‘The Shadow’

In Jungian psychology the lower self  or ‘shadow’ is inclined to projection- attempting to hide a personal fault by perceiving that fault in others.  Jung wrote in “The Philosophical Tree” (1945) that

A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbour.

One of the notable aspects of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh in this regards is the exhortation to concentrate on one’s own shortcomings and not on the faults of others.  There are many examples of this teaching in his writings such as these taken from ‘’The Hidden Words’

O SON OF BEING! How couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me.

O SON OF MAN! Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness.

O SON OF BEING! Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.

It seems to me that one of the basics of spiritual behaviour is this ability to avoid the projection of one’s own shadow on to others- quite a challenge


4 thoughts on “‘The Shadow’

  1. Whoa. This is short but elegantly profound.

    As I recall, Freud and Jung talked a lot about projection and, as it were, the shadowification of the Other as being at the heart of a lot totalitarian ideologies, right?

    • Thank you for the kind words- I am very struck by the way that Jungian psychology echoes the teachings of Baha’u’llah in this regards. Yes- you are right Jung had much to say about the way political ideaologists project a shadow upon their enemies in order to de-humanise them..



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