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The Jung Topic: The Shadow


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I came across this in my weekend reading and thought it would serve as a good intro.

The Birth of the Shadow

Only when the sun is directly above do we not cast a shadow; only in the full light of the Self do we not have a dark side. Otherwise our own darkness, although hidden, is always present, peering from the shadows of the unconscious. Chasing us down dark alleyways, hammering on the doors of our dreams, our shadow comes to meet us.

We long to stay in the light and and keep our darkness hidden, to look toward the heavens and deny the torturous corridors of our inner self. But all inner work begins with work upon the shadow. It is the basic foundation of any spiritual or psychological growth. ...

But what is this shadow, this inner darkness? Where did it come from? Why does it haunt us? The shadow belongs to the world of duality, to the world in which light and darkness oppose each other. In the primal Oneness of the Self there is no shadow; in the dazzling darkness of the beyond there is no differentation between light and darkness. As a child we come into this world from oneness, and in the eyes of a baby one can still glimpse an undivided wholeness. But as we take on the clothes of this world, so we become caught in the play of its duality. ...

Mankind, with the gift of consciousness, has the ability to know good and evil, to accept and reject, to turn away from the darkness and look to the light. The price of the evolution of consciousness is the shadow because what has been rejected, what has been labelled "bad" does not disappear but constellates in the unconscious where it takes on a life of its own. Thus, the shadow is born, the psychological split between the ego and its dark twin.

... The Wayfarer who wishes to make the journey home has to confront this split within himself, has to descend into his inner darkness and undertake the psychological work of confronting and integrating the shadow. He has to accept his own dark side, what Jung refers to as

the negative side of the personality, the sum of all those unpleasant qualities we like to hide, together with the insufficiently developed functions and contents of the personal unconscious.

Source: Catching the Thread: Sufism, Dreamwork & Jungian Psychology

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This is an interesting perception. I have a thought to offer. There can be a whole lot of light to be found in the darkness if one is willing to walk there. What is hidden is not necessarily "dark". I am rather fascinated by the unconscious mind and have found the revelations of it in myself to be exciting. I'm a bit weird that way. :D I see the unraveling of this as informative and have tried not to judge it in any negative kind of way. Most of what I've discovered has been my own light...that I've been too fearful to let be known and seen. And even the less admirable stuff is a piece of myself, what makes me tick, how I learned to cope with life's challenges...and a part of my story. I've been working on bringing the darkness out into the light...changing what is ineffective and letting the rest be seen. It's about self-acceptance of myself and my past.

I wanted to add that I didn't mean to dry up the conversation about this very interesting topic.

Did Jung really think all hidden motivations were the negative side of one's personality?

Edited by IrmaJean
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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, I've been concentrating my attention in other areas as well. It wasn't you Irma Jean, the energy just wasn't there. Speaking of energy however, here's an interesting video that undoubtedly deals with shadow aspects...

(I'm trying to capture some notes from this video that speaks to the "energy charge" of old emotional pain in the individual and collective...)

Any negative emotion that is not fully faced and seen for what it is in the moment it arises, does not completely dissolve. It leaves behind a remnant of pain. Children, in particular, find strong negative emotions too overwhelming to cope with and tend to try not to feel them. In the absence of a fully conscious adult who guides them with love and compassionate understanding, into facing the emotion directly, choosing not to feel it is indeed the only option for the child at that time.

Unfortunately, that early defense mechanism usually remains in place when the child becomes an adult. The emotion still lives in him or her, unrecognized, and manifests indirectly as anxiety, anger, outbursts of violence, a mood, or even as a physical illness. In some case, it interferes with or sabotages every intimate relationship.

... Nobody can go through childhood without suffering emotional pain

The remnants of pain left behind join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body. It consists not just of childhood pain but also painful emotions that were added to it later in adolescence and during your adult life, much of it created by the voice of the ego. It is the emotional pain that is your unavoidable companion when your false sense of self is the basis of your life.

This energy field of old but still very much alive emotion that lives in almost every human being is the pain body. The pain body however, is not just individual in nature. It also partakes of the pain suffered by countless humans throughout the history of humanity, which is a history of continuous tribal warfare, of enslavement, pillage, rape, torture and other forms of violence. This pain still lives in the collective psyche in humanity and is being added to on a daily basis.

Video of the Hour: Eckart Tolle ~ The Painbody

I find the above to be comforting because it explains to me, in a way that seems understandable and logical, what I saw when I "saw" The Place That Bleeds The Color From Your Eyes

See also: More thoughts / info on the pain body. (I don't know if that will link because it's to some notes on a facebook page. If it doesn't, and people want the notes, I'll drag them into this space.)

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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Thank you, Spiritual. There are so many things in your posts, it's tough to know where to begin! I do want to continue the discussion, and IrmaJean, don't know if you are still reading, but I wanted to respond to you too.

[Did Jung really think all hidden motivations were the negative side of one's personality?]

My 2 cents is to put this in historical context. Before Freud, there really wasn't a common understanding of unconscious content. There wasn't any connection made between what is being projected and the person doing the projecting. For anyone living through the more horrible side of this dynamic-- scape-goating, making others into enemies and waging war, lynching, raping, etc etc, the focus is going to be on the darkest aspect of humans dissociating from themselves. Our cultural context is different, because we are at least a little more self aware of motivations... it is less acccepted to scape-goat and commit genocide. Of course we have a long way to go, but maybe examining the unconscious has a different flavor now than it did for someone in Jung's time?

As for individuals and their "inner work," not all were negative in Jung's time and in the writings about them. In my own experience, there is a great deal of humor in working with unconscious content!

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(I don't know if that will link because it's to some notes on a facebook page. If it doesn't, and people want the notes, I'll drag them into this space.)

Could you drag them in here? It won't link because you have to log into facebook first. I (very deliberately) don't facebook. :)

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Here're some excerpts. They are from Eckhart Tolle:

Here are three ways to observe and dissolve the pain-body:

- Watch out for any sign of unhappiness in yourself in whatever form—it may be the awakening pain-body. This can take the form of irritation, impatience, a somber mood, a desire to hurt, anger, rage, depression, a need to have some drama in your relationship and so on. Catch the pain-body the moment it awakens from its dormant stage.

- Observe the resistance within yourself. Observe the attachment to your pain. Be very alert. Observe the peculiar pleasure you derive from being unhappy. Observe the compulsion to talk or think about it. The resistance will cease if you make it conscious.

- Focus attention on the negative feeling inside you. Know that it is the pain-body. Accept that it is there. Don't think about it—don't let the feeling turn into thinking. Don't judge yourself out of it. Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you.

....Witnessing is recognizing the self to be other than egoic mental and emotional turbulence. It is a return to recognition of the awareness that propagates thinking, which is a small part of consciousness

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Dragged-in-notes. :)

... The concept of the shadow is not one that is foreign to individuals who undergo ego collapse/ego fragmentation. In truth, the majority of individuals I've spoken with encounter shadow material that can escalate in "size" according to whether it's related to personal or collective content; this seems to account for a great deal of their terror, anxiety, pain and distressing experiences. A few years ago I came across an article that described four levels of "darkness" that I've often shared with others as a means of possibly understanding their own encounters. I've linked that and a few other articles in the space below and intend to gather and store some more information related to "the pain body" so I can sort through it all.

See also:

- Night Enfolds Her Cloak of Holes

- Meeting Darkness on the Path

- Biology of Kundalini: Dropping the Pain Body

====================================================

LINKS FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION:

... A pain-body may be dormant 90 percent of the time; in a deeply unhappy person, it may be active up to 100 percent of the time. Some people live almost entirely through the pain-body, while others experience it only in certain situations, such as in intimate relationships, or situations linked with past loss, abandonment, and physical or emotional hurt. Anything can trigger it, particularly if it resonates with a pain pattern from your past. When it is ready to awaken from its dormant stage, even a thought or an innocent remark can activate it.

Some pain-bodies are obnoxious but relatively harmless – a child who won’t stop whining, for example. Others are vicious and destructive monsters. Some are physically violent; many more are emotionally violent. Some will attack people around you, while others may attack you, their host. Your thoughts and feelings about your life then become deeply negative and self-destructive. Illnesses and accidents are often created in this way. Some pain-bodies drive their hosts to suicide.

When you thought you knew a person and are suddenly confronted with this alien, nasty creature for the first time, you are in for quite a shock. However, it’s more important to observe it in yourself. Watch out for any sign of unhappiness; it may be the awakening pain-body. This can take the form of irritation, impatience, a sombre mood, a desire to hurt, anger, rage, depression, or a need to have some drama in your relationship. Catch it the moment it awakens.

Dissolving the Pain Body: http://www.commonground.ca/iss/0510171/cg171_tolle.shtml

This accumulated pain is a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind. If you look on it as an invisible entity in its own right, you are getting qute close to the truth. It's the emotional pain body. It has two modes of being: dormant and active....

....The pain body wants to survive, just like every other entity in existance, and it can only survive if it gets you to unconsciously identify with it. It can then rise up, take you over, "become you," and live through you. It needs to get its "food" through you. It will feed on any experience that resonates with its own kind of energy, anything that creates further pain in whatever form: anger, destructiveness, hatred, grief, emotional drama, violence, and even illness.

So the pain body, when it has taken you over, will create a situation in your life that refects back its own energy frequency for it to feed on. Pain can only feed on pain. Pain cannot feed on joy. It finds it quite indigestible.

Once the pain body has taken you over, you want more pain. You become a victim or a perpetrator. You want to inflict pain, or you want to suffer pain, or both. There isn't really much difference between the two. You are not conscious of this, of course, and will vehemently claim that you do not want pain. But look closely and you will [see] that your thinking and behavior are designed to keep the pain going, for yourself and others.

If you were truly conscious of it, the pattern would disolve, for to want more pain is insanity, and nobody is consciously insane.

The pain body, which is the dark shadow cast by the ego, is actually afraid of the light of your consciousness. It is afraid of being found out. Its survival depends on your unconscious identification with it, as well as on your unconscious fear of facing the the pain that lives in you. But if you don't face it, if you don't bring the ligt of your consciousness into the pain, you will be forced to relive it again and again. The pain body may seem to you like a dangerous monster that you cannot bear to look at, but I assure you that it is an insubstantial phantom that cannot pervail against the power of your presence.

... On a personal level, pain from childhood that leaves residues, Energetic residues… different things painful things have happened to you in your childhood and of course far beyond that in time. But let's just talk from the level of your present existence in this form.

The pain that is carried over from your childhood and beyond and leaves residues …doesn’t go away completely, it leaves residues of pain, Energy fields, everything is Energy. And then those Energy Fields get together, because they feel, they vibrate at the same frequency. So emotional pain gathers into one mass of pain, contracted Energy, that isn’t flowing freely. An Energy of (ET makes a sound, "Ahhhh, ahhhhh") that I call the “Painbody” that humans carry inside. An Energy Field of Pain.

The Pain Body: http://www.detoxifynow.com/et_pain_body.html

The pain-body doesn't want you to observe it directly. The moment you observe the pain-body, feel its energy field within you and take your attention into it, the identification is broken. A higher dimension of consciousness comes in. It is called Presence. You are now the witness or the watcher of the pain-body.

Here are three ways to observe and dissolve the pain-body:

- Watch out for any sign of unhappiness in yourself in whatever form—it may be the awakening pain-body. This can take the form of irritation, impatience, a somber mood, a desire to hurt, anger, rage, depression, a need to have some drama in your relationship and so on. Catch the pain-body the moment it awakens from its dormant stage.

- Observe the resistance within yourself. Observe the attachment to your pain. Be very alert. Observe the peculiar pleasure you derive from being unhappy. Observe the compulsion to talk or think about it. The resistance will cease if you make it conscious.

- Focus attention on the negative feeling inside you. Know that it is the pain-body. Accept that it is there. Don't think about it—don't let the feeling turn into thinking. Don't judge yourself out of it. Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you.

Dissolving the Pain Body: http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/Awakening-Exercise-Dissolving-the-Pain-Body

... The past two world wars are an expression of the pain-body in complete domination.

Release from the pain-body comes from observing the mind; observing how it takes a feeling, becomes identified completely with it, and thinks and acts out that feeling.

This witnessing is separation from the pain-body, disidentifying from it. When this happens, the light of awareness begins to dissolve the pain. One sees this shadow entity for what it is, an accumulation of past hurts, an expression of renegade life-force particles.

Witnessing is recognizing the self to be other than egoic mental and emotional turbulence. It is a return to recognition of the awareness that propagates thinking, which is a small part of consciousness.

Witnessing is placing the conscious in the moment and observing it express itself through mentation.

Recognizing oneself as the author of mind and not the outcome of mind removes the automation that goes along with a belief in determinism, which in turn arises because of the belief that mind arises out of matter.

This is the movement referred to as spirituality, and it is a movement toward wholeness.

Spirituality itself can be confusing because of the elaborate expressions on what it is; but, in its essence, it is an attempt to return to wholeness.

Wholeness, it will be discovered, can't be fragmented.

Wholeness is a return to identification with the origin of creation; a return to contemplation of the field of consciousness itself; a return to what is referred to as God, Beingness, or Spirit.

Our journey in life is a journey toward freedom, identifying with what it real, which arises from pure subjectivity, the implicate order. Our entrapment in the explicate order is by virtue of unconsciousness about the pain-body.

Reflections on the Pain Body: http://ezinearticles.com/?Reflections-On-Eckhart-Tolles-Concept-Of-The-Pain-Body&id=14317

VIDEOS:

- Relating to the Pain Body: http://www.5min.com/Video/Relating-to-the-Pain-Body-with-Eckhart-Tolle-3774727

- Your Pain Body is Very Seductive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aUjLiLiriA

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Luna: Could I have a minute?

lol. Yes, there's a lot there to think about. I sometimes think about things for months and months and frequently, cycle back to think about them in deeper or different ways. Meantime, I don't know much about Tolle but I did find his ideas on the pain body to be useful because it presents the concept in a packaged form that we can relate to.

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Some random thoughts on pain...

I recall talking with a friend in the aftermath of my experience and I said to him then, "I have discovered the secret to never having to experience pain again."

"Tell me," he said.

"Call it something else," I replied. And then, because we were both in so much pain at that time, we laughed until we cried.

That lesson was about acceptance. None of us gets to escape pain, although we do try. I learned to befriend my pain. I found that part of my pain was related to my resistance to it. When I stepped into accord with it, when I allowed myself to "be one" with it, there was actually less pain. My willingness, to enter into a relationship with it, transformed my relationship to it. Pain became my teacher, I became pain's student. This produced a shift from passive victim to active participant.

Pain itself is valuable. It alerts us to where we are injured -- psychically or physically. Like fear, the goal should not be to never experience pain (or fear). Rather, the goal is to experience it when it's appropriate. If a brick has been dropped on your foot, pain is an appropriate response. It's very easy however to get stuck in old pain, especially, old emotional pain, and then to drag it around with us like a dark cloud, everywhere we go.

Meantime, I've noticed that the most empathic people are the people who have accepted and allowed themselves to feel the burden of their own pain. It's this ability to feel it in ourselves that allows us to feel it in others. The people who have consistently run from their own pain however -- they're often the cruel ones. They don't feel it in themselves and therefore, can't imagine that others feel pain either.

In order to have compassion for others, we have to have compassion for ourselves.

In particular, to care about other people who are fearful, angry, jealous, overpowered by addictions of all kinds, arrogant, proud, miserly, selfish, mean —you name it— to have compassion and to care for these people, means not to run from the pain of finding these things in ourselves. In fact, one's whole attitude toward pain can change. Instead of fending it off and hiding from it, one could open one's heart and allow oneself to feel that pain, feel it as something that will soften and purify us and make us far more loving and kind...

Source: The Practice of Tonglen

Tonglen was a good tool for me, as I learned to work with the painful aspects of the Shadow.

Music of the Hour:

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I wish we could sit around and just talk... there is so much here, and so many directions to go in.:)

SE, I too have gotten good things from Tonglen. When I am at my worst, it is the only thing that has worked. As for Tolle, I read A New Earth. Some of his stuff bugs me (how he uses the term "ego"-- I prefer Western/Jungian understanding of ego) but I came away a better person having read it for sure...though he doesn't say anything that isn't already in the wisdom literature of the East.... it just needs saying again and again.

The common thread for me is that "thing" we do when we figure out we don't have to identify with what we are gripped by. It is the trickiest thing in the world to be initiated to... we fight it to the death nearly, because it feels so real. I had to be shown how to do it in therapy. Eastern meditation teaches it. Tolle teaches it. Tonglen teaches it. Parts therapy teaches it because you learn there are many parts to you. The one you are gripped by needs help and understanding, but it is not the whole you. It is very very powerful and healing to figure this out. And it denies nothing. Represses nothing. Supresses nothing. You just have to swallow that you are many, that's all:eek::).

Jung believed that there is a deeper center of the personality residing in the unconscious that we can get to and organize around. You can't if you only identify with ego functioning. It requires an interface with your deeper self. That leaves people feeling alienated as to what the heck it means, but a meditation practice can help. Tonglen can help. Reading about the "witness" self from Eastern ideas can help. Reading what Tolle writes about being "present" can help.

The pain body, which is the dark shadow cast by the ego, is actually afraid of the light of your consciousness. It is afraid of being found out. Its survival depends on your unconscious identification with it, as well as on your unconscious fear of facing the the pain that lives in you. But if you don't face it, if you don't bring the light of your consciousness into the pain, you will be forced to relive it again and again. The pain body may seem to you like a dangerous monster that you cannot bear to look at, but I assure you that it is an insubstantial phantom that cannot pervail against the power of your presence.
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Of course we have a long way to go, but maybe examining the unconscious has a different flavor now than it did for someone in Jung's time?

What I found with myself is that much of what had been hidden in my unconscious mind had been buried due to fear. So what I was able to dig up in therapy were the 'whys' behind my self-protective behaviors, the motivations, and a better understanding of the fear. So discovering things was mostly freeing for me. Even if something I found might not be considered very admirable, it helped to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I now have a clearer understanding of who I am and why I am who I am. While some of this was painful to go through, it was (oddly) invigorating at the same time. Like I said before about the burning house..there are a lot of gems to be found right inside the biggest flames. Maybe what I experience with that is in some way similar to what you have described, SE, in regards to facing your pain. I have felt some form of relief by becoming one with my pain and the self-discovery within it. Interesting.

The only time I facebook is when I fall asleep reading. :-)

Some people just can't help themselves when the opportunity presents itself, can they, Malign? :)

I really like the Tonglen quote. Thought-provoking stuff.

I enjoy the deep conversations. :)

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While some of this was painful to go through, it was (oddly) invigorating at the same time.

Freud and Jung and others at the time were speaking in terms of energy too. Freud's term was libido, and Jung used it, but he did not view it as just sexual. Jung spoke of the energy in the psyche like energy in physics, with laws of conservation, etc. (I would have to look that stuff up). The point is, complexes trap energy; when you dissolve a complex, you free up energy! And yes, that is an awesome thing:). So much more is possible when we have our energy available to us. [Energy with consciousness relating to it's center in unconsciousness that is, as opposed to mania that takes you over...]

Really, anytime I can successfully unblend with a "part" that is in a grip long enough to dialog with it or even just breathe with it as in Tonglen, there is a release of positive energy for me.

Edited by finding my way
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A blurb...

Every family has its dark secrets. And we all have our elephants on the table – the issues that are so obvious but which are never discussed, acknowledged or healed. Many of our lives are shaped around dysfunctional family backgrounds, and we tend to try to disassociate from them, as we get older. It’s a good idea to grow up and leave the past behind. But if we don’t examine the pain of the past and make an attempt to heal it, we will drag it with us through life … and hungry ghosts of the past will plague us.

But what is scariest and most unsettling about a hungry ghost from the past is we don’t really know what it is—lost spirit or fiendish monster of our own minds. All we know is that there is a presence that somehow holds a power over us; we may not even know why.

So they become part of our shadow selves, and can insidiously haunt our daily lives -- until we make a decision to set them free. It’s a human impulse to run from the darkness. Yet when you understand the truth about the shadow, you will come to understand that running from it does not bring you to safety – while running to it and embracing it will. Like ghosts in the attic, unresolved relationships and unsettled problems of the past make a racket – until we learn to look them square in the eye and say, "boo."

We have to be willing to step into the darkness in order to own it, acknowledge it and begin to heal the pain, fear, shame, perceived sins of the past that lurk in the shadows.

Black Mother Goddess Kali is known as one of the most powerful and most beloved spiritual allies of the Hindu tradition. But Kali is also the universal mother. It is believed that she goes into the darkness with us, and for us, to swallow our sins, worries, and concerns. She can show us how to radically transform our lives by embracing our own darkness, rather than fearing and fleeing from that which haunts us. She can spiritually hack away at the handcuffs that keep us shackled to the hungry ghosts of the past. There comes a point in the process when you must surrender fully to her healing powers, and let her bring you back cleansed, transformed, whole.

Also known as Kali Ma and the Black Mother, Kali is the powerful Hindu Goddess who is in charge of darkness, death and regeneration. Many people fear her because she is so awesome looking, but Hindus love and adore her as their great mother Goddess and they see her as a manifestation of power that is fierce and potent. She is shakti (female energy) incarnate and the manifestation of primordial power. While she is the consort of the great Lord Shiva, she is also seen dancing wildly, with his form beneath her feet. They are partners in darkness, and in dancing the dance of death and regeneration. She brings life and death … she is regeneration and rebirth. In many ways she is the consummate representation of the classic power of the Divine Female – the power to birth, to bring death to the old and to regenerate.

Her haunts are cremation grounds, where she takes life, and then recycles it into new life. Her symbol for cutting away at evil and darkness is to behead humans, but what that image really represents is the cutting away of the human ego and all the problems it causes. She eats pain, and swallows despair, and the secret shadows of our lives. She wipes out oddball beliefs, worn out thoughts and constructs that no longer serve us. She is a wild Goddess. Black (or blue looking) and wearing a garland of skulls around her neck, she has four arms; a symbol of domination over the world. In one hand she holds a head dripping blood, in the other three she wields various weapons. One of her hands removes fear and another grants bliss. Her tongue is sticking out and her eyes look wild.

How Kali can help us own up to our shadows:

  • Admit we love our ghosts.
  • Surrender to Divine Will.
  • Recognize she is not so scary
  • Keep her image near.

Source: The Goddess Kali Helps Us Dance With the Hungry Ghosts of the Past

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I'm glad you have found bearings with the help of Kali, Spiritual. I studied her along with some western archetypes for a while, and it is truly intersting stuff! My current passion is nature, the plant and animal and weather archetypes as inspired by native teachings....

Just curious, did you ever read Castenada? I love don Juan's teachings on getting to the "totality of oneself."

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Hello fmw. I haven't read Castenada. I have some very mixed feelings about shamanism -- not so much about traditional forms but the modern variant. I did, for a period of time, participate at an online community devoted to the subject and it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I had gone there to try and better understand what shamanism was all about because portions of my own experience were similar to shamanic initiations. What I found most disturbing was that there were two suicides among the community members in the span of 10 months. I found it painfully ironic that in a community of wannabe healers... that could happen. It was tragic. Psychedelic drug use was commonplace among many of the members there but it seemed to me that only a very small percentage of participants were using it in a truly ritualized or sacralized fashion. It did feature in both of those young men's experiences and possibly, their deaths.

I know people will do what they choose to do but I tend to recommend holotropic breath work as an alternative method to those who are truly serious about exploring states of consciousness as a means of personal growth. I know that some people do use psychedelics for that purpose but I've spoken with too many young people who thought they'd get a "trip" and instead, ended up in a psyche ward with a diagnostic label. Of course, some people don't make it back at all and that saddens me.

Michael was a graduate of John Hopkins University in their mathematics program. A clearly sensitive young man, Michael also wrote poetry, had been practicing kundalini yoga and experimenting with ethneogens when he began to experience a strange sequence of synchronicities and coincidences. What was most striking to me at that time was that he had encountered three women in swift succession, appropriately named Eve, Helen and Mary.

Michael jumped off a bridge two days before Christmas. He was the teacher who taught me why it's important to share my experience with others -- so they feel less alone in theirs. Michael was 31 years old. I will never forget the anguish of his father.

Source: Dedication

I sometimes feel that if Michael had found his Sophia he would have made it through that experience. And my heart still aches at times for his family as well as the family of that other young man (Dan Carpenter) who took his own life.

Meantime, much later, I did encounter a shaman named Fred. I really liked that about him -- that he should have such a simple and unpretentious name. He did help me to understand and thus, integrate in some fashion, that place I referenced earlier.

As for Kali... the image/figure/concept has been an important part of my own experience. I do accept that she is a representative of the Self -- not "me" so much as a very powerful healing and centering energy I can tap into. I am still learning from and about "Kali". And she's still tugging me towards depth psychology, quantum physics, consciousness, and the darkness that is Absolute.

~ Namaste

See also:

- Dan Carpenter: A Psychonaut's Guide to the Invisible Landscape: The Topography of the Psychedelic Experience

- The Mandala Experience: Visions of the Center in Schizophrenic Disintegration

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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I do not do drugs. Castaneda got associated with the drug culture, but in his third book he revealed how his teacher said he used drugs with him only because he was so stupid:rolleyes:. Castaneda remained "plugged up" and in the end, nothing unplugged him completely (from my understanding), so his drug experiences really weren't worth it. The amazing thing to me is he left us with the teachings of don Juan, which are truly inspired.

Drugs are dangerous. I spoke with a psychiatric social worker on a train ride not long ago and she said most of their rooms are filled now with drug induced mental illness patients. That is something to really ponder.:(

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The whole shamanism thing is quite controversial, and I no longer participate in any groups. It has remained a personal pursuit, and I don't really call it shamanism. You mentioned the organizing power of the mandala. I organize around the medicine wheel, and that is a mandala that you physically put your body in when you meditate. For me it is very healing.

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fmw: The whole shamanism thing is quite controversial...

In some circles, there is a lot of prestige attached to some of these states and wherever there is prestige, there's the possibility of ego inflation or the desire to have the experience solely for the sake of the prestige. What I have found valuable in reading about the shamanic practices is that there's often a lot of shared ground between those kinds of experiences and those we call "schizophrenic". Not in all instances of course, but in some.

Meantime, a few months back I read an account about someone who had signed up for a "Shaman's Workshop". He went in on Friday night, did an ego death experience on the Sunday and was back to work Monday morning. Easy-peasy. During this same time frame, a young friend of mine was undergoing another episode of psychosis and if ever there was a shamanic experience, he's had a number of them. He doesn't have to pay cash up front though and when the weekend is over, he can't get up and walk away from the experience.

Drugs are dangerous. I spoke with a psychiatric social worker on a train ride not long ago and she said most of their rooms are filled now with drug induced mental illness patients. That is something to really ponder.

Yes. My child would be one of those. It's difficult, looking back, to determine exactly what triggered their experiences as there were several factors involved but we soon realized that cannabis triggered mania every single time. It's taken them a while but they seem to have finally put it behind them.

It has remained a personal pursuit, and I don't really call it shamanism. You mentioned the organizing power of the mandala. I organize around the medicine wheel, and that is a mandala that you physically put your body in when you meditate. For me it is very healing.

I didn't discover what a mandala actually was until long after that experience of mine was over. I think there is value, wisdom and healing to be found in some of these ancient traditions. The Native Americans are perhaps all we have left in the west who have retained a connection to those traditions. I have a friend who sees a medicine man as an adjunct to the chemotherapy treatments. They feel the medicine man has helped them more than the chemo and who's to say they haven't? Certainly, they are still here.

Meantime, some people considered Jung to be a shaman, both because of his personal experiences into the unconscious and because he was a healer. He would have been an interesting man to meet.

See also:

- The Making of a Jungian Shaman

- The Road Less Travelled: Shamanic Consciousness & the Evolving God-Image

Edited by spiritual_emergency
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Yes, experiences with journeying and with trance states and "heightened awareness" are similar perhaps to psychotic breaks... except

when the weekend is over, he [with schizophrenia] can't get up and walk away from the experience.

When I was trained we "went" and then came back then went and came back, and anyone who struggled to come back were advised not to continue with the training. I am very mindful of the fear and disorientation this whole area of human experience can trigger. In my day to day life, I simply do not talk about it. That's why I so appreciate your posts, SE, and the chance to touch on it!

I'm sorry your family had drug issues. So many do, and it is so challenging. It sounds like things are better though, so hooray for that!

Yes, Jung would have been fascinating to know. so would don Juan, and others who were able to navigate these waters. Heck, you are interesting to know!:)

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