Tag Archives: shadow work

Chuck’s Place: Within and Without

We are the drop and the whole ocean too…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If we contemplate the oft-cited metaphor of an individual human life being but a drop of water in an ocean of its greater wholeness, we might come to another apt metaphor: Is the glass half empty or half full? Being half empty is the deflated perspective that a mere drop of water is so minuscule as to be essentially insignificant.

From this perspective it’s hard to imagine that anything we might do could possibly positively impact the greater world, especially in this time of such obvious great upheaval. A mere droplet of water could hardly reverse the tidal wave of energy impacting Earth’s many shores.

From the more optimistic glass half full perspective, we might appreciate the holographic perception of that drop of water as a fragment that in fact mirrors and contains the entire ocean. Transformations within that single droplet inevitably impact the entire world.

The challenge is to claim ownership for the entire world within the province of the self. Nothing that exists without does not exist within. On some level, in some form, we are, each of us, as individuals, also the world.

Outwardly, societies have struggled to create civilization—a humane interconnectedness that eliminates the extreme cruelty and brutality of barbarism. Regardless of a given civilization’s progress in actualizing its civilized intent, greed and self-interest remain part of the self and part of the world.

Wars, at their root, result from the breakthrough of these shadow energies, previously held in check by a civilized container. The explosive release of these powerful energies leads to great destruction of the Earth and human life. Postwar optimism and renewal of life become possible once the deployed energies of destruction are on the wane, and as good once again begins to assert itself.

The inefficiency of this war and peace cycle is obvious, particularly at a time when modern weaponry can destroy the Earth. Quite simply, humanity must develop a new technology to harmonize the bipolar energies within itself. Rather than simply repress and imprison its unwanted self, humanity must own and integrate all parts of itself.

This brings us back to that droplet of self we know ourselves to be in this life. Within that droplet is every person, every act we see perpetrated in the world. Firstly, can we own that behavior out there that we so disdain? We can believe that we would never do some of the things we see happening in the world, but can we own the fascination, rage, joy, contempt, or hatred we might be inwardly experiencing that vicariously activates and releases like energies in ourselves?

Own your shadow. Jung believed this to be the greatest challenge and necessary next step in human evolution. Carlos Castaneda left us the technology of suspending  judgment of others to own our own shadow. When we judge, we put ourself above the person we are judging. This separation of self from other is actually a disowning of the part of ourself activated by the other’s behavior. When we suspend judgment, we are freed to face honestly all we discover in ourselves, good and bad.

The Buddhists highlight the technology of compassion to reconcile with the unwanted within the self. Every time we find ourselves triggered and enraged by the behavior of another, feel loving compassion for that human being in deep struggle with the forces within themselves. Use such moments as teaching moments, asking the self, “What am I supposed to learn from this experience?” In this manner, everything becomes personally meaningful and part of our own journey to reconciliation and wholeness.

This in no way means to deny the rage and hatred experienced at the barbarism on display, but to reach a feeling of deep compassion is to absorb and transmute those warring energies, creating deep acceptance of self and other. True love requires that we love all.

Our holographic droplet of water self that achieves both a suspension of judgment and compassion for the other is in such a state of advance that its greater wholeness, the ocean and humanity at large, can’t help but be changed by it, within and without. Do not doubt; this is the power of the humbly small.

Half full with compassion,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: 50% (+) & 50% (-) = Harmony

In perfect harmony…

If the equation that is the title of this blog is accurate, then the world, as it is currently energetically distributed, would seem to be on a grand trajectory of achieving harmony. In need of immediate clarification however, is the understanding of (+) and (-).

(+) and (-) are not to be confused with good and bad, as commonly assigned. (+) and (-) are instead the primal energies that make up everything. Thus, for example, the primary building blocks for all the hexagrams in the I Ching are Yang and Yin, the masculine creative (+) and the feminine receptive energies (-).

Yang as spirit and Yin as matter are the primary equal sources of all that is. Thus, man and woman are composed equally of Yang and Yin, spirit and matter. However, when focusing only on outer appearances, the sexes have been innacurately pigeonholed into polarized opposites. The current questioning of gender categories reflects an effort to break the blinding power of these stereotypes when applied to people.

To be in a state of total polarization is the precursor to union. When the positive and negative poles of magnets face each other, a powerful attractive force draws them to unite. When a negatively charged electron meets with a positively charged proton, they are, once again, powerfully attracted to unite. This is the essence and energy of electricity.

The social polarization that currently dominates our world reflects a repulsive vs. attractive force. This occurs in nature when two like poles face each other. If the like poles of a magnet are brought in close proximity they exert a powerfully repulsive energy that absolutely refuses union.

This energetic likeness, in opposition, suggests that what actually underlies the apparent polarization of now, is actually the animus of like energies vying for supremacy and separateness. Thus, the very active energies of Yang are battling for supremacy. The receptive energies of Yin, that would lead toward union, are in very short supply.

Nonetheless, repulsive power is an energetic fact of nature. It serves the function of energetically maintaining distance from another. Within the tension it generates, consciousness has the opportunity to examine rejected and underdeveloped potentials within the self.

This would be what Jung identified as shadow work. This is where ego encounters unknown and unowned parts of the self in a state of opposition. Though repulsed by each other they are nonetheless bonafide parts of the self. These are the male figures that men struggle with in dreams and the female figures that women struggle with as well.

To achieve inner harmony, Yin must be introduced into shadow work. Though the repulsive force of Yang upon Yang energies is powerful, it is also unstable. Again, just try holding the same poles of opposite magnets steady; it’s nearly impossible. The instability of this potent opposition will require the introduction of Yin to achieve the stability and necessary attraction for the harmony of greater unity to occur.

Yin, as the receptive, receives all things. The energy that is capable of complete receptivity is none other than love. Love is the ultimate energy that receives and rejects nothing. Thus, shadow work ultimately requires fully loving all parts of one’s repulsed shadow self. Loving one’s shadow neighbor neutralizes repulsive energy, as the shadow consolidates in wholeness with ego. This sets the stage for the greater union of Yang and Yin, the true equation of harmony.

In recapitulation, one actively engages Yang and Yin energies to arrive at a state of inner harmony. In trauma, the energy of Yin protectively freezes all the aspects of the traumatic experience into a consolidated mass that is then generally stored somewhere in the physical body. This chrysalis of separated energetic experience awaits the action of Yang to free its energy and to ultimately be transformed and integrated into one’s living wholeness.

The ego, the conscious active Yang force, must embark upon the hero’s journey to find and free its imprisoned Yin. Thus, with intention, the ego scans the body in search of its lost Yin. Yin sends out sensations of appreciation and often pain, signaling the greater experience frozen inside it. As well, feelings of fear and anger might emerge to defensively keep one at bay.

Here, Yang might employ the recapitulation breath to bring the Yang and Yin forces into active engagement. As the head moves from side to side, or pole to pole, the breath accompanies it, actively mixing and releasing these opposite energies of matter and spirit. The full experience of frozen Yin is experienced by its partner Yang, as they, as a couple, dissolve the frozen energy in the chrysalis, which re-forms into the butterfly of liberated energy within the self.

Subjectively, one applies loving acceptance toward every aspect of the experience once lost to one’s greater wholeness. Everything and everyone is completely emotionally neutralized by this all-accepting power of love. Nothing remains that has the power to trigger. The full truth is known, fully appreciated, accepted, integrated and transformed into wisdom.

Recapitulation advances harmony through intentionally bringing (+) and (-) energies into active engagement and passive receptivity. As holograms of the whole, every time we recapitulate we advance the cause of outer harmony. May these efforts accrue to lead the world back into harmony.

Begin the reconciliation process within to further the intent for harmony without. To come home for the holidays is to find this harmony at home, within the self.

As within, so without,

Chuck