Accepting the enemy within

Societal divisions along cultural, racial, gender, financial, political, and religious friction points become particularly pronounced during times of crisis when the fear demon gets stoked by the professional deceiver.

In the confrontation with the opposite, identity and belief are defined. There is good and bad, black and white, rich and poor, Christian and Muslim. Reality is far more complex and in myriad colors and shades of grey.

Neither yin or yang is absolute 

This is why the yin and yang symbol from the Daoist/Taoist tradition is such a beautiful concept of two halves forming the whole. Neither yin or yang is absolute. Each contains the beginning aspect of the other in a constant flow like night turning into day and day turning into night. The female aspect also has male aspects and the male aspect something of the female.

Too much yin or too much yang in any system creates an imbalance, whether in nature, body functions, or economic or political structures.

Accepting the shadow

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung wrote, “Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants himself to be.  Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”

We are all susceptible to burying parts of our character that we find unacceptable in the subconscious mind. The problem is that if we don’t face the shadow aspect at the doorway to our mind, it becomes too big to control.

For millennia the question arises: “If there is a God, why does he allow evil?”  Defining evil and recognizing evil can also be a difficult undertaking where the lie is sold as truth and truth gets turned into a lie.

Self-love and the acceptance of the human condition

When going into a meditation on the self you will soon find at least half a dozen positive as well as negative attributes of your own character. This is why it is so dangerous to fall into the trap of labeling an individual, a nation, a race, or a religious grouping. What Jung tried to tell us is that if you don’t accept this duality of light and shadow within, you will soon find yourself on a path of much self-created pain and suffering.

Only in unconditional acceptance of the imperfect human condition, and self-love of all aspects of the personality can grow the seeds of forgiveness, tolerance, and compassion.  This is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus and the ancient Mystics. The fundamentalist Christian concept of original sin meanwhile has been distorted into a culture of guilt and self-mortification. It is the perfect breeding ground for hypocrisy and intolerance.

The enemy is also the teacher 

In the pull between the identity of the opposites, spiritual growth and the evolution of character takes place. Are you kind, generous, compassionate, and loving?  Or are you rude, greedy, inconsiderate, spewing hate and anger? The decisions and habits we make on a daily and hourly basis can tip the scales in either direction.

We need the enemy, and the opposite perspective to gain clarity on our own core values and choices. Humankind has been given the power of choice. Are you falling into the shadow or going with the light?

The tragedy is that the character once held by the stranglehold of the shadow finds himself incapable of self-reflection. The phenomenon is widespread in some of the populist leaders of our time, trapped by their own ego and narcissism.

The image of self has become so clouded that the narrative is turned into its own truth. The deception of the emperor’s new clothes is revealed when it’s too late, and tragedy is upon us. At times it can be useful to turn the pages of that old history book to understand the events of recent months.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

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