The shadow is not the bad self, but simply the denied or rejected self, which is totally operative but allowed to work in secret — and never called to accountability from that hidden place...
What you don’t transform, you will transmit.
— RICHARD ROHR
Post-Jungian, without a doubt, we find this truth above both reveals and shatters the ego at once. The ego – that private place within which we give protection of our sin – has no place in a spiritual development initiative.
Now, the ego is a tricky thing. It hides itself under the unique protection of our strengths. If we are humble, the ego shelters under the shade and predisposes us to pride – when our territory is threatened we become susceptible to temptation to react in pride. If we are gifted with faith, the ego undermines that strength by making us fearful when the chips are really down. If encouragement is our forté, the ego will ensure we feel at our lowest ebb when encouragements aren’t returned.
The ego is our shadow; that which seeks to simultaneously protect and destroy us. It protects us by being our ally against any and every attack. It destroys us by protecting us. We see, it’s no good protecting those things about ourselves that need to be revealed and refined. They may as well be burned away.
But the ego will fight tooth and nail to retain its dignity; it’s owned by pride.
The ego clings desperately and it won’t be shaken easily. But where we don’t shake off the shackles we remain shackled; imprisoned to transmit these very weaknesses.
Transform or Transmit
The scary fact of life is we are set to destroy ourselves if we don’t uproot the reminiscences of our shadow; those ‘flesh’ weaknesses we have allowed to hang-on to us. It’s like a lack of patience or situations where we are harsh and not gentle enough or when we shrink away in cowardice from a conflict.
Where we allow these things a home – these reminiscences of our shadow – we become unconscious of their existence, and we transmit them in the daily flow of our lives without even being aware. What we do tends to destroy us.
There isn’t much of a choice really. We go forward in life by revealing our shadow and transforming it or we slide ever backwards by the denial and rejection of that part of ourselves that needs to be owned and transformed.
Weaknesses are destined to be strengthened, but we don’t often see the weakness in our strength. There is a shadow there, ready to undermine our gift.
We all have a shadow that undermines our authentic spirituality. The Spirit of God reveals the shadow and helps us transform ourselves in truth. If we are serious about our spirituality we will become aware of our shadow and transform it rather than transmit it unknowingly.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.