To define what good is, one must first know what bad is. And the same is true vice-versa.
Let us assume that drinking beer is good for one’s health.
We have now, in the back of our minds, a memory of what bad health means and by comparing beer’s effects on the body against our idea of bad health, we conclude that it is in fact good.
The point that I wish to convey through the pointless example above is, that for something good to exist, something bad must exist too.
Light is the absence of darkness and vice versa. This is a very popular topic with old, pipe smoking philosophers and is commonly called duality. But even nerdy scientists deal with it, when they speak of negative and positive charges in electricity.
The human mind, the entity currently interpreting these words, is also a victim of this duality. The book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a bestseller by R.L. Stevenson, elucidated on this very same duality.
I will now introduce two concepts, developed through the combined thinking of the Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung and myself. For the reader’s information, the former passed away in 1961.
The Persona or The mask
It is the social face one represents to the world. If it is a mask that people wear in the metaphysical sense, it’s very similar to actors taking on a role for a movie. In Jung’s theory, however, the “movie” is life.
This persona can be thought of, in your memory, as a web, in whose centre is your own name. Your name is today your reality. But imagine, had you been given away by your parents for being too ugly, to another family, you would have had a different name. And due to a different conditioning of your personality, your reality today would have entirely been different, even though the body never changed. Your persona would have changed.
Around the name, in the web, are arranged different memories(images, sounds, words) that have been attached to your name. For e.g. there will be a strong link connecting your name and “Indian/your family name/your language” etc. in this web, because for almost 15 years, you’ve been memorizing that reality on a daily basis.
Since this mask is a social one, this web, it contains all the socially acceptable adjectives you’ve associated yourself to, or want to associate yourself to. For e.g. polite, rich, handsome, good-looking, tall, hot, etc. will be some adjectives attached to your name, if not in reality, then in your fantasies. (Oh don’t be ashamed. Everyone has them)
We wear this mask, when we’re smoking at S.P. or shiela, or when we’re walking to classes and fooling around in them, or when we’re tearing apart our throats at Deetee. Basically any place where social interaction happens, or any place that reminds you of social interaction. Sadly, in a few days from now, we’re going to lose two places where we could put on this mask. R.I.P. Sutta Point.
It is a part of the unconscious mind that consists of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings and sexual instincts.
The shadow is another web, another complex of all those adjectives that you did observe and learn while learning language, but were never allowed association with your name. They were driven away from coming close to the persona, because an association with them would have made you socially unacceptable and a reject. Or they were adjectives that could not be attached to the name due to circumstances e.g. for a vertically challenged person like me, tall people could symbolize a part of my shadow.
Since most of the day, it is your persona that rules the consciousness, the shadow is called an unconscious function of the mind.
This suppressed shadow, like a compressed spring, is always trying to find a release into the consciousness and it does so when you come across a person whom you have judged with any of the shadow’s adjectives. For e.g. for a serious and scholarly nerd, a guy with biceps and lots of girls could be said to be symbolic of his shadow. The energy of the spring (the shadow) will be released as soon as the nerd sees this person, in the form of criticism, anger or jealousy.
If you notice, even religions have a personification of the shadow. The devil in Christianity, The Asuras in Hinduism and The Shaitan in Islam are all examples of this.
But to live a healthy and wholesome psychological life, it is necessary to integrate these two opposites of your psyche together, or their conflict might eventually wear out the psyche itself and threaten your individuality. The shadow must be allowed expression in solitude or in art so that you’re free from it’s burden, otherwise it can and it will force itself out in other ways into your consciousness.
Interested people may google the web for further reading or write and observe their own dreams to realize the concept better. They may also contact the author, who will be pleased to help, if they’re willing to risk their brains.
Lastly, a theatrical adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will be enacted out on Sunday evening by Aaina, a theatre group of Manipal. I would suggest anyone interested in increasing their depth of understanding of their own self to watch it, for the book is one of the classic masterpieces of English language.