kind of leadership are you enacting in your own life?
What do you resist most? To what have you acquiesced?
What is the darkness and how can you bring light to it?
Do you feel that you are in a Survival mode in the pandemic?
Do you feel that you are driven by your emotions in responding to the pandemic?
Do you think that you response to the pandemic is measured, proportional and informed by the best medical and social information you have?
Do you feel that your response is balanced between your legitimate survival needs with a higher Spiritual Purpose?
Photo of baby hummingbirds taken in Los Angeles, California
Jung, C. G. (1960b). The structure and dynamics of the psyche. New York: Pantheon Books.
MacLean, P. D. (1990). The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions: Springer Publications.
Matthew 22:21 King James Version (KJV)
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.