Embracing your Shadow: The No-Struggle Approach to Spirituality
There is a popular philosophy that talks about embracing the dark side of one’s psychology, and integrating it with the conscious side. The dark side, in this line of thought, is usually those things that are not accepted forms of behavior; things such as jealousy, arrogance, malevolence, rage, as well as some other strong manifestations of egos that society deem inappropriate. Lighter form of egos, on the other hand, are not seen as a problem in this philosophy. In fact, they are encouraged forms of behavior, or at least something that, as it is claimed, we should all have a healthy dose of – things such as passion, anger, pride, fear, and most other egos in their mild or healthy form. However, whenever any of those reach the point where it is messing with the person’s life in a blunt way, then it becomes a shadow, something that one needs to work on or integrate.
The people who say that it is necessary to embrace your dark side, your shadow, and integrate it with your true self, mean that through the acceptance of one’s own dark side as the natural part of who we are a healing can take place, an integration, a wholeness. They insist that life is not worth living if we don’t have both good and bad sides, if we don’t go equally through emotion of joy as well as pain and suffering.
There is also another line of thought, called “shadow work”. Here it is meant that some active psychological work is done in order to overcome psychological obstacles, egos or traumas from the past. Although this term and teachings originate from a psychologist Carl Jung, the person who combined both spiritual and physical sciences in his teachings, the today’s version of it is watered down and is lacking the spiritual component of it.
Now, as the person progresses in their understanding of themselves and the world around them, they begin to see that they should not make a distinction between strong manifestations of egos like rage with smaller forms of anger. They see that both these things come from the same source, from one and the same anger, the only difference being in the strength of its manifestation. By seeing this, the person arrives to a new level of understanding in which it is no longer necessary to make distinction between good and bad egos, because the newly gained understanding shows them that all the egos are really one and the same, all of them ultimately cause suffering.
Someone who has accepted their suffering as an intricate part of life, something without which they would feel like they are lacking, have directed themselves towards a limited form of spiritual realization. Despite having an interest in spirituality, their realization will not go beyond a perception that is close to the physical sense perceptions. The reason for this is that the shadow that they decided to integrate is filling up the space of their true self, the consciousness, and so the potential for a deeper understanding and perception is blocked. Occasionally they may see more, but it is really a temporary thing, mostly related to the karmic learning, which everyone on this planet goes through. On the other hand, those who see that embracing their shadow doesn’t answer questions nor fixes psychological issues, will attempt doing the above-mentioned shadow work, in hope of transforming parts of their psychology and thus become somewhat free from different programs and obstacles in their life. This is again taken to a new level when we decide to fully transform our shadow, when we dissolve it so that the only thing that remains is the consciousness – the neutral divine center within us, our true self, that which is beyond good and bad, that which knows how to live a life aligned with divine laws.
The shadow eclipses the consciousness and prevents it from seeing clearly. The shadow is mechanical in its nature, making us act like robots, slaves to the external circumstances; it is keeping us away from the divine center within because it presses onto us its continuous drives, heavy thoughts and emotions, passions etc. It is keeping us bound in materialism of the worst kind, unable to live truly our divine nature. The shadow is a layer that we overgrow as we move along the path of self-knowledge.
HDP, January 2023.