|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
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
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
"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
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
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...