The following post is the first in a series of daily reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic by Jungian Psychoanalyst Ashok Bedi, MD & Jungian Psychotherapist Robert BJ Jakala, PhD. Dr. BJ Jakala is a photographer and Dr. Bedi and Dr. Jakala jointly amplify the image. The ongoing series is available on pathtothesoul.com.
Minding Our Nest – Our Vulnerable Humanity on a Fragile Planet
Often this work is wearisome and difficult, because it cannot be accomplished by intellectual shortcuts or moral recipes, but only by careful observation of the inner and outer conditions.
– C. G. Jung, The Symbolic Life : Miscellaneous Writings (1976, p. 617)
I woke up uncertain of what condition the world would be in and how I would face it. Before finding out what the outside would want, I sat quietly to check in with my internal world. I notice I am scared and need some courage. I remember a teacher long ago who said, “Fear is the embryo of courage. Courage is not born unless fear is present.”
I decide I need to act on tasks, familiar tasks, so I will feel a sense of influence and accomplishment rather than fear. I do some work out in the yard and notice how spring is here. None of the plants, butterflies, fruits, grasses or birds know about the Covid-19 virus. I begin to align with the natural feeling of spring. The work to care for my small piece of the planet helps me be more self-assured.
When my work is done, I go for a long walk and find a few people doing the same. Today when we made eye contact and said hello, there seems to be a deeper connection; a connection of “we are all in this together.” It occurred to me how the threat of climate crises has brought some nations together to save the planet. It is during this time that nations might work together to save humanity. Perhaps the threat of a common enemy will help all of us see we are in this together.
When I came home from my walk, the memory of this photo came to mind. It demonstrates action to make things better. What do I bring home? How do I contribute to my nest? It reminds me that I can collect memories and bring them to the moment, memories that are useful to my internal and external home. I carry the smiles and acknowledgement while on my walk with me now. They are here in my house with me.
It is via Community that we will save our humanity. In the Buddhist tradition, there are three legs of the spiritual tradition: Buddha (Image of Self), Sangha (Community) and Dharma (Spiritual Purposefulness). When these three are aligned, we come into our Soul. When all of us honor our Spiritual purposefulness and support the Community effort, we become One World, UNUS Mundus. Then the effort of each one of us will collectively support ALL of us. In the Alchemic tradition, one plus one = 11. That is the Way.
Some points to ponder:
- What is your Inner condition?
- Are you focused on Survival or Service?
- What is your outer condition?
- Are you aligned or disconnected from others around you?
- How do they influence your experience?
- Do other feel you are present in the moment with them?
- If you don’t use intellectual shortcuts, what will you use?
- What part of history do you bring to this moment?
- What vision (like a bigger nest) are you building now?
Robert “BJ” Jakala, PhD is a Depth Psychologist, Educator, Writer, and Photographer. He is a graduate of Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, CA. He is also a Registered Nurse who worked at Linda and Stewart Neuropsychiatric Hospital for thirty-three years. He was a Nursing Supervisor for seventeen years and lead Group Psychotherapy on the Adult Service for ten years. He has taught the First Year Nurse Residents Self-Care and Stress Management at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for over twelve years. He is the former Assistant Director of the Men’s Center of Los Angeles for 5 years. He retired from thirty years of Private Practice in Woodland Hills, CA in November. 2017.
Dr. Jakala promotes the idea of transformation and change as a function of image and language in patients, as well as clinicians. He teaches the rewards of deep listening to the images created by language and the value of an image’s experience before words emerge. He aligns with Carl Jung’s ideas regarding a universal consciousness that is often hidden beneath the surface of our ego consciousness. He encourages clinicians to appreciate the collective in order to assist clients become more of themselves.
Ashok Bedi, M.D. is a Jungian psychoanalyst and a board-certified psychiatrist. He is a member of the Royal College of psychiatrists of Great Britain, a diplomat in Psychological Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of England, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is a Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and a training analyst at the Carl G. Jung Institute of Chicago. His books include The Spiritual Paradox of Addiction, Crossing the Healing Zone , Awaken the Slumbering Goddess: The Latent Code of the Hindu Goddess Archetypes, Retire Your Family Karma: Decode Your Family Pattern and Find Your Soul Path and Path to the Soul. He is the liaison for the IAAP for developing Jungian training programs in India and travels annually to India to teach, train the consult with the Jungian Developing groups at several centers in India including Ahmedabad and Mumbai. He leads the annual “A Jungian Encounter with the Soul of India” study group to several centers in India under the auspices of the New York Jung Foundation. His publications and upcoming programs may be previewed at pathtotheosul.com