Carl Jung is famous for having brought the concept of working on shadow elements within the psyche into Western psychotherapy, although the process of self-therapy, self-transformation and psychic self-evaluation with subsequent spiritual elevation is indeed a very ancient practice. Advanced practice was perhaps considered to be found mainly in the realm of shamanism, priesthood and other high level spiritual roles. However, ancient civilizations and cultures integrated the identifying and processing of shadow characteristics also into their general spiritual and cosmological belief systems, but we find that these aspects are often not featured in popular spirituality today.
By having become relatively unconscious of the depth and nature of the individual shadow (which is a back-door to the collective shadow), behaviours and tendencies related to it have become more socially accepted. Unfortunately, the commercialization of spirituality means that the positive, pleasant and easy elements of being spiritual are usually focused upon. The deeper, underlying issues often remain unexplored, so the necessary (challenging) transformation processes are not always engaged with and the shadow elements remain active or are only temporarily resolved. This means that modern forms of spirituality often serve predominantly as spiritual entertainment or forms of escapism without reaching its full potential.
Perhaps if we had been paying more attention to the collective shadow elements within our societies (as a priority) since the end of the Second World War, as Carl Jung had strongly suggested, we may have been more prepared for some of the crises we are experiencing at present and those yet to come. However, as Jung’s also said, large portions of society remain blissfully unaware of how world peace and stability hang on a fine thread (back then and now). We have never been this connected as a species in our entire history and so distracted at the same time, mostly by choice.
As Carl Jung explained in a documentary interview (Matter of Heart), we are all uniquely born with certain characteristics within a certain historical and cultural context. We each have a personal responsibility to reach the highest state possible as an individual person within that context. By doing so we participate fully and play our part to the best of our ability as individual elements within the large organism that us humanity, in the theatre of life and the universe.
The very first step is having respect for yourself (your Self, not your ego) and that process starts within. The nature of that respect is respect for your higher-self and that higher self can take a third person view to approaching and resolving internal and external conflicts. The advantage of the third person view is that almost everything can be viewed as “theatre”, (but) with a proactive, problem solving objective in mind. In other words, the spectator is observing in order to learn how to improve, adjust, or resolve his or her own approach or behaviour by comparing with what is being observed. Without taking the third person point of view, what is being observed is often copied instead of transcended.
The higher-self is beyond the ego and has a much wider perspective and expanded comprehension. By living our lives from that position we are the closest we can get to non-duality on a permanent basis. A person who is peaceful within, will shun conflict. A person who comes from the heart, won’t have the heart to harm another – and will motivate others not to do so either. Those who have maintained (and have respect for) their traditions and values within their own countries, will have respect for others who have maintained theirs within their countries.
Mutual respect amongst nations is the bedrock of international peace and stability, but it relies on everyone participating equally. Similarly, for democracy to work a respect for its institutions is required. Over and above that, democracy relies on a certain level of morality being present within those that ascribe or commit to it and also on a basic understanding of what democracy means in the first place.
Within the framework of international cooperation and conflict resolution, in a balanced world, nations who come from histories of dominance would do their best to refrain from returning to or repeating such history – and take the High Road. Nations, cultures or groups with histories of having been harmed or persecuted or wronged, would refrain from enacting retribution or turning to the same methods as those who have harmed them – and take the High Road. This of course is a tall order, but when we observe and learn from the theatre of history, taking the high road is the only road which will lead to genuine progress and spirituality, as opposed to a false sense of progress (“progressiveness”) to the disadvantage of others and at the cost of perpetuating the cycle of violence indefinitely.
By considering the rights of children, within the context of various conflict zones around the world and also within our own societies in relation to what they are exposed to, we may be able to reflect on how far we have drifted away from our claims of being humanitarian, peace-loving, democratic and a force for good. Perhaps it is time for all peace-loving peoples to request their governments to kindly de-escalate all tensions which could potentially lead to major conflicts and the harming of civilians and children. We owe it to the future of a stable and balanced world. We owe it to the future of our children and to their children’s children. Not least, we owe it to our higher-selves and the legacy that we leave behind.
“The human being who starts by withdrawing his own shadow from his neighbor is doing work of immense, immediate political and social importance.” – Carl Jung (as quoted by Sir Laurence v.d. Post)
Also see: Shift Of The Stages
This article was originally posted at GypsyCafé.org
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