Spiritual awakening is not all love and light. As part of the process, it requires you to integrate all those unloved aspects of yourself.
We call this shadow work. It comes from the term “Shadow” as used by the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung when he declares:-
There is gold in the shadow—Carl Gustav Jung.
This is where you bring light into the darkness. It is not spiritual bypassing but the work of the Hero and Heroine. It is not practicing emotional detachment from emotional detachment.
Shadow work is where you enter the fire of transformation. You are like a damp log full of what you consider impurities. In the beginning, there is much more smoke than flame.
We can see this regarding anger. In spiritual circles, I have found it common to be told that one should avoid getting angry. The view is that anger is viewed less than spiritual.
In my spiritual journey of awakening, with the help of psychologist George Frankl – (Author of Failure of the Sexual Revolution) I got to process not only anger but rage. This was the rage I felt at the emotional abandonment by my father who had his father had emotionally abandoned him.
Shadow and Emotional Power
One of the most powerful men I met was a Sadhu in India. He looked like he was Forever Young. He laughed like a drain and he was sometimes angry but not in a destructive way.
I rarely get angry.
When I do, I am usually setting clear boundaries that people have ignored, or I am engaged in protecting that which is vulnerable. Anger used to scare me. Now it empowers me when I call upon it. It doesn’t get repressed and then appear in more inappropriate and destructive ways.
I have found that the people I trust most are those who I can be angry with without negatively impacting our relationship. In intimate relationships, anger is an issue that you will have to negotiate at some point in the relationship and especially if it is to move into deepening intimacy.
I meet with spiritual seekers who tell me that anger is wrong, and that sexuality is only for procreation. I find them inauthentic and ungrounded. If push where come to shove, I wouldn’t want them protecting my back.
Those who repress anger or other emotions rather than alchemize them will find these emotions appear in another form. With anger, this often appears in the form of passive aggressive behaviour. When this behaviour is challenged, it is vehemently denied.
Expect, at some point, to want to run away from all this. It’s a little like opening a can of worms, or maybe caterpillars—you may want to shove them all back inside. But as you walk this path, you will also have glimpses of feeling freer, of a more direct connection to your life and the people in it. – Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind Can Heal the Heart
Shadow and Dreams
Most of the personal shadow work that I now do through dream work.
Down the years, however, I have many times sought the support of counsellors around various psychological and emotional issues including alcoholism.
Most shadow work requires this kind of support because you need an outsider to help you integrate what you emotional avoid. This is not the support of friends and family who often find it challenging to have you move beyond where you are and often have an interest in maintaining the status quo.
The spiritual instruction below points toward the need to find support beyond the immediate family regarding the spiritual awakening process.
If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.—Luke 14:16
Do not take the word ‘hate’ as stated in the above quote literally.
Shadow work integrates the psychological and emotional dynamics that most families avoid. I have this within my family. This is all the information that you learn second-hand but which is not the truth of who you are.
The life you are advised to hate is the life of feeling separate from Love.
A glimpse of the awakened state will mean you long to be of service to the highest good.
This is not serving because you think it is a good idea and that it is something you SHOULD DO. It is service because you KNOW that service from the authentic Self will radically transform people’s lives for the better.
Your focus is less on self-service. You no longer push the river. You are learning to go with the flow. This can be a real challenge because you may well be called to serve in ways that your personal self will resist.
You may no longer promote the beliefs you once held as part of your need to belong to a specific group including family and friends.
How you are to be of service will unfold.
I never imagined I would become a writer, storyteller and someone singing devotional songs. I was an accountant doing other people’s taxes and at one time a Customer Relations Management software consultant for Goldmine.
I think this was a pointer from the Universe I ignored. The real Goldmine is within.
Service is not Your Mission
In being of real service, you will not be someone out to convert others to your way of belief. (The Purpose-Driven Life—Rick Warren)
This is a sign that you are still identified with your personal belief system. Your real service is through conversion. Conversion is where you shift your focus from the personal separate self to a feeling state of communion with the True Self or Authentic Self.
This kind of authentic conversion cannot be done with words alone.
Words are as the Zen proverb declares only, “Fingers pointing at the moon.” They point the way, but you have to step into the unknown.
Stepping into the unknown is the practice of faith. Do not confuse faith with blind faith, which is asserting that your way is the only way.
There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again. – Rumi
If words were the way to awakening, then everyone reading religious or spiritual writings would live the grace and joy of the awakened life. The world would be a radically different place.
The only way to be of REAL service is to act from Presence and allow the One Life to act through you. In this way, there is no karma or reactivity. The will of the Divine is done through you. You become Love in action.
This is a real challenge.
It is the challenge of learning HOW TO FEEL the FORCE. You learn to serve through FEELING the way the SOURCE moves within you and through you. This is the instruction to the Hero Luke Skywalker from his Mentor Obe One Kenobi (Star Wars) .
Feel the Force Luke—Obe One Kenobi
The Hero is not asked to believe ABOUT the Force although they need to believe in the possibility as a first step.
The Hero/ine is instructed to FEEL the Force. In feeling it you are connected beyond any intellectual understanding. You become a servant of the most high.
With a first glimpse of spiritual awakening, you may not be sure how you will serve, but you are sure that this is what will fulfil you.
Before and after a glimpse of the transcendental realm, you are likely to be engaged in study.
For many people, this involves prolific reading. It may include attending at workshops and/or some form of religious study group. I used to love attending at The School of Philosophy when I lived in Manchester. I made some good friends there.
This group interaction can be a great support until the group becomes a prison house of dogma and stricture. Such a group is any group including family, friends, tribe or religious or political affiliation or association.
In the beginning, reading and study are mostly intellectual and informational. For the fundamentalist, it becomes a cannon they take literally. They make the words and pointers to the truth the substitute for the KNOWING the truth.
You shall KNOW the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.
This quote tells you that the Truth will set you free only if you KNOW it.
This does not refer to knowledge ABOUT Truth. It is where you and Truth become one. There are billions who claim intellectual knowledge about the truth but who have never been graced the KNOWING of Truth.
The mystic William Blake declared:-
They read their Bible day and night. Where they read black, I read white.
Only the mystic can read the White.
Study and Inner Knowing
On the progressive journey of spiritual awakening, there comes the time you leave reading, going to workshops or on retreat. You trust your inner wisdom to guide you. You might read but only by way of a reminder that the Secret of Secrets is inside you.
Each morning I read a two minute meditative reflection following the practice of Yoga Nidra. This sets me up for the day. Sometimes this short meditative reflection is the prompt I need for the writing that I do each morning.
Study later becomes the study of HOW YOU FEEL inside.
You study your Y-E-S, which is an acronym for Your—Energy—System. This is learning in ways that your over-thinking mind cannot give you. It is wholistic rather than dualistic.
You study silence, emptiness, and how to FEEL the Presence of the Divine within. You become a study in NO-THING-NESS through which Creation will express fulfilment.