As current events clearly evidence, we, as a world, are in a heated cauldron of violently clashing energies. What is cooking in the cauldron will eventuate in a newly formed world which includes a reconciliation of all the factions currently at war.
Erich Neumann, a German Jewish Zionist psychologist and medical doctor, who settled in Palestine in 1934 and who was also Jung’s greatest protege took up the issue of this great transformation, in the midst of World War II, in his book, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic. In this concise work, Neumann made clear that the core issue that confronts both the individual and the human species as a whole is its confrontation with the shadow side of its nature.
The ethic that has guided humankind to its current state of consciousness has split the self into good and evil. The dark, evil side of the self is rejected, denied, suppressed and repressed. This gives rise to a scapegoat phenomenon where the dark side of the self is projected onto the darker or weaker “other,” currently the Muslims, illegal immigrants, resident people of color, and women. An effort is made to rid and protect the self from the dangerous other through walls, bombs, prisons, and destruction of Planned Parenthood, to give a few examples.
We have reached the stage where the disowning of our own darkness and the destruction of its projected carrier has reached lethal proportions everywhere in the world today. There is no safe place.
For Neumann, the old ethic of maintaining world order through splitting, projecting, and destruction will be replaced by a new ethic of wholeness. Wholeness means the truthful acceptance and integration of all that we are into a balanced whole. Being “good” or being “bad” are replaced by being “whole.”
Being whole means loving all that we are. Loving means full acceptance of the truth of all that we are. This includes acceptance of all of our animal, physical, instinctual, earthy, emotional impulses as real parts of who we are. Loving means sitting with the emotional tension of all of the most abhorrent and unacceptable parts of the self and finding a creative way to integrate them into our lives.
The old solution of suppression and repression, of negative judgment toward and denial of the dark side of the self can no longer be contained in the scapegoat mentality which now threatens to tear us, as a world, into bits. We can no longer seek refuge in the purely spiritual. Even Tibet, the holiest of holies, was forced into diaspora, to foreign soils of lowly earth beyond the sanctuary of secluded mountaintops. There is no sanctuary in spirit alone.
Humankind must value and reconcile with its creature side; spirit alone is one-sided and falsely representative of what we are. And our materialness, the earth—the feminine—must be granted its true throne as the other side of God, the material, instinctive, and wild as equal.
To accept does not mean to give carte blanche to all that we are. To accept means to suffer the tumult of finding wholeness. Nothing is condemned in wholeness, but again, this is not license to act out the forbidden, though it will require a journey with the forbidden.
On the journey to wholeness the judgments of good and bad are suspended. Good and bad are labels for different parts of the self. In wholeness, all parts must be accepted. How could it be otherwise? How can we be whole if we eliminate parts we don’t like about ourselves?
Acceptance then comes in the bearing of tension of the unacceptable and finding a way to creatively being all that we are, in a new balance that takes life forward in a new direction, into a new ethic of wholeness.
It is from this new ethic of wholeness that we can look at all sides of ourselves with equal love and compassion. And indeed, full acceptance and integration of the shadow within the self offers the basis for true compassion without.
Bearing the tension of the opposites,