Spiritual Warfare. Taking orders from whom?
The Spiritual warfare has always been raging. You are tossed around by desires and aversions and peace is ever elusive. You try to live a spiritual life but to para phrase Jack Cornfield very badly; “When I started meditation 25 years ago, I was a fool. Now, after all this time I am the same fool”. Are we doing Something wrong?
If you do a typical mindfulness meditation, you will find that you are hardly the author of each of your thoughts. We adopt a kind of observer role and watch in amusement and horror as our minds leap from one thing to another. More alarming is the realization that some thoughts, drives, and desires seem to work directly against us.
It is almost as if an enemy has infiltrated your command centre and is giving orders that will lead to your demise. We know that thinking is taking place, but the detachment of meditation shows us that “we” are not the ones doing the thinking. Something is doing the thinking for us and maybe that something… isn’t your friend and laughs right in your face with every moment of self-doubt, sadness, or anger.
Spiritual Warfare – Just a Little Shellshock
You could say that these voices in your head are mere fragments of your unconscious mind. (From the point of view of spiritual warfare: Liken this to your own troops – drunk, immature, lazy, immature… but still your troops.) If you say that, you will win the approval of Sigmund Freud. Just as Freud would smile back at you upon hearing such a conclusion, his friend Carl Jung would be quite unsatisfied. Jung thinks you’re missing an important point.
Spiritual Warfare – Infiltration
Jung calls it “The Other” that dwells within you. You might consider the “other” to be those parts of your personality that your truly cannot stand to face. The other is all that with which you absolutely refuse to admit is a part of you. Maybe it isn’t a mere part of you at all. Maybe it’s something worse. This is starting to sound scary.
What Carl Jung is saying, is that the “other” or the “Shadow” within belongs to the wholeness of the personality, and yet acts as if it were a completely separate entity – and not a nice one… an enemy agent sent to produce warfare. Jung points to something that sounds awfully like a demonic possession. That deep within us “is indeed ‘another,’ a real man, who actually thinks, does, feels, and desires all the things that are despicable and odious.” (C.Jung) This dark personality, then is not you. It is a demon formed within you actively working to make everything as bad a possible for everyone.
“It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism…” Carl Jung
Spiritual Warfare – Let the Battle Commence
The images of Demons have been the subject of art for centuries, thus occupying the collective unconscious of the species. True, they might not be actual living nasty entities that are out to get you, but they might as well be. In fact, you formed them yourself by creating a part of yourself at which you refuse to look.
This demonically dynamic shadow that lurks where you least like to look, talks to you in your own voice, convinces you that following his path into destruction is just what you feel like doing right now. The shadow is both “the adversary” and “The Prince of Lies” and we’d better do all we can to discern our own inner voice… from his.
This is spiritual warfare, after all, so the attacks WILL come; you might find yourself simply being rude to your daughter, or your mother, or a colleague. Alternatively, you might secretly harbour pleasure at the failure of another, envy upon hearing of success, fantasies of revenge – all justified and polished. Maybe your noble love for the poor is a thinly disguised hatred for those who have achieved wealth. Thoughts of exclusion and intolerance, of pride and self-aggrandizement are all spinning around in your head. Spiritual warfare at the hands of a demon who doesn’t even like you. The typical response in defence of this is repression. Yeah, we have all been told that we should never repress… stuff, but we scarcely know we are doing it.
“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is… If it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected”Carl Jung
Spiritual Warfare – Cease Fire
Evil exists. The first place we usually look for evil is outside of ourselves. It’s always “them” who are up to no good. Turn your gaze inward and pay attention. Mindfulness meditation will show you how each thought is presented to you for a moment before fading away and being replaced by another. This gives you a great power – to be able to listen to your own thoughts.
“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.“Carl Jung
Self-Knowledge, it can be argued, is the whole point of Mindfulness Meditation. It’s certainly not about making thoughts go away. Look into yourself and your own impulses and fears will be revealed to you. The mature response is to accept that you are not perfect, not an enlightened one, not a great sage… You’re just a person. Nothing uglier that spiritual hubris, right?
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung
Brendan C. Clarke