shedding skin and
I’ve been picking
My old muscles
Looking for a clue.
I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been.
I’ve been wallowing in my own confused
And insecure delusions
For a piece to cross me over
Or a word to guide me in.
I wanna feel the changes coming down.
I wanna know what I’ve been hiding in”[46&2, written by Maynard James Keenan]
How far back do we have to trace our own self-destructive habits before we see the things which have collectively created our “shadow”?
I suppose to answer this question I should define what the shadow is..
“In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. It is one of the three most recognizable archetypes, the others being the anima and animus and the persona. “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.”[Wikipedia]
In my previous note I wrote about the lower ego and the higher ego, the base surivial-oriented animal mind and the mirror of the spirit. Between these two there is another layer known as the shadow. This part of the mind operates at a subconscious level, we do not directly recognize it in itself but yet it influences the lower ego to act on everyday situations by situations from the past.
When we analyze the patterns in our lives and our behavior, emotions, etc, we should question ourselves. Why do I feel this way about this thing, why does this scenario/concept make me feel this way, etc. When we start to gain insight to these questions we will inshaallah trace them back and realize the events that placed these behaviors/emotions in us and we will start to identify the shadow, which will in turn create a bridge between our conscious and subconscious self.
I listened to a talk tonight about “removing the mask”. This mask is the persona, the front we create as a result of our survival-oriented ego’s reaction to the input from our shadow. When we identify and resolve these events and create this bridge the mask starts to fall away and the true self comes out.
This true self, I believe, is what is referred to in the Hadith “He who knows himself knows his Lord”. Can any of us go back in time before all the things which formed our shadow took place? Each of us are born innocent, with a Fitra, an essence of our Creator. This is the part of us that causes our search for God and causes us to ask where we came from and what we are doing here. The world causes us to cover this essence, and unless we take this journey inward we will never find it and never know the answer to these questions.
Who was I before I internalized my experiences in the world? Can I return to that original state of clarity? Are the mind, soul, and spirit all linked together?
This is, in essence, the whole point of Jungian psychology, individuation-the self-realization through which we truly become whole beings. When we realize and re-integrate or sublimate the disowned and repressed parts of our psyche we return to that original state of wholeness through knowledge of self. This is also, coincidentally, the same quest of the Gnostic or ‘Arif-to purify the self and find God as a result.
“We shall show them our signs within the furthest horizons and inside their own souls until it becomes clear to them that God is Truth.” [Qur’an 41:53]
5-power- refinement/2-wisdom, 1-knowledge
You can’t do the wisdom before you do the knowledge, as wisdom is the application of knowledge. Knowledge is the accumulation of facts thru observing, learning, and respecting. Wisdom is knowledge acted upon, therefore you need to do the knowledge first as you can’t act upon something you don’t have. Power is force or creative energy. To Refine is to perfect.Wisdom & Understanding give you Power (2+3=5). (5)(Power/Truth/Refinement)
Many times conflicts in our everyday and personal lives come from us reacting to a situation first before actually assessing it. In order to refine and perfect our interactions in the world we have to see situations as they are and act upon that knowledge, rather than assuming and acting upon our own emotions and pre-conceptions. When we combine these we begin to understand, or overstand, life and the way ourselves and other people relate to it. Wisdom add on knowledge all born understanding, 1+2=3.
U is the 21st letter of the alphabet. In the supreme alphabet, u is you or universe. So now we see how this concept directly relates to refining ourselves and building with others. The first three letters of universe are U,N,I-or YOU AND I. When we knowledge this concept we can then begin to apply it, and gain understanding. When this understanding refines ourselves and how we interact with the world around us we can build rather than destroy. 5+2+1, or 5+1+2=8.
5(power,refinement) add on [1(knowledge) add on 2(wisdom) all born 3(understanding)] all born 8(build/destroy].
In reference to what was said about reacting to a situation or person based on our own emotions and misconceptions before assessing the situation rationally and logically without bias (contempt prior to investigation), we have to understand what psychologists term as “fundamental attribution error”. Many of us have heard that the world is a mirror. We often apply our own attributes to other people, and sometimes grow angry with someone unaware that we are manifesting our own shortcomings in them. In order to see others enacting this on us, we should always investigate what their priorities are. A person’s priorities and concerns will always dictate the attributes they see in the world and others. The same goes for ourselves, what are your priorities, and what are mine?
There is a hadith in which Rasulallah sallahu aleiyhi wa sallam said that a believer is his brother’s mirror, and now psychologists are coming out with the term “fundamental attribution error”. Subhanallah.
In the art of war, chapter 5 verse 21 Sun Tzu writes,”The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals.” The commentary of Tu Mu says, regarding that passage,”He first of all considers the power of his army in the bulk; afterwards he takes individual talent into account, and uses each man according to his capabilities. He does not demand perfection from the untalented.”
Demanding and expecting from others what we want from/for ourselves is to set ourselves up for failure. This is just one more case of fundamental attribution error in action. We need to asses a whole situation as is, without our personal expectations and then do what needs to be done to manifest the desired result rather than expecting everyone to play by our script.
In conclusion, I leave you with the 21st key of life-A smile brings forth energy or life.
Day in and day out he works this land, digging and planting in the field
Another lost cause/ old dirt they say will never yield
But he keeps on working/ digging, planting and uprooting with calloused, tired hands
They don’t understand, just why he keeps on trying/on what they call barren land
He says he knows what they don’t, it’s HIS dirt/ it’s this dirt that made him a man
Ibrahim Ibn Danyal (self)
Every once in a while, by His will, Allah gives us a glimpse behind “The veil”. This “veil” is really just the product of our complete inability to comprehend Allah as He is. Sometimes it seems these come as a result of fasting and endless prayer, dhikr, etc. Other times it seems they just come, but in any case all success is from Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala.
I had one of these moments earlier, on my way home from Amscot. Pondering over the fact that the bank had to hold my money until tomorrow morning and I can’t afford to do laundry today I found myself correcting my poor attitude. The thing is, I told myself, this life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it..it’s all perception. At least I have money in the bank, and was able to take out enough to pay the rent, and at least I have clothes to wash. At this point my attitude improved immediately. I know, you might be thinking,”This is it? This is his epiphany?” No..but this is the thought process that lead to the epiphany.
Pondering on the power of perception I realized that that’s all there is, perception and Allah. We don’t live in this world as it is. The world is separate from our perception of it, yet all we know is our perception so as far as practicality is concerned the world “as is” for all intensive purposes does not actually exist. We change everything in this world with our perception, and so 10 people could look at the same object or situation and come away with 10 different understandings and experiences. Reality is subjective. Think back to Aristotle’s Theory of Forms, or the Buddha’s statement that the world is as we think it to be.
As for Allah Al Azim, He is completely above and outside of our perception. He is independent of it. This is why He is Al Haqq, The Reality. In fact, He is the ONLY Reality. He is unchanged, He is Himself regardless of how we perceive Him, or whether we even perceive Him in the first place.
Even we ourselves change according to our perception, so how can we be any more real than our thoughts and emotions and mental constructs? Allah SWT exists outside of concepts and constructs, we could never explain Him in such a way as to fit our mind because our mind is subjective and relative, and Allah SWT is completely unlike anything.
Allah is the one thing we cannot affect or change with our perception, whatsoever. If anyone thinks they have an understanding of the Almighty other than what He is in the way He has revealed Himself, indeed they would be lost. He is only one as He is, our mind does not change Him. And yet, that being said, if Allah sees to it to change us we are altogether powerless to resist Him. If we are in ignorance and Allah wills it that we should come to know Him, it is so and no one or nothing can change or stop it. Similarly, if He wills us to be astray we have no hope but Him to save us from our ignorance.
This is what brings me to a deeper understanding of Tawhid, the Oneness and Unity of Allah Al Zawajal. It could almost be said that with all of our changing attitudes, emotions and concepts, times the billions of people in the world today, there are just as many universes as perceptions, if we indeed see each perception as a different world. However, regardless of how many perceptions and dimensions our mind leads us into, Allah SWT is One. He does not change or divide for the sake of our perception. His vastness is such that He is beyond all of our states of being and understanding.
Even with this note, no one will read this and come away with the same understanding. Even the same person could read this and each time probably come away with something new, depending on their perception at that time. Allah is One, Allah is the Real, either we understand it or we don’t. Our perception will not change that, and that’s why when one develops a relationship with Allah it could never be put into words. Words, concepts and images reduce the true nature of a thing. Perception takes something out of its nature and brings it into a world of form and duality, and therefore it is a knowledge of the heart (qalb), not of the mind.
This is why Islam rejects images and idols, because a concept or image of God is not The Reality, The Reality transcends all of these.
72:2 “It shows the way to Enlightenment, so we have come to believe in it. And we shall never again ascribe a partner unto our Lord.”
May this note benefit you, inshallah. May we all gain knowledge and hidayah, and may our striving and the Rahmah of Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala join us among the righteous and admit us to Paradise. Ameen.
How can I describe the color of light to a blind man? The eyes improving slightly, some run recklessly to the reflection on the glass, slapping the exterior like moths burning to feel the warmth. The light itself so far hidden within the center of the flame, we seek and yet settle for what is seen only by the eyes. The heart can see what the eyes cannot, empty yourself and see life for the first time.
My true name is Nothing, my enemy tells me otherwise. Depriving myself with hunger is the only true food, My body starves to nourish the spirit. Two loves cannot live in the same heart, I am shamed by my infidelity. Striving to lower my gaze, I am taken with an ocean of forms that are other than my Beloved. Every moment I steal leads me further away, further and further until I am imprisoned by I and Me.
I spread out my mat, in hopes that my Love will notice my longing, acknowledging my calls with a moment of forgetfulness. Forgetfulness of everything I know, everything I hold to be “real”. There is only one Reality. May I follow my namesake, and destroy the idols within my soul.
A great talk by Sheikh Hisham Kibbani of the Naqshbandi Sufi order. MashaAllah.