As vigorously detailed in my previous posts True Boredom, and Fuck Em’ We Got choices Part 3, I’m a big fan of the process of working with the shadow aspect of consciousness, as part of what I like to refer to as the, “Wake the Fuck Up Option.”
One of the biggest hurdles to embracing this shadow aspect is the popular conception of it as completely negative. However, it actually represents the contents of the unconscious mind which remain unilluminated by conscious awareness and contains both positive and negative aspects.
While Carl Gustav Jung, celebrated founder of Analytical Psychology, refers to the shadow aspect as the, “dark unknown side of our personality,” importantly, he also goes to great lengths to remind us that, “in spite of it’s function as a reservior of darkness, it is also the seat of creativity.”
“According to Jungian analyst Amelia Jaffe:
[the shadow aspect] “… is essentially all of the personal and collective psychic elements, which because of their incompatibility with the chosen conscious attitude, are denied expression in life.”
The less acknowledged and integrated the shadow is, the more we are victimized by it. Because the shadow is instinctive and irrational, it is prone to irrational projections in which a perceived personal inferiority in a person, is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.
Jung writes that:
“… if these projections remain hidden, the projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object–if it has one–or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power.”
Repressed shadow can manifest in a wide range of psychological disturbances from neurosis through to psychosis, irrational interpersonal hostility, mass-hysteria and at the level of collective conciousness, it can even spawn disastrous international geo-political clashes.
By bringing the unconscious contents of our psyche into conscious awareness (into light) we can become more creatively empowered to work through our life’s obstacles and manifest our genuine creative will. This is true at the level of personal improvement, social improvement and by natural extension in terms of the shifting global paradigm.
The interconnected nature of the collective consciousness make us both contributors to and inheritors of the qualities of the consensus reality of our global paradigm. One of the greatest ways by which we can contribute to a meaningful shift in the global paradigm, is to take seriously both our ethical and political responsibility to cultivate consciousness by withdrawing shadow projections.
According to celebrated author, healer and spiritual emergence pioneer Paul Levy:
“Illuminating our inner darkness frees us from the unconscious compulsion to project the shadow outside ourselves. Recognizing, owning and shedding light on our own darkness, we be able to help make darkness in the world conscious. Withdrawing our shadow projections from the outside world we become active agents and embodied representatives of peace.”
One of the problems with unassimilated shadow, is that it has a very nasty habit of sowing the seeds of self-sabotage or bad self-fulfilling prophecies. This may be readily apparent in both our day-to-day individual interactions, and within the events manifested through the mass consciousness of humanity upon the world stage.
No where is this more prevalent within the collective global consciousness, than in the War on Terror.
In continuously and outrageously exaggerating the perceived threat level posed by extremism and then taking such unnecessary and excessive geo-political actions to try to eliminate it, Europe and the Middle-East have become more geo-politically destabilized than ever. Instead of eating our collective shadow, the collective shadow has eaten us.
The persistent rhetorical fear-mongering shadow projections of Western governments onto the archetypal terrorist bogeyman, as well as those of Radical Islam upon the respective bogeyman it has created of the West, are essentially manifesting in this continuing cycle of retaliatory aggression.
Furthermore, it is illustrative of one of the inherent paradoxes of shadow projections, and that is that they can be profoundly hypocritical. So while Western governments are constantly reiterating their status as the innocent victims of terrorism, they are purpetrating politically motivated violence on a much grander scale in other parts of the world.
“It is highly indicative of what Jung, in reference to World War 1, described as the overweening pretensions of the human shadow which we so gladly project onto our fellow-men in order to visit our own sins upon him with apparent justification.”
In the context of a War on Terror, the earlier mentioned effects of shadow projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else, is amplified to an extraordinary degree and is played out on the world stage in terms of a clash of civilizational values between Radical Islam and the West.
We can see here, that the real destructive power of these projections lies in thier power to insulate and harm individuals by acting as a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world.
Wether it be at the level of interpersonal projections caused in our daily lives by the idle criticisms of others, or at the collective level of chronic social and geo-political antagonisms, the lesson is that we need to remain persistently aware that it is about an inner struggle with shadow: an assimilation, and not a wholesale elimination, either metaphorically or literally.
I’ll end here with another very fitting Paul Levy Quote:
“By illuminating the darkness within ourselves, we are able to connect with each other in a state of co-inspiring lucidity. Mutually helping and empowering each other so as to stabilize and deepen our individual and collective realization. Joining together in our shared lucidity, we discover how we can creatively put the light of our creative realization together, so as to dispel and transmute the destructive effects of the darkness in the world.”
Stay tuned for more adventures in Shadow Land…
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