In this talk, Doug and Catherine discuss the importance of bringing all aspects of ourselves into consciousness. Through integrating the shadow we can access greater and greater degrees of freedom and free up huge amounts of energy.
Today’s episode featured a recording from Riding the Dragon, an online course based on the ideas in Doug and Catherine’s bestselling book, Wasteland to Pureland.
You can learn about upcoming online courses by visiting and clicking on ‘Online Courses’. You can learn more about Wasteland to Pureland, download a free chapter, or purchase your own copy by visiting
Podcast Transcription:

Welcome to Dharma if You Dare. Today’s recording comes from Doug ‘Qapel’ Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat’s recent Riding the Dragon online course.  In this talk, Doug and Catherine discussed the importance of bringing all aspects of ourselves into consciousness.  Through integrating the Shadow we can access greater and greater degrees of freedom and free up huge amounts of energy. Next year’s calendar has just been released in addition to four online courses and several in-person retreats at Clear Sky Center.  Over the course of the year, Doug and Catherine will also be teaching and or leading retreats in California, the United Kingdom, and Nelson British Columbia. You can learn more about next year’s offerings by visiting www.planet and clicking on Events. And now here’s today’s recording.


Qapel: Today’s topic, as we said, is secrets we keep from ourselves.  Perhaps a good metaphor for this is to think of the self, the totality of the self, as an iceberg; and as we know, the part we see of an iceberg is just the top 10%. So our egos are like the top of that iceberg, our egos are the top 10% of our total selves. And it’s that top 10% that we are enamored with, it’s that top 10% that we labor strenuously for to try to improve and fix and make better and make succeed and avoid failure. And so on.

Catherine Sensei: The face we show the world, the persona.

 Q: So with an iceberg, only 10% is above the surface. The rest is below. And that’s the unconscious, the subconscious and it is also the realm of the Shadow, which is the repressed parts of our psyche.

CS: In our society, we talk a lot about things –  scandals –  that get uncovered and things that were hidden, and these can be important to unearth. And really the secrets we want to be most concerned with are the ones that we keep from ourselves. Because those are the ones that are going to cause us the most trouble. So if we put the majority of our attention there, then we’ll come out ahead. 

Q: So we’re 90% below the conscious level Right? And therefore what is below that conscious level, below the ego level?  It remains unconscious. It’s a secret. It’s hidden – even to ourselves. And when we keep it a secret from other people, it’s usually a conscious decision. It’s a conscious decision we make. I’m not going to tell Eva about the sale down at Macy’s so she can get the cheap boots so I can get there first and get them. So keeping those secrets a secret we keep from others is usually a conscious decision.

CS: That might be a wise, sometimes a wise choice. I’m not going to tell my parents that I did hallucinogens  –  that might be protecting them from something that they’re not ready to learn for example. 

Q: We’re not going to tell the guy down the street about your bank card or your pin numbers. Your numbers are right. So we keep secrets from others. It’s usually conscious. But when we keep secrets from ourselves it’s usually unconscious. We don’t know, we’re doing it. We’re not aware. We’re keeping those secrets.

CS: So the secrets that we keep from ourselves are usually things about ourselves that are contrary to the self-image that we’re trying to conserve. So something that kind of contradicts that. And of course, we all have internal contradictions. You know, I like to really think of myself as a kind person. And so the fact that I can be a flaming bitch from hell is kind of a problem with my self-image, right? Just a tiny one.

Q: Mental and emotional primarily, but also physical secrets of course. But often their conflicting desires are conflicting drives or conflicting aspirations. Things we don’t feel are going to be acceptable. Things that we don’t feel are going to be allowed or tolerated. Either in our community, in our relationships, in our companies, or mostly, in our families. And these secrets that we keep from ourselves nevertheless are 90% of the bottom of the pyramid/iceberg. They’re still functioning. They’re still there. They’re intimately connected to that iceberg.  It’s not like you can keep one part of you over here and the other part here for show.  This unconscious 90% is feeding and pulling out from and putting into everything we do, every action, every day, all day long. So the argument that we’re expressing is that in order to be a fuller, more energized, more powerful, more compassionate, more loving being, we have to make the secrets we keep from ourselves conscious, we have to bring them up onto the table.  We don’t necessarily have to tell everybody, as Catherine said, we don’t necessarily have to share with everybody, but we need to know what those things are.

CS: So another way of framing this is we keep secrets from ourselves because they contradict the self-image that we’re attached to. And part of the reason we’re attached to that self-image is because we’re afraid of the repercussions from people in our tribe. So right? If we’re not so concerned about keeping them secret from others, then we can have more courage a another way of saying this is that a lot of the secrets we keep from ourselves, they’re secret from ourselves because we’re so committed to keeping them secret from others. So there’s a relationship there,nd not keep them secret from ourself either. 

Q: And I guess it’s also why we are so suspicious of secrets. We’re suspicious of secrets because we assume there’s something being hidden. And in fact, that’s one of the definitions of secrets: that which is hidden. But there’s another meaning of the word secret: the meaning is discretion, right? That you’re choosing to say or not say something that’s a secret. Like I’m not gonna tell Karen what my pin number is from my bank account, that’s a discretionary secret. There’s also the unacknowledged secret: that which everybody agrees not to talk about. Uncle Fred is a bit funny.  Alright. Everybody agrees not to talk about that. We’ll just ignore that. 

CS: So these are different types of secrets and different definitions of secrets. So you can see there are some nuances involved here. As Qapel said: hidden, discretion, unacknowledged, remote from the notice is another one, secluded: designed to elude observation. The Sesame caves.  And then revealed only to the initiated. 

Q: I like the one that’s designed to elude observation because that’s what they do in theater. They do all sorts of things that are designed to elude your attention so that it can affect the magic. So secret doesn’t always mean something bad. It can be a choice or decision. 

CS: Yes, so it’s valuable to keep in mind when we talk about secrets, what kind of definition of secret  we’re using. Because they are different and they are for different purposes and if we lump them all together it can get very confusing.

Q: We’re going to be talking mostly about the first kind of secret or the one that is hidden from ourselves tonight. But one should remember that the secret has all these different options and they’re some of them very useful.  But one of the main things we should know is that in the fully awakened consciousness – people like Buddha and Jesus and uncountable others over the course of history, when they say ‘no secrets’ they’re referring to no secrets from themselves. There are no corners of their psyche that they haven’t seen and there are no corners of their psyche that they haven’t integrated. Doesn’t mean that everything is likable and everything’s nice. It’s just that they know that part’s there. So for instance, you need to know where the saint in you is. That might be as much of a secret from you as where this sinner is. But you also need to know where the sinner is. You need to know you have the sinner capability and the sinner potential and you need to know you have the saint potential and the saint capability. 

CS: Now not having any secrets in the context of fully awakened beings – this is fully right.  There’s a difference, a significant difference between partially awakened beings and fully awakened beings. We’re talking about fully awakened beings here.  That does not mean that a fully awakened being doesn’t still have things to learn because learning, thank heavens, goes on forever. So in that sense, the secrets of the universe are still always there. 

Q: And this also doesn’t mean that things are always revealed to others. There are some things that people aren’t ready for. So for instance, maybe if you were in the war and they were running out of food, you don’t tell the population you’re running out of food. It would create a huge panic. There are things that people aren’t ready to meet. So there are levels of maturity, which is what we’re going to talk about in a minute.  You don’t tell Children about certain things that are for adult ears right? You have to wait for maturity to ripen. So this other aspect of secrets is learning to become more mature with yourself to what you can reveal to yourself about the forces and powers that are in your being that you don’t want to acknowledge because they seem unpleasant or they seem challenging or they might cost you love or something.

CS: If it costs you love, it wasn’t love.  It won’t cost you love because if somebody really loves you, they won’t mind, they might cost a relationship, but that’s probably okay. You know if someone loves you only based on their image of you it’s probably okay if that relationship is not central.

Q: So we’re also talking about Shadow material, things that are kept in the dark. And of course, that’s why it’s called the Shadow because things in the Shadow aren’t non-existent, but they are in the dark. So we keep things in the Shadow to keep them out of the light, so people won’t see them. That’s so that maybe we won’t even see them, right? So that we won’t have to contend with these forces. But we should think of it also as kind of like a battery.  If you have a lot of Shadow material or a lot of unnecessary secrets from others you’re running on half or a third of the energy that you can be running on. You can be running on much greater energy if you have the strength and confidence to meet your Shadow and to meet the nature of the secrets that you have hidden from yourself. So this is of course why we’re teaching.

CS: Among other reasons. Yeah.  Get a lot of energy and are generally happier.  Because when we’re spending a lot of time suppressing our shadow – basically another way of saying that is ‘living in fear’  – because our shadow elements have this funny habit of kind of popping out at really inopportune times. Have you ever noticed that sort of company parties where there’s like Christmas punch available is sort of the classic example, but they tend to pop out at other times too right? And we don’t need to live with that fear or with the repercussions, no side effects, Right? When we integrate our Shadow, we don’t have the side effects of the things that happen when our Shadow makes these untimely appearances.


Q: So we think they’re tied to our survival, we think they’re tied to our security. We think they’re tied to our sense of self-worth or self-being or self-identity but largely, they’re just tied to our persona. They’re tied to the way we have shown up in the world and how we show up in the world and how we think we will be accepted or not.  So it’s really largely about security. However, the problem is that if your monsters or your Shadows or your secrets are keeping your energy down, you don’t have much security. It’s actually contraindicated that in order to have greater strength in your being, you need to take the risks necessary to bring these things to the light so that you can loosen the energy to manifest in other ways and manifest in other styles.  Which will bring you more success in your work, will bring you more success in your relationship, will bring you more success with other people because they’ll feel that. Because the thing about it is that since we’re all icebergs, we all know that we’re bumping into 90% of a person.  Because our 90% of our person is bumping into their 90% of the person, so it’s there anyway.  So when you have somebody who’s, for argument’s sake, moved their line down from 10% to like 85%…. (CS: Sea level lowering) Q:  Yes, or Iceberg raising… Then all of a sudden we feel much more secure. We feel much more comfortable, feel much safer and we feel much more trusting. Not because they’re better people, not because they’re more interesting people even, but simply because we have that intuitive sense that there isn’t 85% sitting below the surface waiting for the storm to flip it. 

CS: No monsters in the closet.


CS: Okay, So the aspects that our tribe finds unacceptable,the aspects of our being that our tribe finds unacceptable, or that we think our tribe finds unacceptable, are what gets repressed. However, at the same time, these aspects unconsciously drive our behavior.  So we hide them, but then we give them the keys to the car – and they drive.  It’s a kind of unfortunate combination. 

Q: It’s like driving wall shadowed.  Driving under the influence of the Shadow.  Our Shadow finds amazing ways to work itself out or get out into the light. So it tends to do it through our activities and it tends to do it through activities which are a bit of our obsessions. So if we have something that is an obsession or  that we’re really keyed on, the Shadow tends to surface there a bit more than it does in casual areas.

So if you want to go looking for your shadow in certain ways, find the things that you’re most passionate about, you’re most engaged with and look at the far side of it. Look at the flip side of it.  What’s happening on the other side of your passion for, say sports? Say you have a passion for sports, so that’s fine, that’s a wonderful thing. That’s a positive thing. It’s a great thing. So, you have that passion, right? And there’s the ego, right? I’m a sports fan, I’m a sports person. So what do you think might be the Shadow side of sports in the sense of like competitive sport, say?  Maybe you’re not paying attention to the body because you’re over pushing it.  So there’s a kind of aggression against the body, especially for high-level athletes because they have such a short career.  Shadow side of that might be aggression against the body.

CS: Do more, do more, do more.  Push the body.

Q: Reach for the highest heights.  So what’s probably the Shadow if you’re, say, a businesswoman striving to be the best she can be  – the alpha female at the top of her company? What do you think the shadow might be?  Fear of failing, fear of not being good enough. So we compensate through our impassioned activities.  Our more neutral ones, not so much, because we’re not as invested, our ego is not so invested in it. So if I like playing bridge, but I’m not invested in it, if I have a lousy bridge play, I’m not going to worry too much.  But if I’m a professional bridge player and I make a lousy bridge play, it’s going to cost. 

CS: So the shadow is hiding our fears and our anxieties and our insecurities and then usually overcompensating for them, as Qapel said, with whatever the opposite is.  Often a kind of correctness or, I guess in the case of a professional athlete, like, “Oh, are you injured?”  “No, I’m fine, I’m fine.”  Would be that kind of ‘covering it with correctness’.

Q: Also tied to the security because of their money, getting paid for it. 

CS: Yes, for sure. So these are all ways of fitting in and belonging and feeling more secure and more stable.


Host: We hope you enjoyed this episode. Please rate and review Dharma If You Dare on Apple podcasts to help more people find and benefit from these teachings. Today’s episode featured a recording from Riding the Dragon, an online course based on the ideas in Doug and Catherine’s best-selling book, Wasteland to Pureland. You can learn about upcoming online courses by visiting and clicking on ‘online courses’. You can learn more about Wasteland to Pureland, download a free chapter or purchase your own copy by visiting  See you next time and may all our efforts benefit all beings.