By Diane Eaton
No matter what spiritual path you walk, the practices and intentions you set in motion every day surely bring you greater peace, more trust, better communication with your inner guidance, and a deeper kinship with your own divine nature.
The rewards can be great. But as you’ve probably noticed, the spiritual path isn’t always paved with rose petals.
Indeed, many of those on the road to higher consciousness will, at some point, experience a decidedly dark, deep, and difficult period of time — maybe over a day, or maybe over several years. Difficult, yes. But it can ultimately launch them into the very transcendental experience that their souls have hungered for so desperately.
For centuries, spiritual seekers have called this intense period the dark night of the soul. It is a time riddled with struggle, doubt, depression, and confusion. Both mind and heart are overcome with despair, anxiety, aloneness, and grief.
Amid a deluge of self-destructive thoughts, people in this inner state wrestle with the most fundamental part of their identity.
It is very similar to what is conventionally thought of as depression. People experiencing a dark night feel like nothing makes sense anymore, that there’s no purpose to anything. Any meaning they’ve given to the stuff of life — all the concepts that have organized their understanding of reality — begins to collapse.
The illusory stage of life’s performance — the ego — is being dismantled.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE.
If you experience a dark night, you’re in good company. Writings from some of those who have gone through it, including St. John of the Cross, Ram Dass, and Mother Teresa, demonstrate the intensity and turmoil of the dark night experience.
“I am told God lives in me — yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great in me that nothing touches my soul,” wrote Mother Teresa in her later years. As an internationally-adored icon of God-centered living, Mother Teresa’s confession that she felt so disconnected from God was a devastating revelation to many.
This challenging life experience usually occurs after one has made considerable progress towards achieving an ongoing state of higher consciousness. It’s like an initiation, or trial by fire, for those seeking, not just a relationship with Source, but an absolute and perfect unity with it.
Why is it so challenging? In the midst of the dark night, all of your ego’s false concepts about you and the world around you get revealed. Everything that sits in the way of you seeing yourself as free, infinite, and divine gets called up to be recognized and released.
Many emotions that you’ve suppressed for years, decades, and lifetimes, and the belief systems that fuel them, bubble up to the surface to be seen, embraced, and finally liberated.
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. – Carl Jung
AND THEN THERE IS LIGHT.
Once the battle is over and the dust settles, nothing less than a profound spiritual transformation occurs. The ticket to the other side — not surprisingly — is utter and complete surrender. Your ego finally stops claiming territory. You let go of your known universe and you let the unknown embrace you.
The perceptions you’ve imposed upon life have fallen away so that life can reveal to you its own pervasive presence, beauty, intimacy, and awesome aliveness.
And you’re free.
Awakening from a dark night brings you to an extraordinarily expanded state, an undeniable authenticity, and a direct line to Source.
Despite its bad reputation, the dark night of the soul can be the very doorway to higher consciousness.