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Switch to Forum Live View Owning Your Own Shadow
4 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 2:35PM #1
stardustpilgrim
Posts: 5,280

"The persona is what we would like to be and how we wish to be seen by the world. It is our own psychological clothing and it mediates between our true selves and our environment just as our physical clothing presents an image to those we meet. The ego is what we are and know about consciously. The shadow is that part of us we fail to see or know.


We are all born whole and, let us hope, will die whole. But somewhere early on our way, we begin the shadow-making process; we divide our lives. In the cultural process we sort out our characteristics into those that are acceptable to our society and those that have to be put away. The refused and unacceptable characteristics do not go away, they only collect in the dark corners of our personality. When they have been hidden long enough, they take on a life of their own--the shadow life. The shadow is that which has not entered adequately into consciousness. It is the despised quarter of our being. It often has an energy potential nearly as great as that of our ego. It can errupt as an overpowering rage or some indiscretion that slips past us; or we have a depression or an accident that seems to have its own purpose.


The civilizing process consists of culling out those characteristics that are dangerous to the smooth functioning of our ideals. We divide the self into an ego and a shadow because our culture insists that we behave in a particular manner. One can make a forceful argument that children should not be subjected to this division too soon or they will be robbed of childhood......


It is interesting to travel about the world and see which characteristics various cultures affix to the ego and which to the shadow. It becomes clear that culture is an artificially imposed structure, but an absolutely necessary one. Some very good characteristics turn up in the shadow. Some of the pure gold of our personality is relegated to the shadow because it can find no place in that great leveling process that is culture. Curiously, people resist the noble aspects of their shadow more strenuously than they hide the dark sides.


Wherever we start and whatever culture we spring from, we arrive at adulthood with a clearly defined ego and shadow, a system of right and wrong, a teeter-totter with two sides. It is clear that we must make a shadow, or there would be no culture; then we must restore the wholeness of the personality that was lost in the cultural ideals, or we will live in a state of dividedness that grows more and more painful throughout our life.


A terrible law prevails that few people understand and that our culture chooses to ignore almost completely. That is, the seesaw must be balanced if one is to remain in equilibrium. The balance of light and dark is ultimately possible--and bearable. All nature lives in polarity--light and dark, creation and destruction, male and female.


Most people presume that they are the sole master of their house. To acknowledge and then own one's shadow is to admit there are many more sides to us that the world generally does not see.


To refuse the dark side of one's nature is to store up or accumulate the darkness; this is later expressed as a black mood, psychosomatic illness, or unconsciously inspired accidents. The tendency to see one's own shadow "out there" in one's neighbor or in another race or culture is the most dangerous aspect of the modern psyche. Unless we do conscious work on it, the shadow is almost always projected; that is, it is neatly laid on someone or something else so we do not have to take responsibility for it. We are left as less than whole personalities when we invest our own darkness into something outside ourselves. Projection is always easier than assimilation.


The shadow often shows itself in petty and mundane ways. I had a friend whose father was a retired Cambridge professor. The family dog, old and difficult, had to be put into a kennel each winter. Yet when it was brought home again each spring, the whole household brightened. The old man now kicked the dog instead of taking his shadow out on the other family members. It is not uncommon for people to keep a pet to carry their dark side.


Probably the worst damage is done when parents lay their shadow on their children. This is so common that most people have to work very hard to throw off their parent's shadow before they can begin their own adult lives. If a parent lays his shadow on a young child, that splits the personality of the child and sets the ego-shadow warfare into motion. When that child grows up, he will have a large shadow to cope with, and he will also have a tendency to put that shadow upon his own children.  


It is a dark page in human history when people make others bear their shadow for them.


I am often asked if it is possible to refuse a shadow projection from another person. This works only if one has one's own shadow reasonably well in hand. Usually when you recieve a shadow projection, your own shadow errupts and warfare is inevitable. When your shadow is like a gasoline can waiting for a match to fall on it, you are fair game for anyone who wants to irritate you. To refuse another's shadow, you............".


from: Owning Your Own Shadow by Robert A. Johnson, 1991, pages 3-36


........................


And, it's quite interesting to watch all this shadow-projecting on Science & Religion, better than any TV program.........


Begun at the suggestion of........... Sealed .............. Wink ......... quite a while back...........


stardustpilgrim                   

The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.
Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.
The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton

A map is not the territory.                                                                 Alfred Korzybski

God is that function in the world by reason of which our purposes are directed to ends which in our own consciousness are impartial as to our own interests. He is that element in life in virtue of which judgment stretches beyond facts of existence to values of existence.      Alfred North Whitehead
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4 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 3:08PM #2
Wendyness
Posts: 3,012

LOVE the post.  I work with a Jungian weekly who never misses an opportunity to point out my shadow in my dreams or conversations with him.  It's painful and hilarious at times.  


"If you undertake spiritual practice you will be confronted by your dark side.  This is an axiom.  The spiritual quest is dangerous, just as the books say.  Seeking truth means experiencing pain and darkness, as well as the clear white light.  Practioners must prepare themselves to deal with the dark underside of life.


This dark side can take many forms.  Religious stories personify it in images of devils and dark, angry gods.  Buddha, Christ Mohammed, and virtually every other lesser figure report dealing with the temptations of the "Evil One:, prince of the world-- Mara, Satan, Iblis.  The teaching story of temptation, which occurs before illumination, is more than just another "Hero vanquished Monster" myth -- it is a description of a specific peril of the spiritual path.  The Christian and Sufi mystics experienced it more personally, as the obstinate pride and trickery of the ego and the "dark night of the soul".  For the modern practitioner the dark nature is even more multi-faceted; our complicated world has many evil faces, and dealing with the dark side has never been more difficult.


Light is infinite; dark is infinite.  There may never by an end to the struggle with darkness.  This does not depress the true practitioner.  To struggle with darkness is the same as to strive for light. Both darkness and light are illusions; what lies underneath them both is nothing but Being, Bliss, and Consciousness.  This should never be forgotten"


 


William Carl Eichman, MEETING THE SHADOW

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4 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 3:12PM #3
stardustpilgrim
Posts: 5,280

Likewise Wendyness, most excellent post.


sdp

The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.
Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.
The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton

A map is not the territory.                                                                 Alfred Korzybski

God is that function in the world by reason of which our purposes are directed to ends which in our own consciousness are impartial as to our own interests. He is that element in life in virtue of which judgment stretches beyond facts of existence to values of existence.      Alfred North Whitehead
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4 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 3:24PM #4
Wendyness
Posts: 3,012

 


"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." C.G.Jung


"Projecting" our shadows is truly a fascinating part of being human.  Becoming aware of our shadows is divine.

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4 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 3:53PM #5
Namchuck
Posts: 11,582

Mar 13, 2010 -- 3:24PM, Wendyness wrote:


 


"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." C.G.Jung


"Projecting" our shadows is truly a fascinating part of being human.  Becoming aware of our shadows is divine.




 


You throw around terms like "divine" so loosely, Wendyness.

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4 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 4:07PM #6
Wendyness
Posts: 3,012

Mar 13, 2010 -- 3:53PM, Namchuck wrote:


Mar 13, 2010 -- 3:24PM, Wendyness wrote:


 


"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." C.G.Jung


"Projecting" our shadows is truly a fascinating part of being human.  Becoming aware of our shadows is divine.




 


You throw around terms like "divine" so loosely, Wendyness.




What an odd thing to say, is that your little shadow coming out?

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4 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 4:17PM #7
Wendyness
Posts: 3,012

Mar 13, 2010 -- 3:53PM, Namchuck wrote:


Mar 13, 2010 -- 3:24PM, Wendyness wrote:


 


"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." C.G.Jung


"Projecting" our shadows is truly a fascinating part of being human.  Becoming aware of our shadows is divine.




 


You throw around terms like "divine" so loosely, Wendyness.




Consciousness IMHO is divine, with a small "d".  So is dark chocolate, Belgium beer, and a good romp in the hay with my husband.

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4 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 4:45PM #8
Namchuck
Posts: 11,582

Mar 13, 2010 -- 4:17PM, Wendyness wrote:


Mar 13, 2010 -- 3:53PM, Namchuck wrote:


Mar 13, 2010 -- 3:24PM, Wendyness wrote:


 


"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." C.G.Jung


"Projecting" our shadows is truly a fascinating part of being human.  Becoming aware of our shadows is divine.




 


You throw around terms like "divine" so loosely, Wendyness.


 




Consciousness IMHO is divine, with a small "d".  So is dark chocolate, Belgium beer, and a good romp in the hay with my husband.




 


Ahh, understood!

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4 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 5:17PM #9
Wendyness
Posts: 3,012

Mar 13, 2010 -- 4:45PM, Namchuck wrote:


Mar 13, 2010 -- 4:17PM, Wendyness wrote:


Mar 13, 2010 -- 3:53PM, Namchuck wrote:


Mar 13, 2010 -- 3:24PM, Wendyness wrote:


 


"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." C.G.Jung


"Projecting" our shadows is truly a fascinating part of being human.  Becoming aware of our shadows is divine.




 


You throw around terms like "divine" so loosely, Wendyness.


 




Consciousness IMHO is divine, with a small "d".  So is dark chocolate, Belgium beer, and a good romp in the hay with my husband.




 


Ahh, understood!




A much better way to get your point across would be to simply ask, "What do you mean by divine Wendyness?"


Your phrasing of your statement is accusatory of something that is "contained" in you.  You "projected" your shadow.

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4 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 6:58PM #10
Wendyness
Posts: 3,012

Most interesting play of shadow.

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