Gnosis, Psychology and the Spiritual Journey.

Posts tagged “psychology

The Shadow: Gnostic reflections on the psychology of CG Jung.

“My shadow’s
shedding skin and
I’ve been picking
Scabs again.
I’m down
Digging through
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 It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.”[Wikipedia]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]


Today’s math


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.