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Reply To: The Shadow


Hello James,

I’ll address your first part of your post because it really got my attention and adds an extra dimension to this conversation. If I am understanding you correctly you are saying that when dealing with the shadow aspects of our personality we also have to be careful about thinking eliminating the “shadow” completely as this would make us too much acquiescent. That is true and integration of the shadow doesn’t mean being agreeable for the sake of being civilized. We still have to act for what we think is right for ourselves even though we might hurt other people in the process. Ofcourse mythology offers many examples on this relationship of the father/son or mother/daughter going into some major conflict.

The other aspect is the one you talk about and point out in the quotes you provided (books that have certainly went into my reading list) in that when we suppress our shadow too much for conformity with society we lose very crucial parts of our personality like being spontaneous, creative and basically like you mentioned in your post when we lose those we become spiritless. It takes a lot of tweaking and fine balancing these elements to become true individuals. As far as I can tell using and integrating your “shadow” for your own purposes means you maintain your posture in the position you hold in life or philosophy or the road you wanna travel and at the same time it also means being respectful of other people’s way or philosophy but how this is done without hurting the other is a mystery to me. For example take the philosophical religious/scientific conflict it exists in the world today. A conflict which I am very fond and take extra pleasure in engaging with both sides. For sure both sides go to extremes to have their point made valid. Both are wrong and right at the same time which is weird but on the one hand you cant reject the mysterious part of life completely like it happens in some scientific groups and on the other you cant accept it in the way that was understood fifteen hundred years ago like it happens in religious groups. Campbell stretched and explained this in the best possible way the Western mind can understand it and we still haven’t resolved it. Funny. Seems to me one is the shadow of the other.

That is all I am gonna say for now because it is too much to absorb at the moment but I am very interested in this relationship of the positive and negative elements of the shadow and how the process of integration or balancing happens but its really good that you brought this extra dimension in the conversation because I often get caught in this trap thinking that in order to become a better person also means eliminating the shadow completely . And with that said I hope I didn’t take the conversation too much off track. Anyways.