“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.” C.G. Jung
This is very true – if your darkness reaches the depth of the darkness of the person you are dealing with. What if it doesn’t? Then, thinking C.G.Jung’s sentence with logic to the end, you have no tool whatsoever to know how to deal with the darkness of the other, or, worse, you might not even be able to recognize it as darkness. The darkest human darkness knows how to be very charismatic and highly seductive.
Normally, this quote by C.G. Jung is interpreted in the following way: the darkness we see in the other mirrors the hidden darkness of oneself. Run this thought through the inevitable chain of logical consequence: When you look at Hitler you see the same will to violence, sadistic pleasure in the pain of the other and lust for brutal murder somewhere in yourself – and be it just toward one single human being?
If that is the case, you should not work in a spiritualistic profession, you should rather consider a deep psychological treatment and find another job. Admit the abysm that you see in yourself and don´t embellish it by coming up with spiritualistic theories about the bad residing in everyone and accepting your abysms as normal. Know for sure that this kind of abysm does not reside in every human.
Or, look at Mr. Putin and see the same greed for ever more money, power, luxury and exclusiveness in yourself. You might smile with understanding or even with admiration. Be sure that obsessive greed and thirst for power does not reside in every human being. And you can also be sure, that spiritualistic new-age talk of “who got it, deserves it” originated in India in times when it supported Maharaja
culture with an unhealthy mix of spiritual believes around karma and a philosophy of a power sustaining highest class which created one of the most cruel social systems known on the planet: the cast system. With a minimum of reason and empathy, nowadays we might probably agree that neither material wealth is a consequence of great karma nor is poverty a consequence of bad karma. The same is true for great health and poor health. It would come close to sociopathic cynism not to want to admit this.
Following Jung’s assumption, there are people who will see all the worst malicious qualities as a hidden feature in every human, projecting them on everybody – completely convinced that everybody is as bad as themselves in their darkest fantasies. On the other hand, there are all the beautifully benevolent qualities in humans, and there are people who project all those on everybody (the German adjective “gutgläubig” = “goodbelieving” describes a person who always believes in the good intention of the other) – including on you! You know how they look at you, don`t you? It feels very good, you like those innocent naïve people who breath all the love into your face – to a degree that it even seems ridiculous and childish to you and could seriously bother you if it wasn´t so beneficial to your needs.
Know for sure that whatever you feel as malicious and bad in you right now does not reside in every human. There are people who are really as genuine as what you see in front of you when you think “How stupidly naïve and sincere is that person looking at me right now?” Many of them are not stupid at all. They might come from a very high awareness. Or from real innocence.
What would real innocence be? Just look at little children at an age and in an environment where they have not been exposed to any bad and malicious behavior, nor to violence. Put them in front of a TV and show them a violent movie with malicious characters. They will scream out of fear, cry, be very disturbed, not want to see it, wanting to get away from it as soon as possible. You think that this is because they have all the darkness and badness deeply inside them and don´t want to be confronted with it – as some people claim to be true for those adults who avoid violent movies or environments out of intellectual and spiritual conviction?
On the other hand, if you enjoy violent movies with malicious characters, it is – to the highest degree most probably – due to the fact that you have been exposed to a lot of violence in your life. Maybe you have been harmed in a traumatic way, and now have similar impulses in yourself and use the movies as an outlet. It is justified to highly doubt that you do enjoy them so much because you are one of the few superiorly enlightened human beings on this planet who do not deny their bad side. (A friend of Hitler reported she witnessed him being sexually aroused by movie- scenes when people were tortured and murdered. And he believed he was enlightened and chosen to save the world).
Whenever you find the malicious intent in yourself to take advantage of another human being or any smallest kind of violence towards or pleasure in the pain of another – admit it to yourself in all its badness, turn the light on in the darkness, look at it, work on it, dig into your past – and don´t forgive yourself unless you know you will do anything to get better. Then you surely should forgive yourself.
Complete forgiveness after you admitted everything truthfully to yourself with honest regret (and maybe letting others know about it) is probably what really is meant with those kinds of spiritual sayings about the merciful outbalancing of good and bad to the degree where the discernment at some point is not necessary anymore. It is the working of benevolent consciousness on the highest level. Even the worst of the worst bad intentions and actions can be turned into more light to outshine it – through loving forgiveness of highest benevolent consciousness. Just as we have seen is the case with complete forgiveness or genuine goodness (German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer highlighted genuine goodness as supreme quality of a human being, superior even to high intellect). They end up outshining everything else. Or put it with German classical author J.W.v. Goethe, who has given us, so far, the best literary character of the malicious, Machiavallian seducer – in the play Faust with Mephistopheles:
“I am part of that power which eternally wills the evil and eternally produces the good” and “I am part of the part that once was everything. Part of the darkness which gave birth to light, the glorious light, which now will take from mother night the old position and the entire space.” (see translucidmind.com, this week’s Song of the Week).
The “glorious light” is the love and mercy of a consciousness which forgives any action done with malicious intent. Maintaining this light in creation, trusting love, being in love – will sooner or later erase the darkness. Which Mephistopheles is well aware of and jealously angry about. So far Goethe. Another German writer, a clinical physicist and psychoanalyst, Wilhelm Reich, has explained in many of his writings that the sadistic impulse in a human towards a fellow human originates in a profound envy of the traumatized person toward the expressions of an intact self- love in the other: the sadist wants to destroy the joyous light that the other one radiates (see translucidmind.com, Books, Wilhelm Reich, The murderer of Christ, The function of the Orgasm).
There are plenty highly Machiavellian people among us, in popular psychology labeled as narcissists with all the empathetic will of psychologists to see the reason of their behavior in some early childhood trauma, neglect or sexual repression. Although this is probably true for most of them, we might have to question the degree of our empathy with those reckless egoists who just act selfish and with Machiavellian manipulation because they can allow it to themselves without fearing any severe consequences for their lives. There are more and more obvious cases of simply overly egocentric and egoistic power- and money hungry people who seem to fit into the scheme of the psychopathology of the narcissist whereas they might just simply be highly selfish villains who use their socio-economic advantage in completely unscrupulous ways. Some of them even dare to praise themselves as “God-like” because they create their personal reality with all the Machiavellian will to power: their own Maharaji-like reality, power, fame, girls, evermore money, without caring at all about good and bad (only maybe to maintain a better image of themselves in society which many of them practice masterfully).
Could we dare to doubt that highest benevolent consciousness would have the intent to promote this behavior by offering complete forgiveness? Sure, through the loving reaction of forgiveness any bad deed will most probably be producing ever more benevolent light. Let´s say we believe that the light of love will always be stronger no matter what. But the path to create is most probably one that leads at some point to a peaceful flow of deep breathing and pulsating energy of love as described by Tantra schools of Yoga, and actually, by the above mentioned Psychologist Wilhelm Reich. If not, why would any spiritual wisdom or religion teach us to be loving and impeccable?
When Jesus of Nazareth asks the people not to be judgmental of other’s bad behavior he tells us to not forget that we might have committed wrong doings at some point in our lives ourselves and also wish for complete forgiveness. He does not teach us to lose our sane and reasonable discernment of what is doing wrong and what is doing good. He says the opposite: use all your reasonable judgment and look at yourself as to discern your own wrong doings.
On an earthly level of day to day life in society of humans, you would be kidding to say that you do not discern between your actions and intentions with malicious outcome and those with benevolent outcome. It does not need to come to the point of having severely damaged another´s life and having accepted that risk prior to your actions to discern a maliciously motivated action from a benevolent one. There are many daily misbehaviors, tricks and lies that each of us knows about, and children realize it very quickly at a certain age, themselves. They feel shame for being called out and like to deny. Reminds you of something? Things get worse, when the natural shame ceases to present itself.
It is reasonable to assume that any mentally healthy person has a more or less high degree of awareness to discerne between benevolent and malicious actions which results in different degrees of shame. Quoting from Goethe’s Faust one more time: “The good man in his dark impulses is well aware of the path of light.”
When he ceases to be aware of it, then psychology might talk about a psychopath or sociopath. A completely different question arises when a person is fully aware of the possibility of a way of light, but choses in all consciousness the dark road. Hitler is most probably the worst example in history of the incurable psychopath who lost the sanity to discern reasonably. In today’s world politics, on the other hand, we see several power-abusing leaders who are obvious examples of the character who discerns exactly that what he is doing comes from very dark impulses, and does it anyway with enjoyment. As long as in your darkest impulses you are aware of the benevolent way, you can steer your steering wheel in that direction anytime.
The philosophy of law and justice is based on the knowledge about the good and the bad that we are endowed with through our human nature. It seems spiritually and reasonably appropriate to maintain this systematic approach to human behavior discerning between good and bad deeds to diminish the risk that human lives are harmed. The rapist who invited the young girl to follow him to have a drink
in his apartment knew what he was doing. You really want to believe C.G. Jung that the girl should have known it, too, by recognizing her own darkness in him, maybe because she wore a mini-skirt?
Discernment as the intellectual base of the philosophy of law on one hand side, and merciful forgiveness as the ideal outcome of any law suit on the other hand side require a reasonable and loving discussion for the best outcome within the human community. The best outcome for everybody is to equally be able to live a dignified human life. What is human dignity? And, first of all, what distinguishes a human? We are confronted not only with the rise of humanoid robots, but also with several dictator-like world leaders who can chose to program whatever maliciousness into them. We should define the specifically human nature very well before we fall for the seduction of so called “transhumanist enhancement.”
What is a dignified human life? Maybe a dignified human life is when you are being allowed to live up to your best talents and potentials while always being aligned with the highest and most beautiful of all human potentials which is the altruistic choice to love everybody else like yourself and not to harm anybody else. The world´s best national systems of law and justice have the goal to ensure this outcome by allowing you to admit having acted harmfully, amend your wrongdoings and be forgiven once you proved that you really learned from your mistake.
Herein lies the wisdom of the philosophy of justice and law: it is impossible to forgive yourself completely when you know you have not done the appropriate amends within your possibilities, repaired the damage you caused. Ideally, law does not punish but enables the person who made the mistake to find peace with himself (and the victim). This is the high road of truthfulness and complete forgiveness.
Some prefer to take the low road by making up lies in order to not be hold reliable. Well, you might get short term “lucky” and get away with your lies by playing your perfectly thought out play on the stage of life and the court. But sometimes, a chance for a dignified outcome opens, sometimes a liar suddenly breaks down in tears and admits his mistakes.
The dignity of the human being shines in this moment when intellectual ability to discern good or bad intentions, the spiritual disposition to be true to yourself and to others, the ability to deeply regret with the warmth of the heart, the empathy with the other human being and the wish to compensate for your mistake come together.
Seeing this potential in every human being, even in the worst wrong doer, means seeing with loving eyes the light in every human being, the highest benevolent consciousness. But, seeing this potential in every human being does not have to lead to blindfolding ourselves when clearly present darkness overshadows this potential. Knowing about the power of intention in quantum mechanics we should be aware of the power of malicious intention at all time. There are some seriously real actualizations of most malicious intent present in our current human reality. These counteracting intents being opposed to the most benevolent intent known to us (which we usually call divine) have been discussed in all spiritual traditions (religere, lat.= reconnect, tie back together – religions) and philosophies of humanity.
The discernment of benevolent and counteracting malicious intention is necessary in the reality of our biological life where we have to take care of food, home, health, survival. If we cease to discern we are not going to end up like animals again, worse, we are leaving the game to those of us who with all awareness chose the malicious egoistic path. Humanity might end up being completely the opposite of what the ability of discernment of good and bad was supposed to grant us with: the choice to get out of the survival mode, overcome fear of death by spiritually transcending our individual biological existence and become a holistically acting humanity, able to enjoy the mercy of most benevolent spirit in soulful interaction.
Copyright Susanne Steines, 26.05.2021