My living space is full of photographs of divine emissaries: the Dalai Lama, Ammachi, Yogananda, Jesus, Babaji, Neem Karoli Baba, Mother Mary. I love the celestial buzz I get whenever I gaze at their jubilant faces. But a quote from Jung on my refrigerator keeps me from staying giddy on God for too long. “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,” my Jungian fridge proclaims, “but by making the darkness conscious.” What? You mean in order to get to those elevated states of awareness I so revere, I’ve gotta stop staring at my beloved spiritual teachers and start looking at myself? Yes, Jung says.
I am as about as interested in excavating the dark corners of my psyche as the next person. However, I know Jung is right. Waking up is not a big game of Let's Pretend. If I want to heal, I need to be honest with myself about who I am. It would be wonderful if I could express unconditional love to everyone. However, pent up anger and hidden insecurities are part of who I am; they don't go away just because I and my cherished ideals want them to. In fact, avoiding them is the surest way to arrest my evolution. I adore my photos of the great saints because they remind me of what's possible. But, in the end, I know I'm not going to arrive at enlightenment's door with anyone's face other than my own.