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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Accepting the Darkness in Others Which Reveals Our Shadow

What follows is a long quote from Carl Gustav Jung, father of analytical psychology, from a talk to German clergy titled, Psychotherapists or the Clergy. These are paragraphs 519 and 520.
It is easy for the doctor to show understanding in this respect, you will say. But people forget that even doctors have moral scruples, and that certain patients’ confessions are hard even for a doctor to swallow. Yet the patient does not feel himself accepted unless the very worst in him is accepted too. No one can bring this about by mere words; it comes only through reflection and through the doctor’s attitude towards himself and his own dark side. If the doctor wants to guide another, or even accompany him a step of the way, he must feel with that person’s psyche. He never feels it when he passes judgment. Whether he puts his judgments into words, or keeps them to himself, makes not the slightest difference. To take the opposite position, and to agree with the patient offhand, is also of no use, but estranges him as much as condemnation. Feeling comes only through unprejudiced objectivity. This sounds almost like a scientific precept, and it could be confused with a purely intellectual, abstract attitude of mind. But what I mean is something quite different. It is a human quality a kind of deep respect for the facts, for the man who suffers from them, and for the riddle of such a man’s life. The truly religious person has this attitude. He knows that God has brought all sorts of strange and inconceivable things to pass and seeks in the most curious ways to enter a man’s heart. He therefore senses in everything the unseen presence of the divine will. This is what I mean by “unprejudiced objectivity.” It is a moral achievement on the part of the doctor, who ought not to let himself be repelled by sickness and corruption. We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses. I am the oppressor of the person I condemn, not his friend and fellow-sufferer. I do not in the least mean to say that we must never pass judgment when we desire to help and improve. But if the doctor wishes to help a human being he must be able to accept him as he is. And he can do this in reality only when he has already seen and accepted himself as he is.
Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult. In actual life it requires the greatest art to be simple, and so acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life. That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least O my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yea the very fiend himself that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved what then? Then, as a rule, the whole truth of Christianity is reversed: there is then no more talk of love and long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide him from the world, we deny ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves, and had it been God himself who drew near to us in this despicable form, we should have denied him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.
My Thoughts – My Analysis
We judge others most harshly in the areas of our own shadow.
Central to my unforgiveness is the matter of my shadow.  My shadow casts darkness over those things in others that I do not like nor accept in myself.  I judge him or her for their impudence that is still awry in me; and where I judge harshly I become culpable on the stand before God.
Any rage in us about another human being is a rage that indelibly boomerangs.  This is a thing to accept or deny, but let’s know that denying is a refusal of truth and growth — we’re not there yet — and we and God ought to know this together.  But if we accept our darkness is irretrievably locked up in the fissures of darkness we notice in others, there we can flush it out from within ourselves, simply by converting our rage inwardly.
It’s a most important thing in the growth of the Christian: to know the essence of darkness that lurks secretly within as an excuse to root out the darkness in others.
Knowing myself is accepting those dark parts of me that God reveals through my dislike of those characteristics in others.
Growing up is understanding God invites me to convert my rage about others inwardly.
Perfect maturity in the faith and in life is the constant awareness and acceptance of our personal shadow; our individual darkness which we only see as faults in others.
***
This is undoubtedly a very humbling concept.  There is no place we can hide from our shadow.  Every criticism we level at others inevitably blows back against us.
Oh Lord, my Father in heaven,
My Lord Jesus Christ help me,
Make me convert inwardly,
What I hate to see.
Make me to see,
What I seek solely to refuse,
Help me of these to be free,
So I you can use.
God can use us most when we see the truth.  He has less and less access to us when we are shrouded in our shadow — in our judgment of others.
Let us not deny Christ anymore, for Christ in us is showing us where our shadow contends; wherever our love is found wanting.
Our darkness is in the darkness we notice in others. Accept and love them and we accept and love ourselves.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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