DEC 15 8 PM
THE i AND THE
The Reading Group
Join me next month for a new online lecture The i And The Not i.
"A virtuous individual brings forth commendable deeds from the goodness harboured within their heart, while a malevolent person manifests destructive actions stemming from the wickedness nestled in their heart. For it is from the heart that the mouth articulates its contents."
— Luke 6:45
The subsequent verse conveys the notion that a person's words and deeds are indicative of the contents of their heart. Should an individual possess kindness and a benevolent disposition, their utterances and actions will reflect positivity. Conversely, should someone be imbued with negativity and malevolent intentions, their expressions and conduct will tend towards harm.
This concept bears resemblance to the idea of yin and yang, which represents the dualities inherent within us all - the virtuous and the malevolent, the feminine and the masculine energies. Both of these elements are vital for our well-being when they coexist harmoniously. Should one aspect overpower the other, it may result in chaos and unpredictability.
Jung and Shadow :
A similar concept related to those mentioned above is that of the shadow, which has been popularly talked about by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in 1951. Jung believed that within every individual, there exists a facet encompassing a spectrum of attributes, encompassing both positive and negative qualities, as well as those that induce feelings of embarrassment or shame. These attributes, which we may be inclined to repress or overlook, subsequently become relegated to the depths of our psyche, hence the term "shadow."
Interestingly, this shadow element remains an intrinsic and perpetual aspect of our being, persistently accompanying us throughout our lives. The question then arises as to whether we wish to bring it into our conscious awareness and confront it, a choice that ultimately determines how we let it influence our lives.
Jung believed that the shadow represents the hidden and often unconscious aspects of an individual's personality. These aspects can encompass a wide range of emotions, desires, and traits, both positive and negative. It's important to note that the shadow is not inherently negative; it contains aspects that have been pushed to the unconscious due to societal norms, personal beliefs, or past experiences.
Jung also believed that the shadow is formed through a process of socialization and personal development. As individuals grow up, they learn to conform to societal expectations and norms. Traits, emotions, or desires that are deemed unacceptable or incompatible with these norms are pushed into the shadows. Although the shadow is hidden from conscious awareness, it continues to exert a powerful influence on an individual's thoughts, emotions, and behaviour.
The dark side of shadow has been beautifully explored in detail in various movies, a few of which are discussed below to elucidate on concept of shadow better:
In "The Dark Knight," the character of Harvey Dent, portrayed by Aaron Eckhart, provides an excellent representation of the concept of the shadow. Harvey Dent is initially depicted as the idealistic and morally upright District Attorney of Gotham City. He is known for his dedication to justice and his commitment to upholding the law. However, as the film progresses, Harvey Dent faces a series of traumatic events, including a brutal attack that disfigures half of his face. These experiences lead to the emergence of his shadow side, represented by the villainous persona of Two-Face. Two-Face is a stark contrast to the virtuous Harvey Dent; he becomes vengeful, chaotic, and driven by a desire for retribution.
“Black Swan'' (2010), is another film that prominently features the concept of the shadow, drawing from Carl Jung's ideas. In the movie, the main character, Nina Sayers is a highly disciplined and repressed ballet dancer. She embodies the "white swan" persona, which is pure, delicate, and controlled, but she struggles to access her darker, more sensual side, represented by the "black swan" in the ballet. As she delves deeper into her role, Nina's repressed desires, anxieties, and insecurities begin to manifest. Her pursuit of perfection and her inability to embrace her shadow side lead to a psychological breakdown. Nina experiences a descent into madness as her shadow takes over. Her transformation into the black swan is both literal, as she performs the role in the ballet, and metaphorical, as she loses touch with her original identity and becomes consumed by her darker impulses.
Gollum another famous character from, Tolkien’s “The Lord of The Rings”(2003) is another example of the dark side of the shadow. He was once a hobbit-like creature named Sméagol but was transformed over many years into the twisted, corrupt, and sinister being known as Gollum. He is consumed by his obsession with the One Ring, which he calls "my precious." This obsession leads him to commit heinous acts, including murder, in his quest to possess the ring. Gollum's character embodies the concept of the "dark shadow". His dark side has completely taken over, leading him to behave in ways that are harmful to himself and others. Throughout the story, Gollum's inner struggle between his better self, Sméagol, and his darker side, Gollum, is a central theme. It illustrates how the shadow can manifest in a character's actions and how it can be a powerful and destructive force if left unchecked.
Balance Within: The Dual Nature of Shadows
The commonly discussed notion of the shadow, often depicted as a looming darkness that gradually encompasses an individual, akin to the venom influence on Spiderman, may not always possess the somber and foreboding characteristics as it is often portrayed. As previously mentioned, it is the innermost thoughts residing within the realms of your subconscious and unconscious that inevitably rise to the surface. A more apt analogy would be planting a mango seed; the eventual harvest reflects the nature of the seed sown and the diligence in nurturing it.
Jung also delves into the concept of the Golden Shadow, signifying the facet of our inner selves that identifies and appreciates goodness or positive attributes in others. This particular aspect of our being observes and acknowledges such qualities in others but often remains oblivious to their presence within ourselves. The origins of this self-sabotage can be traced to experiences of childhood shame or a persistent sense of inadequacy. However, Jung believed that the Golden Shadow is an intrinsic part of our psyche that can be cultivated, as it embodies facets of our soul that radiate love and healing.
Achieving this state of being is not a swift process nor solely the result of meditation and the practice of breathwork. Rather, it necessitates years of mindful dedication and heightened self-awareness. It involves recognizing and addressing any unhealthy traits within oneself. Only then does one genuinely encounter the Golden Shadow, a profound reflection of their own soul, exuding love and healing.
In conclusion, the concept of the shadow, as explored by Carl Jung and exemplified in various literary and psychological contexts, serves as a profound reminder of the complexity of human nature. It signifies the often-hidden aspects of our personality, encompassing both the darker, more challenging elements and the potential for growth and self-discovery. This lecture will delve deeper into understanding how embracing the shadows within us can ultimately pave the way for a more authentic and fulfilling life, where we find harmony in the delicate balance between light and dark, good and bad, and, ultimately, within ourselves.