Friday, February 6, 2009

Mucking things up with your Shadow

In Psychology research there is a lot of study on the concept of the "Shadow Personality" or Shadow.

A quick glance at the Internet reveals Jung's definition: "According to Carl Jung, the shadow is that part of the personality one chooses not to see. Usually of a vulgar, shameful, or corrupt nature, the shadow is comprised of whatever one cannot uphold in one’s idea of oneself. Not being integrated or even acknowledged by conscious mind, the shadow sits and waits in the unconscious."

Ken Wilber's Integral Philosophy borrows heavily from this concept.

Explaining this in my own words, I would say that the Shadow is a subset of your Inner Self, a piece of it. It is a part of your emotional makeup that you generally do not want to deal with, but it is there nonetheless.

Ever have an "evil thought" about someone? Ever wish someone ill? Ever say to yourself, "If I wasn't such a nice person, I would...."?

Those are pieces of your Shadow breaking through. Ken Wilber's work says that in addition to doing all of these exercises to increase your access to States, and to move up the Stages, you also have to work on integrating your Shadow. That is to say, you have to learn to contact and accept your Shadow as a part of yourself.

Keep in mind, that is not to say that you have to conquer or kill the Shadow, or even solve its problems. All you have to do is face it. Integrate it. Make it a known part of yourself. Become aware of it.

Interestingly, if you do that, the Shadow's influence and tendencies to pop up at inopportune times diminishes.

Not working on your Shadow can present problems. There are huge numbers of "spiritual" people that meditate for hours per day, practice compassion for human beings, give to charity, and then go home and beat their kids. These people have great access to all kinds of States, and they can even operate at high Stages, but they are assholes nonetheless. Why? Their Shadows still have not been integrated.

More on this later....

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