Toward a Unified Metaphysical Understanding: Shadow Personality and the Poisoning of the Mind    
 Shadow Personality and the Poisoning of the Mind
2010-12-27, by John Ringland

Recently I have been feeling harassed by someone and yesterday during "peace negotiations" with them I realised why they were behaving how they were, and I took a fresh look at myself and saw that I also do a similar thing - it helped me to understand many things about my life. I'll try to explain what I realised and what that meant to me. Perhaps this insight might be of some use to you if adapted to your life...

Firstly, I'll describe how they were behaving, at least according to my perceptions. Have you ever known someone who came to look at you through shit-coloured glasses and assume that was the real you? And then tried to “help you” by seducing you and others to see you in that shitty way? And they did all this in the name of Love? And they misunderstood your attempts to clarify things as defensiveness? And they remain staunchly self-righteous – believing themselves to be a beacon of loving kindness?

I realised that I also do this to others by looking at aspects of society (such as propaganda, entrenched confusions, self-reinforcing closed loops of hidden assumptions, outmoded paradigms, etc) through shit-coloured glasses and stating my views rather harshly at times. I do this out of love for the victims of illusion and its resulting suffering, the oppressed, the deceived and the exploited. I also do it out of love for truth, reality, decency, honour, peace and health. However this is only one view and most people see things differently, for instance those seeking comfortable illusions or distractions, those seeking power and dominance, those seeking mayhem and chaos, etc. It is a subtle trap to fall into one-sidedness and to denigrate the ways of others. Even if one knows that those ways are destructive and dangerous it is not productive to denigrate them. Even if those following those ways (e.g. authoritarians, mass media, materialists, egotists, fanatics, etc) routinely denigrate other ways.

As part of a propaganda campaign it is standard practice to spread a one-sided view and to denigrate other views, however this is really a form of cultural violence, and violence begets violence. If one truly believes that it is truth that will set us free, then one must accept all ways no matter how abhorrent they may appear. One should not condone them, but one shouldn't react with hatred towards them. Instead accept them as part of what is and find ways to help the whole situation evolve towards a healthier state. Rather than focus on attacking the negatives one can focus on nurturing the positives.

Of course, this doesn't mean that I should never warn people of dangers. That would be irresponsible, it just means that there are times, places and ways of doing this. I must also learn to accept that many people will blindly wander into suffering and despair and there is nothing that I or anyone else can do about it. Making regular snide remarks and disparaging comments about these destructive paths is not going to turn anyone away from them, it will only make people bitter towards me and more entrenched in their ways, whilst at the same time corrupting my expressions and obstructing my communications with others.

Overcoming negative reactions is not easy though, there are subtle mind-games that must be overcome. I have found that in myself some of these are related to the activities of the shadow, that part of ourselves that we habitually deny even exists. That is what this article is about...

I have realised, on a much deeper level, that people are not single entities. The mind is in a sense a memetic ecosystem - a jungle of thoughts, beliefs, feelings, memories, desires, fears, etc - all interacting and competing for attention (nourishment) and expression (reproduction). A dominant creature in this jungle is the personality but it is by no means in control of the mind, which is a very complex and multifaceted cognitive process.

Hence people are not what they think themselves to be - none of us are! The stories we make up about who we are and why we do what we do are rationalisations in order to maintain a self-image.

This person who I felt harassed by wasn't doing those things intentionally or deliberately. To use some psychological terms, it was their repressed shadow personality trying to attack me by corrupting their expressions without their dominant personality even noticing.

"Repression does not simply 'make things go away' but condemns them to the shadow realms, where they incubate and infect the entirety of our lives with poison." (Joseph Chilton Pearce)

The personality repressing something is like a government declaring something 'illegal'. It doesn't just disappear, it goes 'underground' or into the "black market", where it often thrives and infects the 'legal' society in countless subtle ways.

I believe that person was expressing words of genuine love, but those were tainted with bitterness and resentment - deep down a part of them hated me and wished to attack me - but this was repressed because it didn't fit into their self-image of being a loving person. Perhaps it wasn't even about me, perhaps they had just repressed a lot of hatred of things in general in order to create their loving façade and this hatred was leaking out through the cracks in the façade.

What does this realisation mean to me in my life?

I too have a shadow (we all do unless we have totally purified the mind - i.e. attained enlightenment). My shadow contains (amongst other things) repressed fear and resentment at society for what I saw as its atrocious behaviour. I have experienced racism and authoritarianism as a youth, when I was often victimised, alienated and harassed by both peers and authority figures simply because I was part Asian in a white society. Then at various later times I have been shocked by the prevalence of fanaticism, oppression, deception, exploitation, etc. I'm very sensitive, big hearted and quite idealistic, hence it shocked me to witness the entrenched corruption of culture and of our individual minds and lives.

All of this shock, fear and resentment has been repressed in the past in order to maintain the façade of a coherent personality, otherwise society would have harassed me even more than it already was. Only in recent years have I been able to really address many of these issues rather than just repress them. In particular, the vipassana meditation that I have lately been practising for several hours a day is really dredging it all up and accelerating the healing process. I get a bit 'wobbly' at times from this process, when old material comes to the surface, but once it passes I feel much clearer and lighter.

Given my recent realisation I can look back over my work and throughout this there is the subtle but unmistakeably bitter taste of fear and resentment. My dominant personality was focusing on the content of what was said, which in most cases is factually quite accurate and valid. However the shadow personality was subtly manipulating the tone and general flavour of the expression, which would come through in subtle ways, such as snide remarks or my choice of words or examples, which would be denigrating to society and to people in general.

The corrupted tone / flavour partly explains why people would so often react negatively, however it was not the only reason for this reaction. The ideas are rather paradigm shifting and therefore challenging to some of our most "sacred cows" or cherished beliefs. So attachments to the entrenched paradigm were also a major aggravating factor for people. Their memetic ecosystems (minds) would react violently to the foreign ideas and try to reject them (much like an immune system response) in order to maintain the cognitive status quo of their mind and the comfort and security of their personality.

Often, metaphorically speaking, it seemed to me that I was explaining something as clear as "1+1=2", but people would become irrational and employ all kinds of denial tactics, trying as hard as they could to reject what I was saying. They would sometime enter such a state of rejection that I could even get them to reject things that they themselves had stated elsewhere. It really puzzled me, and I seriously questioned people's sanity at times because of this.

Now I can see that often they were not even really hearing the message "1+1=2", instead they were reacting to the negative tone / flavour, which I wasn't even aware of, and also the strangeness of the ideas, which triggered a memetic immune response. Most would simply reject the ideas off-hand, however some couldn't do that. These were compelled to argue against the ideas in order to preserve their self-image of being rational, so they had to find some reason to reject it. Hence the conversations would often consist of them grasping at one argument after another, trying to find a valid excuse to reject the idea. I would explain why their argument didn't work and they would immediately grope around for another one. Because they never stopped to actually think about the idea their attempts to destroy it were not very effective. This would go on until they were "clutching at straws" and eventually ran out of ideas, at which point they would become irate and storm off. Many times I encountered such scenarios in the early days (2005-2006), including with a number of scientists and philosophers as well as 'regular' folk. However I eventually grew tired of this and nowadays I bow out gracefully when they show signs of rejection. Hence I rarely have discussions now and they are usually very brief and shallow.

Regarding myself and the person described above, I was in the role of the 'rejecter', I didn't hear her message of "I love you", what I heard was the tone / flavour that was saying "I hate you", which would come through as subtly denigrating remarks and ways of viewing me. The more that she tried to press upon me her message, the more I reacted against it because of its tone / flavour. No wonder she wrongly came to think that I was hard hearted and afraid of love, just as I wrongly came to think of many people as irrational and afraid of thinking about novel ideas.

The message might have been true and sincere, but it was the tone / flavour that was being rejected. Although in each of these scenarios described above no one realised what was actually going on. We were all caught in the false belief that we are "just people" and that people are single entities that are in control of themselves and that know who they are, and who do things intentionally for conscious reasons. However most of our actions and reactions are entirely unconscious - they are the result of the complex dynamics of the inner memetic jungle. Only the surface of our inner life is under the control of the personality, whilst the foundation of unconscious activity is strongly influenced by the shadow.

So the lesson that I learnt was: be careful of what you repress, because it doesn't go away, it just breeds 'underground' until it comes leaking out through a thousand cracks to poison your whole life. And when expressing yourself, if others react to your expressions in unexpectedly negative ways, take a fresh look at the way that you express yourself, and you might just find your shadow at work, corrupting and distorting things without you even noticing. If you then shine the light of awareness upon such situations, the shadow will be re-integrated, making you more whole and self-aware. Then you will be able to see beyond the shit-coloured glasses and comprehend the whole situation for what it is. But don't just switch to a pair of rose-coloured glasses, that too would be only a partial view.

Anyway, that is what I realised yesterday. As it sinks in it will probably change the way I communicate, along with many other things. I think it is a fairly common phenomenon that occurs in many people's lives in different ways. I hope this insight helps you in some way...

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