"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious."
Jung's quote above pretty much sums up much of what Ford's trying to do with The Dark Side of the Light Chasers
. She exhorts readers to tackle Shadow Work, a series of practices for "unconcealing, owning, and embracing your shadow", or dark side. Here's why:
We live under the impression that in order for something to be divine it has to be perfect. We are mistaken. In fact, the exact opposite is true. To be divine is to be whole and to be whole is to be everything: the positive and the negative, the good and the bad, the holy man and the devil.
In other words, there be gold in them thar dark hills, and according to Ford/Jung, we need to pursue it courageously. By coaxing the light out of our darkness, we make peace with our shadows, become whole, and have a chance to live the happy and healthy lives we've always imagined.
I find Jungian thought infinitely fascinating, and Ford's done a great job of making Jung's teaching accessible to the masses. I liked the book, while being frustrated by its tendency toward elitism and, at least in my opinion, an overly optimistic belief in our ability to manifest all sorts of abundance in our lives.
First the good--pop-Jungian depth psychology. I love the stuff, and want to read a lot more. The Shadow Work exercises at the end of each chapter are helpful. Heck, Ford might've even convinced me to journal regularly! I also found the teachings on the holographic model of the universe ("every piece of the universe, no matter how we slice it, contains the intelligence of the whole") and on projection to be enlightening.
But all was not peaches and cream with The Dark Side of the Light Chasers
. Many of the stories were repetitive and seemingly unnecessary. I got the sense that Ford was adding fluff to lengthen the relatively short book. Then there's the elitism and privilege. Ideas like "there are no accidents" and "you live in a universe where everything happens for a reason" provide little comfort to people wracked with pain and suffering. And I don't recommend springing this gem on someone experiencing poverty: "if we don't have everything we desire it's because we're withholding it from ourselves." Definitely not pastoral counseling or spiritual direction 101. While there's truth in the value of positive thinking and visualization, Ford takes the teaching too far. I suspect her message would have been different had she offered her retreat to homeless families.
I really did enjoy the read, however. I appreciate the encouragement to engage in Shadow Work as spiritual practice, and look forward to reading as many of Jung's writings as I can get my hands on. Recommended for people interested in taking a walk on the dark side.