Thursday, October 28, 2010
What is the dark night of the soul that most seekers go through?
What is the dark night of the soul?
You are a human being. The human part is a conditioned state based on the past. The nature of this self is so complex that it creates its own shadow and then tries to overcome it at the same time. In this context of paradox and complexity lies the emergence of the “dark night of the soul.”
In brief, this dark night is a total identification with the conditioned self.
The human, which is the conditioned part of us based on its past, is often referred to as the shadow self. It is the artificial self. The term ‘soul’ which is identified with the human self, is a misnomer. There is no soul as such but a fragment of Spirit. There is, in reality, only Oneness, a Unified Field of Being. Therefore what we call ‘soul’ is an individualized mind – a conditioned state of mind based on past experience only often oblivious of its true nature as the ‘NOW’ itself. The ‘Being’ part of us is the Truth of us and it is the part that watches, witnesses known as Pure Awareness, the NOW itself.
What is the shadow self also known as the conditioned self? It is the part that identifies completely with what it experiences and therefore does not see the experience as something ‘happening’ but a conditioned perception based on its identified role.
The shadow self is well-named because it is like a shadow that our body casts from the light of the sun. If we tried to escape the shadow by running away from it, we would end up completed depleted from exhaustion and find that the shadow is still there untouched. The shadow will always follow us because that’s the nature of the shadow. Similarly, our BEING experiences its human part ALL THE TIME because that’s what is needed to experience the witnesser of it. This is imperative to recognize.
Is the dark night of the soul necessary? This question is redundant because we experience only what we need to learn. This ‘dark night’ is created through the need to escape it. Another paradox of the human conditioned self is that it identifies itself with its own resistance and then resists it as it is self-created. In order to understand this let us take the example of the cowboy riding the wild untamed bronc. This wild horse is our human part that wants to be free but hasn’t experienced it yet. The rider is the Being part that allows and stays unrelentingly in its ALLOWING stance. Thus the rider stays on the back of the wild horse without any attempt to control the horse but lets it do its ‘thing.’ It stays on until the wild horse is so exhausted that it gives us. The moment the horse gives up it will follow where the rider wants it to go. Similarly with us, our pure awareness also known as the ‘NOW Presence’ is the rider and it ALLOWS our wild contradictory nature to do its thing without interfering. It stays on until the wild untamed and contradictory conditioned self is exhausted and gives up its struggle. The moment the conditioned self gives up its struggle then the ALLOWING nature of BEING becomes combined with the surrender self and the two become integrated and WHOLE. This is the goal of human life – to ‘accomplish’ this wholeness!
What can we do when we are in the midst of the ‘dark night’? The answer is – do nothing but allow! Then the human mind will ask, “How does one allow?” This is the great paradox and if it is understood with your heart you have grasped the power of the rider. It is this – in true allowing here is no allower. In other words, there is no one who allows and when you can grasp this heart-knowing that there’s no one who allows or accepts then, that very understanding becomes allowing and acceptance.
Here’s an example of acceptance and allowing – picture a young innocent white boy in the South playing with a black boy. The parents tell him not to associate with the black boy. However, the innocent white boy cannot understand the prejudice of the parents and keeps playing with the black boy because, after all, it is his best friend. That’s full acceptance without anyone doing any accepting. The white boy didn’t accept but allowed fully what-is without prejudice. This is the key of ALLOWING the dark night of the soul to be but the shadow that it actually is.
The question might arise, “But how do we heal it?” You don’t! Healing and allowing are the same thing because they are both our BEING nature. The allowing is itself the healing!!
To the persistent question, “How do we allow?” which the conditioned part of us will raise is redundant. There is no one who can allow and this very understanding is the ‘allowing’ itself. Go over this statement until you understand it. The moment you grasp it, it becomes allowing itself. Just like the white boy allowed himself to keep playing with the black boy, there was also no one who tried ‘allowing’ but simply allowed!!
The dark night of the soul is persistent and totally identified with. If we can sit with it doing nothing but simply observe its dynamics as ‘what-is’ happening then this very ‘allowing’ becomes the healing. The dark night of the soul means one thing – resistance! It is such a total identification with the human part that the BEING part is in the background. Bring the witnesser, the awareness of this ‘thing’ called ‘dark night’ into perspective and embrace it in its sensations and emotions. Be one with it (allowing) as you sit looking at it through the body in the moment. Then, in this ‘looking’ the healing starts on its own because there is no longer anyone to identify with anything – there is only just the witnessing of it.
When we see this simplicity, our human conditioned part will rebel because it abhors simplicity and calls it simplistic asking, “But, what if…”
Healing is very simple and yet its simplicity is objected to by the ‘dark night’ because that is what created the dark night in the first place – the conflict between the human and the Being. It started out by resistance thinking, “What is wrong with me?” “Why am I like this so different from others?” “Why am I different and separate?”
The individual going through the dark night always feels separate and different from others and that’s the paradox because it is simply caught in being like most others. The dark night of the soul happens to every seeker who is heavy in its thinking and is always reacting with a “yes but…”
Therefore, the moment we become seekers for a better life we often get cauht in this “yes but…” mentality where we question everything especially the spiritual life that says ‘bliss’ is our true nature. We try to justify our childhood ‘pain’ by reinforcing and validating our past experience and so in hanging on (which is the vast majority of spiritual seekers) we plunge into this world of shadow known as the ‘dark night.’
It is true that most of our spiritual knowledge is bunk but then it is a earning experience to meet whatever happens. I have met so many intellectuals who have read all advaita books available and actually believe that they ‘know’ when in truth ‘real knowing’ means ‘there’s nothing to know’ but simply the fact that YOU EXIST NOW! These three words ‘you exist now’ are all the truth you need. You exist and therefore you are existence itself. Allow this existence to play itself out as it must and in this ‘allowing’ we accelerate our inner knowing of our true nature that no one can teach us except our own allowing (which is Being).
So we ask again, “Is there something wrong with the ‘dark night of the soul?” Absolutely nothing is wrong. It is what we have created unconsciously through identifying with the past as all there is and giving full power to it despite our need for the true Self (Being) we already are. Again, the more we wanted the Higher Self, the more we identified with its ‘lower’ version by resisting it saying inwardly, “I don’t want this” which inadvertently became our focus.
Most spiritual seekers go through the dark night sometime in their lifetime unless they encounter a genuine teacher who will instruct them in the art of allowing, surrender, acceptance without a ‘doer.’ This is the crux of the matter. The individual going through the dark night of the soul wants to know ‘how’ to do something. The true open-hearted innocence knows intuitively that the ‘how’ of anything is not in the domain of the intellect. In other words, the ‘how’ of the spiritual life is God’s business and not ours. Ours is opening up the heart to ALLOW.
The spiritual life is the ‘stopping of the mind’ through witnessing it especially when it says, “yes but…”
Everyone goes through the same story but it becomes ‘our story’ and that’s the suffering. It is all the same one. There is nothing and no one who is separate or different or better or worse. It is a game we play.
You are a BEING plaing the human role.
Our ‘job’ is to allow whatever is rising in the moment as a movement of mind and we are the witness. The witness is always at peace watching it all.
The spiritual life is living each moment in what is in alignment with truth. Truth is love, unconditional love, and therefore it is without conditions and ACCEPTS all conditions.
Our spiritual ‘duty’ is to meet everything that arises and in that meeting there is allowing that we are far more than what is happening.