Integrate what is behind before it comes and bites you in the arse. For me I see this biting occurring amongst spiritual people whose egos are so fragile. I describe this as the spiritual ego being fragile but in truth it is a spiritual process that has become fragmented. Typically this would be a particular description of an “enlightenment” process that has been extremely helpful for the teacher. When they teach the student learns in part so it is not as effective for the student. So the student forces themselves to imitate the teacher as much as possible but the forcing and imitation cannot work. It has to be insight, and in the end it has to be complete insight. This complete insight has to have a sound basis which is an integrated self transcending. Because of the lack of emphasis on integration it is usually partial selves that transcend, fragmented selves that remain in the shadow, leading to a fragility when the spiritual side is questioned by being. The student does not have a complete grip on insight because it is only a partial self that has transcended. This is why the teaching of integrated authenticity is so important.
I can explain some of this by using myself as an example but some of the shadow work is relationship. I remember one of the closest talks I had with my mother, and she was adamant that the family was to remain in-house; I am going to respect that. If you are doing shadow work skeletons in your own closet have to be unearthed or it is meaningless. Such skeletons must by necessity of human development involve other family members so the above caveat must be understood.
Before I get into the shadow work I have to discuss the Treatise and place it into the context of an integrated path. To summarise what I described in Ch 21 of the Teatise, my path was strange …. but then I suppose all paths are strange. In terms of integration however it has a better feel. Basically at 23 I had a breakdown. Out of this breakdown I embraced bells and banjoes. Initially I thought the whole world had opened up for me. I met some wonderful people at an Arts Centre who affirmed all I was going through, and I was set on the path. In retrospect I was however very immature so that whilst I had gained some wisdom from being on the path as a human being I lacked personal maturity. I assessed that I was in a process of second childhood that led to maturity late in life.
This maturity came about through the study of Buddhism and the practice of meditation. In the Treatise I had described a path of compassion, insight and creativity, and I felt a sense of maturity concerning it. But on reflection I can see a number of indicators which prevented me from embracing Buddhism completely. I remember before retiring – when I was in Sihanoukville, that I decided I would study on my own as opposed to taking orders, and that if I wasn’t developing I would seek help. This sounds arrogant but I choose to consider it a reservation concerning Buddhism. I would have expressed it at the time as a resistance to institutionalism but I now see it more through the lens of integration.
I remember an incident. I was encouraged by a monk to teach student monks part-time at a Buddhist university. I went up for interview. The interviewer, the abbott, warned me that there was limited money – I had never raised it. I was a retired teacher, and the teacher hairs on the back of my neck were raised. There were days in which the teaching did not happen because this abbott did not come to work. They did not do admin such as ensuring work permits - a difficult process to be carried out by a foreigner in Thailand. I assess little emphasis was placed on this subject teaching, and yet this would be important in the student monks connection with young school students.
To be quite honest as a professional teacher I thought it was shoddy. The monk who had invited me up was teaching Buddhist theory to monks in English – so they would understand the terms in two languages. He invited me to his lesson and I agreed provided I could give some meaning to the exercise by doing a lesson observation – something I had done successfully with schoolteachers. Following the observation I gave the monk a 7-page report on his teaching. Essentially the relationship and delivery was good but there were little professionalisms that were missing. I cannot remember the monk thanking me for the report, he definitely didn’t comment, and I know from later his ego had been knocked. professional teachers have to accept this practice as part of their job, and of course there are protocols I followed in order to see that egos were not threatened and that it was a learning process for the teachers.
What happened later was an interchange over Tony Blair. The monk had read his book and taken it at face value – as opposed to the way I see the book as a deflection to cover up his war crimes. At the time it was not common place to refer to Tony Blair as a war criminal. The monk organised a group of English-speaking lay Buddhists, and as part of that organisation he ran a blog. It was in this blog that he wrote about Tony Blair. I was calling Blair a war criminal at the time so I called him out on this. In the interchange he made some aside comments about my educational views; it was clear he had taken offence. Why should he be taking offence when a professional teacher was making professional observations? I had to withdraw from his “church” because of the Blair stuff; I couldn’t leave what he said unquestioned and what he was doing was of benefit so I didn’t want to undermine him. There was something wrong with the way the monk perceived himself in connection with lay people.
br> I had seen this elsewhere in contact with monks. It was as if someone couldn’t follow the path unless they were a monk. Meditators were tolerated but they were not the same as monks. And although this would never be said, I suppose, monks were further along the path. Now I can say for sure that I have never bought into that. Putting on a robe shows dedication usually – sometimes in Thailand with tamboon it is a cultural requirement. As a whole what monks do in Thailand is very positive – not 100% so. They help Thai people there is no doubt. But how close are they to the path?
In Thailand I have never connected with wats even though my Buddhist teacher is a Thai – Venerable Buddhadasa now dead, 1993. Mostly this is because of language but in truth it is very ritualistic, and ritual and path have little overlap. Over the years I have developed into calling Venerable Buddhadasa my teacher because he has deeply studied the suttas but has an insight I consider so important. This is because there is a proliferation of Buddhist thinking that is not that constructive. Venerable Buddhadasa sees through that. Until the integration work I had considered Venerable Buddhadasa as the exceptional teacher of Buddhism.
When I wrote the Treatise I started with 3 tenets:-
I had not realised how significant they were with regards to the integrated path described in this chapter. In the Treatise they are not discussed with equal weight, and the process of integrating the three is not really discussed throughout. But that process is essential. There is a Venerable Buddhadasa phrase “Removing the I and mine from the 5 khandhas”, I came across it often when I was transcribing the 4 Noble Truths. These khandhas are rupa – body, vedana – feelings, sanna – perceptions and memories, sankhara – mental processes, and vinnana – consciousness. They can clearly explain the integration of mind, emotions and body. In terms of the khandhas, using consciousness – vinnana, we integrate mind – sankhara, emotions – sanna and vedana, and body – rupa. For Venerable Buddhadasa removing the I and mine from the 5 khandhas is anatta (no-self) that connects with sunnata – source-consciousness.
So in theory with the 3 tenets and Venerable Buddhadasa, we are dealing with the same integration process. I will look later into whether this is true in general, but I want to examine what happened for myself. In the way I followed Buddhism I have selected sankhara leading to anatta, atammayata connecting to sunnata; my focus was on sankhara. Insight was significant to me in my journey, I continually bemoaned the intellectual proliferations in Buddhism, and yet I was stuck in that fragment.
It was a fragmented approach that matched my own fragmentation, I now consider what happened in my upheaval as a fragment – I now refer to it as the major fragment. I came from a post-war white British middle-class background. Born in 1952 I was in the era in which our generation was effectively the first generation that did not know war. In my household war was never discussed nor was it discussed in school, but the fear of war was very much a driving force of my community. The focus was material security and academic success. Within this fear there were additional repressive factors in my household that very much fragmented my upbringing. I became shy immature and focussed on some sort of success at school. This was all there was. Without going into detail my childhood became this middle-class stereotype, and once university life had finished the world of work forced me to confront the stereotype and as a result in the end the major fragment replaced the minor stereotyped fragment. It felt as if a whole new me was born at the time of upheaval. By comparison it felt like the whole me was alive trying to follow the path, but the reality was that I had created the shadow of my childhood self. Over the period of my second childhood I integrated parts of this childhood self unconsciously but this is why there was a whole cascade of stuff that arose this Summer when I decided to look into shadow. It gave me a whole new perspective on what I thought had been my spiritual search.
Despite this cascade my integration has not been drastically devastating, in other words the major fragment following the path was a fairly good integrated path – I was extremely lucky. What has been important in the cascade is the recognition of the importance of integration in the spiritual process, not so much for my lucky way through but in describing it to others. My major fragment brought with it major aspects of energy and body which together with my propensity to focus on mind gave me sufficient integration to progress along the path. But the lack of integration was always there, and now I understand why. I still will not describe myself as spiritually awakened but I am prepared now to say how to awaken spiritually.
In terms of the shadow what happened to me at Nyanga was significant, and will be the name I will use as part of my recommended integration process. No matter how we live our lives we are subject to the conditioning that builds up conscious and unconscious egos. In my own case whilst I try hard to minimise such conditioning forming attached egos, I know there are times when I cannot avoid such attachments. And those egos are the ones I am conscious of.
I have discussed Nyanga before but let me highlight what happened. I fell in love and got into a difficult relationship which I describe as Peyton Place. It was a dominant relationship in my life, and whilst it caused me great suffering I loved and learned a lot. If we are open to love we will suffer to a greater or lesser extent. When I fell in love there was not a great deal of discernment on my part so the pain was far greater. I internalised that pain forming a huge shadow that was with me for 7 years. The relationship happened in the UK, and 7 years later, half-way across the world in Nyanga, Zimbabwe I came to terms with that shadow.
I was staying at a campsite, and at that time in Zimbabwe these camp-sites often had small one-roomed bungalows in them. That was where this Nyanga process began. I cannot recall any conscious build-up to this night but there must have been something which was telling me to deal with the past – Peyton Place. I lay down and began looking inside my digestive regions for Peyton pain. I searched by name, Peyton, looking for Peyton attachments. I found them, I found the pain, and allowed it to surface reliving the pain. It was powerful, the feelings turning to tears. The process lasted long into the night as I searched and searched for the Peyton pain egos I had internalised. Eventually I slept, and in the morning I felt a great relief.
Since then (maybe 25 years ago) there have been different times in which I have followed this Nyanga process – what I now know as shadow work. I have already described the process of chakras by your bootstraps, that is an integration process – whilst realigning the chakras a certain amount of shadow integration occurs. Nyanga processes are also part of integrating the shadow. This Summer there was a period of time in which I revisited Peyton and other parts of my life that I know have given me pain. As Eckhart might say, I have been integrating the pain body.
I am going to describe a Nyanga process for you. It is a powerful healing process but the emotional pain that is released might be too much for you. If you have any doubts then I suggest you need support. If you are the sort of person who is going to be dragged down by the release of such emotions then you should not go near it alone. You should seek advice about the process and even personal help during the process. There is nothing in what I write that is theory, I have done it; for me it can be done. For you, I cannot decide but take this warning seriously and make your own decision carefully. But there are huge benefits in the release the Nyanga process can give so whether you do it alone or with professional help, seriously consider doing it.
So as a process what did I do?
Shadow Process 1 – Nyanga process
This process is concerned with adult pain – I will address processes for childhood issues later. Make a list of painful times in your life – usually concerned with love and relationships. This adult pain is much more on the “surface”, and I suggest will be easier to find and remove – although of course such things are never easy to remove.
Once you have your list, make time for yourself – days even weeks where you can search inside. Do you have a place you can retreat to? A place where you can be left alone – a monastery, a remote hotel where you are known, where you can be allowed to be alone and cry. A camp site like Nyanga. For such a process to work your mind cannot be taken up with the daily grind – family, business, just daily responsibilities. Ideally food would be provided because your energies would be directed elsewhere, but for some making sure you eat might be a good way of “resurfacing”. You do not want contact with people – internet and mobile phones are not a good idea. But maybe there is one person you could rely on, who understands the need for such shadow work, who could check in and would be available if you really need to talk. For myself I want to connect with myself, I want to come to terms with myself, and in truth what I do confront is no-one else’s business but mine.
This is an emptying process, a detachment process, a removal of baggage. Whilst any authentic process has to be honest, you are only looking to be honest with yourself. Peyton was in the past, my pain about Peyton was in the present, Nyanga was concerned with the relationship with the pain. It is not a closure process with Peyton herself even if you decide the pain was your fault, it is a closure process with your own pain. There might be consequences of the Nyanga process that afterwards you might feel the need to carry out but the Nyanga process is about connecting with your pain and releasing it.
Throughout this Nyanga process and integration processes in general you need to journal. I am quite happy with the computer for this because I trust myself with the computer and backup processes. But years ago I would have used a physical journal with a nice pen, it would have been nice if I had a Nyanga journal that described in detail what happened that night; I only now have an overview. There might be patterns in your own behaviour that you recognise especially if you have journals to compare with different Nyanga processes. Journalling is much more a part of my life now, and the centring process that happened this Summer, including Nyanga processes, came up to 24000 words. But these journals are private. In a past relationship, in this Nyanga process, it is not an exercise in blame, it is an exercise in coming to terms with the pain and finding a way of releasing it.
It is not a happy trip down memory lane either. Personally I like to enjoy life in the present. It is natural on occasions to indulge past joys but life is about living in the present moment. The point about this Nyanga process is that you are carrying the past with you in the present moment as a shadow and that shadow needs releasing. The Nyanga process is searching for those shadows and releasing them. You are not indulging memories but releasing pain. If you find yourself indulging memories, then try to focus on living in the present moment. Where is the pain now? And release it.
But if your shadow self is giving you pain then your authentic self will want to release it. In this Nyanga process, focussing on living in the present moment just helps the mind do what the authentic self wants – to relive the pain and integrate the shadow.
That is shadow 1, the Nyanga process that deals with pain as an adult. Once we have cleared away this adult pain that clouds the surface of your consciousness, your authentic self will want to go deeper. And what is deeper? Your family and upbringing.
At the beginning of this chapter and elsewhere (Treatise Ch21 my path), I described myself in terms of two fragments, a major and minor fragment. At 23 I had an upheaval in which the minor fragment of my repressive upbringing that was running my life was replaced by the major fragment that had been marginalised to shadow. Over the years some of the egos in the minor fragment had been integrated into my authentic self, but in truth I had never really visited my upbringing until this Summer. Because of the way my life had progressed, this minor fragment as shadow had not meant that my development was greatly stunted but it was necessary for me to integrate this minor fragment into my path. I was fortunate that the way this upheaval shaped my life, there was limited trauma and limited shadow, and sadly to say this is not the general rule.
Shadow Process 2 – Embracing the MAWP
MAWP is an acronym that means Male, Arrogant White and Privileged. I grew up MAWP and throughout my life conditioning encourages me to be MAWP because of the way our society is.
On my upheaval this is one of the first things I threw into the minor fragment of shadow. Quite clearly any white male who is attempting to be authentic does not want to be sexist or racist so it becomes something that cannot be accepted – that is shadow. But that does not mean it does not exist, the shadow ego of sexism and racism is there.
What is worse is that liberal society through PC-authoritarian censorship has also created a racist and sexist shadow. With the Dark Money Network investment in the internet this shadow has become exposed. Whilst there were always extremists (white supremacists), mainstream views appeared not to accept such views. In the electoral 1%-satrapy, both parties previously would not accept racist or sexist behaviour but that has changed with the investment. Now the more right-wing of the two parties will have candidates who are making openly racist and sexist comments. And their supporters are making similar whilst often denying that they are either racist or sexist. Despite what appeared as improvements over my lifetime in attitudes to both race and gender, what the last 10 years has shown is that this change was marginalised in the shadow. How this has happened angers me. Back in the 60s and 70s racist language was acceptable in society. Comedians on the TV made racist and sexist jokes, and use of racist terminology such as “nigger” was common-place amongst white people. Anti-racists in their training called for a two-pronged approach to this, censor the language because it was so offensive and educate people as to why racism and sexism were so unacceptable. Unfortunately both prongs did not happen. There were two approaches to change. The first is what might be termed revolutionary as in the type of revolutionary feminism bell hooks advocated or the revolutionary work of anti-racist training that recognised that racism was part of the wider problem of the imperialist system of the 1%-satrapy. The second might be called reformist where it was contended that reforms within the 1%-satrapy could work; there was both reformism in the feminist movement and reformism in the race equality movement. Over the years liberals had more and more impact on society culminating in a strong liberal presence under Obama and Blair. What happened with this liberal presence was the censorship of the PC-authoritarianism in which it became acceptable to hold sexist and racist views so long as they were not expressed. These views were marginalised in society’s shadow, and has been manipulated by the Dark Money Network into the highly-divisive societies of Trump’s US and Brexit’s UK. The rise of the right within the western countries of the 1%-satrapy is hard to watch, what could have been argued as ignorance of racism and sexism in the 60s and 70s has been replaced by a “consciously-aware” racist and sexist approach of many on the right now – not just the extremists. This is the danger of shadow because what was repressed for 20 or 30 years will take a long time to repair. Ultimately the responsibility lies with the 1% who are reaping benefits under this move to the right but at the same time people needed to have been more aware and conscious of the dangers of censorship – of creating shadow.
What are the implications of this for the individual? Repressing the MAWP was socially acceptable so marginalising the MAWP of our upbringing would have been perfectly agreeable. But of course it is not, as has been evidenced by a significant proportion of society’s ready acceptance of racism and sexism in the last decade. The shadow had not been integrated, the MAWP had not been integrated.
For the MAWP it is acceptable to say something is not racist or sexist even if there are women or people of different races saying it is. Isn’t that Arrogant? But it is no good just accepting that you are wrong because you are criticised. You have to know why you are wrong. You have to know why being White and Male has its Privileges, and that means examining the advantages or not that the MAWP has. What advantages have you had?
You need to examine your emotions as they arise, and not the emotions that you are prepared to show. Are you frightened when you walk round the corner and see a big black man? How do you react if your daughter brings home a black partner? Do you accept it? Do you rationalise non-acceptance by the difficulties that can be had by mixed-race couples? There are many such emotions that first arise that we are not comfortable with but self-censorship marginalises them in shadow and we give a PC performance. We need to embrace the shadow, learn to understand where the MAWP comes from so that we can embrace the MAWP as part of our conditioning but not who we are authentically. For me compassion is key to this, a deep authentic compassion that goes far deeper than a liberal caring or a liberal correct attitude. But you must work on it for yourself.
I learnt to be anti-racist through compassion and listening to black people but this process is not “ask a black friend”. Authentic compassion carries with it an air that can be recognised but “embracing the MAWP” is work you must do – not something to be done at parties when you’re bored and want to be seen talking with black people. The key is to listen. So many times you will hear radical black people or radical feminists saying something that sounds unfair to you. The MAWP says they are wrong, integration reflects on what is being said and determines the truth of what is being said and why it is being said. It is not always easy not to react because the MAWP conditioning is so deeply ingrained, but until you have confidence in your compassionate understanding it is necessary for you to control your reaction, reflect deeply on the question, and only then if you still have doubts question. Do not repress the reaction because then you don’t learn; control, reflect and if unsure enquire - repressing is shadow.
Shadow Process 3 – Integrating the father-ego and the mother-ego
There is a spiritual law that we choose the parents we are born to. I don’t know how the choice is made but there are important consequences to this choice. At the same time psychologists say something to the effect that a significant proportion of our selves is formed within the first five years. “Data compiled by the Rauch Foundation found that 85 percent of a person’s brain is developed by the time they are five years old! As a result, the first five years of life are critical to healthy early childhood development.” [here].
People’s memories of childhood differ vastly. My own memory is very limited, because of what I describe as a repressive upbringing that led to a deep fragmentation. When I am talking of father-ego and mother-ego I am not talking of their particular egos, I am talking of what we recall of them; we cannot properly recall what happened to us in those early years. It is not easy to grow up in this world no matter how caring our parents might be. When I describe my upbringing as repressive, I am not necessarily describing an upbringing that is vastly different to the post-war education-oriented UK middle-classes. That was a societal outlook and not necessarily concerned with the actions or not of my own parents – I am not prepared to discuss their particular actions. I am happy to call this type of upbringing traumatic, not the trauma of abuse, but traumatic in terms of being authenic and self-expression. Our upbringing and education is there to enable us to fit into society, how many people are willing to say that the way they live in society is authentic, how many are expressing their true selves?
Before I go further, examining in any depth our memories of interactions with our parents can be deeply traumatic and cause great distress. If you are concerned about the possibility of such distress please make sure that you conduct this process in the presence of someone you trust.
What I mean by the father-ego is the collection of thoughts, memories and emotions you have concerning your father. It might become biographical but it is not meant as a biography. It is best to write down what you think of the way your father brought you up, actions you remember, what you remember of his character etc. The point about this process is not for you to give an accurate biopic of who your father is/was but to determine what is important that you remember about your upbringing – try not to think of who he is now but what he was like as a parent. It is not who he is that you are looking for but who you think the father who brought you up was. It is your memories of him, it is your view of who he was to you as a parent that matters.
This recall process will take a long time especially if you have only recently left home, but once it has been done then you want to summarise the key characteristics of his parenting as you remember them. Write out this summary, it is this summary you are going to use.
Now do the same with regards to your mother so that you also have a summary for her. These two summaries are what I am calling the father-ego and mother-ego.
Now I want you to examine each of these characteristics by asking “Am I this characteristic?” giving your answer in these simple terms yes/sometimes/no. List them in a table, there are no correct answers except honest ones:-
Now we come to the hard parts. With regards to "yes" and "sometimes" ask yourself whether this is because of conditioning or whether this is the authentic you. Do you behave this way because you were taught so or because that is who you are? This is a long process, take your time, it could last days or even weeks.
"No" is a bit different. "No" means you have rejected these characteristics of your parent-egos. How much of this rejection is a rejection of this characteristic in you? If your mother was always angry, and you repress your anger this is shadow, and it could come and bite you in the back. It is likely that if your parent-egos have a characteristic you will also have it as well. If you have rejected it – "no", then you need to integrate that characteristic before its shadow hurts you. This part of the process is also hard and will take time.
In the end I would hope that you have understood who you are, what is your authentic character, and what comes from parental conditioning. At the same time I would hope that you could find shadow egos you have rejected, and developed processes for integrating them.
These are the three shadow processes I have worked through and found helpful:-
Shadow Process 1 – Nyanga process
Shadow Process 2 – Embracing the MAWP
Shadow Process 3 – Integrating the father-ego and the mother-ego
I hope they are of use to you.
But there is a problem even with successful shadow integration, what is the direction you take in life? Without direction it is possible to just wallow in emotion. What gives life direction?