Dark Night of the Soul

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Manitou used the words Dark night of the Soul referring to an experience the current pope went through.  Its an interesting turn of phrase.


My Aikido Sensei once said all the truly great martials artists went through some physical catastrophe which gave insight into how they could become extraordinary.


I wonder if its the same with enlightenment through Dark Night of the Soul.  You have to pass through it through some powerful loss before reaching the other side and gaining a bones deep understanding of the world, rather then merely intellectual.


I know at least one person who credited there enlightenment with the loss of a parent.  I've never suffered all that much, not really.  So, its a phenomena I haven't experienced, for better or worse.



I suppose many of you have.  What triggered it, and how did it change you?

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I've been through two events that could well be described as 'dark nights of the soul'. However, I'm reluctant to write about them here. To my mind, it's too big a topic for a discussion forum such as this where short comments work best. The way I see it, using the format of this forum, we gain insights into people's experiences by reading a multitude of their comments over time.  Slowly a picture reveals itself. Also, I lack the language skills to do justice to these experiences in any single narrative, if at all.


Perhaps only a skilled poet can evoke the essential essence of experiences in a few brief words.....


The Way of Love  Rumi


The way of love is not a subtle argument. 

The door there is devastation.

Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom.

How do they learn it?

They fall, and falling, they're given wings.


(Rumi is of course referring to love in the sense of merging with divinity.)



Or, from one of Carl Jung’s ex-patients….


“Out of despair, much good has come to me. By keeping quiet, repressing nothing, remaining attentive, and by accepting reality—taking things as they are, and not as I wanted them to be—by doing all this, unusual knowledge has come to me, and unusual powers as well, such as I could never have imagined before. I always thought that when we accepted things they over-powered us in some way or other. This turns out not to be true at all, and it is only by accepting them that one can assume an attitude towards them*. So now I intend to play the game of life, being receptive to whatever comes to me, good and bad, sun and shadow that are forever alternating, and, in this way, also accepting my own nature with its positive and negative sides. Thus everything becomes more alive to me. What a fool I was! How I tried to force everything to go according to the way I thought it ought to !”


According to Jung  “Only on the basis of such an attitude*, which renounces none of the values won in the course of Christian development, but which, on the contrary, tries with Christian charity and forbearance to accept even the humblest things in oneself, will a higher level of consciousness and culture be possible. This attitude is religious in the truest sense, and therefore therapeutic, for all religions are therapies for the sorrows and disorders of the soul.”


* Jung writes at length about the significance of  this shift in attitude to one of a special type of detachment. In small part he says “ If such a transposition succeeds, it results in doing away with participation mystique, and a personality develops that suffers only in the lower stories, so to speak, but in the upper stories is singularly detached from painful as well as joyful events.” 

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I recall a major dark night of the soul, and then some smaller aftershocks which are kinda like a dark night, but gradually less and less intense or long.


The major dark night of the soul I went through was when I stopped doing everything that distracted me from a looming depression I felt under the surface of my self ever since high school (for about 10 years). It took a break up to trigger it, and me not turning to any drug, substance, or anything to run away from the pain that it brought up about how I had always felt about myself but never really noticed. It was all buried in my subconscious and being released. I faced it. If I didn't finish releasing certain aspects of it, it would come up from another break up or something else later on, which brought me to a deeper and more wise part of myself.


A lot of it had to do with hating myself, not feeling good enough, and just feeling layers of ancient pain loosen their grip from my being. I remember at one point, I felt so much hate for myself, that I asked to take the pain of the entire world on. I recall writhing in heart-wrenching pain in my bed, and it seemed as if thousands of spirits were gathered around me witnessing a grand spectacle. I asked no longer to take on anyone else's. Still difficult, the majority of it lasted approximately six months.


I noticed that at a certain point, as I allowed myself to feel all this pain, I experienced the spontaneous birth of a wellspring of inner wisdom. It just happened on its own. It felt like the hands of god poked a hole in the middle of my spiritual heart, and this fountain of my own personal wisdom and inspiration started flowing inexhaustibly. Im not saying that I knew or currently know everything, but I started finding my own answers for questions that I would be so unsure of and usually ask other people. It was a deeper trust in myself, and I discovered a part of my heart that was secure even though I could be so insecure. Now I have a deeper sense of what feels right for my own heart. Now Its my job to listen to my heart, and allow it to blossom and thrive.


I no longer feel depressed anymore, I no longer hate myself, and its been that way for quite some time now. Of course, there are still natural unpleasant feelings which I allow myself to feel, but overall Im feeling pretty awesome, and I love and respect my self! I think Im pretty awesome, but not in a way where I think Im better than everyone else.

Edited by CodyWizard
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