text © Jonathan Zap
I stood upon a high place,
And saw, below, many devils
and carousing in sin.
One looked up, grinning,
And said, “Comrade! Brother!”
— Stephen Crane (1871-1900)
Be aware of the darker side of your self and of life and know what it is saying to you.
The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Everything has a shadow side. If you don’t see the shadow of a person, you don’t see the person and are blinded by idealization. If you don’t see your own shadow, you are in denial, and will project your shadow onto others.
We all have a side of ourselves we consider dark. Our shadow may include appetites, lust for power, manipulative agendas, chaotic emotions and sub-personalities, addictions, and so forth. The more we deny the shadow, the more it weighs us down. But if we embrace its reality, learn how it works, and then integrate it into our awareness so that it cannot rule us, we become enlightened. We become wiser and more empathic for having a shadow and discover that there may even be hidden treasures in the dark continents of the unconscious.
If we are at war with our shadow, then it dominates us. We project it onto individuals and groups, and act out our inferior side. If we are unable to accept our shadow, we become hungry ghosts, forever seeking outside recognitions to compensate for the doubts that gnaw at us. When we recognize and accept our imperfections they strengthen us, and we become more nourishing and attractive to others. All people have a shadow, but only the strongest are able to integrate their shadows with acceptance and love. Summoning the intense moral courage to accept your shadow is an ongoing process that creates healing for yourself, those close to you, and the entire world.