The Wisdom of the Source
Reaching out to the guidance of the Collective Unconscious
In the Eye of the Storm
An individual response to the Global Crisis
April 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.
Thus, in coming to terms with the unconscious, not only is the standpoint of the ego justified, but the unconscious is granted the same authority, The ego takes the lead, but the unconscious must be allowed to have its say too…. (Jung, 1960b, p. 88)
The firefighting helicopter draws river water up through a giant hose. Once its tank is full, it flies off to use the water on a nearby forest fire.
A forest fire is clearly an emergency. Such an occasion requires special equipment to remedy the situation. This helicopter is a magnificent water transport vehicle. Simply put, it is a flying big bucket getting water for a fire.
As I took this photo, the smell of fire is prominent. Off to the right, beyond the image, are huge plumes of smoke from the burning forest. The dominant sound of the helicopter blades diminishes as it flies off to drop its contents. I hope the ongoing mission is effective.
This scene is a concrete example of how to handle an emergency in the physical world. The dynamics can be used in all areas of personal life. When there is an emergency, the first thing to do is assess the situation. If there are not remedies close at hand, arrange for transportation to get proper supplies to ameliorate the circumstance.
There are times the personal conscious/unconscious resources are not enough. The collective unconscious will have an answer once a vehicle or pathway to and from it are made.
Water is a symbol of the Unconscious; both personal and collective. When Ego our consciousness has reached its threshold to deal with the crisis, it accesses the personal unconscious, the hidden, latent and potential inner resources to deal with the crisis. However, in certain crisis like the current pandemic, even the personal unconscious reaches its’ limits of resources. This is the time to reach into the deepest recesses and the highest spiritual resources of the Collective Unconscious to be put into Play. This is the relief pitcher called in at the bottom of the ninth, with bases loaded in a close game!
So where do we find this Relief Pitcher in the game of life? The spiritual traditions of the East like Hinduism had access to this wisdom in their Holy Scriptures, like Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, Sutras and Vedanta. It had established contemplative tradition to reach to the source – the Brahman at the womb of the Universe. More recent approaches in the West including Jung’s Analytical Psychology has made this timeless Archetypal Wisdom of the Depths accessible to those who have learned to decode the Symbolic language of the personal and the Collective Unconscious. Let us now explore the source of this wisdom of our archetypal depths.
If we are receptive and respectful of the Collective unconscious, we may be able to tune into its whispers at the times of Crisis and Trauma, change and transition, complexity and chaos. This lighthouse in midst of such stormy waters manifests in the fairy tales and myths, art and culture, movies and stories, shamans and seers and potentially is accessible to each one of us in our dreams and synchronistic events. If we pay attention to these manifestations and whispers of the Collective Unconscious at the time of such chaos, it becomes our lighthouse in rocky seas and stormy waters.
Each one of us will have their own unique experience of this lighthouse, of the whispers of the wisdom of the Depths, of the guidance from the Collective Unconscious. For me personally, I see it in the emergence of two figures that represent the archetypal Guru, Guide, Rishi , Philemon and the healing, guiding Anima figure. They are embodied in the lives of Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. It also is embodied in the Archetype of the Hero embodied by our First Responders, especially the Medical and the Nursing personnel. It is certainly NOT the time for political Trickster Archetype. We cannot fake our way out of this crisis. So the key archetypes that are activated by the Collective Unconscious to guide our way through the COVAD-19 pandemic are the archetypes of Guru/Rishi/Guide/Wise Old Man/Philemon; the Anima archetype – embodied in our Feeling Function- the Spirit of Together – Virgin Mary, the Great Mother and the Hero Archetype: embodied in the Service, Sacrifice and Courage of our first responders.
Each one of us may pay attention to the activation of this Depth Wisdom from the Brahman Source, from the Spirit as it incarnates in their own life, narrative and circumstances. Pay attention to your dreams and synchronistic events, what movies are you attracted to watching, what book are you inspired to read? Each one of these may be the Whisper of your Soul guided by your connection with the Spirit in this time of crisis and opportunity to tune into your Depths.
In the Hindu sacred text, the Bhagwad Gita, Vishnu reassures his protégé Arjuna that whenever the world is in trouble, Vishnu incarnates to rescue us.(“Bhagwad Gita – International Gita Society, Chapter 18, Paragraphs 5-6, ,”) This is akin to the activation of the guiding archetypes whenever individuals or society in Crisis.
Whenever sacred duty decays
And chaos prevails
Then I create
To protect men of virtue
And destroy men who do evil
To set the standard of sacred duty
I appear in age after age.
Ref: Bhagwad Gita, Chapter 4, para7-8
Here is a clinical example of this phenomenon, presented here with the permission of my analysand. She is a soulful individual who was dealing with the traumatic death of her loved ones and had the following dream on the anniversary of her loss that she brought to her session:
I am witnessing a tornado. I see that there is a Poteen ladder in middle of the tornado reaching to the sky.
She researched the word Poteen. It is strong Irish whiskey. The dream was initially confusing in midst of her grief and trauma memories. Upon further amplification, it reminded us of Jacob’s Ladder dream in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Genesis 28:10-17 New International Version (NIV)
Jacob’s Dream at Bethel
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it[a] stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[b] 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
The amplification of the dream was very reassuring and comforting to the grieving mother. The Poteen is the Irish Spirit of her ancestors and the Poteen Ladder is her Jacob’s Ladder; a reminder from the Spirit of her Depths, the womb of the Collective Unconscious, that her God was watching over those she had lost and that she was not alone.
Some Points to Ponder:
What guides you to declare something an emergency?
Where are you on the spectrum of denial to highly sensitive to warning signs?
How do you find/use resources from the collective?
What kind of relationship do you have with your unconscious? What informs you of its quality?
During the current pandemic and in crisis and trauma in your life, do you remember a dream or a synchronistic event that was meaningful to you?
During current pandemic what movies or books “Call you” as comforting and inspiring?
Do you have a favorite myth or fairy tale that you can relate to to deal with the pandemic?
How does this guidance to the Spirit inform you to deal with the pandemic in your personal life?
What interventions have you made to honor this guidance?
Photo taken in Utah
[Bhagwad Gita – International Gita Society, Chapter 18, Paragraphs 5-6, ]). Web Page.
Jung, C. G. (1960b). The structure and dynamics of the psyche. New York: Pantheon Books.
Genesis 28:10-17 New International Version (NIV)
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.