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)”.


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.



What is Time but the Allotment of Minutes to Fulfill our Deepest Purpose?

I want to briefly revisit the thoughts of Deepak Chopra on pursuing your purpose and passion in life, following the immediate comments of some of my readers and friends.  Feel free to skip down halfway if you’ve already read the first quote.

“For me it is not so much about seeking ‘success.’  Rather, it is about, “How do I fit into this web of life?” What is my unique talent?   How do I express my unique talent?

In Eastern traditions we call it the law of dharma, which says there are no spare parts in the universe. Every piece fits, its like a big jigsaw puzzle which we are a part of.  And if you were to ask me, “How do I know what my part is?”, I would say:

If I had all the time in the world, and all the money in the world, what would I do?  

How would I express myself, and how would I use that expression of myself, to serve the needs of the web of life of which I am a part?

Furthermore, Deepak goes on to suggest that this will have the following effect:

When I do that, I will end up having all the money and time in the world.

Start from, what would I do if I had all the money and time in the world,  Do that, and you Will have all the time and money in the world.


This is very much like the law of attraction or manifesting our realities. We can see it from the perspective of a mindset shift — thinking that I have all the time and money in the world, and then doing only what I care about — and this manifesting what I had envisioned:  Having all the time and money in the world.

OR we can suppose that perhaps, when we imagine that we have all the time and money in the world, and thus stop STRIVING through our action to get success  or recognition — then that action will come from a place of purity and purpose, unsullied by the need for validation, and its own power will make itself known in the world.

Then the power of that kind of action will draw people to it like shavings to a magnet, the world will not be able to resist loving and appreciating your action, and will ultimately reward you financially for doing it.


These are beautiful ideas, but there is a chance they might not work out. We do not have evidence beforehand that they can.  Indeed, it may seem like wishful thinking to think that all the “time and money in the world” may simply come to us from doing what we simply Love.


That said, perhaps we can entertain the notion that, once we are really on our purpose and doing what we Love and have a Passion for in this way,  that all the time and money in the world will no longer matter to us

For what was time but the allotment of minutes hours or decades to do that thing that we thought we had been put on this earth to do?

And what was Money but the tool and potential to allow us to live comfortably on this earth, and fulfill our true purpose here?


Purpose: If I had all the time and money in the world, What Would I Do?

Whether or not you are a fan of Deepak Chopra, I find this to be a wonderful and inspiring take on the meaning of success and pursuing your dreams in life:

“For me it is not so much about seeking ‘success.’  Rather, it is about, “How do I fit into this web of life?” What is my unique talent?   How do I express my unique talent?

In Eastern traditions we call it the law of dharma, which says there are no spare parts in the universe. Every piece fits, its like a big jigsaw puzzle which we are a part of.  And if you were to ask me, “How do I know what my part is?”, I would say:

If I had all the time in the world, and all the money in the world, what would I do?  

How would I express myself, and how would I use that expression of myself, to serve the needs of the web of life of which I am a part?

Chopra goes on to say that this has the following effect:

When I do that, I will end up having all the money and time in the world.

First, I find this to be a beautiful message and it deeply inspires me. It inspires me to start doing what is most valuable to me, not merely what I think I should do to make money, or the limited things that I can choose due to time constraints.

Frankly, when I do reflect on time, I have more of it than I appreciate. Even if I work 40 to 60 hours per week, I still have time outside of work to make good on fulfilling my dreams.

This reminds me of a message of David Deida, who suggests that you Stop Putting off your purpose to a later time.  Many of us have some great dream or goal in life, but we always think that maybe we will do it later down the road — maybe when we have enough money, or when our kids are grown up, or when we have completed x, y, or z.

Deida’s message is that the majority of human beings keep putting it off, and it usually never comes.

He suggests that right now, today, you devote 30 minutes of your time to fulfilling your deepest purpose on earth.

To give your gift fully for just 30 minutes.

No matter how busy our lives, we can all probably find 30 minutes to put aside each day to put towards pursuing our dreams or what we feel our real purpose or passion to be.  And if we can’t find 30 minutes towards it, maybe we should consider how we can make that possible.

I am curious to know what readers think.  Are you currently living your deepest purpose and passion in your life?   Or do you think that you can put 30 minutes towards it each day, and could you imagine this beginning to transform your life?

To be honest, I have not made this step yet.  But the more I think on these beautiful injunctions, the more it creates a determination in me to do what is important at least a  little bit each day.  Writing in this blog is one thing that makes me feel like I am doing some service in this way.  So thank you readers for letting me share this with you.

After a hard day, in the snow outside, a realization: “Just Give Your Gift”

Invigorated by the brisk walk late at night after a terribly hard and meaningless day at work in the classroom…

I walked out there.. Stay on your purpose.. I saw the trees, the snow…

Stood in the cool air light hail-snow, so light, so thin drops of tiny wet ice, not harmful, but tinkling all around.

And I felt the presence -I was the presence.

Deep inside – that was where I was – that was where I could give my gift from.

I realized that what was important was not to Take Take Take – in fact, you could never benefit from Taking.  You could only Benefit from Giving.  And not really Giving to Others, or For others – not necessarily (although that may be possible).  But more simply, more directly, from resting in your own deepest place – and then Giving what You Had to Give.

Giving from my own Deepest Reserves.

Giving my Own Gift.

If only I could remember this always.

A desire for “Sex” masking a desire for “Love”?

We have all heard about how sex is always the number one thing on the human male brain.

And many of us male human beings can likely corroborate that sex is something of great interest to us.


That said, I have been interested in the last couple of years, in my own experience, in examining the extent to which a seemingly insatiable “desire for sex” may actually be fulfilled or sated by non-sexual love.


That is to say, I have found that when I have been living, for example, in highly loving households or environments — even loving non-sexually — for example houses with good dear friends, or communities with many good dear friends,  that my desire for Sex seems significantly lessened.


Sure, Sex would be great in such situations, and I would likely not refuse it.  But in some of those living situations — such as a wonderful house I lived in with several friends in Vancouver — or at various ashrams in India — where I had for significant bouts of time no sexual partner, it was often not something on my mind in a major way, and I felt quite happy and satisfied with my life.

In other words, I felt that I was getting — and giving — enough Love, and felt no lack in that area.


On the other hand, it tends to be in places where I am living Alone, or in a place that is comparatively “Loveless”, that I feel a strong sexual urge often making itself known.  In the absence of a sexual partner, it would seem to call urgently for a little bit of “personal” action.


So this intrigues me.   It has also been suggested by some theorists, that what is often considered to be the “INSATIABLE” desire for sex that many feel today,  may actually have at its root simply a lack of LOVE in that person’s life.

Even in the absence of SEX, can we be satisfied by LOVE?


This is not to say that Sex is a bad thing (surely, “The world must be peopled” through it, and it can certainly be a beautiful art form),

But just to question whether sometimes our great desire for Sex actually just masks a Desire for LOVE in our lives.



The Most Difficult Thing in your Life, is your Greatest Teacher

The most difficult or aggravating thing or person in your life is also your best teacher. 

For through dealing with this difficulty, you learn and grow the most.


This teaching can be found throughout many spiritual traditions, ancient and modern.   I remember reading this from the work of Pema Chodron many years ago.   And just last night I was watching an NVC video with Marshall Rosenberg where he shared the same sentiment.


I felt so much relief and good feeling on being reminded of this.  As I had been feeling a lot of anger and frustration around my work (I am a teacher at an academy in Korea) recently….   And it suddenly struck me that I could look at this difficulty from a different perspective:

What a Gift.  What a gift it is to have a tough time here and now.


For in going through this difficulty I become stronger.  I also learn about things that I don’t like (through which contrast I can better appreciate what I do like!)    And also, to think of the relief, on getting through this work.   Think of how good it will feel, in future, looking back on this and saying,  “So many things I learned from these experiences….”

My Intention to Bring Non-Violent Communication (NVC) into the Classroom

Day 1:

I currently work as an English language school teacher at an academy in South Korea.  My students are a range of ages from Elementary grade 1 all the way up to High school.

I was inspired this weekend, watching the fascinating and heart-stirring videos (I highly recommend you check them out if you can) again of Marshall Rosenberg, doing workshops of Non-violent communication, which videos I had not watched in quite some time.


It reminded me of the stunning beauty and possible efficacy of this process. And it occurred to me that I could learn from this, and try to apply a new way of dealing with my students, in an Non-violent communicative-inspired style.

It is very late here and I do not have time to go into details at the moment.  But I will say that I already noticed powerful results, from the very first class when I decided to try to take on a more NVC approach.


I was already feeling a bit tired as had not had a great sleep the night before.  And it was a noisy gaggle of 2nd and 3rd grade students mostly in my class.

But I decided to approach this in the way of being sensitive to, of feeling, the NEEDS in this situation.  My own NEEDS — which were to have a relative level of peace in the classroom;  and also I put out feelers for the NEEDS of the young humans around me.

I refused to see them as difficult — or worse, adversaries — and tried to feel what NEEDS (if any), might exist behind their noise.


It is hard to describe in words, but frankly what seemed the most powerful of this approach, was simply the INTENTION that I was applying.  It was almost as if these young people could FEEL the shift in ENERGY that I was exchanging with them.  I stood very still and soft and quiet, and refused to get “sped up” in TELLING them to “BE QUIET PLEASE”.

Rather, standing still and listening carefully to the noise or shouting that they were doing in my direction (not necessarily with bad intention), making eye contact and showing that I was listening to them —

at each moment that I was able to do this, there was an interesting subtle shift in these small boys’ and girls’ behaviour — a cognizance that I was not fighting with them, or trying to be AUTHORITY FIGURE teacher to them, but — what a novel concept — simply relating to them as another human being.


THIS seemed to have quite a powerful effect on the classroom atmosphere.  Particularly early on, as the tone was set for the duration of the class.

It was not easy to maintain this stance, but it was not tremendously difficult either.

I even spoke to them, of my needs, and tried to listen to their needs.

Frankly, as there is quite a language barrier between us, this may have seemed foolish.  But even if they did not understand all my words, it rather seemed that the energy alone — their feeling of my approach to understanding them from the heart, not from the head, or from norms or as a dictatorial authority — really changed the dynamic of the classroom.

And I certainly did not lose authority by this.  If anything, I gained a legitimate authority, that of a human being, rather than just an incomprehensible teacher telling them what to do.



Anyways, this was just an opening experiment, and I hope to keep working on this and perhaps blog about my experiences doing this in future, as I seek to gain more knowledge and refine my method.