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Image by Armando Veve

“But it is the same with man as with the tree, The more he seeks to rise into the height and light, the more vigorously do his roots struggle earthward, downward, into the dark, the deep / into evil.” — Nietzsche.°

A person is both a unity and an opposition, so is a marriage and so are most social relationships as well…Each thing carries its own shadow and the inner oppositions in people repeatedly become reflected in outer conflicts that are even harder to get a handle on. Whatever we refuse to face within us will become a collective fate in the world around us. The wise come to know their own inner conflicts, while the unwise keep insisting that all the trouble is the fault of others.” — Michael Meade, “Fate and Destiny”

We are dimly aware of the infinite kinds of beings around us, but there are probably as many kinds of worlds and universes we can’t see. We are locked into our concrete-looking paradigm. It seems we are meant to live out our dramas in a theater built to fool our senses into believing it’s all quite real.

But what’s real is in the intangibles like love, kindness and care. Those things actually have power. They can determine the fate of a soul. They can affect the whole web of life we are a part of.

We struggle to be good in a simplistic way, though, by turning our eyes toward the light and refusing to acknowledge the darkness, which grows in force as a result. If we are to be fully human, we will advance that project by facing the shadows. Love cannot be forced by repressing hate.

We are one voice in a prodigious choir, one instrument in a stupendous orchestra. All notes are played, and none can be suppressed. If we focus exclusively on the bright and sweet harmonies, we invite the darkness to unbalance the whole.

It’s the responsibility of each human being to notice and reflect on the dark thoughts and intentions that arise, not to cover or supplant them with more “appropriate” ones, but to follow and understand them, become familiar with where they come from and how they operate. Otherwise we risk projecting them onto others and creating more misery and havoc in the world.

If we are to accept ourselves, we need to be capable of embracing the dark with the light. We are limited beings living in a circumscribed paradigm. Our vision is challenged to encompass the opposites at our foundations. Just that task can take innumerable lifetimes. We learn slowly, even though the facts are pretty obvious. The problem seems to be a refusal to look. If we start to pay attention, we may notice why we keep falling into the same pit of vipers.

As a person who has made the full measure of wrong turns and bad decisions, I’ve come to see the need for self awareness, forgiveness and kindness. We live in the land of the blind and partially blind. If we can learn to see and help a few others to see, we have accomplished a lot.

Isn’t that what an artist does?

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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