Pathway: Shadows

From Everyday Enlightenment
Shadows Page

The Beacons of Everyday Enlightenment provide powerful guidance through the Realms. The Lenses represent different facets of those Beacons, which provide further focus or illumination of that Beacon. On the other hand, Lenses are also accompanied by two types of Shadows which tend to obscure our journey to Enlightenment. The first kind of Shadows are the Looming Shadows, which are the obvious opposite of a given Lens, and should hopefully be easy to avoid and train against once we understand them. The second kind are the Flickering Shadows, which could be confused with the associated Lenses, because they are quite similar to the Lens, while actually being a harmful or negative counterpart. Both types of Shadows should be understood in the context of the Lens and Beacon, and reviewed periodically to ensure our view is not obscured.


The following are Shadows that are found under the given Lenses. To properly understand the context of each of the Shadows, visit the Lens page and read it there.

Within the Lens of Decentering, you view thoughts and emotions as temporary events, not reflections of The Self.

  • Looming Shadow - Egocentrism, being overly centered or focused on oneself and how the ego is manifested.
  • Flickering Shadow - Dissociation, when the practice of decentering turns into an unhealthy disconnection or dissociation from oneself or reality, misunderstanding objectivity for disengagement.

Within the Lens of Equanimity, you remain balanced and undisturbed regardless of the ups and downs of life.

  • Looming Shadow - Extreme Bias or Prejudice, is becoming extremely attached to or repelled by certain individuals or situations, undermining the tranquil balance that equanimity brings.
  • Flickering Shadow - Disconnection, is when a balanced and impartial state of mind deteriorates into a detached, indifferent, and disengaged attitude.

Within the Lens of Impermanence, we see the realization that everything is constantly changing, and to accept and embrace change.

  • Looming Shadow - Eternalism, is the belief in unchanging, eternal substances or entities (like a soul), directly contradicting the principle of impermanence in all things.
  • Flickering Shadow - Nihilism, includes the belief that life is fleeting and meaningless, which can potentially bring peace of mind. However, understanding Impermanence is about increasing our Adaptability to challenging situations, and growing and awakening further, which is inherently meaningful.

Within the Lens of Mindfulness, is awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment without judgment.

  • Looming Shadow - Mindlessness, is moving through life without awareness, devoid of the presence of mind, is the exact opposite of being mindful
  • Flickering Shadow - Overthinking, is when being mindfully present and aware in each moment turns into excessive analysis or fixation, detracting from the simplicity and essence of the moment.

Within the Lens of Non-Attachment, you let go of your attachments to people, things, thoughts, and feelings.

  • Looming Shadow - Attachment, is the overt habit of clinging desperately to people, experiences, material possessions, ideas, etc., mistaking possession for happiness.
  • Flickering Shadow - Apathy or Neglect, is when non-attachment deteriorates into neglect of responsibilities or lack of care for oneself and others, confusing detachment with disregard.

Within the Lens of Non-Aversion, we accept and face uncomfortable situations, feelings, or thoughts.

  • Looming Shadow - Aversion, is the overt habit of rejecting, avoiding, or being repelled by certain experiences, mistaking avoidance for peace.
  • Flickering Shadow - Tolerance of Harm, is when the practice of Non-Aversion leads to tolerating harmful situations or behaviors, misunderstanding acceptance for complacency.

Within the Lens of Non-Judgment, we are experiencing the present moment without labeling it as good or bad, right or wrong.

  • Looming Shadow - Judgmentalism, The pervasive habit of forming judgments or critiques about experiences, contradicting the practice of accepting experiences as they are
  • Flickering Shadow - Indifference, When withholding judgment turns into a lack of discernment or apathy, hindering the ability to navigate life's complexities

Within the Lens of Non-Seeking, we find contentment in the present moment, without constant longing for something else.

  • Looming Shadow - Obsessive Seeking, is constantly seeking or desiring something else, perpetually dissatisfied, never being content with what is present. The harsh truth is almost everyone is constantly in this state. It's easy to notice, but hard to break out of.
  • Flickering Shadow - Passivity, is when the practice of non-seeking evolves into passivity or lack of initiative in life, leading to stagnation rather than contentment. The goal is more about being fulfilled in each moment, and that is nearly impossible through passivity because change is inevitable, and Embracing the Change is the opposite of resisting or denying change.

Within the Lens of Nonduality, there is no distinction between subject and object, self and external world.

  • Looming Shadow - Dualism, the insistence that there is an observing Self that is different than experience, and that thoughts in one's mind are essentially distinct from observation of outside experience. This is a roadblock that may take practice to overcome.
  • Flickering Shadow - Dual Consciousness, happens when learning about Nonduality is halted prior to experiencing actual Nonduality. Someone might observe (correctly) that all experience is part of the same consciousness, but there is another step to go - we must Unlearn the idea that the sense of self is somehow special, and falls outside of our conscious experience.

Within the Lens of Nonself, we see no unchanging, permanent self.

  • Looming Shadow - Essentialism, the belief in a permanent, independent self or soul, directly contradicting the principle of nonself. It is possible to observe Nonself, and then in another moment, be convinced that there is some "self" that will last indefinitely.
  • Flickering Shadow - Self-Negation, an unhealthy denial or rejection of oneself, stemming from aversion or misunderstanding, appears like an understanding of nonself but is not.

Within the Lens of Presence, we are reminded to be fully here and now.

  • Looming Shadow - Absence, the opposite of Presence, is being mentally lost in thoughts of the past or future, not being grounded in the present moment. As we develop our Presence, we should see our Absence diminish.
  • Flickering Shadow - Obsession with the Now, is a misguided approach to Presence. Being in the present is not about ignoring what we call the past and future but is rather about gaining a better understanding of the nature of reality, existence, and time itself. When obsessing about the present prevents us from gaining those insights, it has become a negative pattern that needs to be broken.

Within the Lens of Witnessing, is the ability to shift into a state of Association where you are merely watching or Witnessing events in the moment, without any sense of The Self.

  • Looming Shadow - Present Moment Denial, is a polar distortion of Witnessing - refusing to see the present moment as it truly is, and instead moving into a state of denial of reality.
  • Flickering Shadow - Emotional Projection, is when an experience of Witnessing is tainted by Judgment or attaching values to The Now. For example, if you are in a very meditative peaceful state, it might seem natural to assign those same emotions to whatever you are Witnessing, rather than experiencing the reality of the moment.