What does it mean to wrong one's self and to forgive - A Shadow Work's Perspective

In the Quranic narration, in the supplication of both Adam and Moses there is an statement which translates as, "Indeed I have wronged myself..." in Arabic its "Inni zalamtu nafsi..."

The Arabic word zulum means injustice, committing wrong, being unjust or violating the right of something or against someone. Interestingly zulumat meaning darkness or shadow is also from the same triliteral root Za Lam Meem.

I was always fascinated on this term wondering what it really means to commit wrong or oppression or being unjust against the self. Two occasions and context where this prayer was uttered when Adam disobeyed God in eating from the forbidden tree and later repented saying those words and when Moses unintentionally killed a person and prayed using similar statement.

In my study of psychological shadow of the self, some new understanding emerged around the term "committing injustice or oppression against the self or soul". The Arabic word nafs can mean either self, psyche and soul - depending on the context.

In psychology, we have our conscious sense of our ego - our identity of who we are or who we think we are and whom we wish to project to our conscious self or to the world as we are. And also we have in the unconscious aspects of our self which we deny, we don't acknowledge, we repress.

The experts say that shadow often carry gift and hints towards becoming whole. It takes only some fine tuning to make the shadow as our strength towards a newly transformed self.

By rejecting a part of our self which the Divine Creator created with a purpose, that is to act as a guidepost towards to become wholesome, we definitely commit wrong against our self. By being unconscious or ghafil, unaware, we do injustice against our very self. When we think of the term oppression or injustice is being committed, what picture emerges in our mind? It is the suppression and repression of what is natural, normal - it is denial of rights of what is authentic and genuine. Well from psychological perspective, when we deny, suppress or repress the unconscious and don't allow it to see the light of our consciousness - it is comparable to oppression or injustice against the self.

It is like unloving a part of our self or similar to rejecting a part of who we truly are. This is indeed injustice or zulum.

The very contrasting nature of what is conscious and unconscious in combination makes us who we are, the opposites and contrast if not integrated, doesn't serve us to realise our full potential, i.e. our God-image, our being the khalifa  or representative of God on earthly plane of manifestation - and hence is a wrong doing, its a violation against the Divine blueprint in which our spiritual DNA is created.

When Adam ate from the forbidden tree and was immediately feeling shame and guilt in front of Divine Presence, it was his human imperfection (or fall) that enabled him to experience Divine Mercy and Forgiveness. So that part of his self that followed the inclination to eat from the forbidden tree was fulfilling a purpose while very much being human that exercise its free will. Without that action, Divine Grace and Forgiveness could not manifest. Manifestation always need contrast. It is his humanness which makes human more desirable to God than angels who have no free will.

As Carl Jung said, "There is no light without shadow, and no psychic wholeness without imperfection." The apparent imperfection has to play out for the Perfection of Divine Grace and Mercy to manifest, for the Divine Intent of placing Adam to earth to happen. The so called imperfect action of eating the forbidden fruit and so called fall has to play out for the Divine plan to execute perfectly. In the Divine Realm, everything is Perfect.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain.
~ Carl Jung

When Moses killed an egyptian man unintentionally, instead of falling into despair or trying to forget about it, he turned more intimately towards God and sought God's forgiveness. He didn't deny, hide, busying himself finding excuses or played the saint card. Instead, he acknowledged and faced his own shadow - that is his ability to commit violence. This is easy to say or read in pages of a Scripture, but extremely hard to do, takes tremendous amount of courage and inner energy.

Perhaps this integration of his shadow helped him realise that the very violence of Pharaoh and his people against the Israelite / Children of Israel - against which he was so vocal and was all up against it, if he wasn't carefully such violence also lurks within him. In fact he could easily be on the side of the Pharaoh, after all he was raised as them.

Everyone has shadow and when Moses acknowledged his own shadow, then it helped him reach his authentic self after acknowledging the oppressor in him, the killer within. By not denying, he become whole and receives Divine Grace.

We continue to read in same passage that Moses was forgiven by God.

 ...and God forgave Moses. Indeed, God is the Forgiving, the Merciful. He said, "My Lord, for the favour You bestowed upon me, I will never be an assistant to the criminals."

The facing of his own shadow enabled Moses to resolve further that he will never be of assistance to the criminals, to those who violate others right. This is exactly what the reward of shadow integration. Not easy but immensely and immediately illuminating.

While dealing with Shadow integration, one inevitably has to deal with forgiveness. Forgiveness in the form of self-love, self-love because among all things, we judge our self first and it can be so subtle that gone unacknowledged it suffocate and starve the spirit. Thus forgiveness is very intimately entangled in the journey of shadow work.

Everything that is given to us is a gift from the Most High including our shadow. And shadow work inevitably prove this point how becoming aware of our shadow, embracing them and learning from them we can transform ourselves to greater heights.

We wrong ourselves by not becoming the authentic expression of who we are, by not honouring our whole self - that is an injustice by itself. Because honouring our complete self including the shadow will only make us whole. Failing to honour that itself begs forgiveness to our potential authentic self and to God.

When we reject a part of our self in our unconscious, that means we are failing to love a part of our self. We say, that's not me, we hate that (typically in others), we can't stand it etc. In doing so we are becoming a very harsh judge against our very self. This is also committing wrong against the self.  Healing can happen only through forgiveness of this judgement and rejection that follows. Here forgiveness is the ingredient necessary for the alchemy of love to take place within the self.

First for rejecting a part of our self, we need to forgive our judgemental ego self; and then for not taking the hints from the gift of our shadow we need to forgive ourselves. We can directly go there by asking forgiveness to God and trusting that God by His all Loving Nature is Absolutely Forgiving.

zalamna anfusana
wa illam taghfirlana
wa tar hamna
lana kunanna minal khasirin

Our Lord,
we have wronged ourselves,
and if You do not forgive us
and have mercy on us,
we will surely be losers.

~ 7:23

inni zalamtu nafsi, 

My Lord,
indeed I have wronged myself,
so please forgive me.

~ 28:16

In the two prayers of Adam and Moses mentioned above we also see how after acknowledging our shadow the immediate work is to seek forgiveness. And lest we forget, forgiveness is love and there is nothing more powerful for transformation than the power of love. And its seed must be put first within the self as compassion and forgiveness towards the self.

Faghfirli - I forgive myself, God please forgive me. Or said other way, O Lord, please forgive me, and with Your Divine Permission, I also forgive myself.

And God is the Owner of Perfect Knowledge of all that exists.



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Technology of the Heart: What does it mean to wrong one's self and to forgive - A Shadow Work's Perspective
What does it mean to wrong one's self and to forgive - A Shadow Work's Perspective
"Inni zalamtu nafsi..." and its implication in Shadow Work from a Psychological perspective
Technology of the Heart
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