I am the shadow, the shadow of the shepherd. Where did I come from? It’s funny. Not many people ask about my origin. They just assume that their shadows are their truths, deeply ingrained into the nature of their realities. People think they need to be saved from their shadows, but it was the shepherd who somehow learned to dance with me. A thousand times over, people will confess that they need to be saved from their shadows; but it never really works. It only makes them insecure and legalistic and overall insignificant at their cores. The shepherd did not need to be saved from me. He is able to dance with me throughout the day, and then rest without me at night, because he knows that I am not the truest thing about him. I am part of his reality, but I certainly do not dwell within him like That Which Causes Him to Dance. Much of the time, the shepherd is even playful with me! Surely, it must sound absurd to those who are controlled by their shadows or those who are trying to conquer their shadows or those who think they need to be saved from their shadows, which I suppose is all basically the same thing, each one rooted in a lifestyle of reckless performing, but it is true! The shepherd laughs at the things that I sometimes cause him to do—never taking himself too seriously—and always forgives himself for the things he does and, in doing so, is never too wrapped up in his doing, which essentially frees him to rest and to be and abide in That Which Causes Him to Dance, and even frees me from destroying him. I don’t want to destroy him. I want to help him. But the choice is each person’s—to receive his shadow as a gift or to treat it like a curse. Here’s the truth: the king didn’t conquer his shadow. His shadow simply became all of him. Shadows are not inherently bad; they are not out to destroy. They just take on different lives whenever they unify themselves with their masters, like the king has done, like millions of others are trying to do, which either births a shadow-system or perhaps the king that we have. The king caved to his shadow’s seduction, time after time after time, eventually uniting himself with it. His shadow could have made him great; instead, it has made him a shell of a man, less human than anyone in the land, even though he has attained wealth and power and influence. A lot of times this “uniting” happens subconsciously, simply because a person has not learned to dance. And to dance, a person must first become aware of how one tends to move his or her feet. Without awareness, there is no dancing. Anyway, all of this might sound pretty reflective and insightful for a shadow, which might be surprising; but see, that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to say! I am neither good nor bad. But, depending on the nature of the person, I can influence someone’s goodness or badness. The people who are intrigued by the shadow systems and who worship the king think that uniting themselves with their shadows will solve all their problems; and the religious think that shadows ought to be crucified at all costs. It is quite comical to watch both groups—one group frantically hurrying around, trying to grasp that which can never be grasped; and another creeping around in their fear, trying to tackle their shadows as if wrestling the wind. So, where did I come from, then? What is my origin? The answer is best met with a question: Would shadows exist without the material world? Would there be a shadow without a body? Would there be a shadow without a castle or a mountain or a flag? Would there be a shadow without a sun? And so, it is fair to conclude that a shadow does not exist without a material world to bring them forth. But it has become apparent to me that the shepherd roots himself in a reality that is beyond the material, which allows him to dance. So then, what are we to make of his shadow, which is me? Did the shepherd as an unborn baby cast a shadow—there in his state of perfection, in a heaven of his own, in the safety of the womb of his mother—onto the ground of the earth? No, he did not. His mother’s belly cast a shadow, yet even this was a reminder to all who bore witness to this mystery of our inherent innocence and of the importance of our continual rebirth—yes, through the beauty of a shadow! When the shepherd was born, he cast a small shadow, but only because his body had found itself on this planet called earth. And had you looked into his big, watery eyes that day, as he rested in his new foreign world, you might have sworn you were looking into the eyes of God—that perhaps he was more than a body casting a shadow! As the shepherd grew, so did his shadow; but, he was always more than a body. And yet it was also his body that led him to dance. Can a soul cast a shadow? Can a spirit? Each day, I see him pregnant with both as we play around there together on the hillside.
By Stephen Copeland