To be human is to have intimate knowledge of heaven and earth; it is to experience oneself as mortal and immortal; divine and material; angel and fiend; beauty and beast.
Modern psychology has developed the concept of the “shadow self” to help us understand this duality that is an inherently human condition. Also known by such terms as the disowned self, the lower self, and the dark twin, an encounter with this often repressed and denied part of ourselves is described by such metaphors as meeting our demons, wrestling with the devil, a descent into the underworld and even, the dark night of the soul.
Psychology explains, everything with substance casts a shadow and thus, we all have a shadow self—a shadow self, which cannot be eliminated, but which, eventually needs to be rechanneled or transformed.
In his Oration on the Dignity of Man that is yet studied in the philosophy departments of well-respected universities today, one of the best known Renaissance philosophers, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola provides the following description of these two distinct aspects of the human being—in the form of a message which Mr. Mirandola imagined God might deliver to each one of us:
“We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, in order that you may, as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer. It will be in your power to descend to the lower, brutish forms of life; you will be able, through your own decision, to rise again to the superior orders whose life is divine.”2
In the Ageless Wisdom, presented by the Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul, in the books of Alice A. Bailey, the shadow is more profoundly and comprehensively conceptualized as the Dweller on the Threshold and defined essentially as the personality—that integrated unity composed of physical forces, vital energy, astral/emotional forces and mental energies, constituting the sum total of the lower nature; it is the potency of the threefold material form, nurtured and developed throughout the eons, over many life times—prior to its conscious cooperation and dedication to the life of the Soul.
Whereas the Dweller indicates the past with its limitations and evil habits; the Angel indicates the future possibility, the next step towards liberation, as it throws light upon the immediate stage of the Path of Light which will eventually lead the individual, and ultimately, humanity, from darkness to light, from the unreal to the real and from death to immortality. The Dweller thus summarizes the accumulated limitations and the sum total of the selfish habits and desires which are characteristic of the material nature.
Just as darkness is not recognized except in contrast to light, so the Dweller is not fully cognized until it becomes aware of its divine counterpart—the Angel of the Presence, the Soul whose nature is love, light and inclusive understanding. It is on the mental plane that the “threshold of divinity” is finally discovered and it is upon the mental plane that these two are eventually brought face to face. Herein the conflict begins and the heroic battle is waged:
“Only when man is an integrated personality does the problem of the Dweller truly arise, and only when the mind is alert and the intelligence organised (as is becoming the case today on a fairly large scale) is it possible for man to sense—intelligently and not just mystically—the Angel and so intuit the PRESENCE. Only then does the entire question of hindrances which the Dweller embodies, and the limitations which it provides to spiritual contact and realisation assume potent proportions. Only then can … steps [be] taken to induce right action.”3
It is this battle that is currently being waged in our world, engaging and affecting every individual and all life on the planet. The outcome depends on the strivings of each awakened individual. (Next)