“Every time you think, speak or act moved by dense, heavy passion, you will nourish the power of the shadows. Inside you and out,” said the Old Man, as we affectionately called the oldest monk of the Order. And added: “As ludicrous as it may be, you’d better believe, no one can cause you more harm than you to yourself. This goes for everyone.”
We were seated in the refectory of the monastery, just the two of us, enjoying a flavorful tea the Old Man had prepared with a mix of herbs he had picked in the surrounding bushes while admiring the sun setting behind the mountains. He wanted to talk to me. He had noticed how upset I became after a phone call that had annoyed me. He handed me a cup accompanied by a question: “Which is the only precept of the Order’s Code of Ethics?” As I remained silent, he answered himself: “Never nourish the shadows.” He paused for a few moments so that, little by little, I grasped the idea, and added: “That is simple, right? After all, we are all for the good and, in principle, want no dealings with the evil.” The monk waited until I agreed with that statement before correcting me: “Wrong, it is not easy at all. It is quite difficult for us to identify our own shadows and all that makes them thrive, within ourselves and out.” He became silent once again for a few moments, and continued: “The trick used by the shadows are the thousand disguises they put on, to the point you feel they do not hide in your guts.”
Immediately I asked the obvious question of how to identify the shadows. He furrowed his brow as he used to do whenever he would ask me to take things easy, and said: “To accept the existence of the shadows that dwell within ourselves is the first step we take not to be dominated by them. When we deny or ignore them, we give them permission to move surreptitiously in our subconscious mind, at ease to manipulate ideas and emotions that will be reflected in our choices. To admit that we are three-dimensional spirits, i.e., we have on the provisory outfit of a physical body, still places us on an evolutionary scale where heavier feelings dwell within us and need to be illuminated and transmutated.” The monk looked deep into my eyes and spoke with graveness: “This is the big battle of this existence”, and added: “I will repeat that as many times as necessary, as it is essential to achieve the plentitude.”
“Therefore, the discourse of jealousy, anger, envy, pride, fear, and other heavy feelings does not suit you; furthermore it is even more foolish to embrace the most dangerous shadow, the one in a still more primitive stage, ignorance.” He sipped his tea and continued: “The shadows trick you in different ways; they lend us one of their many masks for us to believe we are what we are yet to achieve; they convince us to play the role of victim by making us believe the world conspires against us; they have us escape reality to the hazy meadows of illusion to prevent us from facing reality, without which there is no cure, transformation or evolution.”
He remained silent again for a few moments and said: “There are many more tricks they use, but the meanest one is convincing you that they only want to protect while spurring you to give vent to the most obscure emotions, leading us to favor the most primitive survival instincts rather than the noble feelings that involve relationships. This is the trap. You end up by confusing revenge with justice; jealousy with love; criticism with advice; ignorance with truth. Worse, you do not realize the mistake.”
I still had not understood what to do to identify the shadows. The Old Man was didactic: “Pay attention to what is the actual feeling behind each decision you make. Then, ask yourself if next time it can be different and better. Have no doubts, it is always possible. There is only evolution when there is transformation. If you are exactly the same for a long time, be suspicious of yourself, there is something that needs to change. Hence we dive into a process of self-knowledge and, little by little, we became capable of identifying the shadows that interfere with our reason. Everyone that has limited reasoning capability is still a prisoner of themselves.”
“Then, we take the next step, which is to illuminate and transmutate these shadows. Regrets turn into forgiveness; envy shifts into sincere admiration; jealousy fades with the understanding that love reveals the wings, not the handcuffs.” He sipped some tea and went on: “The toil is hard, requires wisdom and will, in addition to much love, of course. Do not doubt that you have all these attributes dormant in your soul. You just have to be bold to awake them for battle. In this stage, we come to understand that while the shadows bring denial, the prisons and agonies, the Light is committed to the truth, freedom and joy. This is how we turn suffering into peace. This is the cure.”
We were silent for some time. The monk had his gaze lost in the mountains he saw through the window while I tried to fit his words into my mind. He broke the silence: “Each decision we make is either a flashlight illuminating the steps of everyone or a thick fog imposing our own storms to others. Hence the importance of a pure heart and an alert mind, characteristics of a free spirit, at the time of each of the infinite choices we make.”
Next, the monk addressed another aspect of the same issue: “On the other hand, we are subjected to draw the energy liberated by other sources. Good or bad, individual or collective, we are exposed to all sorts of vibratory loads. Quantum physics has proven what alchemists had realized since the beginning of times, everything in the universe is energy. Even what we call ‘matter’ is but condensed energy. We are energy-generating and receiving centers, whether we like it or not. We generate energy from our feelings, thoughts and attitudes. Hence we reach all around us, making them feel good or bad, depending on the type of vibratory load we emanate, mild or dense, depending on the amount of love or regret, the level of awareness involved in each emotion, idea, word or action.”
I was curious to know how to protect myself from the energy loads of others that are so bothersome and harmful. The Old Man immediately responded: “He who walks straight does not need to fear the dark.” He arched his lips in a mild smile and added: “Before being concerned with others you must pay heed to yourself. It is very important that you watch each feeling and thought that comes to mind because, at some point, they will materialize in words and attitudes. When we make a move to pacify and illuminate all that involves us, a force field is created around us that strengthens and protects us. This is the best shield.”
“Moreover, accept other people with their innate imperfections with the composure of knowing that you do not have perfection to offer. Make your best always available without charging levies for that. Virtues are seeds of the garden of the universe, therefore they are not for trade. The more we divide them, the more they multiply. Be honest with yourself and try hard for your choices reflect the wonderful world of your dreams, hence you will be true to all. Do not believe in everything you hear, whether compliments or criticisms, as the words express the confused heart of the interlocutor.”
“Most importantly, do not depreciate the small actions you make, those that seem to be of no importance. They are quite powerful in nourishing the shadows that, little by little, spread around, contaminate and settle in the subconscious minds of he who is unaware, causing imbalance, despair, agony, depression or violence. One should be watchful not to set up traps that imprison. Us and other people. Life is a fantastic journey as long as you are able to see the beauty that exists in everything and everyone. It is worth remembering the lesson of the Master, ‘If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.’”
I asked if all the energy movement was subjected to the Law of Action and Reaction. The Old Man smiled pleasantly, and nodded his head in agreement. I understood that I would attract to myself the same load and quality of energy I gave out.
“By protecting the others from our own shadows, we end up protecting the shadows of the world, whether individual or collective. When you harmonize the dense emotion that fills you up, preventing the contamination of your choices, you start the process of illumination and transmutation that dismantles the cruel traps against peace. The secret is always to offer your best, and not postpone the important encounter you will have with yourself, an essential step for honing the being. To be aware of the subconscious mind is essential to decoding life.”
At this point, I take the liberty of presenting this note. Soon after this conversation, the Old Man suggested I do the following exercise: to refrain from regretting something or criticizing someone for seven consecutive days. To do that, I would have to tame my densest impulses. Any relapse and the count would have to start over again. It took me months to complete this apparently simple test. It wasn’t easy, let me tell you, but it was a beautiful, unforgettable lesson of self-knowledge and plentitude. I understood that whenever you touch evil, you increase its power. However, the opposite is also true, and transformational. It is sheer Light.
Kindly translataed by Carlos André Oighenstein.