The term ‘dark night of the soul’ sounds almost like a bad sci-fi movie, but alas, it has been around for a long time and has a deeply spiritual meaning. There are many interpretations of this phrase, but for me Ram Dass summarizes the essence of it beautifully when he said:
“The dark night of the soul is when you have lost the flavour for life but have not yet gained the fullness of divinity. So, it is that we must weather that dark time, the period of transformation when what is familiar has been taken away and the new richness is not yet ours.”
The following is my interpretation of this phrase and how I have seen it work in my own life. I share this with you, so that it may be a comfort and guide through your own “Dark Night of the Soul”.
We have all had periods in our lives, often starting in childhood, which have been times of ‘unhappiness’. Simply, not enjoying life very much. Sometimes these ‘episodes’ will come for only a day or two, or in some instances can last for years, the difference between a ‘bad time’ and the Dark Night of the Soul is that the latter is a spiritual transformation. So, if the ‘darkness’ does not merge with the vibration of self-discovery, then it is merely just another ‘attack of the mind’ rather than deep healing.
‘The Dark Night of the Soul”, in a nutshell, is when you are forced to go inward, look at the ‘shadow self’ and readjust your life with the new-found knowledge. Usually this will transpire because life takes a direction that ‘shakes the very foundations of your being’, in other words the world as you know it seems to crumble and disappear. Most people reading this article now, will probably have experienced a somewhat ‘turbulent’ life or at the very least challenging life situations. The good news is, this will have been the very aspect that has driven you into this amazing process of self-discovery and healing, (which most of the population will never discover in this life). The quote “Religion is for those who are afraid of hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there” – Vine Deloria, springs to mind. Yes, the dark night of the soul can appear confusing, frightening, lonely and hopeless, but it is the very thing that helps you remember what is ‘really important’. If I was to conceptualize this, I would look at it like that of a plastic band, once pulled right back, it then springs forward at a rapid pace. So, going inward to be pushed forward into true self at a rapid pace.
In my own life I have experienced lots of ‘mini’ dark nights of the soul and one episode in particular, extended for a couple of years. However, it wasn’t until my 20’s that things really started to ‘ramp up’. Whilst outwardly I ‘had it all’, inwardly I knew that something was very wrong, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. This would continue for a number of years and I would continuously try to block the feelings and intuition in whatever way I could. Over time I was led toward my spiritual path through, meditation, yoga, books and breathing exercises, all culminating in my ‘kundalini awakening’. At this point my life ‘really broke down’. Over the next couple of years, I would literally see my life foundations shift and some aspects just fall down altogether. It was like waking up from a deep dream and seeing things for ‘how they really are’. Having to really acknowledge and look at aspects of self, that were uncomfortable to say the least. Realising huge chunks of my life were a complete ‘lie’. Seeing ‘friends and family’ with a new set of eyes and generally having to readjust to the ‘new knowledge’. It almost feels like ‘grief’ when it happens. You lose something, you go through the stages of grief (denial, anger, acceptance) and then you see the profound perfection of it all. Let me give you the example of, divorce. Your partner wants a divorce, you do not. You will cling unto the relationship for as long as you can, but ultimately you will come to the realisation that you cannot change the will of another. Post-divorce, you will grieve for the marriage, then sometime later you will come to the realisation that your partner wasn’t in alignment for you anyway and you can see where life has led you to now. In other words, you will probably be grateful that it happened.
For me, the dark night of the soul seems to ‘peak’ just as you awaken, its like the Universe says; “You talk about Source and Love”, let me see if you really believe. I don’t like using the word ‘test’ as this is not what it really is, but its conceptual of being ‘tested’. It’s such a grandiose term but one that really refers to ‘true seeing’. So, removing conditioned thinking and concepts to just ‘observe’ and come into clarity. Really you are winning yourself back, merging back into the Source and experiencing a deep spiritual transformation.
Are all ‘bad days’ as a result of a Dark Night of the Soul? The answer is No. It’s greater than this. If we take depression as an example, whilst it may have many parallels with the ‘dark night of the soul’, in terms of feeling confused, unable to go on, finding no joy, depression can still be ‘treated’ from a clinical stance. On the other hand the dark night of the soul can’t be ‘treated’ in the traditional sense, it’s about an inner self-realisation and until acknowledged will continue as a cycle in your life.
During a period of the Dark Night of the Soul, you may ponder the ‘bigger’ questions in life such as; “What is the point in living?”, “Why is there so much suffering in the world”, “Why would a loving creator allow all such suffering in the world”. To ask such questions one must have reached the proverbial ‘end of the road’, the corridor of ‘nothingness’, a place where the ‘outward’ no longer satisfies the hunger within for true peace.
Going through the process of the ’Dark Night of the Soul’ is really about looking at life with a completely fresh set of eyes, shedding old beliefs and concepts that no longer serve us and awakening to the ‘bigger’ aspects of self rather than stay in the confined boxes of societal thinking and being.
“There is no coming to Consciousness without pain. People will do anything no matter how absurd to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung
For anyone that is currently experiencing a deeply personal, inner and transformative time, hold on, hang in there, question deeper, for the answers will come and a clear perspective will awaken within you.