Meeting the Shadow

I have recently been teaching a class entitled Creative Arts & Self-Inquiry which focuses on the testing of reality from various theoretical orientations and understandings as well as an inquiry into the Self. Using Jung as a jump off point and bringing in Neo-Jungian concepts has been a return to the shadow for myself as the universe always seems to have an interesting way of throwing things back your way.

Hate and rage is something that most of us deal with at one point or another in our lives. And to look at the state of society these days one can see that there really is not much hope in looking to others unless we are able to look into our Selves and reconcile some of the opposing forces in which we deny or run from. Jung explains this as our persona (our public face), which is essentially a compromise between you and the world. For example; as a student you may receive a low mark and be enraged at you low mark; you approach your instructor and repress the anger and rage as you know that it is not socially acceptable to release your anger on someone in that context and would probably be concerned that you may get yourself into trouble. Where do you think all that anger goes if it is not released? Into the shadow that holds all our unwanted emotions and parts of our personality, which is held in the unconscious.

Art is a great way to release the shadow, or at least begin to accept and befriend it. As we begin to touch the dark seedy part of us all, we begin to expand our sense of personality and thus can understand that we are a sum of our parts, not just one aspect as we tend to believe. This assists in having a wider view of ourselves and the world around us as we can see that so much of our struggle and strive in life is by our own creation.

Below is a shot that I did after an intense session of writing, drawing, and painting in which I feel really brings this concept to life – feeling an intense distaste the entire time.  It speaks for itself.

Kyler

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The Suchness of Reality

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  I uploaded this painting a while ago and it just sits in the side bar in “drafts” cause I dont know why exactly I uploaded it so I thought I would use it first. This used to be my favorite painting (that I have painted) as it seems to convey a certain mood.

 

 I had moved to Kimberly B.C to do a practicum (2006) and was spending alot of time alone, writing and painting and just doing those kinds of things. I started to really witness the universal reality of sadness and the absolute connection with all around me. It was an interesting time in my life. I was overcome with intense feelings of sadness almost all the time for a period. It was a very transformational experience.

The whole thing of it is just the reality of existence, things fade in and out of existence and we are faced with life and death everywhere we look, it is only a matter of opening our hearts and our minds to what else is going on around us. We need only begin to move a little away from our egoic existence in order to begin to witness the world – and our own egos – in a different way. We are terrified as individuals to really embrace sadness, but sadness and emotional intensity does not have to be something to fear. As we look further intraspectively through contemplation,  meditation, and yoga (I also use art for meditative and reflective purposes) we the grip of the ego begins to loosen and provide a newfound freedom that we never thought was possible. I will quote the Heart Sutra here as it gives such a great description of this;

            O Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness,

            Emptiness no other than form;

            Form is precisely emptiness,

            Emptiness is precisely form.

            Sensation, perception, reaction, and consciousness are also like this.

            O Shariputra, all things are expressions of emptiness:

            Not born, not destroyed; not stained, not pure; neither waxing nor waning 

 

 

This is a great conversation between the Buddha and one of his students. I feel that the Sutra really speaks volumes to challenge what we think we know about everything around us. Another quote I did want to include and comment on is in regards to therapy (as a therapist). This quote is from Mark Epstein who is a Buddhist psychiatrist out of  New York:

 The traditional view of therapy as building up the self simply does not do justice to what we actually seek from the therapeutic process. We are looking for a way to feel more real, but we do not realize that to feel more real we have to push ourselves further into the unknown.

Such a great quote to give us a new perspective on things when we are looking at life and especially the internal verses the external reality. As we look outside of our “selves” and build our “selves” up more and more we begin distance from the consciousness that we are. To feel “more real” as Epstein says, one must begin to look at the structure of “self” itself, and deconstruct certain “fixations” and “illusions” through the process of what many others  call inquiry. As Maharshi states; “Self-inquiry is to focus the entire mind at its source. It is not, therefore, a case of one ‘I’ searching for another ‘I.’ 

 

So to start simply take up the contemplative practice of “who am I?” It is not just a thought “who am I?” It is a contemplation on “who am I?”  Not thinking about it, contemplating it. Similar to a Zen koan in which it is a question that may take the practitioner years to answer, or realize that there is no answer, the self-inquiry of “who am I?” is a long deconstructive process by which we can begin to know Self/consciousness. Enjoy…

 

(C) Kyler Evans, All Rights Reserved