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TitleOwning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche
File Size829.9 KB
Total Pages73
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Shadow
Chapter 2: Romantic Love as Shadow
Chapter 3: The Mandorla
About the Author
Other Books by Robert A. Johnson
About the Publisher
Document Text Contents
Page 36

Sunday and Monday moralities. We are taught by Christianity to follow a set of
values that are almost entirely disregarded in everyday business life. How is a
person to cope?

At some point—usually in midlife—the tension becomes too great and these
two opposing points of view demand a new and different treatment. We can no
longer allow ourselves to be torn between the two. The pressure becomes so
great that something has to give.

We hate paradox since it is so painful getting there, but it is a very direct
experience of a reality beyond our usual frame of reference and yields some of
the greatest insights. It forces us beyond ourselves and destroys naive and
inadequate adaptations. Most of the time, we support two warring points of view
and evade the confrontation. This is the character of many modern lives. In an
ordinary day we have endless examples of this divided opinion. I need to go to
work but I don’t want to; I don’t like my neighbor but I have to be civil with
him; I should lose some weight but I like certain foods so much; my budget is
overtaxed but…These are the contradictions that we live with constantly. Yet
these illusions should be disillusioned, painful as this may be. We cannot simply
blot out one side of the balance. But we can change our way of looking at the
problem. If we accept these opposing elements and endure the collision of them
in full consciousness, we embrace the paradox. The capacity for paradox is the
measure of spiritual strength and the surest sign of maturity.

To advance from opposition (always a quarrel) to paradox (always holy) is to
make a leap of consciousness. That leap takes us through the chaos of middle
age and gives a vista that enlightens the remaining years of life.

It is a valuable exercise to list the oppositions that we face, then try to restore
them to the realm of paradox. We can start with these two sets of values: the
everyday practical attitudes that nearly everyone agrees to and the religious
instruction that we are given.

Winning Losing
Income Outgo
Eating Fasting
Action Passivity
Earning Giving
Owning Selling all and giving to the poor
Possession Poverty
Activity Repose
Sex Celibacy
Decisiveness Observation

Page 72

*A friend of mine turned his counterpoint lesson in to a distinguished teacher who returned it marked in red
pencil, The leap of a natural seventh is reserved for donkeys!!” My friend returned the paper with the
addition, “And Bach!” He was dismissed from the school.

Page 73

*I am indebted to Dr. Douglas Sharon, curator of the Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego, California,
for this insight.

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