Why do we consistently fail to do the good we know we should? All too often, why do we do the evil we hate instead?
Is there really an external force that acts upon us and tempts us into evil as many religions seem to believe? Or does our own inner fragmentation lead us ever into frustration; willing one thing but doing another? It is simply not enough to say that we are the product of our environment, or of negative conditioning by our parents. Sometimes, it seems almost like there is another person within us, willing us to do what we would rather not.
Meet The Enemy Within
Who is this enemy within? Jung called it the Shadow – the part of our inner psyche that we suppress and allow to stagnate. A whole range of things, both positive and negative, can be suppressed within us. However, no part of us ever dies away completely. In a primarily good person, this Shadow embodies the negative psychological parts that have been suppressed; evil, anger, hatred, jealousy and so on. In dreams, the Shadow can appear as a nightmare figure; frightening, horrible and evil.
In the psyche of a profoundly evil person, the Shadow takes the part of all the good that is NOT being expressed! Even Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein possess(ed) potentially good sides to them, except that they never expressed very much of it.
These suppressed urges then form the Shadow figure within. If you have not truly integrated the Shadow side of your nature, then it will act against your best intentions whenever it can. Like it or not, it is still a part of yourself and cannot be denied. People may seek relief for their problems in all sorts of places. Doctors, psychiatrists, alcohol, or work. They do this because they are uncertain of the cause of their misery. They see themselves as defective, and in need of being “fixed”.
Religious traditions, teaching polarized notions such as the war between Good and Evil, add to this system of guilt and perceived imperfection. In addition, other people will often happily corroborate our problems for us, and thereby add to our certainty regarding the matter.
Darkness & Light Are Inseparable By Natural Law
Yet, the truth is that we do not need “fixing”; at least, not in the traditional way we perceive it. We are fine and perfect as we are. It is our perception of reality that needs altering. Instead of seeing ourselves as wicked or defective, and the world as wrong and evil, we need to radically alter our focus. Seeing the traditional polarity between Good and Evil, with ourselves caught helplessly in between, simply does not serve us. Rather, we need to learn to perceive a seamless continuum within ourselves, just as we are.
All parts of us, even those we judge as wrong and evil, are a necessary part of our being at this present time. It does seem at times as if what we consider evil in life is almost a necessary background against which good can shine forth. From an earthly perspective, many acts appear clearly wrong. Yet, we later find that much good emerges despite, and sometimes even as a result of, this apparent evil.
Eastern traditions like Taoism capture the concept very well by describing the universe as being composed of both Yin AND Yang. The darkness and the light are woven inextricably and necessarily together. This is a very different and hard teaching to our Western minds. However, it may be a far more healthy and realistic one.
Integration Of Dark & Light Is The Key To Growth
By acknowledging all parts of your being, you are in a better position to perceive the situation more clearly. Correct perception of yourself means you are less likely to engage in guilt trips regarding what you “should” be doing or how you “ought” to behave. If you acknowledge the mixture of dark and light within, and see yourself as normal and okay just as you are, you create a healthy mental framework. From this framework, true integration of your disparate inner selves into one healthy personality can then occur.
None of this implies that you should simply accept your fragmented inner nature and NOT strive for betterment in every sense. It simply means that you do so without self-condemnation and duality; rather, you gradually integrate the disparate parts of your nature harmoniously so that internal conflicts are progressively eliminated. Rather than attempt purity by suppressing your undesirable nature, you meet it face on and integrate it too into your being.
Then, your actions are performed with your whole psyche working in perfect harmony, and not with some inner parts pulling you down instead. It requires a higher perspective to correctly perceive the harmony in the universe and the correct relationship between Good and Evil.
This is well exemplified by the three-headed statue of the Hindu god Shiva. The left- and right-hand heads, facing in their respective directions, appear active and in motion. Only the center head is perfectly still and at peace. This symbolizes the difference between Duality – seeing polarities such as Good/Evil and Right/Wrong – versus Unity or Divine Consciousness. From the higher perspective of Unity Consciousness, which resolves Duality, all is in perfect harmony just as it is.
This is the consciousness we should seek. If you can strive to understand this idea and integrate it into your daily life, you will be closer to the mindset of that centered place of perfect peace. Then, your interactions with the world will occur from a point of true self-acceptance, integration and self-love. It is only when you love and understand yourself perfectly that you are in a place to do the same for others. This is your gift and your legacy; for yourself and for others.
So do your best to give that gift to both.