Spirituality

How To Survive The Dark Night Of The Soul

  • The Facts:The dark night of the soul can be viewed as a complete purge of a person and their false sense of self we call the external identity. This can be a tough time, but a necessary one to move to higher levels of consciousness and being.
  • Reflect On: If you are experiencing this, or know someone who is, remember this isn’t about forcing a ‘fix’ of anything. Ask questions, reflect on what you are resisting and holding onto so dearly. We are looking to evolve, be open to the process.

The dark night of the soul is a phrase derived from 15th century poem “Noche Oscura” written by Spanish mystic, saint and priest John Of The Cross. It refers to a spiritual crisis, a seeker of truth is forced to face during their spiritual evolution. The dark night is when the man/woman of God (or your metaphorical equivalent) is given the feeling of abandoned by their maker and left to find their own way. It is the transition from being shown the way you should be, to actually being that way. The dark night gives the impression that the change is painful, but the suffering actually comes from the resistance to the change and not the change itself.

One could call it the integration of the dualistic mindset, to one of unity. The harmonising of the masculine and feminine. Or the merging of the soul with the body, and realising it to be one.

In the words of St John himself:

Into this dark night souls begin to enter when God draws them forth from the state of beginners – which is the state of those that meditate on the spiritual road – and begins to set them in the state of the progressives – which is that of those who are already contemplatives – to the end that, after passing through it, they may arrive at the state of the perfect, which is that of the Divine union of the soul with God.”

It Is A Purge Of The Self

The dark night is the complete purge of a person who seeks a higher path of truth. This leads to a breakdown of the egoic construct this person has created and leads to the death of the avatar they believe to be the self. This can result in hopelessness and an existential crisis. It is the true butterfly metamorphosis which seems really beautiful to the outside, but the reality is a lot more brutal.

For the caterpillar to become a butterfly, it has to completely dissolve. It does not change in the way we might think, with the caterpillar growing wings, but it completely falls to pieces and becomes a liquid pulp. It literally becomes nothing and has to die. It then forms in the complete darkness and unknown. This means to become the butterfly, it is forced to step into a completely unknown place outside of anything it would call comfort. But this is just the start, it then has to fight its way out of the cocoon which is not an easy process. However, the beauty is in this fight as it builds the strength of the wings. Without this, the newly formed butterfly would not be able to fly. So it is the caterpillars dark night of the soul leads it to be the fully evolved beautiful and free creature.

This is the same for the holy men and women we see in the public light. We often see their compassion and unconditional care, but forget the process they needed to go through to get there.

The Difference Between The Dark Night And Depression

The dark night of the soul differs from depression, as depression is more self centred and apathetic in nature. Whereas the dark night is more a question of where one would fit into the bigger picture. The potential suffering is often due to a feeling that you cannot do anything about the suffering of others. Whereas depression is more often centred around the person who is suffering. There is often a fine line between the 2, and they can exist simultaneously, however, someone is far more likely to be misdiagnosed with depression, than the dark night of the soul.

Karma

If you believe in the cycles of karma, many of us have a karmic debt (past or present life) and this debt needs to be balanced to move forward. If you visualise a set of scales with all the past deeds- the giving and taking needs to have balance restored. Not too much either way. If you fill your cup too much it will overflow and make a mess, if you empty your cup to much you will find there is nothing left to give. If you ask for progression, you can often be forced to face the karma you carry in this life far quicker than you normally would.

The Dark Night Of The Soul Is An Answer To Your Prayers

The dark night of the soul could be thought of as an answer. It is common to search high and low for meaning, but the answers we receive are often not inline with the expectations held. Sometimes it feels as if there is a magic formula, discipline or teacher who is going to arrive and liberate us. But anyone that ever does only ever gives a false sense of liberation.

True liberation comes from within and the dark night allows us to humble ourselves, strengthen our wings and build character for the journey ahead. It is a chapter (or series of chapters) of our own personal heroes adventure to find and liberate yourself from suffering.

What To Do If You Are Experiencing It?

If you are experiencing the dark night of the soul, reach out to those who understand and have been through a similar process. There are many events, workshops classes and online groups that have a higher likelihood of meeting people who would understand your process. You can also attend retreats that specialise in Shadow Work or Spiritual Crisis. Just be intuitive about who you work with as they need to be the right person for you. There are also charities that can help, in the US they have Spiritual Emergence and the UK has Spiritual Crisis Network. If you are somewhere else in the world there is a good chance you will be able to find something similar, if not you can always reach out to the US or UK charities.

The Dark Night Of The Soul does pass and while it can be difficult while you are in this vortex, you will never be given a load you cannot carry. On the other side of this process is something beautiful and if you persevere, you will get there. Take care and if you would like to download my free eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control You Can Do So Here

About the Author

I am Luke Miller the author of this article, and owner of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life. Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here.

 

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