Photo: Courtesy of HarperOne
Once people hear about the shadow, the dark side of human nature, almost no one denies that it exists. Every life has been touched by anger and fear. The evening news exposes human nature at its worst, week after week, without letup. If we are honest with ourselves, dark impulses are free to roam our minds at will, and the price we pay for being a good person—something we all aspire to—is that the bad person who might ruin everything must be kept under wraps.
Having a shadow side seems to call for some kind of intervention, maybe therapy or a pill, maybe a trip to the confessional or a midnight soul confrontation. As soon as people acknowledge that they have it, they want to be rid of it. There are many aspects of life in which a can-do, let's-fix-it attitude works. Unfortunately, the shadow isn't one of them. The reason that the shadow hasn't been fixed for thousands of years—the whole time that human beings have been conscious of their dark side—is totally mysterious. It only makes sense to unravel the mystery before asking how to deal with it. Therefore, I've divided Part I into three sections, in which I fall back on a physician's instinct to find a diagnosis, offer a cure, and then honestly tell patients their prognosis for the future:
The Fog of Illusion
The Way Out
A New Reality, a New Power
The first section (the diagnosis) describes how the shadow came to be. I differ from some in believing that the shadow is a human creation, not a cosmic force or a universal curse. The second section (the cure) deals with how you can diminish the shadow's hidden power over you in everyday life. The third section (the prognosis) unfolds a future in which the shadow has been dismantled, not only for certain individuals, but for all of us. Together we created the shadow that now haunts us. Despite our fear and reluctance to face this fact, it turns out to be the key to transformation. If you and I weren't part of the problem, we would have no hope of being part of the solution.