The Banyan Tree

One tree, many roots

In the Eye of the Storm

An individual response to the Global Crisis

ISSN 1939-3407

May 9, 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.

Age-old convictions and customs are deeply rooted in the instincts. If they get lost, the conscious mind becomes severed from the instincts and loses its roots, while the instincts, unable to express themselves, fall back into the unconscious and reinforce its energy, causing this in turn to overflow into the existing contents of consciousness. It is then that the rootless condition of consciousness becomes a real danger. (Jung, 1954, p. 54)


This is only one tree. The main trunk is the darker, thicker trunk to the right of center. It is the banyan tree. Its aerial roots grow to the ground to become another trunk. The tree, if allowed, can be more wide than high.

This tree is incredibly “smart”. Its limbs send out (and down) aerial roots as it grows away from the main trunk. It will then get support from the main source as well as its own system. It has a much bigger life because of its ability to get nutrients as well as structural support from its descending aerial root-trunks.

It makes me think of trees that lose limbs during a storm because the truck can no longer support the branch’s weight. I need to remember that as I branch out in life, I need to provide support and nourishment to those aspects. Otherwise, they, like the ordinary tree, will be damaged or lost in a storm of life.

It is question of DIVERSIFICATION of your support system. The investment experts often do a better job of it than most of us in our emotional, relational and spiritual investments. Most of us get our nurturance from love or work but we often ignore play, creativity and spirituality as sources to feed our soul. Sigmund Freud postulated that we have two main instincts, sexual instinct and death instinct: Eros and Thanatos. Carl Jung found in his clinical work with his patients that we have many instincts: maternal instinct, paternal instinct, warrior instinct, lover, trickster, leader, mentor, herd instinct, creative and spiritual instinct among others. Each of these is guided by and is a manifestation of an unconscious program called the Archetype.

Each of these instincts is purposive: it manifests the program of the corresponding archetype. When the two are aligned, we manifest optimal physical, mental, relational and spiritual health, specific for our personality, stage of life and milieu we live in and challenges we face. While our primary stem of support may be one of these instinct/archetype pairs, there are times and circumstances, during which we need to attend to other instincts and their archetypal source. The global COVAD – 19 pandemic is such a situation, when we need to recruit additional instinct/archetypal systems for survival, support and mastery of the crisis as individuals, families and community.

Each one of us will have to assess their own program to assess what is to be attended to in instinct/archetype continuum. We may need to reach out to the underground water, which symbolizes the personal and the collective unconscious for nurturance and guidance. As you reach out to your depths, via contemplation and self-reflection, you may find it a useful exercise as to what your dreams or synchronistic events are instructing you to do. Are they prescribing that you become more nurturing, or open to be nurtured, be more creative, warrior like, be in the lover mode, or diplomatic, or a trickster who must communicate in a way that their voice is heard, or be a leader or a mentor to others?

Each of these instincts are a part of our infinite potential. We need to nurture these and cultivate these to live our fuller potential and responsibilities – or Dharma. We cannot focus just on survival but also our connection with the Spirit and to engage a life of Service to honor our Spiritual purpose.(A. Bedi, 2000; A. P. Bedi, Joseph A. , 2020)

Some Points to Ponder:

  1. How many branches do you have?
  2. In this pandemic storm, what branches of you need more support or nourishment?
  3. How can/do you provide it?
  4. What repairs do you need now?
  5. What repairs do you see will be needed in the future?
  6. How is the “main trunk” of you sourced?
  7. In your assessment, what is your primary instinct from the list offered in this blog?
  8. In your dreams and self-reflection, what other aspects of your instincts and corresponding archetype have you been called to activate?
  9. What have you done or avoided doing to honor this new prescription from your soul?
  10. How have you changed in your attitude, actions and relationships as you recruit these new energies in your life?

Photo taken in Puducherry (aka Pondicherry) India.

Bedi, A. (2000). Path to the soul. York Beach, ME: S. Weiser.

Bedi, A. P., Joseph A. . (2020). The Spiritual Paradox of Addiction: The Call of the Transcendent ( Second edition (March 15, 2020) ed.). Lake Worth, FL, USA: Nicolas Hayes Inc.

Jung, C. G. (1954). The practice of psychotherapy : essays on the psychology of the transference and other subjects. London: Routledge & K. Paul.

© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.