Empath-friendly Movies (good movies for HSPs and Empaths)

This post was inspired by a search on Google for “Good movies for Empaths” and the surprising discovery that a list like this, did not really yet exist.

So I would like to begin suggesting certain films that I feel are suitable for Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP) and Empaths.

Like most empaths and sensitive people,  I am not a fan of overly violent and unpleasant movies.

Empaths will indeed tend to find that movies with a lot of negativity, hatred, violence, and (to a point) stupidity, will tend to rub them the wrong way.  Often the negativity, violence, etc., will be taken (rather involuntarily) into the Empath’s energy field, and lodging there, become yet more weight for the Empath to energetically “carry around”, in addition to the general burden the Empath tends to pick up from the suffering/pain/sadness in the world around them!

So it is generally advisable, most Empaths find, to reduce their consumption of gratuitous violence, negative films, etc., for their own psychological, energetic, indeed even physical well-being.

Maybe more details should come on this later.  I would like to begin suggesting some movies.

This should be an ongoing project that should be added to frequently.  Also feel free to suggest your own!   I look forward to us putting together perhaps some kind of library or reference list (bibliography) of  Films Good for Empaths:

life is beautiful poster

 

Life is Beautiful  (1997):  Dir.  Robert Benigni

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118799/

In a list of “empath friendly films”, it may seem counter-intuitive to begin with a movie that is set in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.     But Life is Beautiful is about one man who somehow finds ways to make this singularly cruel and terrible backdrop into something, dare we say, rather fun and lighthearted.

 

 

The central character, played by Benigni, is devoted to keeping his son from feeling depressed or scared in the camp, through treating the entire situation as one great game, that nobody can let on they are playing.

While that may sound absurd and a rather tenuous premise, Benigni pulls it off brilliantly, making this one of the most heart-warming and beautiful films of all time, in my opinion (and many Empaths may feel something of the same way).

The final scene may make you cry, if you are an Empath (it never fails to for me).  But they are tears not of sadness, but somewhat in awe of the great and terrible beauty, the incredible beauty and generosity human beings can show.    In any case, just a wonderful movie that everyone, (especially Empaths perhaps), should see at least once.

 

We may also take it as a commentary on the techniques Empaths can master to “make a heaven out of” what often seems a bit more like a hell, a world that may be difficult for them.   If Benigni’s character can make such a hell into a lighthearted place, perhaps we Empaths can perform a similar transformation on the more mundane hells and purgatories of our lives.

 

Adam (2009)

Adam, the title character, has Asperger’s syndrome.  Thus he is certainly not an empath.  While Empaths viscerally pick up on the emotions and energies around them,  those on the Asperger’s-Autistic spectrum have something of an opposite problem, generally having difficulty understanding the emotions of others.

adam-movie-poster-2009-1020522845

 

However, those with Autism-Asperger’s do have certain things in common with Sensitive Persons (HSPs) and Empaths, which is that they tend to be far more sensitive to stimuli.  Like HSPs and Empaths, they tend to feel that “the world is too much with them,”  and it is a difficult place for them to live in and to interact with others.

 

This is a beautiful story about one man with Asperger’s, trying to make his way in the world.   Many Empaths and HSPs have been mistakenly described as having Asperger’s tendencies perhaps by parents or those close to us,  and it is touching to see someone with this psychological makeup getting by in the world.

Also a beautiful film and a touching story.  Highly recommended.

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower  (2012)

Very enjoyable film for anyone who ever felt “out of place” in high school.  Ah the weirdos, the misfits, these are the people many Empaths can relate to, since they may often have been that way themselves.

While Empaths may have been popular or well-liked people, they undoubtedly have often felt themselves, to be people who were a little odd.    The beautiful young characters of this film,  are also certainly outcasts and misfits in that regard.   A nice movie.

 

Amazing Grace (2006)

220px-Amazinggraceposter

A very nice film, providing a good piece of history for understanding the background to the abolition of slavery in Britain…   The main character is certainly portrayed as an idealist, dare we say perhaps an Empath  (he has to stop his cart every time he sees a horse being beaten, getting out in the rain to rebuke and stop the perpetrator of the violence).

 

The End of the Tour (2015)

A sweet and rather powerful movie about an interviewer spending time with the writer David Foster Wallace.  DFW is most certainly a sensitive man (and a misunderstood, rather unusual, rather brilliant one),  and one would think, very probably an Empath.

Peaceful Warrior (2006)

Not a high-budget or very slick or polished film.   But certainly an uplifting and inspirational, could we say “spiritual” film, that reminds one to live in the moment, follow one’s dreams, etc.

 

Ram Dass: Fierce Grace (2001 Documentary)

A lesser-known (perhaps hard to find) documentary,  on the spiritual teacher Ram Dass.  Inspiring for anyone with interest in spirituality, the 1960’s, or the a piece of spiritual history.    A very beautiful film in which we see the transformation of Ram Dass himself, his survival of a stroke and learning to deal with it, and the transformation of others along the way.

 

The Celestine Prophecy (2006) 

 

Incredibly corny at times, and certainly not a candidate to win any film awards.  That said, if one can look past the rather clumsy acting and execution (which, frankly, reminded me of the rather clunky dialogue of the book),   the message of one interconnected world, being open to synchronicity, etc., etc., is something that many Empaths may feel they resonate with, and can be a bit inspirational.

Avatar (2009)

OK, OK.  Yes, it is very mainstream, very big-budget,  and the ending is rather disappointingly formulaic.   But…  Could we leave out a film featuring “blue people” who are so reminiscent of weird extraterrestrial Empaths?  (forever talking about “feeling the energy,” trying to live in peaceful harmony with their environments, etc.).

A very beautiful movie, in terms of setting, story, and everything.   As noted, the end is rather disappointingly predictable (the blue people defeat the bad guys in battle! Great.)   But still a wonderful movie that everyone may as well see at least once.   Just a really enjoyable and beautiful film.

 

Good Will Hunting (1997) 

A feel-good movie about a young man realizing his potential with the help of a mentor.  A nice movie that will bring your energy up into a more positive state, rather than down. 

The Big Short (2015) 

An enjoyable lighthearted look, full of plenty of comedy, into the rather serious subject of the deception that led to the Financial Crisis.   A rather silly film, but can satisfy Empaths’ interests in serious topics, while at the same time making us laugh and genuinely enjoy the movie.

Catch Me If You Can  (2002) 

A lighthearted piece that is fun all the way through, without any heavy energy for the Empath. Quite enjoyable to watch in its completeness, and a very empath-friendly choice.

A nice movie for any night of the week, important and highly enjoyable.

Promised Land  (2012)

Empath friendly.

Groundhog Day (1993)

A great and genuinely funny (and in certain respects, definitely philosophical) film starring Bill Murray.    A certified classic.   One can take from this messages about learning to live in the moment, take the positives rather than the negatives from life, etc.  Just an all-around feel good and at times hilarious film.     Bill Murray at his best.   Feel good all the way through.

Juno (2007)

Another film about young people (kind of like Wallflower) who are out of place misfits in this world.   A good feeling film.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

They may not exactly be Empaths, but these people are definitely psychologically different.  An enjoyable film mostly all the way through.

Gandhi (1984)

Every Empath should see this.  One of the most beautiful biographical films ever produced, on one of the most incredible souls to walk this earth on our century.  Probably the most famous Highly Sensitive Empath in human history (well… perhaps besides Buddha, Jesus, and a couple of others.  Perhaps we should say, one of the most famous in “modern” history).Gandhi-independence-day-673x1024

Gandhi’s story is an incredible one about how a man who was once too afraid to even speak to a table of people (feeling dizzy, stuttering and stumbling, and not able to get his words out), eventually was among the most respected moral leaders on Earth, helping a nation of over 400 million people in humanity’s first ever successful large-scale nonviolence independence movement.

A truly incredible life and accomplishment, and an incredible film.

I hope to produce some articles or books on Gandhi as Sensitive person in the future.  He is really perhaps among the most accomplished and inspirational Empaths of our time.

 

 

 

 

 

The Counter-intuitive importance for Vata Dosha of *Scheduling*

Hi friends,

It is an interesting principle of Ayurveda that, the doshas inherently tend to have preferences, or to take action in directions that,  are often contrary to what might actually contribute best to the good or well-being of that dosha.

 

So for that reason, Vata dosha always seeks freedom, movement, being unfettered by all bonds of space and time, including very prominently, restrictions of Schedules.

 

Vatas love a free and unhindered schedule! (for the most part).   Very Vata people will want to have the whole day open and free, so they can freely explore various options and make use of their time in the way that they feel is best in that moment.

 

Brief Illustrative Contrast with Pitta (Love of Schedules)

This contrasts largely with the Pitta temperament, which is inherently metabolic (likes breaking things, or events, or appointments, or plans) down into small and digestible pieces, to be completed and carried through in a rational, scheduled way.

People of strongly Pitta temperament with respect to mind and scheduling, tend to be those who love to block off their day-timers,  to have things set,  to eat lunch and dinner at precisely the same times every day, and to know what will come next and what has been completed.

 

According to Ayurveda, Pitta people could actually gain a bit more balance by loosening up this rigidity of schedule.

 

Vata is aided by “Schedules”

But Vata people may actually be aided by bringing a bit more scheduling into their lives.

 

Why?  As many Vata-dominant people have told me,  they tend to lose all bearing, and often wind up getting less things done, rather than more (as they initially hoped) from a totally free and open schedule.

 

This may be expressed physiologically also as anxiety, uncertainty, and bowel issues (diarrhea, or much much more commonly for Vata, constipation).

 

Many Vata people have had this experience of Constipation, seemingly chronically in their lives,  and know not precisely from whence it comes….

 

But many of them find, seemingly miraculous, that when they are forced into, say, a kind of Day-job where they have to wake up in the morning, eat something, and go into work at the same time each day,  that miraculously their elimination/excretive processes are fixed up, and they find themselves having a (mostly) regular bowel movement ever single morning,  just as “clockwork” as the Pitta person.

 

(Indeed, the phrase, “like clockwork” might be revealing in this sense — it denotes regularity, and the Vata person who is forced onto the clock, may find that their Physiology responds very well to this scheduling, in the form of (not only getting more things done),  but also a reduction of Anxiety,  frazzled-ness, and a remedy of constipation/digestion/ elimination problems).

 

Now, this should be taken in moderation — of course, the Vata person will still find it useful (and important) to maintain some good degree of freedom in their lives (especially doing work that they find not a Drudgery but something personally Meaningful.)

But on the scheduling side of it, it is often advisable for Vata people to try to set themselves a good schedule, some way some how,  usually against their own original intuition/will,  and see if this brings their physiology and digestion into better alignment.

 

Summary of The Key Point:

  • If you are of the Vata dosha, and find yourself frequently unmoored, or suffering from a lack of direction in your life (very common for Vata), or having Constipation/Digestion issues (extremely common for Vata!),  then a strong recommendation of some Ayurvedic practitioners is to try to develop a Schedule and stick to it.

 

Final note —  This may seem difficult at first, but search online for various methods to make and keep schedules.  You need not be rigid as a board,  but at least having some positive scheduling in your life, to have appointments a bit more clearly delineated, is very likely to help your physiology and psychology as a whole.    Try it and see.  Good luck  🙂

South Korea: Hagwon vs. International Schools

On a totally different topic from what is usually covered in this blog, just thought I would write a bit about my current experience, teaching at an International Elementary School here in Korea,  and  comparison of this kind of work with a standard “Hagwon”/”Hakwon”  (Private academy).

While “Private Academy” sounds rather prestigious in many countries, those familiar with English learning in South Korea will understand that Private Hagwons are “a dime a dozen,”  and often not very prestigious institutions,  though of course they range in quality,  being privately run.

In comparison,  “Public School” jobs are rather more difficult to obtain in Korea (though not particularly hard,  the remaining positions are generally done through GEPIK or similar programs),   but are  far more sparse these days, due to government cutbacks in hiring of Native English instructors.

An  “International School,”  like the one I teach at now,  is generally privately run (like a hagwon),  but is generally far more reputable,  and the primary difference is that this school is the Primary/Main  school for it’s students (they attend in the daytime),  as compared with hagwons which are usually afterschool academies.

So whereas in a Hagwon position I was working afternoon/evening hours  (from about 1:30 pm to about 9:30 pm, though I often stayed a bit later, till around 10, voluntarily),   now at my present International elementary school,  I work in the daytime,  from about 7:50 am to 4:10 pm.

These hours are actually far preferable for me, though all people are different.   I know some people actually enjoy being able to sleep in very late, and work late.

For me, I enjoy the natural aspect of being able to wake up in the morning, (with the sun and most of the animals), and being finished by the afternoon, giving me the evening free.   But again, everyone has different preferences.     (and to be sure, I actually wouldn’t mind sleeping in an extra hour or so).

The biggest differences are probably in the details of instruction.

Hagwons often use largely “pre-packaged” lessons, out of textbook, etc.

At my hagwon (an academy for students all the way from Elementary grade 1, to first year high school),  we primarily worked basically straight out of English textbooks.  (actually, rather low-quality  Korean-produced English textbooks,  occasionally with  typos  or slightly awkward Konglish constructions).

For this hagwon work, there was little preparation necessary (though I always went through the pages in advance), as teachers (I was the only Native English teacher there actually),  were expected to stick very closely to the curriculum, and make sure pages were completed.

Though this saved prep time, it certainly left something to be desired in terms of a feeling of autonomy or control over lesson planning,  or the ability to be more creative with how we did things in class.   That was certainly lacking at the hagwon.

(though at my hagwon, this was partly made up for by a demand to make “activities” (often silly games and things), for the younger students.   I personally found this to be often a burden and a chore, though some teachers who love making up games, etc., might actually enjoy this aspect).

International School:  More Freedom and Creativity Involved in Lesson Planning

In contrast, at my International School,  there are fewer class hours,  but more prep time,  but I must make all my own lesson plans,  and design my lessons with some creativity.

I have more leeway to complete the curriculum as I see fit (though there are still arbitrary requirements to fill all the pages, etc., etc.),  but there is much more autonomy to design my own lessons,  ability to show relevant videos in class,  discuss things in a more open-ended manner, etc.

In this respect, I far prefer the International School format, (and can see why they are more discerning with the teachers they hire),  because frankly,  having some autonomy over how one does one’s job is a major aspect of job satisfaction,  and this makes my work far more interesting and fulfilling, where I can design and plan my own lessons how I like.

Have any experiences with hagwons / Public schools / International Schools in Korea?  If so, leave a comment and let me know.  Thanks for the feedback.  Until next time, warm wishes.

Feeling Lightness of Heart

I would love to start a complete blog entitled something like,  “Beautiful Things to Make You Feel Good.”

Imagine that:  a whole compilation of beautiful things, ideas, etc., to bring joy into people’s hearts, etc.

Today was a bit of a hard day.  But, there was one thing that made me feel extraordinarily wonderful.

I was listening to something upon first waking up, a kind of audio on the “Insight Timer” app,  and it exhorted me to “… Feel freedom.  Feel a lightness in your heart, a lightness in your body, and know that you are free…”

This incredible idea:  — “A lightness in my heart?”  I thought,  “What on earth does that feel like?”   I could imagine feeling light in my body, but not feeling “lightness” in my heart.    (Maybe warmth of heart… heaviness of heart… but for some reason I could not remember ever feeling “light” of heart)

In any case, I tried then to viscerally feel what it would feel like to feel a lightness in my heart…

And, lo and behold,  what an incredible feeling!  And what an accompanying Memory!  I HAD felt this way before!   

Indeed, it brought me back to when I was in Dharamsala in 2013,  a beautiful town (home of the Dalai Lama, etc.,) in the foothills of the Himalayas (India).

That Lightness of Heart!  That was something I used to feel almost continuously and every day while I was living in India at certain times,  relatively free (studying, not working in a kind of daily grind as a teacher day in, day out).     It brought back that lightness and I felt —  I hoped, I felt, I was sure, that I could get back to there and feel that lightness again.

I hope to be recommitted.  (shall I be committed for writing this post?)    I hope to be recommitted to go back to India and to feel that lightness again.   To get out of the daily grind, and get back to a life of study and writing (more or less) at my own pace.

To be Free (again) is a goal I have.   What a blessing to be reminded, that it is possible to Feel Light of Body and Light at Heart.    Thank you.  

Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), Introverts, and Feelings of Loneliness

I want to write about Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs), and feelings of deep, profound, gutting, “loneliness” that they often find themselves having to deal with.

To begin with, the majority of HSPs would probably describe themselves as “Introverts”, in the sense that they recharge energy not through being in a group of people, but rather by having some time to themselves.

For that reason, HSPs will find it inevitably important to schedule sufficient periods of “downtime” into their lives.  Whether that means breaks from work, from friends and family even, etc.    It is important for them to have enough time for themselves to recharge, for their own mental and even physical health.

That said, from speaking with and working with many HSPs (and also from personal experience), I have found that HSPs are still likely to have dealt with (sometimes very acutely), at certain times in their lives (or for extended periods, or chronically even), feelings of “loneliness,”  “aloneness,”  wanting companionship, or just feeling a bit too alone.

It is interesting, because on one hand as HSP’s, we demand and crave aloneness — yet on the other hand, we can feel acutely separated and alone at times.

Part of this may have to do with our natural differences from others — as a minority of the population (say, 15-20% it is often estimated),  HSPs are outnumbered by those who think and feel perhaps not to the same degree of depth, or in the same way,  so they may isolate themselves,  consciously or unconsciously, from the grunting and mawing of regular society, which can be so exhausting, and often unfulfilling.

So why then should HSP’s also complain of feeling “too lonely” at times?   Are HSP’s just complainers?   Do they just want to have everything “just right”?

There may be something to that last suggesting — of everything needing to be “Just Right.”  We might call this the “Goldilocks Syndrome” (can’t be too hot, too cold, needs to be just perfect, or one feels uncomfortable).    Many of us as HSP’s may have been criticized, mocked, or blamed for seemingly being so hard to please — though we may be reluctant frankly to make demands on others,  others may see that we are made uncomfortable by anything outside of a specific range.

That is to say, that while HSP’s are more sensitive to goodness, joy, and beauty, they are also equally more sensitive to pain, sadness, and suffering.   There is a quote from Alan Watts to the effect that,  “One cannot become more sensitive to joy without correspondingly becoming more sensitive to precisely the same degree to suffering.”

Thus, while HSP’s may be able to derive tremendous joy, a wonderful feeling of serenity, calm, and fulfillment from just sitting alone quietly, perhaps by a river somewhere doing nothing  (one recalls Ram Dass saying, that after all of his years of spiritual practice, he is perfectly happy just to sit and look at a wall all day long — it brings him great joy);   at the same time,  they are also more sensitive to the negative feelings that may be associated with being a bit “too” alone.

That what others, the majority of the population, may feel as vague boredom,  for the Sensitive Person it may be a feeling of being struck from the depth of their heart, with a profound aloneness, sadness, lack of love, etc.    Even if they are not alone chronically!  Even if I was with my partner, best friend, or at work yesterday, if today I am suddenly all alone with nobody to turn to, this feeling may sneak up like a snake through the weeds!

It can certainly be surprising, for those of us who love solitude so much, to suddenly feel afflicted by our solitude.  Who saw it coming?   But it may help, at least a little bit, just to know that this is entirely a natural phenomenon, it is part of our being more sensitive to both the good things and the unpleasant in life;  we need not be ashamed of it;  and at the same time we need not (though we surely know this already!)  make a big deal of it either.    We can remember,  the most important words on the signet ring in the well-known story:   This Too Shall Pass. 

God Bless and Love to all Sensitive Persons who have felt loneliness, and who may even be feeling it now.   Here are some particular ways to deal with loneliness, as an HSP  (OK, just one overall suggestion, but perhaps more to come later:   )

  1.  Go Out for a Walk or Bike Ride (or some similar exercise) in a Natural Place

Nature and Exercise are two profoundly healthy and healing stimuli for the body, especially  for the Highly Sensitive Body.    Studies have found that people dealing with depression, may receive the same mood life they got by taking an anti-depressant pill, from simply going for a brisk walk.  Just 5-10 minutes of exercise (just tell yourself that, and you are likely to start enjoying yourself so much after 5-10 minutes, that you will want to stay out for 30 minutes or more — the whole day even),  has been to shown to lift one’s mood immensely.

If you want a longer term plan,  pack up some water bottles, a snack or two, etc., whatever makes you feel comfortable, maybe bring a book to read or something interesting to look at,  put them in a backpack,  and head out for a long bike ride somewhere.   Make a day of it.  Make your own picnic.   If it is a nice day, you are sure to end up having a glorious day on your own.

There is a quote from Emerson to the effect that, the Oyster becomes more beautiful through healing it’s own shell with Pearl.

That is, when you can learn to deal with your emotions yourself, and to sit with (or bike with, walk with, run with, exercise with), what you are feeling, you become stronger, more beautiful, a more real person.    All the best people are the people who have struggled with physical or emotional pain or difficulty.    All the most meaningful people’s lives have been fraught with tough times of varying degrees.

So perhaps we should celebrate our loneliness or feelings of pain, no?   It makes us deeper, more compassionate, more beautiful people in the end.  Even if you can’t tell that that is happening now.

Miracle of Awareness

Reflections on a Quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn, teacher of “Mindfulness”:

 it’s the attending itself. We are so seduced by thinking and emotion and we don’t realize that awareness is at least as powerful of a function. It can hold any emotion, no matter how destructive, any thought, no matter how gigantic.

That’s where the transformative power lies, that you’re adding a measure of deep introspection and perception to ordinary experience. And then realizing: There is no such thing as ‘ordinary experience.’ Everything is extraordinary.

     This to me is a beautiful quote:Board_Zinn_NEW

We are so seduced by thinking and emotion and we don’t realize that awareness is at least as powerful of a function. It can hold any emotion, no matter how destructive, any thought, no matter how gigantic.

And when I read this, It occurs to me that it applies not merely as a simple private act of introspection, but on a larger, inter-human, societal level.

Our society and our lives are so filled with knee-jerk reactions.  With instant hate, instant retribution.

A measure of awareness there, an Awareness that can hold “any emotion, no matter how destructive, any thought, no matter how gigantic” — is the transformative force that allows us to move beyond reactionary-ism and violence.

It is what allows us to see others as human beings too — as lights of consciousness.

When we follow the discourse of (to take a terrifying and unwholesome example), U.S. politics —  When we see that hate and reaction there:  Stop the terrorists, Kill the Bad Guys,  Fight the Other — Ban them, Build the Wall, Fight those bad guys, Stop them all —

And compare it with what some other attitudes —  having a space of forgiveness and inclusivity,  seeing the others as ourselves, embracing those who are different.

It occurs to me that it is this Awareness that is the possibly catalyst — the missing enzyme without with knee-jerk reactions can be transformed — the only way for hearts and minds to change of their own.  (For, as we know, (when we truly reflect and know,) that we cannot change others.  It is just not possible.  That has to come from themselves….)

That all the shouting and argumentation of politics and societies will be but heavy waves of thick viscous liquid smashing on the granite-hard rocks of pre-conceived notions, deep-rooted, long-lived inner beliefs, fears, and identities.

That the only true transformation would be as a baby chick, somehow cracking open these granite rocks from inside.  

Miraculous — that all along there was a Pure Awareness, A glowing baby bird, fully inhabiting that rock, its body extending all the way out to the truly skin-thin walls.  Those walls thin as gossamer and ready to be cracked, should one access the glowing truth that we all are.

Jung, the Shadow, and Activism (Gandhi)

One of the great contributions in the work of  Carl Jung was the delineation of “The Shadow,”  a concept partly introduced by Freud in his conception of the “Id,”  but given a fuller exposition in the work of Jung.

 

One aspect of the Jungian shadow is “an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative…” (Wiki)

Jung warned about the common practice of “Projecting” the shadow outwards:

“Obviously, the problem of the shadow plays a great role in political conflicts. If the man who had this dream had not been sensible about his shadow problem, he could easily identified with the “dangerous Communists” of outer life, or with the “grasping capitalists”. In this way he would have avoided seeing that he had within him such warring elements. If people observe their own unconscious tendencies in other people, this is called a “projection”. Political agitation in all countries is full of such projections, just as much as the backyard gossip of little groups and individuals. Projections of all kinds obscure our view of our fellow men, spoiling all possibility of genuine human relationships.
And there is an additional disadvantage in projecting our shadow. If we identify our own shadow with, say, the Communists or the Capitalists, a part of our own personality remains on the opposing side. The result is that we shall constantly (though involuntarily) do things behind our own backs that support this other side, and thus we shall unwittingly help our enemy. If, on the contrary, we realize the projection and can discuss matters without fear and hostility, dealing with the other person sensibly, then there is a chance of mutual understanding or at least of a truce. (pg. 182)”.

jung-3

We see this today, with people identifying with one political side (Liberals or Conservatives).  As one blogger points out:

“So even if we associate with the Communists or the Capitalists, or today Liberals and Conservatives, the very act of identifying with a side empowers the other side because that is the side which our shadow self is projected onto.”

The other side is empowered because the Shadow self contains a great deal of power within it.  It is the collective power of all that we have repressed in ourselves.

Jung pointed out that in order to become whole, (and wholeness is largely the final project of Jungian Psychology),  we must not Project our Shadow self outwards, onto other people or perceived “enemies,”  but must become aware of this Shadow within us.  Not repress it, not fight it, not give ourselves over to it completely,  but bring awareness to it, and in so doing allow it’s energies to become integrated with our total Self.  

 

 

It often occurs to me that Mahatma Gandhi was an exemplar of doing this in the Political realm, and could be a model for us moving forward in this way.

Gandhi was unique in steadfastly refusing to ever see his “enemies” as enemies.  He strove always to see all people, including his harshest political opponents, people who jailed him or tried to deny his people their rights, and fought them as every turn,  he strove to see all of these “enemies” as family or friends.  

Gandhi’s goal was to integrate himself into the totality of life, so that “friend and foe” were meaningless distinctions.

It is incredible that one was able to practice in Politics (seen by many as a basically Adversarial system), holding this Philosophy.

Gandhi’s greatest adversary early in his career (in South Africa), was General Smuts.  Smuts was at times a brutal adversary, trying to defeat the Indian resistance in a variety of ways, and often breaking his word at key moments in trying to beat down the Indians of the country.

That said, Smuts was so impressed with Gandhi’s constant cheerfulness, constant friendly attitude, and refusal ever to see this apparent “enemy” in Smuts as at all an “enemy.”

 

“His work in South Africa finished, Gandhi left South Africa with his wife in July 1914. Before he departed, he sent General Smuts a pair of sandals as a gift.

“Smuts wore the sandals every summer at his farm and then returned the sandals to Gandhi on Gandhi’s seventieth birthday. Smuts remarked, ‘I have worn these sandals for many a summer … even though I may feel that I am not worthy to stand in the shoes of so great a man. It was my fate to be the antagonist of a man for whom even then I had the highest respect. … He never forgot the human background of the situation, never lost his temper or succumbed to hate, and preserved his gentle humor even in the most trying situations. His manner and spirit even then, as well as later, contrasted markedly with the ruthless and brutal forcefulness which is the vogue in our day…'”

– Gandhi, M. The Essential Gandhi, Louis Fischer (ed.). Random House, New York, 2002.

Gandhi spinning

Gandhi also was unique in always looking “inward.”  Whenever a problem seemed to arise in the “outer” political machinations of the country, the first place Gandhi looked was “within.”

 

In this way, Gandhi seems a fascinating exemplar to study in relation to taking to heart Carl Jung’s later injunction not to project one’s Shadow self –the dark or repressed elements within oneself — onto the external world.