Email Conversation about Shadows

02006-09-11 | Buddhism, Musings | 0 comments

Something that has struck me about “shadows” or “disowned voices” is how comfortable we get with our own dysfunctional selves.

I think it is a natural survival function of the brain. If there is a problem, let’s just route around it so this moron can reproduce. Now that reproduction is hardly of any importance for humanity – way too many humans already – we are still stuck with this evolutionary baggage. It is obvious, we tend to want to make do with what we have rather than fixing and improving the problem areas. It also means we usually prefer to remain inside our comfort zone rather than pushing the envelope.

Yes, it would seem that the reptillian brain still has the “inside track”. So the risk of something like embarassment might feel life threatening (depending on the conditioning of the individual). And then the brain is always trying to make sense of things and believing in the connections it makes.

The brain does believing well. And it starts with believing in a self.

I think that as much as we would like to change certain things about ourselves it can also be difficult to let our “negative traits” go because we see them as part of our identity. So, in some ways, the prospect of having to re-invent who we are without our problems is even more scary than just continuing on with them! All these psychological tools are great but I think the real inner sense of completeness that is found in zazen is necessary for allowing change to happen. Then whatever “new self” emerges must eventually be dropped over and over and over… And maybe in the end we discover that we don’t so much let go of our “negative traits” as simply embracing and somehow integrating them.

Allowing the negative voices to exist, allowing them to say their piece in the privacy of your own brain – rather than banishing them to the dark cellar – but hopefully finding time to edit before it exits the mouth…

Well, I think there are two levels to this… on the one hand there is probably some disowned emotional voice that is the root of the behavior (“negative trait”). On the other hand, I’m not certain that getting in touch with what has been disowned will necessarily change the behavior.

I think it does change the behavior. Once familiar with a disowned voice, one can recognize the sound of it and react much faster. I think one only has half a second, or something like that, to prevent an undesired response. Half a second to prevent the adrenaline from flooding in… Being familiar and intimate with that disowned voice and being able to recognize its tone is a great advantage to calling a stop to it. Ah, there you are again, my dear Why does this shit always happen to me – voice. I recognize you by the whining tone. I hear what you are saying, but shit happens and there is no me…


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