In the Dark Night of the Soul you realize that your ‘normal’ life
– family, relationship, career – doesn’t work anymore.
We are going to talk about the dark night of the soul. When you are living what is called a normal life and you hear this phrase ‘the dark night of the soul’, you have an idea of what it is. You think you know what it is: a difficult time through which you will emerge. So you have this idea, you are living your life, you are engaged in life and you are looking. What you don’t realize is when you enter this phase ‘the dark night of the soul’, you don’t really know that you are in the dark night of the soul because your idea of what it is isn’t what you are experiencing. What you are experiencing is much more devastating.
When you look ahead to the dark night of the soul, you imagine ‘you’ being in the dark night of the soul. But when you are in that phase you don’t realize you, as you know yourself, are not in there. You, as you know yourself, have dissolved into something else. And you don’t know what this ‘something else’ is. So when the dark night of the soul, not only do you not know what’s happening, you don’t know to whom it is happening. You’ve lost your reference. You can’t clearly see who you are or even more devastating, you can’t see your way out. And what’s devastating about not seeing your way out, is you can’t see your way back either. You know there’s no way back.
So the one that’s experiencing this doesn’t know who is the one who is experiencing this. It’s being really lost. Now, me saying that is not describing what it is. What it is, is beyond description. You just can’t get a hold on anything. And so what the mind does, it goes to something familiar, “Oh, I am depressed.” And then it works with depression. But it’s not the normal depression. Yes, depression is there on a human level but it’s something else. Because what is happening in the dark night of the soul is: nothing works!
Before that phase, you were tied up in your life, in achieving, in money, in relationships, in family and children and getting approval and avoiding disapproval. And all that kept you occupied. You were trying to manipulate it, and change it, and control it. And then you get to a phase where none of that is working. You’ve gone into this… it’s like the center of the cyclone, a stillness. Everything is whirling around on the outside and you are in this stillness. And it feels hopeless. And you feel as though you can’t go back even if you wanted to and there’s no way forward. And it looks like forever. And in a way, it is forever. Until you see it as forever, you are stuck there.
When you see it forever, something very, let’s say, magical happens. “Oh, this is where I am. This is how it is. And I don’t know to whom it is this way. I have no longer a firm and resolute identity of myself. It’s the very person that’s trying to define my state is dissolving.”
Not only the state but the person that is attempting to define something, to have something certain, to have something sure, stable, safe, secure, predictable. It’s all gone. In fact, everything is gone. “I really don’t know anything anymore.”
Now, when you acknowledge that, then the stillness, the peace that passeth all understanding. And then again it is abstract, but you are no longer in the dark night of the soul. And you are no longer out of it. It’s just, the whole thing dissolves into ‘now’. Just now. Just as it is.
And in a way, the cyclone, the whirlwind, the hurricane is still there. You can feel it on the periphery, roaring, tearing around, going here, going there and trying to be this and trying to be that. Trying to be useful, trying to contribute, avoiding being hopeless, useless, a failure. It is all going on around.
And in the dark night of the soul, as soon as you say, “Yes, this is how it appears to be and I can’t even connect with the person that is saying that, that is realizing that.” – everything is dissolving. A stillness, the peace that passeth all understanding, being one with the hidden harmony.
And suddenly a whole new perspective. And then it’s very difficult to describe this because you are no longer separate. You have a realization that separateness is an illusion. There is only one. But you can’t describe that to yourself because as soon as you try to, you go to the mind that works in duality. The mind cannot describe the one. You know you are one with the trees, you are one with the birds. You are one with the chair you are sitting on. And you are one with everybody.
And suddenly… just listen to me, in one way, there’s a tremendous loneliness. You don’t know anyone else that is seeing, experiencing this way. You feel totally, totally alone. And yet, at the same time -I know the mind can’t comprehend this- at the same time, you know, there is no such thing as being alone. You are one with everything and everything is one with you. You walk down the street, nobody looks you in the eyes, nobody sees you. And even if their eyes turn towards you, you know they’re not seeing you. They are so involved in what they’re thinking and doing. They are so unconscious, they don’t see you and yet you know, you are one with them. And you love them, and you care for them, and you see the state they’re in, the discomfort they are in and they don’t know what you know. When I say ‘know’, I don’t mean ‘know’ as in the mind. I mean as in ‘knowingness’, that there is only one. We’re all together with each other and everything.
So there is a tremendous aloneness. Not lonely, because lonely is looking for something. But in this stage you are not looking for anything. There is nothing to look for. Thou art that! You are one with it. And there can be a little nostalgia: Oh, those times when we used to…, when I could escape to…, when I was… And in a way you forget that the discomfort of what it was like then. You just remember the good parts.
And when you are with, totally being with, which we will call ‘accepting the dark night of the soul’, it is no longer dark, and it is not light. It is beyond dark, it is beyond light. It is unexplainable through the mind. And yet, in that state, you feel the magnificence of everything and –listen!– everybody, no matter what their behavior, or how awful, cruel they seem to be with each other and to themselves. You know. You don’t know how you know. And you don’t know even who it is that knows. There is just this unexplained sense of absolute perfection in every moment, just as it is.
How to be practical with this? You have heard it often: keep disconnecting from the thoughts of the mind. The mind is hell. I mean that! It is hell! And it is not trying to put you in hell. It is trying to look after you, keep you as you need to be, to be experiencing what you need to experience. And every now and again it would bring up something useful. Don’t go there. Don’t do this. Do this. Listen to it. Because they’re clearer, they are different. But the normal process of the mind is hell. Don’t go there. It is the past projected to the future and there is no such thing.
So every time the mind brings up something that isn’t relevant to this very moment, disconnect, disconnect. How do you disconnect? What can you hear? What can you see? What can you taste? What can you touch? What can you sense? Here, now, in this very moment. Listen! In this very moment. Not what you are going to do with what you are getting from listening to this in this moment. But what ARE you getting in this very moment. The stillness, that is still moving.