Good Morning Beloved
The Enemy Within
Welcome back to our series based on Science Fiction and the Lessons available if we pay attention.
We have learned that Science Fiction and Fantasy stories are so much more than entertainment, these stories, TV shows, movies and books can help to shape us; we learn what kind of people we want to be—and who exactly we are fighting against becoming.
Our example this week beautifully illustrate the importance of integrating what Carl Jung described as our “shadow”. The manifestation of the shadow is common in Star Trek. Science Fiction and Star Trek itself are highly suited to show the exploration of the human condition, as we have seen already through our series.
Often Sci-Fy writers focus on the intricate dance between emotions and how critical they are to how we view the world. Feelings such as sadness, joy, anger, fear, and disgust can form the basis for the actions we take and the interactions we have with others. That makes the interplay between emotions incredibly important.
In other words, the Star Trek Universes as well as other ‘worlds’ love exploring our shadow, that dance between dark and light, because they can give a face to that shadow.
The episode, “The Enemy Within” does this literally by splitting Captain Kirk in two…
A transporter malfunction splits Captain Kirk into two captains, the Good Captain and the Bad or Evil Captain.
Spock notices the Good Captain has lost his power to make decisions and concludes it is an opportunity to examine the roles of good and evil.
We can look at this as a test – what it is that makes someone an exceptional leader. The negative side makes them strong. Properly controlled and disciplined, it is vital to their strength.
But the negative side of Captain Kirk also displays very decisive thoughtless hostility, lust, brutality and violence.
While his positive side expresses compassion, love and tenderness but lacks the decisive power necessary for in-the-moment decisions.
Spock observes that Captain Kirk needs his dark side to make the decisions an exceptional leader must make. It is Kirk’s so-called evil side when properly disciplined and integrated that is vital to his strength and ability to be a star ship captain. Eventually the Good Captain Kirk realizes he does need to be reunited with his “evil” side and yet is greatly repulsed by the idea.
In “The Ethics of Star Trek” by Judith Barad, PhD,
“Good” Kirk realizes that “reason and emotion may be entirely separate functions, yet they’re critically interdependent.”
One without the other would lead to psychological death – insanity.
“Bad” Kirk wants nothing to do with joining with his good side. He’s paranoid about losing his power.
Barad looks at the situation through the ethics of Aristotle (an original New Thoughter!)
She states, “The interaction between the two Kirks dramatizes an important principle of Aristotelian ethics: the more volatile the emotion, the more likely we are to reach a wrong moral judgment. Likewise, the less emotionally agitated we are, the greater the chances that we will weigh alternative courses of action and reach a sound moral judgment. “
Look at that again….thoughts?
So, why this episode of Star Trek? Can you guess what some of the Lessons are?
As Bones (Dr. McCoy for non-Trekkers) tells Kirk he’s no different than everyone else: “We all have our dark side – we need it! It’s half of what we are. It’s not really ugly- it’s human.”
Without Kirk’s negative side, he was unable to make the choices that a Captain needs to make.
And we ALL need that side to balance out our lives, our choices.
Pema Chodron calls it our wonderfulness and our craziness. In her little book, “Awakening Loving Kindness”, she observes:
“When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that some-how they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are.
It’s a bit like saying, “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” “If I could only get a nicer house, I’d be a better person.” “If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.’
Or the scenario may be that they find fault with others; they might say “If it weren’t for my husband, I’d have a perfect marriage.” “If it weren’t for the fact that my boss and I can’t get on, my job would be just great.”
And “If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.
But loving-kindness – maitri – toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy after all these years.
We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change ourselves.
Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with curiosity and interest.”
This internal struggle to keep all our parts in balance is addressed in every tradition.
St. Paul laments that he doesn’t do what he knows he should; and does what he knows he shouldn’t.
In Islam, the greater jihad is the struggle against one’s inner self, and the Lesser Jihad as the struggle to defend the Islamic state.
“According to the Qur’an and the Hadith, jihad is a duty that may be fulfilled in four ways: by the heart, the tongue, the hand, or the sword. The first way (known in Sufism as the “greater jihad”) involves struggling against evil desires.”
Jesus had 40 days in the wilderness
Siddhartha had to leave the castle, to embrace the “darkness of the world”, which his father had tried to shield from him, in order to find his strength and his destiny.
Taoism is based on the balance between yin and yang, light and dark, and everything in between.
And of course, Star Wars, the Harry Potter series, and every super hero including Wonder Woman, have all explored the importance of recognizing and integrating our shadow… and the shadow of our world.
An interesting component of this episode is that the “good” Kirk wasn’t aware of his talents, of his abilities. He was what Aristotle called shamefaced, as opposed to his “evil” counterpart, who had no shame at all, unable to comprehend the consequences of his behavior.
A different definition of humility – not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. Kirk, as captain of the fleet’s premier starship, needed to be aware of his abilities, of how good he was as a captain. He needed the confidence inherent in true humility, found only by embracing his darkness.
Without his dark side Kirk is confused, forgetful and unable to make decisions. Kirk’s good side was able to recognize that he needed to reintegrate with his dark side.
However, his dark side remained stubbornly convinced that he did not need the good side and the dark side tried to kill off the good side.
Kirk is repulsed by his “dark” side, yet recognizes that without it, he loses much of his leadership abilities. And worse, without his dark side, Kirk would have eventually weakened and died.
An example of hidden gifts:
Over three hundred years ago, the Burmese army planned an attack to invade Thailand. At the time, the country was known as Siam. The Siamese monks were in possession of the most amazing Buddha statue. The statue is over 10 feet tall and weighs in excess of 2 1/2 tons. It is made of solid gold and is valued today at $200 MILLION dollars. The monks were determined to protect the shrine that meant so much to them. While it was priceless to them for reasons that transcend money; they knew that the Burmese would stop at nothing to steal the statue because of its tremendous monetary value. They covered the Golden Buddha with 12 inches of clay knowing that the warriors would totally ignore it and think it worthless. Sadly, the monks were slaughtered in the invasion and the secret of the Golden Buddha stayed hidden for two centuries. The Buddha itself though, remained safe.
In the mid 50’s, a monastery was to be relocated to make room for a new highway. The monks arranged for a crane to come and move the “Clay” Buddha to its new location. When the crane started to lift the statue, it was much heavier than expected and it began to crack. Wanting to protect the priceless shrine, the monks lowered it back down and decided to wait until the next day to bring more powerful equipment. To add insult to injury, the rains came so the monks lovingly covered the statue with tarps to keep the moisture away. In the dark of night, the head monk took his flashlight and went out to make sure the Buddha was adequately covered. When the light of the flashlight shone into the crack of the clay, he saw a glimmer…a reflection of something underneath that shroud of clay. He immediately started to carefully chisel away shards of clay to find that the glimmer grew brighter. Hours later, and all the clay removed…he was in the presence of a Buddha made of solid gold. It now resides in The Temple of the Golden Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand. Every year, millions of people go there to see this magnificent work of art and to worship at his feet. And to think, it may never have been uncovered…
We never know what golden gifts we have underneath, our shadow side…
In the end of our Star Trek episode, the “good” side literally embraces the “darkness” signified by Kirk holding onto his dark side while on the transporter pad, and in doing so, wholeness is restored.
The Gospel of St Thomas states: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
Gandhi said, “The only devils in the world are those running around in our hearts. That is where the battle should be fought.”
Shadow work is about opening your heart and making peace with your internal devils. It is about embracing your fears and weaknesses and finding compassion for your humanity.
Give yourself the gift of your heart. As soon as you open your heart to yourself you will open your heart to all others.
Are we willing to embrace our darkness, our craziness? Are we willing to befriend who we already are? Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we are only loving part of ourselves, the parts we deem to be acceptable, is that how we’re loving our neighbors? Loving only the parts that we deem to be acceptable?
Or are we willing to have the courage to love all of us, and all of the other? Because it does take courage. It takes courage to own the nastiness, the envy, the anger, the temper, the judgments. And it takes courage to acknowledge the love and the compassion and the capacity for giving.
We must use our complete person to captain whatever ship holds us – our families, our communities, our Unity, and the places we call home. It is true that the raw force of our darker emotions, unchecked, can jeopardize our well-being and the well-being of others. But working in concert with our ability to reason and love, we create a whole person, both shadow and light, cable of powerful action.
Kirk referred to his duplicate self as an “imposter,” but the shadow side of ourselves can be welcomed as an important part of our nature, a necessary force, rather than something too brutish to harbor. There is no imposter, no enemy within, so long as we refuse to view any part of ourselves as an adversary. As McCoy said, “It’s not really ugly, it’s human.”
“I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So, I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever.” – Diana Prince, Wonder Woman