Read Part One on "The Shadow" here.
I realized after publishing my post yesterday on The Shadow that such a topic opens up even more questions. This is often the case and I discover this many times in my writing. Some of these concepts require time and context to ground into something resembling a sustainable, operative condition. There are many pieces of the puzzle, and when we start to put them together, oftentimes we begin to notice missing gaps in the totality of the puzzle. While some things may be made clear, there can still be holes in the argument. Logic and reason are useful tools to help us navigate the infinite complexity of our mysterious Universe but they require time, attention and adequate critical thinking to be effective in transforming consciousness. For today's writing I want to expand on the topics of yesterday and fill in some gaps, perhaps answering some of the questions that may have arisen in our dialogue.
The Shadow, in review, is the unseen and unintegrated psychic phenomena which influence how we perceive, think and behave. Any denied or repressed parts of us that have not been sufficiently integrated into the totality of Who We Are will continue to play a role in shaping the construct of our reality. We see this acting out in huge ways, collectively, influencing the global environment and human species, and we see this acting out on an individual level within our relationships, our families, and our communities. Shadow work, as it was dubbed by Carl Jung, is the conscious attempt of an individual to locate, in their psyche, what has been "hidden" from view. What this looks like practically is the process of seeking to understand & have compassion towards ALL parts of ourselves, including the parts we deem as unworthy, untrustworthy, ugly, etc. When we look inside, and we look carefully, we can see that there are many of these parts swirling around within us. Whether due to trauma that we've experienced or inherited (or both), there are unresolved wounds from our past which are influencing our everyday decisions and ultimately affecting the perceptions that we have about the world and ourselves. If this [Shadow] is left untended, we may continue to act out of a limited and distorted understanding about life as a whole, and the result of this situation is a perpetuation of karma. Since Yoga is the spiritual science of liberating ourselves from all conditions to realize the Ultimate, and a process of unifying ourselves, Yoga plays a key role in the discussion of the Shadow and the evolutionary process of our human species. Allow us to take a further look at this.
As I'd introduced yesterday, the concept of bhuta shuddi seen through the lens of Tantra (the accompanying spiritual science to Yoga) is the concept of purifying one's relationship to the panca maha bhutas, aka "the 5 Great Elements". We can start here because this helps orient to and ground our perspective in the building blocks of reality -- the elemental structures which hold us. Intersecting the View of Tantra with a multidisciplinary approach by weaving the psycho-analysis of Carl Jung and his forerunners (such as Robert Moore) allows us to further wrap our minds around the mystical, metaphysical interpretations with modern psychological understandings. Robert Moore carefully researched and carried forward Carl Jung's work to give us a comprehensive understanding of the deep structures of the human psyche, which quite interestingly parallel the Tantric understanding propounded by the sages of years past. Tantra, with so much precision, provided us with a clear picture about the forces beyond the ego. We see this in their mythologies -- the stories told about the battles between the Gods and Goddesses and the devas and asuras. In fact, we can see the same drama playing out in ALL world mythologies; it is the drama of the human condition, and the attempt by the individual to reach sufficient integration and Wholeness in themselves. Carl Jung called this individuation, which refers to any one person's attempt to understand and clarify their relationship between the ego, or personality, and the Greater Whole. Over the thousands of years that Tantra flourished in ancient India, a highly refined methodology emerged to assist the individual in doing exactly this. Accompanied by the practices and concepts such as bhuta shuddhi, and the myths of Goddesses such as Kali or Durga, or the Gods such as Hanuman or Shiva, the Tantrika begins to explore the inner cosmos and develops their own map to attain the highest of all human goals: Wholeness. Wholeness of Self, Wholeness between Self and Other, and thus Wholeness of Life. This is what "healing" is about, and it involves a sincere investigation into "what is preventing me from experiencing Wholeness in my day-to-day life?" If this is a topic of interest to you, then read on.
If bhuta shuddhi is understood as a purification of one's relationships to the basic Elemental structures within, how does this intersect with Carl Jung's theories? Carl Jung, through his careful analysis of the human psyche, came up with some incredibly rich and accurate assumptions about the nature of the mind; Robert Moore then carried his work forward in superb detail. Both of these psycho-analytic researches amassed serious amounts of clinical and scientific evidence to support their theories. The ideas they came up with about the deep structures of the human psyche were not merely theories or metaphysical ideas -- they were grounded in large amounts of empirical evidence based on decades of clinical observations into human behavior. That is to say, they researched and validated the metaphysical interpretations of Tantra, albeit using their own, more modern, language. To do all of this in conjunction with the modern scientific understanding of our time allows us to navigate the mystical seas of the ancient wisdom sciences, and my attempt now is to carry forward their work and to do justice to their contributions. Thus I must elaborate on their discoveries of the deep structures of the human psyche and weave this together with the Tantric View.
Carl Jung, in his study of ancient mythology and also his clinical work, started to formulate an idea that the human psyche, in its totality, was quadrated. He showed us that there are four main archetypes present within each of us. The archetypes established were: King/Queen, Warrior, Magician, Lover. Robert Moore published a series of books about these archetypes which are highly worth checking out of you are interested. These archetypes are like programs or metaprograms within the human psyche; potentials that could be activated with our awareness, practice and intention. Each of us has a capacity for stability and grounded presence (King/ Queen energy). Each of us has a capacity for discipline and action (Warrior). Each of us has a capacity of higher reasoning and thinking (Magician). Each of us has a capacity for passion and love (Lover). These energies intersect and compliment one another, but they each have a distinct energy pattern and subsequent biochemical output within the organism. When they are constellated correctly in an integrated person, that person is able to access and utilize the appropriate resources WITHIN them to engage in the task at hand: that is to say, the task of bringing Order to the Chaos of the world. This task -- to bring "Order to Chaos" -- is the task of what we might call "world-building"; it is the task of creating a harmonious outer environment, one that is aligned in frequency and vibration with our inner state of being. This is the task of generating a sense of Wholeness.
Circling back on the topic of the Shadow, we may begin to see that the task of "world-building" is often obstructed by the Shadow in the human psyche. There are things within us that want to sabotage this great endeavor. These "things" are the unresolved material of the past. As it has been said, "unresolved history repeats itself". This is in accordance with the Law of Karma, a yogic concept. Yoga aims to liberate the yogi from their karma -- that is to say, to live and respond to the present moment without the past distorting it. A lofty goal indeed, but one that we can move towards with the accurate understanding, appropriate methodology, and the right View. Hence this discussion.
When we realize the great task of human life is to bring Wholeness into being, these topics start to become far more interesting. There are people who wish to remain in denial about the real challenges of life, and would rather bury their heads in the sand, waving demonstration flags or rioting the corrupt political systems. Please do not assume that what I am saying here is that I do not believe there is great evil running amuck in the world. I see and acknowledge the great evil in the world. There are things that are absolutely not okay that are taking place around our globe. However, my task as I see it, is to understand why this is happening and seek to correct the imbalances in myself, before I make any attempt to correct things on the outside. It is an inner job, and it remains an inner job. Why? Because we all share a collective consciousness. We are all plugged into the same energy of life. If and when I am able to locate where my own shadow is projected outwardly, and trace that projection back to its source, I am able to face the true demon. I am mobilizing my energy to where it can be effective in making real change happen. The great paradox of this work is that we become empowered by withdrawing our attention from what appears to be important, and allocating those resources to plug the leaks in our own psyche. It is said that "the world exists to set us free", and the depth to this truth is life-changing if integrated.
Should we begin to "look for the leaks", we start on the age-old task of individuation. We start to consciously identify where in ourselves our access to power is being displaced, diverted, or distracted. The access to power is what allows us to engage in the task of "world-building". This process becomes corrupted when our attention is wholly held towards the world and not on the Source from which the power enters the world. Power is known as Shakti in Eastern wisdom traditions. She is the Mother Goddess personified. For any real transformation to occur, Shakti is at play. What happens many times is we project our power onto others, or we see others who are accessing this Shakti and we try to get some (through them) for ourselves. In this case, we forget how She works. Some people access the power and use it for good; others access it and use it for not-so-good. Our job is not to judge -- it is to locate the power supply in ourselves, plug into it, and regulate its flow. The only challenge we face is the Shadow, for it is our Shadow that is in an eternal tug-o-war with this Great Force. Individuation occurs when we sufficiently separate our Ego and persona from being overly identified with the Shakti (the power), and thereby plug the leaks and stop the projections. We establish Selfhood.
If the Shadow is insufficiently integrated, Selfhood is not possible. That is because Selfhood refers to a personality system where all parts are illuminated. All archetypal energies are accessible and regulated. Like in Tantra and the purification to the elements, we find that a "purified" relationship to Earth allows us to be stable and grounded in ourselves despite whatever is happening on the outside. The King/Queen energy comes online. There are biological components to this and they are related to the different structures of the brain, nervous system, body, breath and flesh. The pranic circuitry of an individual who is regulated in their connection to the underlying forces of the psyche is completely different than someone who is not. We see this in behavior but also in one's subjective experience. Yogic and Tantrik methodology works to upgrade the circuitry of the individual so that all parts of them can come online, and thereby integrated into their totality. The result is Selfhood.
As Selfhood becomes established, so too does the automatic consequence of "world-building". Order arises spontaneously out of Chaos, just as in the process of Creation. When the Big Bang occurred, there was a fiery dynamic of elemental forces interacting with each other, but something helped to organize this material into the life we see today. The same thing occurs in our own process of "world-building". We are responsible for Creation, in the same way the Creator was responsible for organizing something out of nothing. Selfhood is the realization of this process within oneself and beyond oneself. The purification of the Elements, internally, leads us to the understanding of the mechanics of Creation. Our relationship to the archetypal forces within our psyche leads us to an integration of the Shadow and the awakening of the primal Shakti which is driving the ship. These are not theories or concepts but experiential learnings. While it is possible to turn a blind eye to this, some of you have chosen that there is no going back and for that, I salute you.
May these teachings serve as reminders, support, and inspiration for the long journey ahead.