“Each of us is like Dorian Gray. We seek to present a beautiful, innocent face to the world; a kind, courteous demeanor; a youthful, intelligent image. And so, unknowingly but inevitably, we push away those qualities that do not fit the image, that do not enhance our self-esteem and make us stand proud but, instead, bring us shame and make us feel small. We shove into the dark cavern of the unconscious those feelings that make us uneasy—hatred, rage, jealousy, greed, competition, lust, shame—and those behaviors that are deemed wrong by the culture—addiction, laziness, aggression, dependency— thereby creating what could be called shadow content. Like Dorian’s painting, these qualities ultimately take on a life of their own, forming an invisible twin that lives just behind our life, or just beside it, but as distinct from the one we know as a stranger.”
-Romancing the Shadow
According to Carl Jung, each of us has a shadow self which comprises of aspects of our identity that we have chosen to reject and suppress. Although our shadow selves are hidden from our conscious self-image, it is an integral part of our identity. If our shadow selves are repressed, they will find ways to manifest in our reality through, for instance through projection (attributing our shadow selves to others), somatisation (integrating into our body) or identification (turning into our ego ideal).
Truth is revealed in paradoxes; our light is revealed to us through our darkness. In the darkest parts of our psyches, we often discover our greatest gifts, such as our souls’ true desires and our spiritual talents. Hence, as Jung said, the shadow is ninety percent pure gold.
True spiritual work is not just about embracing love and light. Every spiritual path must include shadow work, which involves uncovering everything we have disowned and rejected within our shadow selves. Spiritual evolution is a destructive and painful processes. We must allow our former selves to be fully revealed in both light and darkness so that the ego will no longer have any dominion over us.
I believe that the beauty of the human experience is that we have all the qualities of creation within us – we have both light and darkness within us and we can experience both humanity and divinity. To achieve oneness with ourselves, we must embrace and love every quality within us.
p.s. Leave a comment if this resonated with you. I love to hear your stories!
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What an excellent article–insightful and rich! Thank you for sharing with us! Namaste
Everything may be a path but some paths should be avoided.
Nice post. Bob