© Kit Constable Maxwell

Chapter 14.


The story of mankind's spiritual awakening, and of the part we play in it.
© Kit Constable Maxwell


Psychology was a word spoken in hushed terms in the 1950's. It spoke darkly of social diseases inadmissible in polite conversation. Fortunately times have changed, though psychology is still an inexact science - at best it is no more than a study of many unquantifiable forces and of the unmeasured effect they have on us. We must accept the disquieting fact that we may not be wholly the person we think we are. We are governed by an Unconscious mind, (identified by Freud only this century) of which, by definition, we are not aware. This is our repository for undeveloped or unrecognised energies and emotions and describes the unfathomable world of the psyche, the imperceptible face of our soul. And we also have a Subconscious memory level in which dwell the many actively suppressed experiences of life which we choose to ignore, deny or forget. We are here to discover ourselves, and this discovery can take a lifetime.

The unconscious mind governs the energetic complexes of our inner life, our fears, phobias and feelings. It acts autonomously and exerts its influence on our behaviour, generally without our conscious knowledge. Jung considered that we are powered not only by a personal unconscious, the combined dictates of our life's experience, but by a collective unconscious, an historical memory function experienced through archetypes and acted out through our national, racial or cultural experience of life.

Some events in our lives have remained below the threshold of conscious thought yet remain firmly locked into our unconscious mind. While other thoughts, consciously perceived at the time of the event, have been forced into the subconscious realm by our natural defence systems, to protect us from the unbearable and the unthinkable. These banished subconscious experiences may include birth shock, childhood rape, sexual molestation and emotional trauma triggered by accidents, violence, alcoholism and abuse and many other childhood and adolescent experiences of this or even other lives, perceived or real. When an event is remembered by a child as being real, whether it was dreamed or imagined, the result can be the same as if it had been truly real.

Traumas of this magnitude dwell within us all, and an unresolved and unquietened unconscious will force its way into the conscious mind through dreams and phobias and cause physical malfunctions like anorexia, paralysis, hypochondria, obesity. It will also give rise to defence systems like compulsive joking, religious mania, nervous laughter and obsessive political, social and religious preoccupations; and hyperactivity, where we rush about being too busy to hear the inner voice of discontent that is struggling to make itself heard, to tell us of the need to grow, the need to individuate, the need to question the reasons for our very existence.

The real and perceived experiences of life give rise to further problems; the perceived fantasies of young children (which is now called 'confabulation') and impressionable adolescents can trigger the literal and hasty judgement of zealous health workers and self appointed social saviours, who whip up national witch hunts and create the sort of trauma, for child and parent, that may take more than a lifetime to heal. Let us be careful not to allow our own unrecognised, unconscious experience of life to poison our judgement and quicken our condemnation of others.

The 'Shadow' is the unacknowledged, undeveloped and sometimes unpalatable side of our personality, and must be smoked out of its hiding place in our psyche; we must integrate our shadow and live it, not disown it. The shadow is not necessarily all bad, merely raw, primitive and unbridled. To acknowledge our shadow takes merciless courage. We actively repress the sentiments and feelings that don't fit with our principles, understandably enough, but overlook the inescapable fact that these repressed energies will manifest themselves externally until we become aware of them and give them space. The longer we repress our inner nature, the darker the shadow becomes and the greater the burden on the frail foundations of our false reality.

Parents traditionally detest their own faults in their children; we avoid and abhor that which we recognise as our own shadow, the uninvited guest of our socially honed ego; and in this very shadow, in their excesses and their indulgences, lie the seeds of our maturity, our own self knowledge. Look outside, and see within....

We are, none of us, perfect, and we must learn to accept our imperfections. We must ensure the perfection we demand of others, our children, our parents, social workers, teachers and leaders, is a realistic and achievable perfection and not the unrealistic demands of our own idealistic shadow.

The press barons would not be in business but for the willingness of their readers to point accusing fingers at political and public figures alike. The proliferation of gossip press is an unhealthy indictment against the society that buys it and reveals some of the darker sides of our nature, both individually and collectively.

I relish the legend of the old Chinese peasant who returns home every evening after a day in the fields, and solemnly beats his wife. He doesn't know why he beats his wife.... But his wife does....!

Psychologists recognise that some wife-beating men are made so by the wives they beat. Curiously, the bruised and battered partner of a violent marriage, bathed in impeccable virtue, will often go off and marry another, hitherto blameless man who will then become the second wife beater in her life. Jung would suggest that she may be 'meeting her shadow' through external events. She is experiencing externally the violence that lurks within. Becoming an innocent victim of life is a well known survival strategy. It answers the urge to belong, and may stem from an emotionally deprived childhood, the crossed wires of immaturity jumping to confused conclusions. Either way it is a positive statement of need, the need for attention, the need for self knowledge.

The peasant's salutary tale is not without foundation, and illustrates the dangers of ignoring our unseen, darker side. No one can do it for us, but study, psychotherapy and self awareness may help. The shadow must be integrated, not disowned.

Mistreated children can grow up to expect or even to seek out mistreatment. Once a child's trust has been lost, it will not, like any animal, ever willingly trust again. Robbed of their self esteem, they may subconsciously revel in their blows and their bruises - children of disturbed homes, children of violent, depraved, negligent, over-possessive or domineering parents. Sexually exploited children who have been bullied, humiliated, insulted... these are typical of the early learning patterns that can affect us for our lifetime, sowing the unvoiced seeds of violence - often without our knowing it. Our negative responses in childhood, carried over into our personal relationships, can quickly become an unhealthy habit.

A little girl may feel defiled, neglected or exploited by her father. Or she might innocently carry all her mother's vitriol for her father - with all the hatred that a scorned woman and a failed marriage can unleash. She grows up harbouring murderous feelings which she now projects onto the men in her life. Through no fault of their own they carry her projections as unfaithful, untrustworthy and unreliable ogres. Eventually they can stand it no longer, and do the one thing she most feared - insult her, jostle her and walk out of her life for ever. Her murderous feelings are reinforced, and pity the next man in her life!

A lot of the rhetoric of feminism has little to do with equal opportunities - but lots to do with unexpressed unconscious wounds, lingering on from a misunderstood childhood and poisoning our potential for growth. This is usually the case where any one group unites itself in outrage against any other. Feminism is a fashionable, if passing, whim, which masks the real problems facing women, and men, in this searching age....

Our irrational and unsubstantiated preoccupation with another's faults reveal to us aspects of the shadow we may then come to recognise as our own. Perhaps, reared on a diet of humiliation and ridicule, we harbour a deep unconscious yearning to shout and scream and to behave outrageously, while our polished and disciplined persona, the mask we want others to see, would be horrified at such a public show of emotion.

Our unexpected encounter of an outrageous screamer, who represents, metaphorically, the unindulged whims of our own personality, will trigger deep, irrational feelings far greater than the occasion would warrant, and out of all proportion to anyone else's observations of the same event. This is the root of negative projection. We are intrigued and drawn to our opposites, even in our relationships, only to find them the unceasing cause of our exasperation. We project onto others those qualities we are unable or unprepared to accept in ourselves. We attract to ourselves those traits that we persistently disown and we encounter the life that we are not living out.

Fathers, mothers and bewildered partners may all become the unwilling recipients of our shadow's projections. The solution lies, as we all know, buried within the defensive, aggressive and sometimes unlovable heart of the searching subject.

Many people choose a partner to live out this shadow side for them - the selfless handmaiden who looks to her odious husband to express her shadow for her. Or the gentle, mild mannered man with the music hall wife who shocks him daily with her brazen disregard for charm, grace or style.

We will attract events from life which force us to address certain aspects of our development. Unlived energies quickly express themselves as physical symptoms, like headaches, migraine, hyper-tension, depression.

We must uncover all these negative emotions that power us, and winkle out of our unconscious heritage our reality, our truth. This does not mean blaming our parents or partners for our disappointments in life, but it does mean taking a long hard look at our past experiences, our fears and our phobias, and seeing where these patterns started, and why, and what effect they are having on us now. To bring these deeply embedded traits up to consciousness is the first step to being released by them.

The essence of Jung's teaching is the process of Individuation; this is the process whereby the Ego expands its consciousness to accommodate the great collective power of the Unconscious, and to acknowledge the relationship between the two; in this universal power resides our small but growing awareness, our uniqueness, our individuality.

Our Unconscious communicates with us through dreams, which on a collective and historical basis continue to throw up the same archetypes, the same mythical heroes and anti- heroes of our human history, time after time.

The Unconscious, experienced at both personal and collective levels is also the home of psychic inspiration and of subliminal thoughts unseen and unheard by the conscious mind. This is the spiritual window of our psychic selves, the font of creative abundance powering the achievements revered in art, music and literature and in all cases where mankind is the parent of unique and unprecedented originality.

We and all that we stand for, our mind, our intellect, our soul, constitute the combined inputs of our existence. Ignore one and we ignore them all. Develop, nurture and cherish one, and the vastly complex matrix of our multi-faceted spirit takes over and we achieve the triumph of humanity over eternity; this is called salvation and redemption. And this is the unquestioned destiny of human evolution.

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Table of Contents - click on any chapter to open it
Prologue                   Click here...
Space and Matter
Evolution of Life
Birth of Awareness
Spiritual Goals
Evolution and Astrology
Astrology and Fate
Light, Love and Feeling
Primal Scream
World Religions
Ethics of Caring
Thought Conditioning
Miracles and Prayer
Shadow and the Unconscious This page
Journey in Spirit
Pantheism and Matter
Appendix I
Glossary of Terms
Appendix II
Appendix III