And over and over again it quite simply left me saying, “Whoa.”
Robert Johnson’s Owning Your Own Shadow, dealing with the power of our unconscious self that we generally “fail to see or know” seemingly came out of nowhere. Actually, a friend ordered the book for me saying, “Read this.” I tend to mightily resist such forward demands. But, it was, after all, a wee little book.
And it’s ended up being something of a watershed moment for me. It’s put words to so much of what I’ve been experiencing and learning over the past decade or so. Scratch that. Over the past fifty years. But I suspect I wouldn’t have understood a word of it until now.
I continue to find that the deepest lessons of life are passed on by people, places, events, books, films etc. that I never saw coming. Truth has such an oblique approach. The more frontal and direct the approach “this movie/book/experience will change your life!” the more banal and bland it tends to be. At least for me.
Owning Your Own Shadow had me in the first two pages with this story which Johnson says was a favorite of Jung’s, demonstrating how a basic truth “can be misused and subverted into an egocentric plaything.” I’d rather not dilute it with my own commentary. It speaks for itself.
The water of life, wishing to make itself known on the face of the earth, bubbled up in an artesian well and flowed without effort or limit. People came to drink of the magic water and were nourished by it, since it was so clean and pure and invigorating.
But humankind was not content to leave things in this Edenic state.
Gradually they began to fence the well, charge admission, claim ownership of the property around it, make elaborate laws as to who could come to the well, put locks on the gates. Soon the well was the property of the powerful and the elite.
The water was angry and offended; it stopped flowing and began to bubble up in another place.
The people who owned the first well were so engrossed in their power systems and ownership that they did not notice that the water had vanished. They continued selling the nonexistent water, and few people noticed that the true power was gone.
But some dissatisfied people searched with great courage and found the new artesian well.
Soon that well was under the control of the property owners, and the same fate overtook it.
The spring took itself to yet another place – and this has been going on throughout recorded history…