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On the Nature of Shadow Projections in Forums

Follow-Up #2

Ken Wilber

June 13, 2006 18:54

This is an email from Helen Titchen Beeth, addressing Ken's “Wyatt Earpy” series of blogs. After her email, there is a substantial response from Ken, addressing the important issue of shadow projection in forums….

Hello Ken,

Geert just forwarded me your response to his mail to you. So I just wanted to do a piece of good ol' European driving (like slipstreaming behind ambulances in the rush hour) and slip in there and touch base personally.

For some reason (to do with wetness?) I KNEW I had intuited your blog correctly. Try as I might, having seen you and sat in your aura, (I was at the very first ITP - as it was then - seminar in December 2004 - asked you a question about Europe) and heard your voice, I just have not been able to accept all the outraged finer feelings expressed on the London Integral list - all people whom I really love and respect even without meeting them, just (simply ;-)) because of the quality of their contributions to that list. So I will have some other stuff to say on this subject to stir up the polemic and see if we can help rub those messages in until they STICK in a few places. No doubt other double agents will be doing similar service in other arenas.

We are what we see, indeed, and also what we say and do. I just find it so fucking REFRESHING when an "other-appointed" guru leaps down from that pedestal and manifests himself with love and lightness, as he is, and not as others see you. May I, too, practice this (not that anybody's appointed me guru...)

And when you say "simply", it's simply because that's what you mean. The fact that it's simply so simple wherever you look means that simple pops up rather more often in your discourse than certain complex thinkers can fathom...

And yes, you bet we are a kick-arse (the Europeans and Americans can't even agree on this most basic of spellings...) integral couple - we try and kick each other's arses whenever we're properly lined up and there are no children in the way.

Just.... just.... keep doing, keep loving, keep grokking, keep growing... and THANK YOU!

Huge blessings to you



Dear Helen,

This is a kick-arse email! And Helen, I remember you. That was a great seminar/workshop—there was something so fresh about the early ones. And let me point out something really important about your email: you have met me in person, been in my presence, interacted with me directly, and that is why you KNOW (your caps) that I am not like what the reactive forums have said. Those who know me agree with you, and that is why those forum threads that are inhabited almost entirely by people who haven't even met me—those threads tend to be threads laced with their authors' shadows. Those authors can indeed say, as Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy, and it is us.”

If you don't mind, I'm going to use your email for the beginning of a post, which goes something like this:

I realize that some people do not know exactly how to spot shadow elements when they are projected onto what are called “hooks” (in this case, I'm the hook for the projection). The hook may himself possess the shadow element, or he may not, it doesn't matter in this case, because it doesn't change the fact that the individuals themselves doing the projection also possess the shadow element, or they would not react so strongly to the hook, according to Gestalt Therapy (to give only one example). The dis-owned and projected shadow is felt as a strong emotional reaction and judgment, either positive or negative, about the hook that the shadow got hung on.

The point is simply that, for all of the forums passing judgment on others, it's time to examine one's own house, it's time to look within. In my blog, I fully admitted that some of my shadow elements can be involved here, and that I therefore used the 3-2-1 process to examine my reactions as fully as I could. It is time now for those individuals (who are involved in strong emotional judgments and hyper-critical statements about others) to begin an honest examination of their own shadow projections, and thus begin healing and wholing themselves. Will people take “the shadow challenge” and do some honest self-evaluation, or continue merely to shadow-hug and shadow-box their way through the forums?

In the next posting, I will include a chapter from the book No Boundary, chapters that explain how to spot shadow projections and how to re-integrate them. This is only one of the many ways that individuals can begin an honest self-evaluation. But remember, it doesn't matter if the hook ALSO has your shadow elements; the fact is, you have them, too. That's the point. And if you want to get back to judging me and condemning me, I understand. But I'll tell you what: one pile of shit at a time.

And it's your turn. Please have the courage to simply take this opportunity and look within—look at your own angels and your own demons, your own wonderful qualities and your own negative ones. And realize that if you dis-own either your angels or your demons, you will tend to project them “out there,” where you will shadow-box and do battle with your own negative shadows, and shadow-hug and fall into romantic obsession with your positive shadows. None of us escape at least some of this, so let's openly start a process of self-examination, and deal with the enemy at home before we chase it around out there.

Please look for the next posting, “Recognizing the Shadow.” I honestly believe these chapters will help anybody who wants to get started on their own shadow-work. I will have some suggestions and pointers as well as some useful resources.

With all humility and deepest respect, it is time for all of us—me included—to simply stop and take a breath; have a moratorium on judging others; begin the process of looking within and locating one's own shadow (it's those things “out there” you loathe or obsess about—those things that really inflame you with dysfunctional desire or addiction, and those that really bug you and irritate the daylights out of you); and then authentically engage the process of re-owning and re-integrating those previously dis-owned, denied, and alienated shadow elements.

Once that's done, you can go back to loathing and condemning me—but guess what? It will be a much more accurate picture of me because you will have a much more accurate picture of yourself. I want to be hated for the real me! I am perfectly capable of generating massive irritation all by myself—I don't need your shadow to do it. So please do me the honor of hating the real me!

Okay, jokes aside: Let's forgive and forget the past, and start afresh. And let's see who honestly wishes to deal with this, and who wants to continue gun-fighting their own shadows…..

Please look for the next posting (How to Spot the Shadow,) which contains excerpts from No Boundary. Both sides could use a little confession, repentance, and forgiveness. I can say that, right here and now, I fully forgive any and all hurt that has been inflicted on me by unfair and unwarranted accusations, criticisms, and condemnations. With full heart, I sincerely mean that. Forgiveness is the 2nd-person path of remembering the Self, and I invite all of us to bathe in that infinite well of refreshment and rehabilitation—not re-hab but full-hab. And thank you for at least considering this course of action….

All best,


The Wyatt Posts:

  1. What We Are, That We See. Part I: Response to Some Recent Criticism in a Wild West Fashion
  2. What We Are, That We See. Part II: What is the Real Meaning of This?
  3. Take the Visser Site as Alternatives to KW, But Never as the Views of KW

Follow-Up Posts:

  1. The Unbearable Lightness of Wyatt Earpy. Follow-Up #1.
  2. On the Nature of Shadow Projections in Forums. Follow-Up #2.
  3. What Would Wyatt Do? Follow-Up #3.

The Shadow Series:

  1. The Shadow Series. Part 1: How to Spot the Shadow.
  2. The Shadow Series. Part 2: Integrating the Shadow.
  3. The Shadow Series. Part 3: A Working Synthesis of Transactional Analysis and Gestalt Therapy.

Check out: The Wild West Wilber Report: Looking back on the Wyatt Earp Episode

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