Dark Night Of The Soul.

Don’t try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.~Philip K. Dick

Why?
Dark night of the monkey soul...

Dark night of the monkey soul…

Have you ever felt like nothing makes sense anymore, and you find yourself questioning your choices and beliefs?

One day you’re going along, content with your understanding of life and your role in it. The next day you wake up and understand nothing and question all of your efforts and choices…

Welcome to the dark night of the soul

From what I’ve read, this is a common occurrence when traveling down our spiritual path… The link above explains the process well and I can’t add anything unique to what’s already there.

To me, it just feels like failure…

Eckhart Tolle was asked if he ever experienced this issue, and he responded

The “dark night of the soul” is a term that goes back a long time.  Yes, I have also experienced it.  It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness.  The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression.  Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything.  Sometimes it’s triggered by some external event, some disaster perhaps, on an external level.  The death of someone close to you could trigger it, especially premature death, for example if your child dies.  Or you had built up your life, and given it meaning – and the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.

It can happen if something happens that you can’t explain away anymore, some disaster which seems to invalidate the meaning that your life had before.  Really what has collapsed then is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it.  So that results in a dark place.  But people have gone into that, and then there is the possibility that you emerge out of that into a transformed state of consciousness.  Life has meaning again, but it’s no longer a conceptual meaning that you can necessarily explain.  Quite often it’s from there that people awaken out of their conceptual sense of reality, which has collapsed.

They awaken into something deeper, which is no longer based on concepts in your mind.  A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life that is not dependent on explanations or anything conceptual any longer.  It’s a kind of re-birth.  The dark night of the soul is a kind of death that you die.  What dies is the egoic sense of self.  Of course, death is always painful, but nothing real has actually died there – only an illusory identity.  Now it is probably the case that some people who’ve gone through this transformation realized that they had to go through that, in order to bring about a spiritual awakening.  Often it is part of the awakening process, the death of the old self and the birth of the true self.

Now What?

I’ve been dealing with my own dark night of the soul for a few weeks now. I have trouble raising my enthusiasm for anything related to my future or to spirituality…

It almost feels like Autumn and I’m hibernating… This makes me feel worse because I NEED to be building my online presence because my temporary disability will be running out in six weeks… I need to make money. I just don’t feel like thinking about anything, let alone doing something productive to bring me closer to my goals.

I intend to use this weekend to gather myself up, figure out where I want to go in life (or at least remind myself of what I already decided) and start the next chapter in my book of life.

I feel small and closed in right now. Somehow, I have to get back in touch with what made me start this blog in the first place… I have to wake up and remember who I am…

It’s encouraging to know this is a common problem that has been overcome by many…

Have you deal with your own dark night of the soul, or are you dealing with it now?  How was it for you?

 

 

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30 comments

  1. Yes, I have gone through the dark night of the soul, when everything I had believed in got turned topsy-turvy, pets I love died one after another, we encountered real financial hardship and nearly went bankrupt, and I felt utter despair. But then the wheel turned, my life changed 360 deg., as I opened up to the spiritual side of me I’d been bashing down senseless into the dungeon but which didn’t give up on me and fought its way up. And I started art, working intuitively, working with women’s groups as a leader, teaching intuitive art – never looked back and I’ve never had a recurrence of the depression which used to plague me from time to time. hang in there, it’s hard but keep your eyes fixed on what your spiritual self is telling you and listen to it. Earning an income is a real bugger, but sometimes we find we can’t keep up the joyless existence where we didn’t listen to our passion, and our spiritual self demands we grow into who we’re meant to be, although it can be a real struggle. I wish you the best of luck because I so enjoy your blog. You mean a lot to me with your words and I’m sure that’s the same for many others. Blessings to you, my friend.

    1. Hello Crazy Crone- Thanks for taking the time to respond to my pity post! Your words are inspiring, and it’s good to hear that you enjoy my blog.

      My enthusiasm ebbs and flows… Sometimes I feel everything is going as it should and sometimes I feel like I’ve made no progress since I was two years old.

      I know this isn’t true though. I guess I struggle with how to live authentically for me, which seems to be different than almost everyone else, and how to still deal with the trouble of mundane life such as earning money.

      I spent the weekend thinking about where I am and where I’m going… I even read The Alchemist… I realized that, in spite of writing almost 100 posts about how to find your path in life, I STILL don’t really know what I want to do.

      I need to be patient I guess… Everything has worked out so far, There’s no reason to think they won’t continue to…

  2. Dear John,

    I commend you for writing about something that is really tough to be honest about. I can tell you that I experienced this dark night of the soul, though it wasn’t at night per se. It was a morning late last year. I completely lost my sh*t (pardon, but I wanted to assure you that it was really that intense!). It was a seemingly regular day and I was getting ready to head into the office but inside nothing felt ok at all. I was lost in my heart and in my life.

    I’ve been working my transformation ever since that day. That day i broke down so fully I knew I could never go back to living the same way again because it would kill my spirit once and for all. So everyday I’ve meditated and read books and been creative in order to get to the real me. The one I was hiding that needed to come forth.

    I hope in some small way this might help you to know you aren’t alone. I think hibernating is a good thing, I spent months doing it. I have found that if I am unsure of which way to go or what to do, I can bring that to Spirit and admit I need help. Then I listen, just as you always remind us to do, and guidance always comes.

    Wishing you peace and truth, always. And thank you for everything you’ve given us, you and Doug!!!

    🙂 Allison

    1. Hey Allison- My issue is I thought I was on the right track… I thought all of the difficult changes and decisions were in the past… I thought I already had my dark night of the soul…

      I’ve had a couple in the past, and I guess it was time for another. After spending the weekend pondering what’s going on with me, I realized that I still don’t really know what direction I want my life to head in.

      Your advice about asking Spirit for guidance is appreciated. I’ve been so busy doing I didn’t realize I wasn’t really moving… I was just making a lot of noise while standing still.

      I need to figure out which way to head. I’ll start by asking for guidance. Thanks for responding and giving me a nudge.

  3. I’ve had a couple of dark nights in my life. Thankfully not as hard as the loss of a child, but my husband leaving unexpectedly after 20 years of marriage threw me off balance. It was like I was in a dark pit. I was confused and depressed. As I started to climb out of the pit, I grabbed hold of something sick and slimy (the rebound disaster) and fell back down to some place even darker.
    Remembering the constants in my life, my love of nature, music, art, family, God….. the beings and things that have always been there for me, helped me climb up again, and in time, out of the pit. Now, more than 10 years later, it is clear that there was something even better was in the works for me all along. I wish I had focused on the constants in my life sooner. It would have been better for my health and my sanity. But overcoming the insanity is part of my story and maybe it will help some one else.
    So, John, I’m wondering about that reason you started this blog in the first place. What might that reason look and feel like when it blossoms?
    Best wishes on your next chapter! May it turn out to be as good and even better than you have imagined! ,

    1. Hi Joanna- Thanks for sharing your story. I know that there’s always something better waiting for me to recognize it… A door closing and such… I guess I just get impatient. That’s one of my obstacles I haven’t overcome yet.

      I’m not feeling as pitiful after using the weekend to gain perspective on myself and life… You ask an important question that I asked myself this morning- Why did I start this blog in the first place?

      I need to figure out the answer in detail. Basically though, I first started my blog because I wanted to make a living online… After a while I realized I enjoy writing and started getting great feedback from others…

      I saw that I was helping others, and I liked that a lot. Sharing my thoughts and life through the blog is the reason it exists now…

      So, the reason I created is not the reason it now exists. I have to figure out what I want to do, in addition to this blog, that will provide an income… I’m still at square one with that, just as I was eight months ago when I wrote my first post…

      I’ll be patient though, and see what happens…

  4. It is very present ….I feel as lost as you describe and yet there is something calling me that is helping me to the next moment. Opening and listening, just asking for the guidance, what ever it is. I stop and listen, stop and wait, stop and Be. Take the pressure off if you can, that alone is a huge step. With Love. X

    1. Thanks- After I write a post for today I plan to devote the rest of the day and tomorrow to asking for guidance and following where that leads.

      I seem to often forget that life has a way of working out as it should… I need to work on patience.

  5. Yes, there have been several sessions of dark nights in my life. The last one was this winter when in the depth of hopelessness I finally transitioned through another threshold. I am going to recommend that you try to connect with a good spiritual guide to help you. It makes a huge difference. I am working with mardrag26@gmail.com and she follows you. It makes all the difference to have someone who has been there helping to guide you through the tough spots. Everyone says to have a mentor, I have had some really good ones.
    You also have a lot of people who are here to support you as you find the path to your Divine Mind. it is there…. I know how hard and frustrating it is… believe me, I know.
    Sending you light and love John.

    1. Yes, I concur.

      John/Doug — here we are to support you

    2. Hi Jane- Thanks for the comforting words. You’re correct, I probably do need a mentor of some sort.

      I don’t have one now. Everything that comes my way I deal with on my own… It makes for fertile blog material but it’s also a difficult path.

      I’ve always been the one others come to to solve problems or for guidance. This role is difficult to give up, but I need to admit that there are times where I need to go beyond myself for answers and guidance.

      Thanks for the virtual shake that woke me up to this… walking a spiritual path is difficult enough, and more so when doing it alone.

  6. I so identify with you John as I’ve been through the dark night also. And every time I thought I’d reached the bottom and the only way out was up – nothing changed. No matter how much will power I applied, my circumstances remained the same. I went on food stamps, fell behind in my rent – it was devastating because something like that was not supposed to happen to someone like me….! The universe thought differently.

    The more my earthly props were taken away the more I changed. I became a good steward of my money and what little I had. I began to understand the essence of humility and the gifts it offers. I discovered my innate worth, realizing it has nothing to do with my circumstances. I stopped judging, defining or measuring myself by the external world. I believe that the world shift has taken place and that the road ahead is a walk of faith and having the courage to follow our inner guidance. My personal walk has been about making the intangible the tangible.

    You are service-oriented, have a good heart and have much wisdom to impart to others. I believe the universe is delighted with you and knows exactly what you need in each moment. I know you are not alone in this and will be guided through it. Many blessings sent your way. 😉

    1. Hi Susan- Thanks for writing and providing powerful inspiration for me! It’s so easy to forget that we’re not alone. I think I’ve shut myself off from guidance- from those here with me and beyond- as I concentrated on writing and growing my blog.

      I agree with you about the shift… I need to recapture my faith. It’s still there, if a bit dusty.

      By focusing too much one one aspect of my path- this blog- I’ve neglected my personal growth. There’s room for both in my life… I realize that now.

      Thanks again for taking the time to respond and inspire!

  7. Oh yes indeed, John/Doug! I feel deeply for you. Reading this gave me the courage I needed to finally “come out” to my audience about my own struggles, which has been self-imposed homelessness. It lasted about a month and a half. I’m so grateful it wasn’t longer than that. You can see the effects of it on my blog, although not in my paid writing gigs. I had to deviate away from this not because I wanted to, but because my energy was so scarce that I needed to devote most of my time to making money, which is centrical my message and the theme of my blog. I was doing what I loved and I was taking care of myself by it. Now that I’m living in an ashram, a spiritual yoga center and CSA, I have the time to take in validating messages like yours.

    This was so timely!

    1. Hey Sandra- Thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad you found my post useful…

      It’s so easy to lose track of our goals and settle down into the rut of everyday life… That’s what I did. I’m climbing back out and realize that I haven’t been living in the present.

      Here’s to positive changes in thoughts and life…

      1. I’m rooting for you, John 🙂

  8. Hi John, It’s maybe post-viral syndrome. Just try not to over-do anything or, for that matter to over-think anything. This, too, shall pass.

    1. I think you’re right. I’m still dealing with the results of the virus- reactive arthritis and horrible allergies that can’t be touched by any remedy- and probably will be for a few more months.

      There are lessons here that I need to recognize instead of letting it all become overwhelming… Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. I love this blog. You’re quotes are always thoughtful. Yes, I have gone through my own dark night and I find thinking less is healing. I practice random acts of amnesia….just forgetting myself, my name, my future , past, everything….i go on what I call amnesia nature walks. I find the more I let go of overthinking and surrender to the quiet, the more clarity and wellbeing comes.. there’s a also an astrological aspect right now called the Cardinal Cross that’s creating an intensity in many people’s lives. For the most part, I think life is asking us to do 2 things….1) Give up a quality or habit that no longer serves us 2) Give, Give, Give…

  10. I ended a relationship about 3 months ago and it left me completely devastated. I am not special and am going through something many others have, but it is the most painful emotional turmoil I have ever experienced. Recently, I had one very bad dark night of the soul, and I realized that I would either destroy myself or begin the road to peace. It is long and it is arduous and the sadness is not gone, but it is not he who wronged me who torments me, it is myself. From someone who has questioned it all, this much I know to be true: we either grow strong in the fire or we burn from it.

  11. Hang in there, Doug! What you’ve read about the dark night of the soul is true.
    Let me comment on the Christian version of the dark night. The expression began to be used (or was made famous) by two Christian mystics, St. Therese of Avila and St. John of the Cross (who actually wrote a book with that title!). “Mystics” here means people with out-of-the ordinary religious experiences. But to reach that level they had to go through that experience of the dark night.
    The way in which they explain it is something like this. They enjoyed already an extraordinary presence of God in their lives, that gave them great “consolation” (a technical word for a spiritual overjoy). But this involves the danger of thinking it was because of their own merits that they were enjoying it. So God would retire those experiences from their life, leaving them dry and empty for long spells. Nothing to do about it, they’d say, but endure. Coming out of these, their ego would be purified, allowing them to enter into a new level in their relation with God, again filled with Joy, but a different type of joy, less self-involved, more spontaneous and pure.
    Maybe this helps…

    1. Hey Alf- I’ve read about where the phrase came from but never explored the Christian side of it much.

      I like the explanation and it meshes with other material I’ve read about the topic. The ego is a difficult thing to overcome it seems, no matter what spiritual path is chosen…

      Thanks for sharing this view of the dark night of the soul. It’s obviously a real and common phenomenon that visits those on a spiritual path, no matter which it is…

  12. […] I checked in with him there and found this helpful post on dark nights of the soul. […]

  13. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I’ve had numerous “dark nights of the soul”: shortly after my wife Amy died at age 41 from prolonged abuse of alcohol; a month later after I quit drinking cold turkey and had DT’s (voices in my head, one of which tricked me into believing my dad was chastising ER doctor for not treating me sooner, which made me think I’d died); numerous times in 2010 after I went on four- or five-day drinking binges that left me in detox; death of my beloved 17-year-old Rat Terrier Indy in my lap; death of my parents; ending up in jail after my 3rd DWI (last Feb.).

    Also, in the “screenwriters’ bible”, SAVE THE CAT!, Blake Synder has a section called Dark Night of the Soul. Per my notes:

    THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL (75-85)
    It’s the moment just before the dawn that will make the day brighter. It’s the “why hast Thou forsaken me, oh Lord?” beat. The hero is beaten and knows it. He must rely on Fate to save him. It works because we’ve all been there, feeling utterly defeated and helpless, sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire and four cents to our name and needing to reach the appointment that will save our lives.

    But somewhere before p. 85, the hero will figure out the solution to his problems. So after he does, we move into…

    BREAK INTO THREE (85)

    End of notes. So it’s a universal experience that we’ve all had, some of us (like me) with particularly stubborn, strong egos have multiple dark nights of the soul because we’re slow learners. We need to be bashed over our spiritual heads numerous times before we get it. I think the key to having to experience less of these, and may be even not experience another one in my lifetime is that I have to keep in mind, and really buy into the most fundamental, important truth there is: I don’t have a self. None of us does. You don’t have one either. Sure, you have a body that’s linked to your name but your deeper sense of identity/self with “Doug <Insert last name" isn't floating out in the cosmos somewhere. You and I don't have permanent, tangible, separate identities that we have to worry about protecting or embellishing or feeding at the expense of others. But while the ego's sense of a limited self is illusionary, the illusion is a damn persistent, convincing one.

    BTW: Eckhart Tolle is my favorite nonfiction author. I wrote my book, "Overcome Any Personal Obstacle, Including Alcoholism, By Understanding Your Ego", after I had a come-to-Jesus/Buddha moment about the fictitious sense of self as explained in Tolle's "A New Earth" and then "Silence Speaks". Good luck and many blessings to you on your journey.

    1. Hey leewriter- I had my own years long dark night of the soul because of drinking. I quit almost three years ago…

      Eckhart Tolle’s various books helped me pull myself up, figure out who I am and find my path again. I’m still at the beginning of the path but I’ve started moving, and this time it’s in the right direction.

      Good luck on your journey as well.

  14. […] As awful as that was, it seemed that you had to have one of those dark nights to discover your true calling of the souls as you had mentioned in a previous blog post. […]

  15. There’s more than one type of dark night. They can be caused by an event, or triggered by nothing at all. Going through a series of personal losses is commonly confused for a dark night. But in fact, those are simply events in life that trigger the emotional pain of loosing the ego, questioning your way of thinking/being etc. Also, experiencing multiple dark nights can indicate your ego has a stronghold, but it can also be an indication of growth. Each dark night might have its own way of finely burning away something that was hindering your life. Currently I’m in a dark night where I literally don’t want to do anything. It’s really frustrating and daunting. I feel like..where before I thought I had control over my life..I was in denial.

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