The Dark night of the soul

Depression is a psychological sickness, a dark night is a spiritual trial
Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

Sometimes our faith is seriously challenged. It happens when something earth shattering
happens to us. It can be rape, abuse, torture, depression, natural disasters, sick loved ones, chronic pain, a debilitated child, death of a child. It can happen in a second and change everything. It can happen over a long, long time.

Our faith is tested, and we may not come out the other side victorious. This momentous change has broken something in us. The “idea” of justice, the idea that our body is our own, the idea that we have the right to live a life in private, that our lives matter and is valued.

We may experience that this is not the case. We may experience that basic human needs are a privilege not afforded to us. In its wake, we become broken. It’s such a huge paradigm shift that we begin to classify our lives before and after the event.

After The Event, we are somebody else. We are different. In its wake we are shattered, in
pieces and we don’t know how to put ourselves back together again. We realize that it’s not possible to be the person we were before this happened.

We have to become something else because we are different. We may begin to think that we have to become something else – but this something else is something lesser. Something worse and because of it we become an even worse person – happiness becomes denied to us.

Or we can choose the other side and decide the event will have melted us down and in its wake we will become molded into something much stronger.

It’s a decision. If it’s already in your life spark, it will come forward in time.

But in the mean time one may have to take a leave of absence when it comes to faith.
It may even be healthy for us to do so.

There’s so much pain that needs to be released after such an event. The pain has filled us up and leave little or no room for faith to work on us.
The belief that we can change, that the belief changes us.

Belief is a feeling that resides in us, and that feeling have gone. We stopped feeling it and we feel lost.

Where do we go from here?

We will know within us what steps to take. If we need a break, we will know it and should listen to it.
But it’s equally important to listen when the whisper within us tells us to try to move back.
We have to learn to listen to the whisper, heed its call, even when it seems counter to everything we have learned.
If we keep on pushing because our minds tells us a different story from the whisper of our hearts, we become harder. Less tolerant, more fragile.

I haven’t reached the end of my Dark night of the soul, so I can’t tell you what is there at the end. I do believe I have moved towards rehabilitation, but I still live under a constant threat.

A true dark night of the soul is not a surface challenge but a development that takes you away from the joy of your ordinary life.

Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

This experience has changed me. I used to believe that man was inherently good. This belief is gone in me. Now I believe that man is selfish and I instead look at people and wonder how much will they try to take and damage in me. I’m a very open person, but this is slowly changing. I don’t believe in the goodness in people anymore.

I’m alone and there is so little goodness afforded me from other people. People will happily accept good from others and give so little in return. Forgetting what they themselves have received.

There are people that want to harm you and that derive great satisfaction from the damage they are doing to you. They can be relentless, never stopping where days turn into weeks, months and suddenly a year has gone by. They never stop hurting you because it satisfies the empty whole in their being. They have no conscience.

Now I will be able to recognize this defect in people. I have learned how to maneuver such bad people. How? By not reacting to their insanity at all, but instead continue like normal as if nothing has happened. To never utter a bad word, instead such people can only be met with nice words even when they hurl evil towards you.
You have to go against your every instinct. Distanced niceness is the only way to deal with them. Never let them get the impression that they are hurting you as they will enjoy it and use that information to do worse.

I have learned a lot. I’m not the same person I was a year ago. I have been denied basic human needs. I have learned that I can be broken. Despite having tolerated not sleeping for about a year, I now know that I can be broken even more. What happens when I will be denied food?

I have tried to find things in the scriptures about evil, but there is none to be found. Instead it talks about the sins. Pride, anger etc, but it becomes shallow compared to what you you go through.

Lower than a blade of grass is what you can become. A grass will always bend when trampled and rise again when untrampled.
Lower than a blade of grass means your life is insignificant. It has not any worth for anybody. It will not be protected.

The police will not be there to help you, not family, not friends. People will instead “disappear” when they realize that something is seriously wrong. Most will not understand what you go through. They will see your strange behavior and think that there is something wrong with you – not understanding that what you really are having is a healthy reaction to a torturous experience.

Because they are unable to comprehend torture. They are unable to comprehend evil they have not experienced themselves.
Even their imaginations fail to imagine something so bad.

You are alone.

What do you do when the scriptures comes up short?

To believe in something is something you do for yourself.

We experience something that is beyond our comprehension. Some take refuge in their belief.I did, then I didn’t when it failed to help me.

It took some time, but in the end I found something that put what I was going through into perspective. I had tried to understand the evil I experienced, but there was nothing on that. It didn’t occur to me to look into suffering. May be because I was in such pain that I didn’t want to read about it as well. I didn’t want to hear about how we have to tolerate suffering when I was barely functioning and didn’t understand what I was dealing with.

It can seem like whatever happened is not spiritually conducive. For example when devotees die too early in tragic accidents. It appears meaningless.

The dark night of the soul is a transformation. We’re unable to see what that transformation is because we are not there. I used to think that if God could just tell me what He wanted from me, I would give it to Him. But instead He used the situation to soften me enough to be ready for what He wanted me to do. I was hammered into submission.

I used to think that because we are devotees and trying to use our lives to grow spiritually we were somehow protected. I don’t think like this anymore. I think we experience suffering to grow, but I don’t think we are protected.

Or.. well, that is not entirely correct. I don’t think we should be protected anymore. Suffering is just there, whether we are devotees or not. Suffering is there to be transcended. If we are unable to transcend it, it means we still have something to learn from it. If it is untolerable and it seems like there is no spiritual lesson there, then we might just be in the process of being hammered into something soft enough.

It is said that great personalities almost always accept voluntary inconvenience because of the suffering of people in general. This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Soul, who is present in everyone’s heart.
Bhagavat Purana 8.7.44

When I became the victim of a malignant narcissist I didn’t understand why I had to go through this. I had already learned the lesson of tolerance (though of course there’s always more tolerance to learn). But why? Why tolerate so much, 24/7 until days became a year?

Sometimes a dark night makes sense because of what it contributes to others, not what it does for you.
Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

Because increased tolerance was only a bi-product of other, more important lessons. I’m able to chant mentally now all the time. I would quickly be able to recognize a person without a conscience if I meet them again. I know how to deal with those kinds of beings.  But learning to inconvenience myself… that’s a lesson that I still need to develop.

But a step on the way is gratefulness. I had a year of being angry at God, then disappointed, then I needed a break. Then I stopped praying for material things. Slowly, I began just thanking whenever I had a moment of lessening (or not). It’s easy to find something to be grateful about – however small and it didn’t need to be related to my hell at all.

I had reached a stage of understanding. It took forever to understand that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist. It took a longer time to understand what that entails. Then it took forever to get to a place to really learn and practice how to deal with these creatures. I don’t call them human – because they aren’t. They are human like in their shape – but that’s all.  The resemblance ends there.

A Dark night of the soul event transforms us. We are not the same person as before it happened. We have to find joy again, but where we find it might be different. We have to put ourselves together in another way.

I’ve only just begun the process of putting myself together, except this time it will not be with cafe’s, moccas and fixing unhealthy thought patterns reading and digesting personal development books because my thought patterns are okey.

Now I have to put myself together in another way. A deeper way that goes even further. I hear the whisper that tells me what to do. Or actually, the whisper tells me to do something I resist doing. Mostly, I just stay in bed. I have been doing this for months now. I usually have a lot of projects and do so much, and I still do. Only to end up even more exhausted than before. But whenever I wake up and finish with the mechanics of the mornings, I get to the point where I ask myself: What do you want to do today?
The answer is always the same: Stay in bed. So I stay in bed until I have to get up because there’s so much I need to do, except I’m always behind on my chores because I need to stay in bed.

Why do I need to stay in bed? Why am I exhausted beyond physical exhaustion? That’s where the whisper comes in. It tells me to meditate. Do japa. Read books. I need to let go of the thoughts telling me that I need to get a job, to be social, to push through and be a productive member of society.

The whisper tells me I need to do the opposite of what comes natural to me. I have changed, so I need to change into something else because I’m different. The meditation will begin to take me there. The whisper tells me that maybe, just maybe after this dark night I’m supposed to become a tool for God and do whatever He wants me to and that’s why I haven’t been able to get a job. That whisper wants to become a bigger part of me and will begin to show me the way if I just open up for Him. The uncertainty of what will become of me is difficult and part of that dark night. Maybe I’m wrong about everything? What is the meaning of this? What will become of me?

All I know is that there is a big need for me to hibernate, to remove myself from people and the world. To go within – whatever that means.

Finally, and this may be the most difficult task of all, give yourself what you need at the deepest level. Care rather than cure. Organize your life to support the process. You are incubating your soul, not living a heroic adventure. Arrange life accordingly. Tone it down. Get what comforts you can, but don’t move against the process. Concentrate, reflect, think, and talk about your situation seriously with trusted friends.
Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

What I believed to be a big obstacle (the need to rest) is actually a gift. That need has been there for months, and now I understand that it will not disappear until I have done exactly that and extracted the gifts in this need. Because behind this need is an even deeper calling I need to heed.

 

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
Carl Jung

 

6 thoughts on “The Dark night of the soul

  1. ah..so much lengthy blog.But couldn’t understand the jist.Pls excuse me for my ignorance.But after reading ur passage the only word I remember is STITAPRAGNA.

    yaḥ sarvatrānabhisnehas tat tat prāpya śubhāśubham nābhinandati na dveṣṭi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā

    “There is always some upheaval in the material world which may be good or evil. One who is not agitated by such material upheavals, who is without affection for the good or evil, is to be understood as fixed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. As long as one is in the material world, there is always the possibility of good and evil because this world is full of duality. But one who is fixed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not affected by good and evil because he is simply concerned with Kṛṣṇa, who is all-good absolute. Such consciousness in Kṛṣṇa situates one in the perfect transcendental position called, technically, samādhi.

    Hare Krishna !!

    • Dandavats,

      I can’t believe it, but somehow your comment have managed to escape me until now. Thank you so much for your contribution.

      It goes to show I have a long way towards samadhi 😀

  2. Yesterday in one of the Janmastami classes my Guru Maharaja translated paritranaya sadhunam (from the Gita) into “I come to light up the dark night of their souls”.

  3. Dandavats. Waiting for your return to Vrindavan. Once He has made it clear to use you as a tool, there is only one way out, His. All joy is there.

    • Beautiful quote – it certainly sounds nice to think of myself as a tool. How nice it would be to be a tool 🙂

      I really look forward to come back. I will mail you with the date/times when I have managed to get plain tickets 🙂

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