Last night I watched the latest radio show of Oprah interviewing Eckhart Tolle. When she asked him, “Ten years after publishing ‘The new Earth’ do you still believe it is going to happen?”, I kept waiting for an awareness creation around the inevitability of the shadow. Eckhart spoke about challenging times these days, but I saw that the subject invited even more depth and understanding around the shadow. In these challenging times, we as a civilization need to educate ourselves about the shadow principle and understand what it is, and how to integrate and live with it in an enlightened way.
The shadow is a psychological term introduced by the late Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Gustav Jung. It is everything in us that is unconscious, repressed, feared and denied.
The shadow is an archetype. And what an archetype simply means is that it is typical in consciousness for everyone. Everyone has a shadow. This is not something that just one or two people have. We all have a shadow and a confrontation with the shadow is essential for awakening and self-realization.
The subject of the shadow is rather unpopular, because we are conditioned by fairy tales and their “happily ever after” narrative. We as a collective simply do not like going to such deep, dark places – but this is exactly where our healing and salvation will come from.
Jung says: “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
As long as a human being carries judgement and is identified with it – be that a negative or a positive judgement – this very judgement inevitably casts a shadow. One can’t say “left” without involuntarily saying “right”. Anything judged as “good” has its opposite - “bad”. Just like electricity exists within two poles, plus and minus; if you take one away the other one disappears too.
The only way to make a shadow disappear is to drop the underlying judgement. Of course that is the meaning of “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.”
Dropping judgement is very different from supressing judgement. In order to drop judgement, we need to be willing to give up being right. And that is very difficult for the ego.
The majority of people have developed an unconscious habit of chronically suppressing their shadow and pretending not to have shadows (which, by the way, is the essence of what nowadays is called “spiritual bypassing”). The shadows that we are aware of are harmless, but the ones that we believe not to have – they are conducting one’s destiny.
To quote Jung again: “The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must by force act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.”
Whatever drama is happening outside of you, you can safely assume that it is all sourced by your unenlightened (unconscious) shadows. And do what you will, hope as much as you can, you can’t get rid of the shadow by denial – that’s why “shadow” is such a good term.
And one more time Jung: “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.”
The moment you allow a judgement of good or bad, you cast a shadow. Judgement causes separation. The Law of Oneness however doesn’t allow separation, and therefore creates a dynamic to bring what has been separated together again. But fear and self-delusion block the integration. The shadow now needs to find another way to be recognized, accepted and integrated by you; it makes itself heard on the platform of the body. All kinds of symptoms arise out of the shadow to catch the hosts attention that there is a principle that needs to be recognized and integrated. Mostly by ignorance people don’t see diseases as messengers of the shadow, and therefore miss out on the opportunity to use their symptoms to become whole again.
The shadow however doesn’t go away by itself; it can’t. So it enters the stage of our external lives and makes us whole by force; it attracts exactly that into our lives what we are in denial of admitting to be. We attract people, partners, circumstances that carry all the shadow aspects that we refuse to accept having ourselves. Consequently we are forced to live these by the circumstances we can’t seem to get rid of or solve.
The moment one begins to see the truth about the shadow, it’s existence, it’s inevitability and it’s opportunity (to become whole again and set one’s destiny free) life stops being a battlefield, and the roses on the sidewalks open their petals again.
From my understanding of existence, there is no way around the shadow but only through the shadow.
Helping people find that way THROUGH and making it safely to the other side is at the core of my work as a spiritual teacher and shadow guide.
In my signature experience called Shadow & Light Retreat I help people to become conscious of, face and integrate their shadows and make space for their authentic light to shine again. Explore the retreats and how you can join here on the retreats website.
With love, Marc