Shadow Teachers- The best awakening / enlightenment teachers
I am a shadow teacher. When I write, speak or teach about awakening you will see, hear, and feel my shadow sitting right next to me. I do not hide it. I am not ashamed of it. I do not attempt to scrub it clean. I welcome it into the room; with all it’s glorious faults, apparent contradictions, blemishes, and rough edges. I don’t do this for you. I don’t do this in the name of drama or entertainment. I don’t do this because I am in truth “perfect or pure” and am trying to relate to you. No. I do this because shadow is not separate from who I am.
But of course, there is more to it/me than this because we all have a shadow, and simply recognizing and embracing the shadow does not mean you will wake up. The trick then- to spiritual awakening- is to recognize and embrace both the shadow and that which casts the shadow: LIGHT. Are you with me?- Embrace both. Welcome them both into awakening. Some of my teachers were shadow teachers and I loved/love them dearly. They were the ones who truly inspired me, truly allowed me to be myself, truly empowered me to embrace my own unique awakening. And I did just that. I welcome you to do it as well. Let’s explore the shadow …
(Quotes in blue from wikipedia)
“Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” may refer to the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious, or an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative.”
That’s the rub. Shadow is usually hidden. It requires some work to access it, uncover it and integrate it. The work-or process-or therapy required to bring it into the light of consciousness can be difficult, painful and tiring. But it is the BEST work you will ever do in your life; the best yoga; the best fast; the best confrontation; the best sweat lodge you will ever experience.
“The impact of such confrontation (with the shadow) produces at first a dead balance, a standstill that hampers moral decisions and makes convictions ineffective.., chaos, melancholia. (depression-dark night of the soul -JSD) Consequently (as Jung knew from personal experience) ‘in this time of descent — one, three, seven years, more or less — genuine courage and strength are required, with no certainty of emergence. Nevertheless Jung remained of the opinion that while ‘no one should deny the danger of the descent … every descent is followed by an ascent …and assimilation of — rather than possession by — the shadow…”
One of the most inspiring books I ever read on my journey to awakening / blue collar enlightenment was called “Ego and the Dynamic Ground” by Michael Washburn. In it he uses a phrase I love to quote: “regression in the service of transcendance” It perfectly encapsulates the integration of shadow and light. Simply put, you have to take a few apparent steps backwards- the descent into shadow- to proceed forward.
Jung’s ascent “launches ‘a different perspective. We begin to travel through the healing spirals…straight up’. Here the struggle is to retain awareness of the shadow, but not identification with it. ‘Non-identification demands considerable moral effort…prevents a descent into that darkness’; but though ‘the conscious mind is liable to be submerged at any moment in the unconscious… understanding acts like a life-saver. It integrates the unconscious’- reincorporates the shadow into the personality, producing a stronger, wider consciousness than before. ‘Assimilation of the shadow gives a man body, so to speak’,and provides thereby a launching-pad for further individuation.”
“Awareness of the shadow but not indentification with it” is the most important part of this passage and a vital element of the awakening process. In other words the fangs, the teeth, the bite- are removed from shadow. Ego, mind and shadow remain but they are now integrated as friends- limited friends- who no longer rule the roost; who no longer reign supreme; who no longer cause pain, separation, dissonance, or unhappiness. Me personally? My shadow: is a silly, dumb, goofy, lovable, potty-mouthed, kid brother. Gets into trouble. Can be an idiot. Can be lazy, bored, and irritable. Can say and do stupid things. But ultimately,hopefully- is harmless.
Okay, you are saying but what about the LIGHT? Ahhh. Good question. The best shadow teachers also help, aid, and guide you to realize, embody, and awaken to the your own source of light. Here’s the deal however: It is my own personal belief and opinion (garnered from 20-some years of hanging out with awakening teachers) that in order to realize, embody and awaken “the light” – you need a boost, a pattern, and method of cross pollenization, a source to magnetize to. In other words you need to spend some time in the company of someone whose light is shining; someone who is awake.
The moral of the story:
I have found that those teachers who only shine their light and keep their shadows hidden- are full of it. They are doing you a disservice. You cannot be inspired by perfection, by a master of the universe, by someone who is only extraordinary. Inspiration comes from the ordinary, human fraility, humility, faults, foiables, and imperfections. So seek out those teachers that are shadow teachers. Seek out those who welcome your deepest darkest secrets into the well-lit room. Seek out those who embrace and love the shadow and light of themselves . . . and consequently, the shadow and light of YOU.
Explore your shadow and light with J. Stewart Dixon in a skype session. The first one (½ hour) is free! What have you got to lose? Go here to schedule: http://attainingpie.com/online-orders/