August 1, 2020
The conscious mind often knows little or nothing about its own transformation and does not want to know anything. The more autocratic it is and the more convinced of the eternal validity of its truths, the more it identifies with them.(Jung, 1970, pp. 358, para 503)
The eucalyptus routinely sheds its bark. It lets go of all the external layers until its smooth surface is fully exposed. I love the textures, colors, and shapes of the bark as it loses its weather shield. It The way it looks to the outside world always changes, and the core remains essentially the same. I value this example of dynamic living. It demonstrates internal and external cooperation for living fully into its nature
Our lives are more uncertain as we adjust to the current conditions and look to the future. The pandemic, social protests, and loss of employment for millions of people created a difficult climate to live in. It requires more protection (masks/social distancing) and engagement with our values regarding racism. The news gives us daily counts of Covid-19 cases and deaths. The choice to shield our core or have empathy for others feel at odds with each other. How many layers (like bark) do we place between our core and the outside world? When will it be safe to remove a layer we no longer need? Life now feels more organic, and less routine. Each moment requires assessment and awareness of it, so we choose a response congruent to our nature.
In every individual and society, a certain viewpoint is the dominant frame of reference. It guides the politics, commerce, education, wealth distribution, power gradient and leadership. However, over time, this view point becomes outdated and irrelevant to new ideas and realities. These new ideas are not consistent with the existing power structure of the Ego consciousness and hence is suppressed into the dark basement of the unconscious. However, what is repressed by the consciousness returns with an vengeance.
In individuals, what is repressed by the conscious attitude into the unconscious breaks through into our awareness via dreams, nightmares, neurotic symptoms, medical and psychiatric symptoms, relationship problems, accidents and synchronicities.
At a societal level, what is repressed by the existing system emerges and breaks though into collective stage via chaos, protests, pandemics and unrest.
Both the individuals and societies initially attempt to repress these emerging archetypal energies from the depths of the unconscious. However, a turning point comes when individuals and societies are so paralyzed by these symptomatic manifestations of the new symbols of change from the unconscious that it is forced to acknowledge these and change by assimilating the guidance of these new paradigm. This is the process of melting the old and casting a new paradigm. Initially, this smelting is a fiery and painful process, but eventually, a new synthesis occurs; in accord with new information, new realities and a new archetype consistent with the development of the individual and the society.
Symbolically, the old order is represented in Alchemy by the king – Sol – Sun. However, as the king gets old and feeble, the queen – Luna – Moon, the feminine principal becomes pregnant with new possibility. This leads to renewal and change in individuals and society.
We are in midst of such change in our global order. The masculine order of power, logic and materialism has reached its limits of diminishing returns and those in favorable power position are understandably refusing to accept it. Just as in the individual psyche, the repressed unconscious speaks via dreams and symptoms, in the societal matrix, the repressed manifests via chaos, civil unrest, environmental upheavals and pandemics born of unbridled materialism, exploitation of environment, racial prejudice and misogyny. The feminine principle- the Luna is protesting. It has been pregnant with new possibility of transformation of our societal archetype from materialism to spirituality, form power to process, from exploitation of women, minorities and environment to offering them a seat at the round table of meaningful dialogue and true partnership. We are experiencing the birthing pains. The divine child will be born of this labor and redeem us via values of compassion, fairness, gender and racial equality, respectful relationship with the environment, and transition from a Narcissistic to the Altruistic culture or relatedness and service.
Whenever and individual or society become lopsided, as it is at the present, the forces of unconscious are activated to balance this imbalance. This process is called Enantodromia – or return to the opposite. Presently, our global culture is dominated by masculinity, materialism and me culture. It is ruled by strongmen, who are exploitive of the environment, other cultures and diversity. The circumstances are ripe for Enantodromia to set in. So the question is, how does the unconscious speak to us to communicate a new prescription from the spirit of the depths?
Fortunately, Jung’s analytical psychology has worked out this process. The artists and poets are the channel for communicating this new wisdom to us. Jung’s calls this the visionary dimension of art and poetry.(Jung, 1966) Vol.15, page 90, para 141
The gulf that separates the first from the second part of Faust marks the between the psychological and the visionary modes of artistic creation. Here everything is reversed. The experience that furnishes the material for artistic expression is no longer familiar. It is something strange that derives its existence from the hinterland of man’s mind, as if it had emerged from the abyss of prehumen ages, or from a superhuman world of conrasting light and darkness. It is a primordial experience which surpasses man’s understanding and to which in his weakness he may easily succumb. The very enormity of the experience gives it its value and its shattering impact. Sublime, pregnant with meaning, yet chilling the blood with its strangeness, it arises from timeless depths; glamorous, daemonic, and grotesque, it bursts asunder our human standards of value and aesthetic form, a terrifying tangle of eternal chaos, a crimen laesae , majesfatis humanae. On the other hand, it can be a revelation whose heights and depths are beyond our fathoming, or a vision of beauty which we can never put into words. This disturbing spectacle of some tremendous process that in every way transcends our human feeling and understanding makes quite other demands upon the powers of the artist than do the experiences of the foreground of life. These never render the curtain that veils the cosmos; they do not exceed the bounds of our human capacities, and for this reason they are more readily shaped to the demands of art, however shattering they may be for the individual. But the primordial experiences rend from top to bottom the curtain upon which is painted the picture of an ordered world, and allow a glimpse into the unfathomable abyss of the unborn and of things yet to be. Is it a vision of other worlds, or of the darkness’s of the spirit, or of the primal beginnings of the human psyche? We cannot say that it is any or none of these.(Jung, 1966)
Jung proposed that Goethe’s Faust was such a visionary work of art and poetry that offered the archetypal prescription for the ills of our materialist, masculine times. Two of these prescriptions are relevant to our problem, First, that we must return to the realm of the mothers, the feminine principle for rebirth of a new paradigm. Secondly, when all is said and done, it will be Sophia, the Virgin, the feminine principle of feeling function, empathy, compassion and fairness, that will restore the balance. Here are 2 quotes from Faust that highlight these prescriptions
MEPHISTOPHELES With Pagan folk I don’t get on:
They live in their own Hell there: 6210
Yet, there is a way.
FAUST Tell, without delay!
MEPHISTOPHELES Unwillingly! There’s a greater mystery, I say,
Goddesses, enthroned on high, and solitary.
No space round them, not even time: only
To speak of them embarrasses me. 6215
They are The Mothers!
FAUST (Terrified.) Mothers!
MEPHISTOPHELES Are you afraid?
FAUST The Mothers! Mothers! It sounds so strange!
MEPHISTOPHELES As, it is. Goddesses, unknown, as you see,
To you Mortals, not named by us willingly.
You must dig in the Depths to reach them: 6220
It’s your own fault that we need them.
FAUST Where is the path?
(Goethe von, 1998), page 176
“0 contrite hearts, seek with your eyes
The visage of salvation;
Blissful in that gaze, arise
Through glad regeneration.
Now may every pulse of good
Seek to serve before thy face,
Virgin, Queen of Motherhood,
Keep us, Goddess, in thy grace”
(Goethe von, 1998), page 344
Some Points to Ponder
How do you stay conscious of your transformation?
Do you see transformation in others before you see it in yourself?
What routines have you changed, and which have you kept?
How do you know when it is time to change?
What values are in your core? How did they get there?
Are you aware of your present value system?
Do you see the manifestation of potentially new value systems?
How do you feel about these new possibilities of change?
Are you willing to dialogue with this new paradigm in good faith?
Are you willing to make sacrifices to establish a just, new society?
Do you feel such a new society will create a win/win situation for you, your family, your society and for generations to come?
Photo taken In Los Angeles, CA. (no edits except cropping)
Goethe von, J. W. (1998). Faust: A Tragedy (Norton Critical Editions) (Second Edition ed.). New York, London.: W. W. Norton & Company.
Jung, C. G. (1966). The spirit in man, art, and literature, Volume 15 (Vol. 20). New York: Pantheon Books.
Jung, C. G. (1970). Mysterium coniunctionis : an inquiry into the separation and synthesis of psychic opposites in alchemy (2d ed. Vol. 14). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
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