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Life Arts

Bodhi Bit--The Shadow

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By Grant Lawrence

"We are not hypocrites in our sleep"

William Hazlitt quotes (British Writer, 1778-1830)

One of those things that really annoys me are those in politics and religion that profess morality, condemn those they consider immoral, and then do that which they condemn.

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But being human is being a hypocrite.

Nearly all of us have values and those that claim they have no values have the value of being valueless. Try as I might, I often find myself not living up to the high minded values that I proclaim.

Does that make those values any less meaningful?

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No, it just means that there is no such thing as perfection, especially where morality is concerned. Morality is a capricious fiance, we want to marry her but we can never live with her. Moralists must live in the hell of their own condemnations.

But does that mean that we forsake morality?

No, it just means that we must temper our morality with something even greater.

From my experience in working with myself and others, I often find the greatest condemnation is reserved for ourselves. Sure we easily condemn others for their failings. But we secretly hold onto our own failings with great pride as we harshly condemn ourselves for not being the perfect person we believe that we should be.

That egoistic pride is what keeps us in a hellish cycle of loudly condemning others for their weaknesses while we secretly condemn ourselves, most often unconsciously, for our own failings.

Judgments unfortunately have to be made. But the judgments we have for ourselves and others should be tempered with compassion.

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Love includes morality but goes beyond it. Sure humanity needs standards of behavior and codified laws and there should be social stigmas and possibly punishments attached to the breaking of those standards and laws.

But in our dealings with ourselves and others we have to have an understanding of what influential Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung called the Shadow. Jung writes,"Everyone carries a shadow and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is."

The Shadow is the dark, often irrational, force that exists in all of us. The Shadow in us is very black indeed. It is the monster of anger, hate, rage, greed, jealously, crude desires, and shallow weaknesses and shortcomings. It lurks behind a persona of the specialness and wonderfulness that we have created for ourselves.

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