The Shadow Archetype

    The name of this archetype comes from C. G. Jung, who defined the shadow as the essence of that which must be understood and assimilated. He was able to recognize that most people are "shadowless," whether a laborer or scientist, a religious person or atheist. 

    Human beings are filled with the desire for good, yet their shadow represents the darker or evil aspect of a being. On the one side there is good, on the other side there is bad and the eternal struggle of the two in tales, legends and myths of all nations throughout the world. This struggle must be fully experienced on the path to understanding humanity's spiritual reality; one must learn to distinguish and to forgive.  Only through forgiveness and the ensuing compassion is one able to assimilate the shadow as a mostly personified evil, by which we cope with the path and the wisdom of distinguishing the true reality blossoms. The worst thing we can do in encountering the shadow is to identify with it, whereas we ourselves become the personification of evil. The fact that this sometimes happens is attested to by cases of "deranged shooters," who, gun in hand, mercilessly murder everything around them. These people, in the lust for power, glory or exceptionality, identify with their shadow, since they lack the courage to stand up to it despite having provoked it. Any ideological label of their inhuman act is merely another act concealing the cowardly surrender to their own evil – to their own shadow. Unfortunately, man prefers to adhere to the belief that the visible enemy is more convenient than the invisible enemy within himself. Blinded by himself, he projects evil into his surroundings, since he can hate evil in the others around him.

    I realized how assimilation to my shadow filled me with animal instincts, and am drawing attention to this dangerous fact in advance. Long ago, before acknowledging my own shadow, I felt almost innocent, even exemplary and mostly infallible.  It was only through an awareness of the shadow within me that I could achieve humility and acknowledge my "rotten parts." I was horrified by that enormous power of instincts, by the heaps of pride, arrogance, self-importance, haughtiness and other negative qualities. I was just like Augeas, son of Helios in Greek mythology, who never cleaned his stables, in which, after years of raising cattle, there had accumulated a giant pile of manure. In the Greek myth, Heracles is given the task of cleaning the Augean stables as part of his twelve-year slavery to the king of Mycenae and Tiryns. Heroic Heracles drove the herd of 3,000 cattle to a meadow, dug trenches to the nearby rivers and used the water from these rivers to wash away the filth. Then he drove the cattle back to the sparkling clean stables. Such heroic work awaits all those who will clean out their own hearts. I was no exception and had to work day after day, night after night (since one can even work subconsciously in dreams) to recognize, eliminate and assimilate individual negative qualities through compassion. I had to process thousands of individual stories from my own life, in which I had let myself be carried away by personality, and to rectify faulty thinking and attitudes. I diverted the rivers down the trenches dug within me to the famous stables and I began to clean out the filth accumulated through the years.

    Considerable help in the "struggle" with the shadow came to me in the form of the non-violent philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism, the example of the life of Jesus Christ, of Gautama Siddhartha Buddha and of other saints, the mystical experiences of Květoslav Minařík, Míla Tomášová, Eduard Tomáš and other works of awakened individuals who left a great wealth to future generations in their writings. Since I tried to assimilate each protruding part of the shadow from the very beginning through forgiveness and compassion, I was largely able to eliminate the terrifying encounters with the monsters and creatures from the world of the unconscious. Perhaps this is why my encounter with the shadow was an "elysian idyll." Everything is due to the fact that a substantial part of the elimination and assimilation of the shadow was done in waking consciousness, in philosophical thought and meditation, when I deliberately "pulled out" dependencies from within and deliberately burned them in the flame of forgiveness and compassion. I set myself the task of morally regenerating my being, and several years of hard work paid off. I never let the shadow grow too long and always tried to understand and assimilate the shadow (my bad qualities or evil) as soon as possible. I tried to abide by the motto:

        "The qualities that you hate in other people are your qualities,
        that you subconsciously hate and unsuccessfully rid yourself of.
        The qualities that you tolerate in other people,
        are qualities that you have definitively rid yourself of."

    This approach greatly facilitated the differentiation process for me and gave me the strength for the endless task of cleaning my "Augean stables." Perhaps this explains why the ensuing dreams will not be a mythological adventure of battling terrifying creatures or a theme suitable for an action horror film, but will be subtle hints of the shadow's activities that are needed to fully understand the nature of this archetype. It is absolutely necessary that we understand the shadow as part of ourselves and bring together its positive and negative aspects, through which we find the peace and quiet of our own existence.

The scheme for the Shadow archetype:

  1. Visions, premonitions or awareness of the shadow phenomenon
  2. An example of the broad spectrum of the shadow's activities
  3. The shadow seeks weaknesses of the seeker
  4. Apparition of the devil
  5. Struggle with the devil
  6. Ridding oneself of one's lower instincts
  7. Triumph of compassion and forgiveness
  8. The final struggle with Mara

    I became aware of the devil and God within me, even though the vast majority of churches prevent this in every possible way since they believe they would lose their exceptionality as indispensable and unique mediators between God and the miserable sinner. Nobody has ownership rights to God: God is in each of us. To find him, you must first pacify and assimilate the devil. This does not require one to enter a monastery or deep forest and to lead a strictly ascetic life. You can undertake a complete moral revival in your everyday life; it's enough just to turn your attention inwards and seek the truth there. It's enough just to look at yourself as you look at the world and to stop just looking at the world. One view is introvertive and the other is extrovertive. The first provides fuller experiences and a fuller understanding of external relations; the second pulls a person down into dependencies and slavish subordination to one's own personality that one builds in constant hypocrisy before others and, ultimately, even before oneself.

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