The Flamingo in the Zoo
Claim the Flight of the Flamingo
In the Eye of the Storm
An individual response to the Global Crisis
May 5, 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.
There is nothing mysterious or metaphysical about the term “transcendent function.” It means a psychological function comparable in its way to a mathematical function of the same name, which is a function of real and imaginary numbers. The psychological “transcendent function” arises from the union of conscious and unconscious contents.(Jung, 1960b, p. 69)
I know a flamingo when I see one (or a flock). They stand and preen themselves in and around a pond in zoos. Their knees bend backwards and have great balance on one leg. Most children can identify them and their pink color. They too know one when they see one.
When I was told the flock in the air was flamingos, I was astonished. I never gave any thought to the idea that flamingos are birds and they fly too. Somehow, all my life I missed a simple but vital aspect of this bird’s life. They fly and migrate. They are clearly awake and following some deep DNA map to get them to their destination at the right time of year. My view of their life was limited by my experiences in zoos, rather than their life in nature.
This photo takes me also to the idea of the transcendent function. At the “right time’ movement from the unconscious to the conscious happens. It is as natural as the giant flamingos flying to their destination. The transcendent function can take me to a “new place” of understanding, growth, acceptance, etc., within me. Just as the migration is signaled by the season, the transcendent function can be signaled by time and circumstances. Yet it moves me beyond the separation of the known and unknown. For obvious reasons, my unknown is not known to me. My task is to step out of life in” my zoo life” to follow the natural process of engaging the migration from unknown to known.
Before the pandemic, each one of us was a Flamingo in a Zoo. We had forgotten that we too can fly. That each one of us as spiritual destination outside of the Zoo of our making. We caught in the Maya of daily life, in the mundane daily life and forget that there is another transcendent dimension to our existence. The Hindus call this our Dharma, (A. Bedi, 2000)living out our spiritual program. It is in our DNA, literally encoded in our Limbic System in our brain. This flight of the flamingo from the Zoo to a distant body of water is like our movement from Maya to our Dharma; from the mundane to the profound and the spiritually purposeful dimension, from the horizontal to the vertical dimension. When we balance(A. Bedi, 2013) our mundane, daily grind of the horizontal life with the vertical dimension of Interiority of our inner life and reaching out to the Spirit via Service, this forms the symbol of the sacred cross. We achieve this balance by attending to our Transcendent function. This involves the mundane with the MYSTERY, the ordinary with the NON-ORDINARY CONSCIOUSNESS.(A. P. Bedi, Joseph A. , 2020)
We meet this NON-ORDINARY consciousness by attending to our unconscious and superconscious. We meet it in our dreams, our contemplation, in attending to our creative process, through Prayer and self-reflection, via Scriptures and ancient texts, in art and poetry. The Silver Lining in the Pandemic is the opportunity to claim access to the transcendent function(Jung, 1969) and stay with the gift of the Spirit for the rest of our lives.
We know that we have engaged the Dharma, the Vertical dimension of life, when we are called to Service. That is the ultimate zenith of spiritual awareness. This is where we WALK THE WALK. Here is Lord Krishna’s guidance to his protégé warrior Arjuna in Bhagwad Gita (“American/International Gita Society Bhagavad Gita- http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/gita/agsgita.htm,”)-
The science of transcendental knowledge has been imparted to you, O Arjuna. Now listen to the science of selfless service (Seva), endowed with which you will free yourself from all Karmic bondage, or sin. (2.39)
No effort is ever lost in selfless service, and there is no adverse effect. Even a little practice of the discipline of selfless service protects one from the great fear of repeated birth and death. (2.40)
A selfless worker has resolute determination for God-realization, but the desires of the one who works to enjoy the fruits of work are endless. (2.41)
All of us lead the life of a Flamingo in the Zoo. Each one of us has the potential to claim the flight to the blue skies of our spiritual purpose. We will know that we have claimed our blue sky when we are flying to the destination of our purposeful life manifest in our SERVICE to our family, our community and for higher good.
Some Points to Ponder:
- How has the unknown as Covid-19 impacted your life?
- What benefits and/or drawbacks are you living?
- How do you manage your time at home?
- How will you know when it is time to venture out or migrate?
- How has this affected your imagination?
- Do you discourage/deny or invite/engage the unknown in your life?
- As you cope with the challenges of your daily life, do you balance that with the MYSTERY of your inner life?
- How do you engage the mystery of your inner life?
- Do you pay attention to your dark side of your moon: dreams, synchronistic events, art, poetry, scriptures, things that intrigue you though you don’t understand them?
- We all have a lot of gifts from the Universe. How do you pay it forward?
- How do you SERVE your family, community and higher good?
Photo taken in Gujarat, India
[American/International Gita Society Bhagavad Gita- http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/gita/agsgita.htm]). Web Page.
Bedi, A. (2000). Path to the soul. York Beach, ME: S. Weiser.
Bedi, A. (2013). Crossing the healing zone : from illness to wellness. Lake Worth, FL
Newburyport, MA: Ibis Press, a division of Nicolas-Hays, Inc.,Lake Worth
Distributed to the trade by Red Wheel/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. (1960b). The structure and dynamics of the psyche. New York: Pantheon Books.
Jung, C. G. (1969). The structure and dynamics of the psyche, Volume 8 (2d — ed. Vol. 20). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, pages 67-91
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.