And the second commandment is like unto it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
To love yourself you must know yourself and be willing to see yourself as you really are. Carl Jung identified the shadow side of the human psyche, that dark underside that most of us prefer to ignore. Yet if we are to be whole, it is essential to bring the elements of our shadow into the light of consciousness, examine them, own them, and use them constructively, or ultimately they will control us.
As we pursue our spiritual journey, it seems to me that we traverse two parallel paths: the individual path, and the collective path that brings us into community. Ultimately these paths will merge. The individual path leads us into a closer personal relationship with God, and the recognition and knowledge of the Divine within us. If we follow the path of the mystic we seek to attain union with God and ultimately the post-union or unitive state.
But the paradox is that we are not meant to live in isolation. Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves and this means living in and through community. The brilliant 20th Century theologian and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin introduced a concept that takes community to the next level--collective salvation. He stated that “Our salvation is not pursued or achieved except in solidarity with the justification of the whole body of the elect.” This places an awesome responsibility on each of us, since our salvation (however you define it) is interconnected with the salvation of all. A stunning parallel relates to the Dalai Lama, who vowed to continue reincarnating until the last soul on earth attains enlightenment. Perhaps this is the “Christ Consciousness” working at its highest level.
Nancy E. Brockman