The Deep Soil

The Mystery of the Healing Symbol

In the Eye of the Storm

An individual response to the Global Crisis

ISSN 1939-3407

May 29, 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.

The transcendent function does not proceed without aim and purpose but leads to the revelation of the essential man. It is in the first place a purely natural process, which may in some cases pursue its course without the knowledge or assistance of the individual, and can sometimes forcibly accomplish itself in the face of opposition. (Jung, 1956, p. 110)

The circumstances had to be right for this plant to take root in the rock as well as the soil. I was surprised at its ability to look healthy given its anchor is not in the ground. This process in nature illustrates Jung’s point in the quote. I do not believe the plant “knew” what was happening and it benefited from it.

So, during this time of the pandemic, I find it helpful to believe that my unconscious is working on things I do not know or understand. It is important for me to remember my ego is not in charge of all of me. It might have leadership in what I am conscious of, but not all of who I am. The idea requires some surrender and trust to the larger collective unconscious as well. In technical terms, I receive an update that fixes corrupt files and bugs while I go about my life awake or at night when I am asleep.

Many of us have endured unspeakable trauma in our lives. We may have endured alcoholic or depressed parents, emotionally, physically and sexually abusive caretakers, we may have endured terrorism, racism, ageism, sexism, gender discrimination, religious persecution, homelessness, refugee experience, immigration, betrayal by spouse or friends, neglect by our government, denial of adequate access to medical care, unfair prosecution; the list is infinite.

When I encounter the courageous survivors of such catastrophic abuse, neglect and trauma, often at the hands of individuals and institutions they must depend on; I always awed at the dignity, resilience and courage of these survivors. While therapy and psychoanalysis may be the chosen path to healing and recovery for some, but each one of us has an access to a deeper and timeless source of healing wisdom. While therapy uses the psychological path to healing, our Psyche uses the Spiritual source of healing by accessing the Collective Unconscious via the Transcendent Function. When our consciousness has exhausted all its Ego resources to deal with the crisis or trauma, then our Soul descends into the Collective Unconscious to secure an Archetypal source of healing. This crystallizes a new Symbol from the Collective Unconscious, which becomes our Light House in the dark and turbulent waters of the psyche.

The soil for such a New Symbol in the Unconscious it the Cellular Memory of our body – remembered Wellness (Benson & Stark, 1996), the Myths and fairy tales (von Franz, 1990) of each culture, the archives of art, literature, poetry and our own unlived childhood potentials. While Psychotherapy helps us make MEANING out of life story, our Soul delves into the MYSTERY OF THE COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS to constellate a NEW SYMBOL (Jung, 1981)to guide us to heal from our Soul Wounds and reach our personal best potentials: to become the Best possible Version of US.

These New Symbols may manifest in our Dreams, in our Creative Process, e.g. Art or Poetry, in culinary creations, in gardening among others. Each individual has a unique Symbol to access the Mystery to secure the gifts of the Collective Unconscious.

Such healing Symbols become the soil for us to blossom into our unique selves, where our wounds become our strength and radiate our unique beauty and grace of our soul. It reminds me of the Japanese art of mending broken pots

Kintsugi, or Kintsukuroi, is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery. Rather than rejoin ceramic pieces with a camouflaged adhesive, the Kintsugi technique employs a special tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the conspicuous cracks of ceramic wares, giving a one-of-a-kind appearance to each “repaired” piece.

This unique method celebrates each artifact’s unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. In fact, Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it with a new look and giving it a second life.

In the pandemic, we must seek the Meaning of the global crisis; both at the individual and a collective level – the conscious learning and interventions we must make to prevent, treat, and master the challenge. However, we must stay open the Mystery of this pandemic; what does it Symbolize. Is it a Apocalypse? What new world do we need to Image and Create? How do we reorder global relationship matrix? What new interventions and structures, life style and priorities do we implement? What kind of world or Civilization we are invited to create? Will we choose to perish or change?

Some Points to Ponder:

  1. What aspect of you has matured in a healthy way due to the pandemic?
  2. How has the pandemic shifted your focus or changed your direction?
  3. What has changed about your relationships during this time?
  4. What conscious resources of your personality have you used to deal with the pandemic?
  5. What new Symbol has emerged or been reactivated in response to the pandemic?
  6. Do you have a new fascination, interest, activity or a creative endeavor?
  7. Have you regressed into despair or have been able to move to a higher threshold of adaptation in this crisis?

Photo taken in Bangalore, India

Benson, H., & Stark, M. (1996). Timeless healing : the power and biology of belief. London: Simon & Schuster.

Jung, C. G. (1956). Two essays on analytical psychology: Meridian Books.

Jung, C. G. (1981). Psychological types, Volume 6 (Vol. ol. 6). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, para 823-829

von Franz, M.-L. (1990). Individuation in fairy tales (Rev ed.). Boston ; London: Shambhala.

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