Our Ego is who we think we are. Our Ego tells it like it thinks it is. The Ego chooses who we are–down to every detail of our personality.
The choices our Ego makes in the construction of our personalities is, partially, firmly rooted in biological information encoded and handed down to us from our ancestors. Why? Because brain neuro-physiology gives rise to thought patterns, and for the brain physiology we’re given at birth, we can thank our parents and all our long line of ancestry! Our Ego’s personality choices are constructed as well in response to the people and objects in our environment surrounding us since childhood; for these things can influence change upon our neuro-communications, giving rise to altered thought patterns.
We are born with a certain template ingrained in us, and, as we grow, our Ego feeds upon our experiences and reinforces its imposition of personality and behavior upon our Beings. It’s all we know growing up; it’s what shapes our opinions and judgments and tendencies…. We are convinced that this is just who we are, and that’s all there is to it.
The Shadow is who/what we believe we are not.
…a horizon that acts like a light prism. On one side is the source of ‘light’, this ‘immaterial’ nature that I have spoken of, that is the source of the emanation of the phenomenal universe. By immanent, I mean something different than “in”. Meister Eckhart (13th-14th German theologian and mystical philosopher) used an example of wine in a wood cask to illustrate the difference between being “in” and being “immanent.” The wine, he said, is in the cask differently than it is in the wood, which it permeates. We can drink the wine in the cask, but not the wine in the wood. So there are these two different meanings of “in”. But it is different, he said, with spiritual immanence. Such immanence means not only that the wine is permeating the wood, but the wood is also permeating the wine, and the wine is the wood, and the wood, the wine. Thus this horizon that I speak of is not a real separation in the phenomena of the world, but rather is a distinction between their manifestation and the nature that is the source of those manifestations, that does not rest apart from them. On this ‘side’ of the horizon, which is the intelligible side, is but the tip of the iceberg that we normally refer to as “reality.”
….This horizon, which acts like a prism, splits the ‘clear light’ that is God’s emanation into separate beams of light, just as a prism does with visible light. These beams are not straight though, but writhe and vibrate, weave and braid themselves, in a constant flux, a constant movement, a constant activity of light that is the manifestation of this phenomenal world (one can see a direct correlation with current “String” theories). These beams are ontological – they are beings and things. They cause various shadows to fall on each other, and it is those shadows on the beams that weave this world of appearances and perceived differences. It is the appearance of the beams on this ‘side’ of the horizon that is durational. The differences between them, which are caused by the shadows that are not real but only apparent, are the material from which we construct the spatial separation of things.
–from Understanding Nonduality
For every aspect of behavior and personality the Ego has chosen for itself, all else is thrown off onto the Shadow. The Shadow is everything the Ego denies….
This is at the root of judgements and bias. For, if my Ego disregards anything that is not Me, and casts it away to the Angel of Shadow, denying its existence, then how easy it is for my nature to look upon that which isn’t Me as less-than-me! Or wrong, or vile, or mistaken… It isn’t what my Ego chose as my personality, therefore it isn’t perfect, and there must be something wrong with that person who exhibits this trait!
A scientist looks at the shadows, facing away from the beams of light, and attempts to discover similarities between them so that they can work out the ‘laws’ of their appearance and changes over time. These laws are imaginative empirical constructions that allow the scientist to explain the appearances and predict their manifestation, and later to create techniques that enables us to reproduce at will these universal aspects of shadows to serve our practical needs.
A poet or artist looks directly at the beams of light and notices that there is a unity that transcends all of these beams which is hidden from us by the immanent horizon within them. They use their creative imaginations to project a reminder of that unity through their creative use of language, color, texture, and shape.
The mystic, before he or she becomes a mystic, is able somehow to turn away from the beams and shadows, and ‘travel’ to the source – all that remains then is unity. No individual any longer, for such individuality was left on the other side of the horizon, like shoes that are left at the entrance to a home. It is not just a ‘turning toward’, but a ‘return to’, that the mystic performs. A ‘turning toward’ would leave the might-be mystic where he or she was standing, only now to have the outlook of a poet or artist, or perhaps a saint who has garnered an intuitive insight. The return, however, is transcendence and the recognition of the full presence that can only be found in wholeness. The mystic returns again because this, here, now, is loved. It has to be loved because that is what it all always already is. Standing closest to the horizon, the mystic is motioning towards the light so that those with their back to it might notice it and turn themselves.
The scientist, the poet, the artist, and the mystic are only beams of light – manifestations of God. Their individuality is apparent, but not real. This is the justification for the assertion of non-identification with the ego that is to be found in all traditions of spiritual nonduality.
But you see, with all this activity here, now, there is really nothing happening to shake up wholeness. It only appears to be the case because of the prism effect of the horizon. It is possible for each beam of light to recognize its own nature in the other beams of light. Each beam exists only as a phenomenal manifestation, but is not real itself because it is an emanation of the whole. Yet it exists as an individuated perspective of that whole. (Understanding Nonduality)
The Shadow, that which we think we are not, which we deny, is also that which we fear. If we deny its existence, that gives us license to ignore and separate ourselves from our fears. But the purpose of the Shadow is to show us plainly what we dislike and are afraid of, that which we judge, and to show us that it is a part of us… so that we might have the chance to choose to embrace it in unconditional love, and begin to erode the Ego’s separation and deficiency.
Likewise, the Shadow of our dream states — our Nightmares — can be thought of as the vehicle by which we can become aware and learn to love and embrace the fears hiding in our deepest unconsciousness.
The shadow is very much a part of human nature, and it is only at night that no shadows exist. –Carl Jung
To fully live is to allow the Higher Self to exist in the here and now. My Higher Self is the full integration of all that I AM…. It is the death of the Ego and the full integration of the Shadow.