AWAKENING FROM THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL

THE DARK NIGHT

If it feels like everything is being destroyed in your life and all is being reduced to nothing, perhaps you are experiencing what has often been called, “the dark night of the soul”. In this spiritual emergency you have no objective perspective. You are actually perpetuating your suffering and pain because you are holding on to what is naturally going away and are almost exclusively focused on and fighting against, the quite inevitable process of loss in your life. So it really becomes absolutely necessary to stop, breath, be still, and observe. You can observe through meditation or contemplative prayer. You can observe through journaling about how you are feeling. You can observe through talking it out to yourself, God, or a close friend, or a therapist who can really listen. In this way, you begin to bring the light of your awareness to the darkness. This is how you begin to illuminate the dark night of your soul.

SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS ESSENTIALLY  LETTING GO

Another way to look at what is going on is that this is a crash course in learning to let go. Usually when people refer to the dark night of the soul it’s because a whole bunch of things in their lives aren’t going the way that they think they should be going. Here’s some examples:

Your spiritual life and practices are beginning to feel really dry and ,meaningless.
You just got fired from your job
Your spouse or partner left
Your dog died
The house is in foreclosure
You feel lost, confused, adrift in the world
Nothing makes sense anymore
Some or all of the above

 

We all go through some or all of these kinds of things sooner or later because, “Everything that arises, ceases”, as the Buddha said. It can all seem so dark and filled with despair. So if you are feeling in despair, suicidal or hopeless, you should get help from a psychologist or counsellor. That does NOT mean that you are not experiencing a dark night of the soul that can still be ultimately awakening and liberating and spiritually growth-full……It just means you may need several different types of help in order to navigate it all skilfully. There is no shame in that

THE ARRIVAL OF SPIRITUAL FREEDOM

As many of you sit in the darkness of the heart, you are learning a lot about yourself. Another way to look at the dark night of the soul as a purification process of growth, healthy detachment and surrender. Many people haven’t developed any kind of spiritual practice or healthy coping mechanisms. Because of peoples’ utter lack of spiritual, psychological, physical, and emotional tools, it is easy for them to assume that life itself is oppressing them. But taking responsibility can be an empowering attitude to take during a dark time.

Let’s look at the earlier example about the lost love.

When you look at it, you may see that the love affair was dysfunctional or unhealthy in some ways, that both of you didn’t really like what was actually going on, or that you both simply had wanted to move on, nut maybe could not, or would not, admit it. You may find a lot of things were going on that you didn’t want to look at, and now that you are looking at it all, you can see things that you’d never noticed before. Now you can act differently and potentially make better decisions about your relationships in the future. Consequently, the breakup has now become a blessing and has been personally growthful. It has moved you a bit closer towards spiritual freedom.

Without that awareness, the suffering continues. You will take on another relationship that has many of the same problems for you, and you will continue your cycle of pain and suffering, until you learn what you need to learn.

THE ACTUAL SPIRITUAL PATH vs SPIRITUAL IDEALISM

The spiritual path is not always going to make you feel good.
The spiritual path is not always  going to give you what you thought you wanted (money, a great lover, a good job, fame, glory…etc)
The spiritual path is a slow and steady winning of the race. It is a long distance event, not a sprint. Pace yourself!

RESOLUTION: THE  DAWNING OF THE LIGHT OF LETTING GO IN THE MIDST OF THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL

We need to embrace this amazing shift from light to darkness and back to light again. Whenever you don’t get what you think you want and need, there is bound to be confusion, resistance, upset or even despair.

If this applies to you, just know that you yourself have the power to end the dark night by wholeheartedly welcoming the sacred destruction of all that you have held dear. Again and again, you will have to let go as Life moves forward and cuts away the superfluous debris that you may have surrounded yourself with. But as you move through this, you will learn how freeing it is to let go of everything completely, to surrender utterly. You will learn that all the things you’ve been holding onto–every last precious attachment–has actually been a chain around your neck that has slowly been pulling you down into suffering and pain your whole life, even though you thought it was feeding and strengthening you.

“It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” ~Saint Francis of Assisi

THE DAWNING OF YOUR TRUE NATURE OF LIGHT AND LOVE

When we welcome these difficulties and have the courage to face the darkness, the darkness inevitably begins to dissipate. It cannot remain in the light of your awareness. It is like looking for darkness with a flashlight. As soon as you shine the light on the darkness, it disappears into the light. You then realize that the darkness was simply an absence of light. As soon as you bring the light of aware consciousness to any darkness, the darkness becomes light, and transforms into an expression of your own deepest, inner light.