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We all identify with our idealized persona so strongly when we are young that we become masters of denial and learn to eliminate or deny anything that doesn’t support it. Neither our persona nor our shadow is evil in itself; they just allow us to do evil and not know it. Our shadow self makes us all into hypocrites on some level. Remember, hypocrite comes from the Greek for “actor,” someone playing a role rather than being “real.” We are all in one kind of a closet or another and are even encouraged by society to play our roles. Until grace is fully triumphant we are all hypocrites of sorts.
Usually everybody else can see your shadow, so it is crucial that you learn what everybody else knows about you—except you! The moment you become whole and holy is when you can accept your shadow self, or, to put it in moral language, when you can admit your sin. Basically you move from unconsciousness to consciousness by a deliberate struggle with your shadow self. There needs to be a struggle, it seems, and usually many of them.
The saint is precisely one who has no “I” to protect or project. His or her “I” is in conscious union with the “I AM” of God, and that is more than enough. Divine union overrides any need for self-hatred or self-promotion. Such people do not need to be perfectly right, and they know they cannot be anyway, so they just try to be in right relationship. In other words, they try above all else to be loving.
Love holds you tightly and safely and always. It gives you the freedom to meet the enemy and know the major enemy is “me,” as the old comic character Pogo said. But you do not hate “me” either; you just see through and beyond “me.” Shadow work literally saves you from yourself (your False Self, that is), which is the foundational meaning of salvation. For then “You too (your True Self) will be revealed in all your glory with him” (Colossians 3:3-4).
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