12 juni 2012

8 The Dark Night

The Dark Night of the Soul

"When all is dark and no hope is seen,
where we find ourselves alone.
When there is nowhere to run to, but where you already have been
You will be forced to look inwards and realise you're already at home."

You are alone. You have worked and worked and you have gained results. No, nothing is changing. There is no answer to your prayers and all the hard work is as blown away. 

The dark night of the soul has been written about by more authors and artists then you'd at first think. I don't think I can make this issue justice without going into personal experiences from myself or those who have gone through the same, which is really not appropriate on this blog. I will jot down some thoughts and issues, but not even try and go into detail

There are however many, many, commercially available books, stories and biographies that illustrate the whole process. "The Dark Night of The Soul" By St. John of the Cross being the most famous one, however I honestly feel that for a modern seeker its a bit shit. There are many more relevant versions of the process available today that we are able to relate to better.

Michaelangelo's painting of the sixteenth chapel is a prime example of a "Dark Night of the Soul" that is overlooked. He took on the bronze work and the painting of the chapel because if he did, the pope would let him carve his tomb, which is what Michaelangelo really wanted to do. His diary is filled with information about his misery and how much suffering he went through.
He wasn't a painter and he was not good at fresco work. He had to pay people to teach him, and honestly, if you look at the beginning bit of the work in the entrance, its not great work.
Mosts of Uncle Al's life is a Dark Night of the soul.

The mythical Christ is another good example From when he is  in the Garden of Gethsemane until he cries out "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Upon the Cross is often seen as the Christian allegory of the Dark Night. Not only does he feel abandoned, knowing that this cup cannot be taken from him, he is also severely beaten hurt whipped, crucified and no angels come to save him. He dies. Goes to Hell for 3 days (I wonder what they do to the Word of God down there). Only -after- this is he resurrected, then he spends 40 days kicking around doing -something- before he ascends.

So what then -is- the dark night?
The Dark night doesn't necessarily come at the end of the Nigredo phase before it shifts into the albedo, it is actually possible to have the Dark Night later. The Dark Night is not some mere depression, you can be fairly happy during days in the Dark Night. The issue with the Dark night is that you suddenly see aspects of the path you chose not to see. You see parts of yourself you have chosen not to see. You are presented with realities that you did not know existed. Some people therefore say that the Dark Night is not strictly linked to the alchemical phases, rather it is linked to the Heroes journey to become the Warrior King. Thus, the Dark night happens just before understanding of the Light can occur. However, the light seen on the other side can sometimes be a jack-o-lantern, that takes you away.

If you have not experienced a dark night, then you have not truly entered into a higher understanding, as the crisis is the needed fuel for a change to be able to occur. 

In the Dark Night, the inner life of the initiate and the "objective reality" start to merge. Objective events start to happen that mirror the inner turmoil of the person undergoing this. There is a loss of faith if the system works in the mystical path. Experiences will be had that do not follow the set faith of the seeker, and most often, the spiritual world disappears. 

There is no consolation. In prayer, or in ritual. That which was a safety blanket is torn away. Jung often talks about "the crisis" and his own period in a mental institution is a very epic, telling tale of this.

From a Christian perspective we can look at a monk.

He takes his vows. He believes in God, the church and that the Order will get him there.
He joins. Prays. Cooks, Teaches, prays, cooks, studies, cleans. Talks to some of the other monks unless there is a vow of silence. The abbot might start to piss him off. The priest performing the mass might not be good enough. The songs and worship that he grew up on loose their value after having said them 6 times a day for 1 year. The novelty wears off. Not seeing his friends and family is starting to hurt. not as many people who said they would come visit come and visit him. Also, there are no dreams. The world outside is falling into pieces with war and famine, the monk wants to go out and help but is informed that prayer is equivalent to physical aid. The monk despairs. Feels nothing. His faith crumbles to dust. He goes to heaven and there is nothing there.

This is when the night has descended. Because only if the Dark is fully walked through will there be true light. Many distractions will appear. Maybe a different set of prayers? Maybe if he wasn't a monk but just a lay brother? Maybe if he became a full priest? What if Christianity version X isn't the right one?
Shit, maybe changing the Creed was wrong? Could the Orthodox be correct? etc etc etc.

The Dark night is sometimes a denial. A refusal to see the Truth and that forces a darkness to descend upon the seeker. Not being willing to accept the truth. Trying to hide in drugs, alcohol, displacement activities, anything but accepting the truth becomes the norm.

As a final note: there are several Dark Nights.

The first is of the Body. Puberty deals with part one. realising your body is winding down and will at some  point die is number two.

The Second is the Dark Night of the Mind. This is often a projection upon ones teacher. system, faith, culture etc. Read up on the LSD Experiments. Many people underwent horrid psychological trauma as a result because they were not ready. They reevaluated their lives their whole paradigms. That was a dark night of the mind. If you think you are having the dark night, but you can rationalise it, put things well into words then you are merely waiting for the reflection of the reflection of the light to come.

The Third is the Dark Night of the Soul
All I can say to further this is: Enjoy. Work. Work. Work. It will pass. But unless you feel like its not going to pass, then you're not there.

1 kommentar:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post - excellent stuff. You nail it in the last sentence. Thanks :)