Filled with darkness

Last night nine human beings were killed by one young man who was filled with darkness.

“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 perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.”

-Carl Jung

I have known of Jung’s concept of the Shadow since 2010. The Shadow is the Self that one doesn’t want to acknowledge, as it contains all that we find fearful and dark about our own selves, our own lives. If a person can acknowledge that it exists, then there is the possibility that it won’t manifest itself out into the real world. If they can’t, then it most likely will. What I see on the news almost every day is the the Shadow unleashed. The Shadow is a real part of our mind and should be acknowledged as such. Only by looking at it without fear can we stop it from running the show, our lives.

I struggle to believe that as a society we could possibly acknowledge our cultural Shadow and work on it for the greater good. I know on a personal level it is possible, but even so just because it is possible doesn’t mean it is at all easy. It is extremely difficult, because as a human being our natural tendencies are to refrain from going into that dark closet to confront the bogeyman. We would rather move toward comfort and be surrounded by light and warmth.

Facing the Shadow means facing your fears. On the news we find people who are filled with Shadow – they kill the Other over and over again in some desperate attempt to escape themselves. Only by acknowledging that there is no Other, that all we fear is ourselves and the nothingness that we think might lay behind the curtain, can we even begin to move forward. We need to summon the courage to face our fears and let them pass through us, and then get to work.

The Shadow self would like to tear everything apart. When we don’t acknowledge it, we let it have free reign inside us, and it wreaks havoc in our outer lives. As a person who studies and practices Zen Buddhism, I see similarities in Jung’s concept of the Shadow and the Zen concept of the Small Self. Essentially, Zen says all of our concepts of who we are are just that, concepts: our Small Self. Only in being present from moment to moment can we really truly be our Big Self; enlightened, completely real, in the flow. Constantly examining the mind to find these concepts that provide the framework for our Small Self and letting them all go is the simple practice of meditation. The Shadow is all of that Small Self stuff; all the experiences and concepts that we have ever had and have not processed, grown into a dense heavy jungle of our past. Only by facing our fears and realizing that our fears are not who we are, that we can actually process them and let them go, can we lighten our hearts and minds. A good article about the Small Self is here: Zen Bite: You!

If we are chained to the past or putting all of our hopes in the future, then we don’t have a fucking chance. All I can do at this moment is to sit at the table with birds chirping outside and turkey babies peeping inside, thinking my thoughts, and trying to write them down with the least amount bullshit.

There is a lot of living to do today, so I have to go live one moment at a time.


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