“The Privilege of a Life Time” by Peter Metzner

The privilege of a lifetime is being
who you are.
The goal of the hero trip
down to your jewel point
is to find those levels in the psyche
That open, open, open,
and finally open to the mystery
of your self
being Buddha consciousness,
the Christ.

That’s the journey
(Joseph Campbell) Reflections on the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion

“Find a place where there is joy and the joy will burn out the pain” .

According to Campbell, Satan is the epitome of the intractable ego. That part of ourselves needing to be right, to defend ourselves, feeling separate, better than or not as good as others depending on our beliefs, dogma and life’s situations. Hell is the concretization of your life experiences, a place where you’re stuck, the wasteland. In hell, we blame others for our condition and are so bound to ourselves that grace cannot enter. What is hellish is being stuck without hope, without relief.*

How we mature, depends on taking responsibility for our choices, no longer blaming others, or expecting rescue from them. And to acknowledge the pain of loneliness however much we are invested in social roles and relationships. (James Hollis) Swamplands of The Soul. The mature person i.e. one who is psychologically free : “is confident in his inner world, responsible for his strengths and weaknesses, consciously able to love himself, and thus, able to love others”…. Marion Woodman

In a simple and poignant description of the human condition, and of growth; Jolande Jacobi, a Jungian analyst writes: “Like a seed growing into a tree, life unfolds stage by stage. Triumphant ascent, collapse, crises, failures, and new beginnings strew the way. It is the path trodden by the great majority of people, as a rule unreflectingly, unconsciously, unsuspectingly, following its labyrinthine windings from birth to death in hope and longing. It is hedged about with struggle and suffering, joy and sorrow, guilt and error, and nowhere is there security from catastrophe. For as soon as a man tries to escape every risk and prefers to experience life only in his head, in the form of ideas and fantasies, as soon as he surrenders to opinions of ‘how it ought to be’ and, in order not to make a false step, imitates others when possible, he forfeits the chance of his own independent development. Only if he treads the path bravely and flings himself into life, fearing no struggle and no exertion and fighting shy of no experience, will he mature his personality more fully than the man who is ever trying to keep to the safe side of the road.”
J. Jacobe, The Way of Individuation

There are two gremlins we face every morning.

Fear: I am too tiny it is too hard… I can’t do it.

Lethargy: – chill out tomorrow is another day…

Each will eat us alive… Fear and lethargy are the enemy they are not out there they are inside
Carl Jung wrote: The spirit of evil is the negation of live force by fear… only boldness can overcome that fear.
If the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is violated”

Our task is to recover our personal authority and discern the meaning of our lives.
Who are we to stand in its way?


Stepping Into Your Vision by Peter Metzner

“I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens.  I’ve knocked from the inside.” — Rumi

All of our trouble flows from being separated from our instincts.  C.G. Jung

Freud stated that “The price of civilization is neurosis”.   Neurosis meaning being someone you are not,  being split from your natural truth and being defined by an external definition of who you are.   Living a life that is authentically yours;  means being connected to your passion,  using and developing your gifts and natural abilities  in ways that are meaningful, useful and satisfying.   This is what vocational  integration is.    To get to this place requires some reflection and being  ‘real”  with your self.    Asking the larger and important questions can greatly help this process.

Below are powerful questions from James Hollis, PhD   that can help ease access to deeper insights.   Asking the “right”  questions;  stimulates our thinking  to seek to find answers.   We need   to ask and  be open and receptive to the messages we get.  Having solitude and quiet  allows us to hear and discern the answers that come.     Each may take some time so you may want to choose the one or ones that  resonate the most with you at this time.   

The Questions:

  • How do you know what is true for you?   How did you lose your personal authority in the first place?   Did you lose it through adapting  to circumstances?
  • What core ideas – are the defining ideas of my life?
  • What has brought you to this point in your life?  Fate?  Family influences?
  • What parts of history have framed your world?  Are there repeating patterns that make us prisoners of our history?
  • Which pieces or parts of your life are working  for you?
  • What constricts you?
  • What messages did you internalize?  i.e.  We are here to make money;  I have to be perfect,  successful;  have children and make them successful…
  • Why does so much feel like a script that has been written for you?
  • Am I choosing  security over truth?
  • Am I doing  what my peers do?
  • Do I change and grow and how?
  • Why is so much a disappointment?
  • Why do I hide so much from others?
  • What gets pushed underground in my unconscious?
  • Where do I experience the transcendent?

According to Jung, the highest calling is an appointment with our “self”.  We have an appointment with ourselves and not all of us keep it.     We need to mindful and discern where spirit is working in all areas of our lives. If the life we have lived has been too small and it may be too small for most of us;   the task of recovering ourselves is opening to largeness of our journey.

There are two  gremlins we face every morning.

Fear: I am too tiny it is too hard…  I can’t  do it.

 Lethargy:  – chill out tomorrow is another day…

Each will eat us alive… Fear and lethargy are the enemy, they are not out there they are inside.  We awaken only to fall back into the  comfort of our past life.

Jung also wrote:  ” The Spirit of evil is the negation of live force by fear… only boldness can overcome that fear.

If the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is violated.”

We all have a task and it is;  the recovery of personal authority and discerning the meaning of our lives.  Who are we to stand in its way?  We are responsible for finding meaning in our lives.

We can look at symptoms like depression, anxiety, addictions and compulsions as ruptures in our false self.   James Hollis also writes this is the psyche or our “self” trying to break out of the confines of the acquired or false self.    So welcome a symptom.  The psyche which has been captive may have a different agenda than the one our ego or acquired identity is following.    Symptoms may be the psyche no longer able to cooperate in going along the path we are taking.  Similar to the reins of a horse correcting us when we stray.

Jung believed  that every patient knew at some all level what they needed to do.   We all need to become our own psychotherapists
and heal the bridge and split from our natural truth.   The self knows you have always known.   This is the knowledge of the head in service to the knowledge of the heart which gives insight and the courage to live our lives.

If you knew what you are truly capable of, would you move forward into your life with tremendous enthusiasm and very little self-doubt?
Find  your voice and a place in your life where your brilliance  can shine through.  There is  something we all can do to bring us a sense of satisfaction and meaning.   Find  what you love the most in life.  Search inside for that deep passion or restlessness, and allow  yourself  the quiet and peace to give it full expression.
There is genius in every one of us, as a natural part of our birthright.  Let it come out.  The German Poet Rilke wrote: “Our task is to be defeated by ever larger things” .
References and suggested reading:
Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally Really Grow up James Hollis PH.D, Gotham books New York, NY 2006
Why Good People Do Bad Things:  Understanding our Darker Selves.  James Hollis PH.D Gotham books New York, NY 2007
Memories Dreams , Reflections.  Carl Gustav Jung  Random House, Inc. 1963


Owning our Shadows by Peter Metzner

“Shadow” work

January 17, 2011

Peter Metzner

“To Honor and accept one’s own shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. It is whole making and the most important experience of a lifetime”.  Robert Johnson

What is the “Shadow”?

Our Persona is what we would like to be and how we wish to be seen in the world.  It is our psychological clothing and mediates between our true selves and the environment.

Our “ego” is what we are and know about consciously.  We need it and it contains  our identity.  It is when we become “inflated”  or “deflated” that we run into difficulties, feel separate, self sabotage and  often hurt others.

Our Shadow” is that part of us we fail to see or know.

These are the refused and unacceptable characteristics of our personality.  Those parts we are not aware of in a conscious sense.  They can even be some of the noblest aspects of our personality.

These refused or unacceptable parts don’t go away. They collect in the dark corners of our personality and when hidden enough they take a life of their own. If  our shadow  accumulates more energy than our ego, an overpowering rage can erupt  or an indiscretion may  slips out.   Like the famous televangelist adamantly opposed to homosexuality and then caught having a seven year  relationship with a male prostitute and other men in his church.  Or the famous New York  governor and former Attorney General crusading against corruption – and then found to be spending thousands of dollars on call girls.

Our  Shadow can be a source of  depression or an accident that that seems to have its own purpose. (C G Jung)

Ignoring the “gold” in our personality can also be as damaging.  According to Jung, some people may suffer a severe shock or illness before they learn to let their gold out.  This gold is our hidden talents, creativity and abilities that are seeking an outlet.  If we do not allow them a place in our lives we can feel empty or like we are missing out on a major part of life.

Generally the first half of life is devoted to the cultural process discipline, gaining skills, raising a family, establishing oneself in the world…..

The second half  of life offers the opportunity to restoring the wholeness (making holy) of life.  When we are stuck,  this often is seen as the “mid life crisis.”

To admit and acknowledge our shadow is to admit that there are many more sides to us than the world usually sees.   A great insight from Jung “the ego and shadow come to the same source and exactly balance the other.  To make light is to make shadow; one cannot exist without the other.

The more refined our conscious personality; the more shadow we have built up on the other side.

According to Robert Johnson: “to own one’s shadow is to reach a holy place – an inner center – not attainable in any other way. To fail in this is to fail in one’s own sainthood and to miss the purpose of life”. *

Rituals to balance the shadow.

Catholic mass

Fine works of art

Less effective ways: watching horror movies gangster epics, violence, murder mysteries.

To refuse out dark side is to store up or accumulate the darkness, later being expressed as a black mood, psychosomatic illness,…

As a whole,  society has worshiped the light side and refused the dark.  This residue appears as war, economic chaos, strikes, racial or even religious intolerance. (Robert Johnson)

Any repair of our fractured world must start with individuals who have the insight and courage to own their own shadow.

Nothing “out there” will help if the interior projecting mechanism of human kind is operating strongly. Jung was asked if there is hope for mankind?  He answered only if enough people do their inner work.

“A whole generation can live a modern, civilized life without ever touching much of its shadow nature.  Then predictably, (twenty years usually) that un-lived shadow will erupt and a war will burst forth that no one wanted but to which everyone (both men and women) has contributed. (Johnson )  There are better ways of coping with shadow but until they are commonly known and practiced; we will continue to have these outbursts in their most destructive form.

The greater the civilization; the more intent it is upon its own destruction.

Our work then is; for each of us to pick up our own dark side, combine it with our hard earned light, and make something better that the opposition of the two. This is the meaning of holiness…. Making whole or integrating our psyches.

Pitfalls to watch out for:

Projection. Projection is always easier than assimilation. “Whenever there is an emotionally charged encounter between two individuals a projection is taking place”  (ML von Franz)   – What I or we can’t accept in ourselves we project onto the other.


Men lay their shadows on Women

Whites upon blacks

Germans on Jews

Muslims on Hindus

Christians on Muslims (and vice/versa)

Republicans on to Democrats (Good examples of this can be seen on Fox News, Glenn Beck  or by listening to Rush Limbaugh)

Democrats on to Republicans

It may be that historically we have coped with our shadow by projecting it on an enemy.  But modern man cannot continue this dangerous process. “The evolution of consciousness requires us to integrate the shadow if we are to produce a new age.”  (Johnson page 33. Owning your Shadow)

Awareness needs vigilance for “Our capacity for self deception is truly monumental”. (Kaufman)

William Blake spoke about the need to reconcile these two parts of the self.  We should go to heaven for form and hell for energy – and marry the two. “When we can face our inner heaven and our inner hell, this is the highest form of creativity” .   This is what  becoming whole is and holy.

When we can love our inner enemy i.e. our own shadow then there is a chance of loving the outer and redeeming the outer.  If enough of us do this individually then collectively we will move towards healing the world.

Suggested reading: Inner Work, Using Dreams & Active Imagination For Personal Growth, Owning Your Own Shadow- Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert Johnson.

“Why Good People Do Bad Things” by James Hollis