October 21

There are as many nights as days, and
the one is just as long as the other in the
year's course.  Even a happy life cannot
be without a measure of darkness, and
the word "happy" would lose its meaning
if it were not balanced by sadness.

Carl Jung


Today's Meditation:

This concept is one of Jung's most important contributions to my life.  Other people have said the same thing, of course, but long ago when I first read this idea by Jung, I suddenly didn't feel so alone in my down times; I suddenly realized that everyone was going through their own dark times; I realized that there really can't be life without the darkness, and the darkness was no longer as painful to me.  This was during a time when I was going through some rather severe bouts of depression, and Jung's idea did help me to keep in mind that what I was going through was a part of life, and that this, too, would pass.

We learn from darkness just as we learn from light.  We gain new insights, new ideas, new perspectives from going through difficult times, and if our lives were devoid of them, then we never would be able to help other people through their difficult times.  No, we don't search out sadness and depression on purpose so that we can learn from them, but when they do visit us, we can get through them more easily with a healthy perspective, one that tells us that life still goes on in spite of the darkness, and that tomorrow's sun will rise just as it did today and yesterday. 

I know people who would consider Jung's words to be pessimistic, who would say things like "why focus on the negative when there's so much positive?"  But there's a difference between negativity and realism, and sadness is simply a natural part of the human experience--when we keep in mind that it is natural and temporal, then we can work our way through it much more easily, and while the pain may not lessen, it should be less destructive. 

You will have your nights.  I will have my nights.  And life will go on, and this, too, shall pass.  It's comforting to me to recognize that fact and hold it close to my heart.

Questions to consider:

How can thinking about the dark parts of life help us to get through our bad times?

Would our times of happiness and cheerfulness be as uplifting if they weren't balanced out by times that are difficult?

What are some of the long-term benefits of having gone through difficult sad times in our lives?

For further thought:

Sadness is related to the opening of your heart.
If you allow yourself to feel sad, especially if you can cry,
you will find that your heart opens wider
and you can feel more love and more joy.

Shakti Gawain

More on sadness.


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