Shadow Self Part 3: Clash of the Opposites

This is the third post that appears to be developing into the “Shadow Self” series. Below C. G. Jung speaks about the conscious (ego) and unconscious (shadow self, archetypes) parts of our psyches and how the collide (clash) to form dualism or polarity. C. G. Jung speaks about symbolism, wholeness of the self through the mandala, and the dualism between the religious and natural GOD. C. G. Jung speaks about the Ego, Shadow self, and archetypes to which are patterns of behavior and thought that shape our reality and perception of our thoughts, actions, and beliefs. C. G. Jung speaks about the wholeness of the psyche, its many parts, its clash between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to which shape our actions in the world to reach our desires or potential, and how we perceive our project what we feel or perceive onto others within our reality.

C. G. Jung speaks about the development of the conscious and collective unconscious to which shape our lives and determine our wholeness, the battle symbolic to separate from dualism to altruism and oneness, to where there is no separation of conscious and unconscious thought, to where all is one, with nature and the universe, with religion and spirituality. It is all within us, and we have the ability to see past categories and to shape our reality to reach our true potential.

In the living psychic structure... everything fits into the economy of the whole, relates to the whole...  it is all purposeful and has meaning…   it is all purposeful and has meaning… – C. G. Jung

“A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them. They then dwell in the house next door, and at any moment a flame may dart out and set fire to his own house. Whenever we give up, leave behind, and forget too much, there is always the danger that the things we have neglected will return with added force.”

“Insofar as analytical treatment makes the “shadow” conscious, it causes a cleavage and a tension of opposites which in their turn seek compensation in unity. The adjustment is achieved through symbols. The conflict between the opposites can strain our psyche to the breaking point, if we take them seriously, or if they take us seriously. The tertium non datur of logic proves its worth: no solution can be seen. If all goes well, the solution, seemingly of its own accord, appears out of nature. Then and then only is it convincing. It’s felt as “grace”. Since the solution proceeds out of the confrontation and clash of opposites, it is usually an unfathomable mixture of conscious and unconscious factors, and therefore a symbol, a coin split into two halves which fit together precisely. It represents the result of the joint labors of consciousness and the unconscious, and attains the likeness of the God-image in the form of the mandala, which is probably the simplest model of a concept of wholeness, and one which spontaneously arises in the mind as a representation of the struggle and reconciliation of opposites. The clash, which is at first of a purely personal nature, is soon followed by the insight that the subjective conflict is only a single instance of the universal conflict of opposites. Our psyche is set up in accord with the structure of the universe, and what happens in the macrocosm likewise happens in the infinitesimal and most subjective reaches of the psyche. For that reason the God-image is always a projection of the inner experience of a powerful vis-à-vis. This is symbolized by objects from which the inner experience has taken its initial impulse, and which from then on preserve numinous significance, or else it is characterized by its numinosity and the overwhelming force of that numinosity. In this way the imagination liberates itself from the concretism of the object and attempts to sketch the image of the invisible as something which stands behind the phenomenon. This is the simplest basic form of the mandala, the circle, and the simplest (mental) division of the circle, the quadrant, or as the case may be, the cross.”

“The myth must ultimately take monotheism seriously and put aside its dualism, which, however much repudiated officially, has persisted until now and enthroned an eternal dark antagonist alongside the omnipotent Good. Room must be made within the system for the philosophical complexion oppositorum of Nicholas of Cusa and the moral ambivalence of Jacob Boehme; only thus can the One God be granted the wholeness and the synthesis of opposites which could be His. It is a face that symbols, by their very nature, can so unite the opposites that these no longer diverge or clash, but mutually supplement one another and give meaningful shape to life. Once that has been experienced, the ambivalence in the image of a nature-god or Creator-god ceases to present difficulties. On the contrary, the myth of the necessary incarnation of God – the essence of the Christian message – can then be understood as man’s creative confrontation with the opposites and their synthesis in the self, the wholeness of his personality. The unavoidable internal contradictions in the image of a Creator-god can be reconciled in the unity and wholeness of the self as the coniunctio oppositorum of the alchemists or as a unio mystica. In the experience of the self it is no longer the opposites “God” and “man” that are reconciled, as it was before, but rather the opposites within the God-image itself. That is the meaning of divine services, of the services which man can render to God, that light may emerge from the darkness, that the Creator may become conscious of His creation, and man conscious of himself.”

“If a man faced with a conflict of duties undertakes to deal with them absolutely on his own responsibility, and before a judge who sits in judgment on him day and night, he may well find himself in an isolated position. There is now an authentic secret in his life which cannot be discussed – if only because he is involved in an endless inner trial in which he is his own counsel and ruthless examiner, and no secular or spiritual judge can restore his easy sleep. If he were not already sick to death of the decisions of such judges, he would never have found himself in a conflict. For such a conflict always presupposes a higher sense of responsibility. It is this very quality which keeps its possessor from accepting the decision of a collectivism. In his case the court is transposed to the inner world where the verdict is pronounced behind closed doors.”

“Once this happens, the psyche of the individual acquires heightened importance. It is not only the seat of his well-known and socially defined ego; it is also the instrument for measuring what it is worth in and for itself. Nothing so promotes the growth of consciousness as this inner confrontation of opposites. Quite unsuspected facts turn up in the indictment, and the defense is obliged to discover arguments hitherto unknown. In the course of this, a considerable portion of the outer world reaches the inner, and by that very fact the outer world is impoverished or relieved. On the other hand, the inner world has gained that much weight by being raised to the rank of a tribunal for ethical decisions. However, the once unequivocal ego loses the prerogative of being merely the prosecutor; it must also learn the role of defendant. The ego becomes ambivalent and ambiguous, and is caught between hammer and anvil. It becomes aware of a polarity super-ordinate to itself.”

“Just as all energy proceeds from opposition, so the psyche too possesses its inner polarity, this being the indispensable perquisite for its aliveness. Both theoretically and practically, polarity is inherent in all living things. Set against this overpowering force is the fragile unity of the ego, which has come into being in the course of millennia only with the aid of countless protective measures. That an ego was possible at all appears to spring from the fact that all opposites seek to achieve a state of balance. This happens in the exchange of energy which results from the collision of hot and cold, high and low, and so on. The energy underlying conscious psychic life is pre-existent to it and therefore at first unconscious. As it approaches consciousness it first appears projected in figures like mana, gods, daimons, ect., whose numen seems to be the vital source of energy, and in point of fact is so as long as these supernatural figures are accepted. But as these fade and lose their force, the ego – that is, the empirical man – seems to come into possession of this source of energy, and does so in the fullest meaning of this ambiguous statement: on the one hand he seeks to seize this energy, possess it, and even imagines that he does possess it; and on the other hand he is possessed by it.”

“This grotesque situation can, to be sure, occur only when the contents of consciousness are regarded as the sole form of psychic existence. Where this is the case, there is no preventing inflation by projections coming home to roost. But where the existence of an unconscious psyche is admitted, the contents of projection can be received into the inborn instinctive forms which predate consciousness. Their objectivity and autonomy are thereby preserved, and inflation is avoided. The archetypes, which are pre-existent to consciousness and condition it, appear in the party they actually play in reality: as a priori structural forms of the stuff of consciousness. They do not in any sense represent things as they are in themselves, but rather the forms in which things can be perceived and conceived. Naturally, it is not merely the archetypes that govern the particular nature of perceptions. They account only for the collective component of a perception. As an attribute of instinct they partake of its dynamic nature, and consequently possess a specific energy which causes or compels definite modes of behavior or impulses; that is, they may under certain circumstances have a possessive or obsessive force (numinosity). The conception of them as daimonia is therefore quite in accord with their nature.”

2 thoughts on “Shadow Self Part 3: Clash of the Opposites

  1. Pingback: Life & Death series, post 1: Life | Inside A Soul

  2. Pingback: Year 4: Life, Reflections, Myths, Psyche | Inside A Soul

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