The Dark Night of the Soul

A dark night of the soul is truly a life changing event that shakes the very foundations of your life and radically alters the fabric of your existence. More than a melancholy mood, the experience is an alteration of your awareness. The things you once valued no longer hold the same meaning they previously did, and you find yourself unsure of the future path to take. Eckhart Tolle describes it as a “a collapse of perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of deep meaninglessness”.

Accompanied by a profound sense of fear, the dreaded bleak unknown and a vast gaping dark oblivion seem to be all you can envision ahead of you. Quite frequently brought on by a momentous event in one’s life, (though oftentimes triggered entirely spontaneously) a dark night signifies you’re ready for more. It is time to wake up to the Truth. This transformational period, while frightening and mentally displacing, is actually a positive omen. The dark night of the soul heralds a shift in consciousness, upleving the unfoldment of the next step in your personal spiritual evolution, bringing you in alignment with your higher destiny.

My personal experience with the dark night of the soul came, I believe, after many years of work on repairing karmic relationships and healing samskaras (soul level traumas). I felt it coming but had no idea how unpleasant it would feel in the thick of it and I did not go willingly or gently into the dark. I wanted to maintain my old identity and remain in the comfort of the familiar. In his book Life Visioning, Michael Beckwith explains the dark night: "Deep soul-work is occuring at a level we are unable to discern with the conscious mind, which can cause us confusion and frustration." For me, the experience was akin to plunging into the darkest depths of an ice cold black ocean, unsure of my surroundings, unable to feel any hope of light or rescue. The fear that consumed me forced me to stick with my spiritual practices and to cling to them for dear life.

Many people find a disconnection from Source, from the ability to acknowledge your true self as a unique expression of God, and find themselves in this dark period alone, a rudderless ship with no anchor. While I found myself from time to time like that, I by no means was floundering without any connection to the Power. Contrary to driving me further away from my relationship with the divine, it actually solidified my beliefs and hastened my energetic healing.

What purpose does this shift in consciousness really offer us and is it really necessary? I hate to admit it but my personal dark night of the soul allowed my former self, shackled in bondage to those karmic debts, to die so that I could wake up to the new Reality of Being. This ego death gave me the greatest gift I’ve known, a relationship with my Higher Self. With regard to the value of the darkness, it’s important to remember that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. We’d all like to believe that being happy all the time is the point of all this soul-work that we undertake, but the actual reason we do it is to uncover more of who and what we truly are and to find a relationship with the sprit of the Universe. Unfortunately sometimes it takes discomfort to encourage us to seek out profound meaning. Happiness is an inevitable byproduct, but once you emerge from the metamorphosis of a dark night, you appreciate contentment, peace, freedom and deep bliss more than the bubbly excitement of tumultuous emotions we think of as happiness. To be alive is to feel intensity, both positive and negative, and to wake up is to acknowledge the axiom that in a dualistic world there is imperfection but your true nature is whole, perfect, synergistically part of the Realm that is free from lack, limitation, and that very duality.

The dark night of the soul, while terrifying, ultimately will take you from the depths of your despair as an ego-being clinging to this material world and bring you to new heights of liberation you never thought possible. While it is natural to want to resist that which is painful and unfamiliar, the type of boundless joy this paradigm shift leads to as a result of releasing your past self is worth it.

"The endurance of this darkness is preparation for great light" -St. John of the Cross, his book Dark Night of the Soul

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