Shadow 2

by silrakk

Shadow continued -2

I’m breaking this shadow material up into parts, partially so as to keep my postings short but also to provide one idea at a time, for better assimilation.

Shadow-stalking isn’t all there is to the work, but it appears to me to be one of the easiest, most desirable, to overlook, and costliest to community when it erodes trust.

Awareness of this material is needed for looking at community shadow. Community shadow is a kind of unconscious agreement. Whatever these agreements are they are there for reasons, generally to protect something such as positions, individual and collective. Probably all organizations have unconscious elements -I could see it in L…mark- but is there an ongoing effort to become aware of these unconscious elements? We become an awake-organization not because there isn’t shadow content, there always will be until everyone in the organization is stably awake, rather we become an awake organization when there is open acknowledgement of the possibility of community shadow along with individuals who are willing to speak their concerns as to what they are seeing.

In a group of people it is much more likely that at least one person is awake when others are knapping. But we need to take the risk of speaking up and disturbing the sleep of others. There is nothing wrong with shadow, collusion etc, this is just a part of the natural landscape along our journey as a sangha.

These postings on the different aspects of shadow, are preparing the ground to explore specific observations.

Shadows and Beliefs/Positions

Do you react strongly to positions or views that differ from your own?  It is difficult to see that we are often boxing our own doubt when we find strong disagreement in the realm of religion, politics, science, morality, culture, spirituality, and other worldviews.  Beliefs and positions are not ultimately true.  They are thought-based.  There is no such thing as an absolutely true thought (including that thought).  Thought is relative and dualistic.  When we look to thought for ultimate truth, we often don’t see the hidden, repressed doubt that underlies our own positions and beliefs.  But the doubt is there.  It comes screaming to the surface when we attack others’ viewpoints.  

All viewpoints are equal viewpoints of the undivided awareness that is our real identity.  We attack those viewpoints that we have repressed within ourselves.  In order to convince ourselves that we are right about any subject, we have to repress all internal arguments against that position.  We have to repress our own doubt.  …

…  Attention is focused on what we think we know or would like to know as truth.  We are looking for mental certainty.  We repress that aspect of ourselves that doesn’t know.  But opposites never actually get split.  The opposite arguments are still within us.  They appear as others “out there” who are wrong.   We then find ourselves in conflict with the others.  We box them, not realizing that we are fighting our own doubt, so to speak. 

The Criticism Shadow 

Similarly, all external criticism is internal self-criticism.  If someone calls you fat and you get defensive, that appears as external criticism.  Similarly, if someone calls you greedy and you get defensive, that appears as external criticism.  It could be any trait:  materialistic, self-centered, arrogant, or unintelligent.  Defensiveness always carries great wisdom.  Your defensiveness is revealing that you are carrying a self-critical story around.  You have a story that you are fat.  You have a story that you are greedy.  This is why you are defensive.  If there were no identification with the thought, “I am greedy,” then someone calling you greedy would provoke no defensive reaction in you.  Next time someone criticizes you, thank them for revealing your self-critical story.  We see that both our personal stories and the opposites “out there” that we are boxing or hugging are equal, inseparable appearances or views.  In re-owning your shadows, you may still have an opinion.  You may still state that opinion, even forcefully. 

I heard the Dali Lama quoted regarding what is the most important thing people need to do. He didn’t say meditation. “Critical thinking followed by implementing action.”

An Extraordinary Step

By exchanging ourselves for others, we are taking an extraordinary step. We are developing the most extraordinary understanding ever comprehended in the history of humankind, the entire history of the universe. Learning how to let go of our pleasure and receive other people’s pain is such a noble gesture. It allows us to become soft people, genuine people, extraordinarily good people. And with that merit, we begin to become worthy of receiving the vajrayana teachings, the tantric teachings of the Buddha.

Trungpa Rimpoche