Monday, June 15, 2009

dancing in the shadow of the shadow

the range of what we think and do
is limited by what we fail to notice.
and because we fail to notice
that we fail to notice
there is little we can do
to change
until we notice
how failing to notice
shapes our thoughts and deeds.

r.d. laing

the burdens we carry . . . so much weightiness! each little parcel of expectation carefully wrapped and then added to the bulging sack of our shadow. the shadow that for whatever reason(s) we choose to ignore, simply adding to its mass and overlooking its effect on our thoughts and deeds.

the shadow - some points of reference from carl jung:

unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. if an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. but if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.
"psychology and religion" (1938). In cw 11: psychology and religion: west and east. p.131

there is a deep gulf between what a man is and what he represents, between what he is as an individual and what he is as a collective being. his function is developed at the expense of the individuality. should he excel, he is merely identical with his collective function; but should he not, then, though he may be highly esteemed as a function in society, his individuality is wholly on the level of his inferior, undeveloped functions, and he is simply a barbarian, while in the former case he has happily deceived himself as to his actual barbarism.
psychological types (1921). cw 6: p.III

when we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. we wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness. but to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer.
"the stages of life" (1930). in cw 8: the structure and dynamics of the psyche. p.752

to confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self. anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle.
"good and evil in analytical psychology" (1959). In cw 10. civilization in transition. p.872

a man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbour.
"the philosophical tree" (1945). In cw 13: alchemical studies. p.335

projections change the world into the replica of one's own unknown face.
aion (1955). cw 14: p.17

the "other" may be just as one-sided in one way as the ego is in another. And yet the conflict between them may give rise to truth and meaning-but only if the ego is willing to grant the other its rightful personality.
"concerning rebirth" (1940) In cw 9, part I: the archetypes of the collective unconscious. p.237


  1. Oh yes. And the unconscious, the repressed, the shadow, the projections, are played out on many levels - the personal, and the global.

  2. i see the interconectedness of all things as meaning that individual actions can bring quality into the world of qualities. acts of simple goodness regardless of their scale can affect the world.
    in that way personal knowing and understanding carries a lot of weight!
    have a peaceful day. steven