Shootings galore. A hero stabbed. Arson in a spiritual mecca. Massacre at a peace rally. Suicide of an innocent youth.
Someone asked me what I thought about bipolar disorder. I answered that we must first consider that bipolarity is the inherent condition of the human species: beings of consciousness, beings of animal instinct; beings of light, beings of shadow.
In the light, we are socialized beings who wear the uniform of morality. In the depths of our darkness we are hunted by the repressed animal within, whose instincts are now marshaled to terrorize, disrupt, and defeat the hegemony of our light spirit self who disowns its shadow.
“It is the law of heaven to make fulness empty and to make full what is modest,” states the I Ching in the hexagram of Modesty.*
When that which is light refuses to acknowledge and integrate its own darkness that darkness will break through in random acts of shadow to recalibrate the bipolar disorder of one-sidedness. That is, nature will correct itself.
The mistake so often made is to misinterpret the cause of violence. The natural tendency is to seek safety and security from the predator “out there.” Is it not becoming clear that the terrorist is coming closer and closer to home? The shadow is blatantly coaxing us to realize that the madness we see erupting all around us is actually the collective shadow we all own.
We can no longer contain and manage this primal force by projecting it onto the black man or the terrorist who we jail and kill. As the shadow encroaches closer and closer to home we must claim ownership and strike a new bipolar balance with our disowned other who paces restlessly in the labyrinth within, awaiting its opportunity to pounce.
But how to make peace with a shadow that threatens our very survival?
Once I sat with devout Saudi Muslims, the warmest of beings, who when speaking of Israel suddenly assumed the countenance of a sly fox. “You can never trust a Jew,” I was informed.
Once I sat with devout Jews, the warmest of beings, who when speaking of Arabs suddenly assumed the countenance of a sly fox. “You can never trust an Arab,” I was informed.
I felt such love in both meetings, but was struck by the identical perspective they shared, as they each so clearly saw mirrored their own shadow in the eyes of the other. Of course, the rule of the self-fulfilling prophecy plays out here: where there is no trust there is fear, defense, and offense. And so the endless cycle of war replays, each side desperately seeking survival, each side becoming the shadow they see in the other.
Chuck’s Rule Number One: No blame.
As they say in the 12-Step World: don’t take anyone else’s inventory; focus on deeply revealing the truth of the self to the self.
We must know, own, and reckon with the truth of our own shadow side with its deep attachments to its own instincts, hidden desires, greed, and power.
It is not possible to see clearly or speak honestly to another unless we have come to know and accept the truth of our own inner darkness. Short of that, our disowned darkness will be projected upon and reflected in the eyes of the other, be they our partner, family member, fellow citizen, or any other member of our shared species.
Chuck’s Rule Number Two: Value the darkness.
It is rejection of the darkness that has constellated the raging bull of a shadow that now tramples our lives near and far. We no longer have the option of holding back our instincts for the sake of civilization.
The only hope for civilization now is to embrace and reconcile with its full wholeness, light and dark. This is the only way to calm the storms of extreme bipolar disorder that now rock our earth. Our bipolar sides must become friends, valued for their differences, for the balance they bring.
We must abandon forever the one-sided—light—notion of perfection and embrace the dark. We are human animals after all, whose deepest instinctual needs must be addressed if we are to be redeemed from the perils we now face.
Chuck’s Rule Number Three: Compassion.
With deep self-knowledge and self-acceptance we are released to love, rather than confront, our “evil” neighbor. Acceptance of one’s own shadow leads to compassion for everyone, for all human beings are equally saddled with the identical challenge: to become whole through reconciliation with our bipolar light and dark natures.
Chuck’s Rule Number Four: There is nothing to fear.
In closing, this is my final rule, that truly there is nothing to fear. Once we face the truth of our own shadow selves, we have faced our deepest enemy: ignorance of who we really are.
Once we have faced the truth of ourselves, there is nothing to fear in the world, and random acts of shadow evolve into an individuated wholeness, ready to take us deeper into the next adventure, as fully integrated bipolar beings of light and dark.
From both sides,
*Quote: from the I Ching, Richard Wilhelm translation, Hexagram 15 Modesty, page 63.