June 5, 2021

Out of the tension of duality life always produces a “third” that seems somehow incommensurable or paradoxical. (Jung, 1969, p. 159 para 236)

The result of a gardener creating this Japanese garden brings me peace, quiet, serenity, and a natural flow into meditation. I stand as still as a mirror and feel what I see. I resonate with patterns of sand, shadow, and light. I notice the contrast between what is green and what is not. There is distinction and continuity. There is what grows and what is still. There is contrast and sameness. Sunlight touches everything but the effect is different for plants than it is for sand.

There is a paradox between what appears to be natural and yet is clearly made by the attendant of the garden. How do I reconcile the tension of those opposites? How do I think about how a human life has made this setting and contrast it with how human life is using up the resources on our planet?

When the two do their dance, the third appears. Let us explore the mystery of this creation. What are the ingredients of this creative process? What are the psychic forces that come to bear on this creation? This is little more than mere intellectual curiosity since the creation of this third is crucial in the dynamics of human encounters; friends or foes, lovers or enemies, gods and humans, nature and dwellers in it. While the subject matter is immense, let us make a humble beginning to tip our toes into its’ immensity.

It is said in the ancient scriptures (Kapila, 2016 (1850)) that the original being was omniscient but lonely. So, it split itself into two to have some companionship, albeit with the aspects of itself. These two were Purusha and Prakriti, Consciousness and Matter. However, these two did not know how to communicate with each other. They both needed a mirror to experience themselves in the reflection by the other. Each chose other as their mirror. The Purusha craved for embodiment and the Prakriti for awareness. The dance between the two created all iterations of the known and the not yet known universe. The two forces that form the background music of this dance between consciousness and matter are activity – Rajas and passivity – Tamas. When the two Gunas or forces are in optimal balance for a given pair, time and context, this optimal homeostasis is called Sattva or a lucid state.

These two connecting forces between Purusha and Prakriti vary at different times and seasons of life. In youth, there must be more Rajas or enterprise. In midlife, there must be more Rajas in professional life and more Tamas or surrender in love life to foster mutuality. At the end of life, there must be more Tamas or outer inertia to make room for interiority and transcendence. When these forces are optimally balanced for the stage and the season of life, then we are in a Sattvic state.

Each relationship has a similar dynamic between assertion and accommodation by the two protagonists in a mutual encounter. Each must discern when it is time to be active and time to be passive, time to stand up and time to surrender, time to speak up and time to be silent, time to war and time to peace. So, what guides us in this measured soul response? It is the archetype that prevails and presides over the encounter. When we are young, we are guided by the archetype of the Warrior. In midlife, we are under the auspices of the archetype of the Lover. Late in life, we yield to the archetype of the Anchorite; the wise old man/woman, the mentor, the guide the forest dweller, the god-seeker, the monk (Moore & Gillette, 1990). Many other archetypes mediate this intersubjective space (Bolen, 1984, 2009). At each juncture of the relationship between individuals, nations and societies, the archetype of Coniunctio or alchemic union is the guiding principle (Jung, 1963). When the two entities dance to the hubris of their egos, it is a lower coniunctio, when they march to the tune of their Soul, it is a higher Coniunctio. The highest Coniunctio is between us and the divine. That is the mystical union that the ancients established as the highest goal of the human enterprise. The Hindus call this the Moksha, the Buddhists term it as Nirvana. Here, we are in a state of absolute bliss – Ananda. We are in unity between the soul and the Spirit. Each relationship is a potential doorway to this state of mystical union. It is a prototype, a test run for the ultimate yoking with the Brahman – the goal of the Yoga(Bryant, Patañjali, & Patañjali, 2018; Finger, 2018; Radhakrishnan & Moore, 1957; Satchidanada, 1978).


Points to Ponder:

  1. What is the effect of paradox for you?
  2. How does duality influence your experience in life?
  3. Where can you create order in your world that feels natural?
  4. What “third” gets produced in the tension of duality in your life?
  5. What is the primary relationship you are engaged in your life presently?
  6. What is your mode of participation in this relationship? Are you active or passive?
  7. What is your guiding personal myth or archetype presently? Are you in a warrior, lover, negotiator, leader or mentor role?
  8. Is your personal myth consistent with your life stage?
  9. Do you feel that you are stuck in a personal myth inconsistent with the stage and the season of your life? E.g., warrior who is called to be an anchorite but still stuck in the warrior mode. Are you at an anchorite stage still seeking romance as a lover, the May-September romance?
  10. What is your baseline nature? Active or passive?
  11. Are you able to switch gears and act contra nature when the situation calls for it? E.g., even though you may be an active person, are you able to yield to the love and support from others and be passive and receptive when necessary?
  12. In the current pandemic, have you established Sattvic peace with the call of the moment? Are you active in prevention, passive in yielding to science and the guidance of our medical researchers and receptive to changes we must make as individuals and as a society?

Bolen, J. S. (1984). Goddesses in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women. . San Francisco: HarperPerennial.

Bolen, J. S. (2009). Gods in everyman : archetypes that shape men’s lives. In (pp. 1 online resource (368 pages)).

Bryant, E. F., Patañjali, & Patañjali. (2018). The Yoga sūtras of Patañjali : a new edition, translation, and commentary : with insights from the traditional commentators. New Delhi: Macmillan.

Finger, A. N., Wendy. (2018). Tantra of the Yoga Sutra – Essential Wisdom for Living with Awareness and Grace. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Shambala Boulder.

Jung, C. G. (1963). Mysterium coniunctionis; an inquiry into the separation and synthesis of psychic opposites in alchemy (Vol. 14). New York: Pantheon.

Jung, C. G. (1969). Psychology and religion: West and East (2d ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Kapila. (2016 (1850)). A Lecture on the Sankhya Philosophy. Mirzapure, Benaras University, India: Wentworth Press.

Moore, R. L., & Gillette, D. (1990). King, warrior, magician, lover : rediscovering the archetypes of the mature masculine. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

Radhakrishnan, S., & Moore, C. A. (1957). A source book in Indian philosophy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Satchidanada, S. S. (1978). The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Buckingham, Virginia: Integral Yoga Publications.

Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst, www.pathtothesoul.com , www.tulawellnessllc.com 

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

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