The White Shadow, including thoughts from Aadil Palkivala
I love this message from Aadil. How often do we “buck up” and “put on our game face?” Or when we convince ourselves that something doesn’t bother us because we’re reeeeeaaaaally hoping that it will go away?
Because I want to be a positive person, I have often found myself glossing over something dark in order to try to play the part of enlightened person. (“This shouldn’t bother me,” my inner voices clamor insistently. “Haven’t I been doing yoga so I’ll get over this stuff?”) The real tragedy is that we neglecting our authenticity. By restricting what we deem as “appropriate” (by squashing our shadow into something more appetizing), we are depriving ourselves of the sacred space we need to move, evolve, transform. The space we need to be human. Once we give ourselves the space to be authentic, we will find that there is a fluidity to our darkness, a true evolution that can graciously and safely hold the entirety of our experience – both dark and light.
The term “shadow” is often used to describe the dark parts within us that we do not wish to see – anger, resentment, envy, and other qualities that diminish us. Yet to live with integrity, we must also be constantly aware of what my wife, Mirra, calls “the white shadow.” A white shadow is created whenever we mask something “bad” in ourselves by maintaining an outward appearance of “goodness.” A white shadow, then, is not only the repression of our shadowy dark side but also the creation of a bright veneer to hide it. Anytime we don’t look at our darkness by insisting that we are light, we are creating a white shadow.
White shadows live whenever and wherever integrity is lacking. We may or may not be conscious of our pretense, but it is there, gnawing at our peace, waiting to be exposed someday. The creation of a white shadow is a way of compensating, a way of avoiding reality, a way of denying that we need to grow. To live with integrity means being willing to admit that we are creating white shadows, being willing to peer into our darkness and acknowledge that we are pretending to be light. If trying to be good only keeps us from recognizing our shadows, what good is trying to be good?