Many people come to me for therapy saying 'Help me not be this way, or feel this way, or act this way.'
They think something is wrong with them; they believe shame's opinion about their difficulties.
However, the most essential part of the healing is to get to know these ways of being, feeling and acting well enough so that the person can understand the deeper experiences, impulses, stories and truths about themselves embedded in these ways.
What do they end up discovering as they go deeper into these experiences?
That what appears to be something wrong with them is an arrow pointing to their greatest powers, gifts, beauties, and deep intelligences.
That what was once a task of ridding themselves of something unwanted, becomes a task of claiming and reclaiming their path, their soul.
Happiness and suffering, they support each other. They ‘inter-are’. ‘Inter-are is to ‘inter-be’. It is like the left and the right. It the left is not there, the right cannot be there. So the same thing is true with suffering and happiness. Good and evil, they inter-are also. In every one of us, there are good seeds and there are bad seeds. There is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus. You cannot grow lotus on marble. You have to grow it on the mud. So suffering is the kind of mud that we must be able to use in order to grow the flower of understanding and love.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Sometimes when you're in a dark place you think you've been buried, but you've actually been planted.
~ Christine Caine
Only those willing to walk through the dark night will be able to see the beauty of the moon and the brilliance of the stars.
~ Archbishop Socrates Vilegas
The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation. When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed.
~ Joseph Campbell
We seem to undergo multiple crucifixions and resurrections within a single lifetime… certain experiences bring us to our knees, and from this shattered space we are ultimately quickened with new life.
~ Gina Vucci (The Shift Network, Accelerating the Next Evolution)
Healers are spiritual warriors who have found that courage to defeat the darkness of their souls. Awakening and rising from the depths of their deepest fears, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Reborn with a wisdom and strength that creates a light that shines bright enought to help, encourage, and inspire others out of their own darkness.
~ Melanie Koulouris
And through a dark night of the soul, I came to realize that salvation happens through a mysterious, indefinable, relational interaction with Jesus in which we become one with Him. I realized Christian conversion worked more like falling in love than understanding a series of concepts of ideas. This is not to say there are no true ideas, it is only to say there is something else, something beyond.
~ David Miller
Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
~ C.S. Lewis
“Pachakuti” means “world reversal” and refers to the time of transformation we are living now. A mesa is an altar for self-exploration, transformation and personal growth in which we create a new paradigm of one’s relation to the Self and the Universe. This tradition, in all its richness, is an evolving practice of inner and outer activities that restore balance and harmony to our relationships with All That Is.
~ The Heart of the Healer
A Shamanic Portal into the Universe of the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition
In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning.
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
Depression is core to our development.
~ Lisa Miller
Poets and mystics perceive human suffering as the echo of the pain of separation from God, the Heart, our deepest Essence and most intimate Truth. They see it as an expression of the desperate longing of the human heart for the Infinite.
We cannot avoid or escape pain. But, we can witness it in meditation, listen to it, and discover God’s voice in it, yearning for us and calling us to Him. In the depths of our soul, we can hear the torment of a lover who is desperate for union with the beloved. If we surrender, this longing will become our guide to a Reality in which life and death disappear in an eternal embrace.
~ Beata Kucienska
God, who is everywhere, never leaves us. Yet He seems sometimes to be present, sometimes absent. If we do not know Him well, we do not realize that He may be more present to us when he is absent than when He is present.
~ Thomas Merton
Your Brokenness Leads You to Your Genius, Not to Despair
~ Terry Patten with Michael Meade
The dark night is a privation and purgation of all sensible appetites for the external things of the world, the delights of the flesh, and the gratifications of the will. All this deprivation is wrought in the purgation of the sense. That is why the poem proclaims that the soul departed when its house was stilled, the the appetites of the sensory part were stilled and asleep in the soul, and the soul was stilled in them.
A commentary on St. John of the Cross' The Dark Night
The way Jesus became perfect, complete or fulfilled (teleioo), is by suffering. If He had to go through suffering and His own dark night, then it's reasonable that this will be our role also.
In Jesus' painful night, Scripture tells us that sorrow and deep distress so marked His inner spirit that He actually sweated drops of blood. (Luke 22:44) No one was ever called to greater suffering. Mark 14:34 tells us that He exclaimed, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful unto death...." The magnitude of Jesus' agony is beyond our understanding. When the revelation of what He was about to endure became fully apparent, He fell on His face and prayed, "Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done ." (Luke 22:42)
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else.
Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.
Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
~ Maya Angelou
Spiritual darkness is a vast interior landscape of loneliness and abandonment. Solitude is our only companion in a dark night. Even in the midst of our loved ones and friends we persist in feeling desperately alone. Darkness invokes extreme contrasts between our immense feelings of solitude and deep desire to belong to something greater than ourselves. The suffering that results overwhelmingly defines our presence in the world.
All pain is separation and distance, and at the same time heightened self-awareness and consciousness. The body that is sick is more restless, and therefore, more willing to learn, more sensitive, and therefore, more alert and closer to death, to the spirit. Looking at human development, and to the diseases which accompany it; we find that the "price" of attaining independent thinking and self-consciousness has been the estrangement from the divine universe and from nature. We have even lost the true knowledge of ourselves. This estrangement is the suffering of our time, bearing within it epidemically spreading fear, isolation, despair and depression, often compensated for by the dependence on alcohol and drugs.
~ Olaf Koob MD, Depression: The Dark Night Of The Soul
A hero — [a person who faces danger and adversity, has a weakness or vulnerability, and displays courage and self-sacrifice] — ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
~ Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey
A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake.
One of the major purposes, then, of the dark night of the soul or a night season is to formulate an unshakable resolve in us, so that even if everything goes wrong in our lives and even if we can't see or understand a thing of what God is doing, we will still choose to cling immovably to God. He wants us to be governed only by our choice of faith – a faith that proclaims whether I live or die, I choose to trust in You, not in my own thoughts and emotions. God wants to produce in us a trust that can never be shaken. He is drawing us away from a life of senses and feelings and forcing us to turn to Him in naked faith, faith without feelings. He wants us to be able to constantly say and mean, "Not my will, but Yours" and "Though You slay me, yet will I trust You." God is teaching us, by darkening us, that all that matters in this life is knowing and loving Him. He wants us to love Him and rely upon Him regardless of what we desire, regardless of what our intellect is saying and regardless of what we are feeling.
The journey of life is both an adventure and a pilgrimage. We pass from body to body to collect experience. The fruit of experience is Enlightenment: the knowledge of Overself, established awareness of its presence; and knowledge of the Unseen Power behind the universe, established connection with it.
~ Paul Brunton
…This is the time when one curses God for the pain and suffering, and for the sense that there is no pulling back from this threshold of insanity.
What is the best way to negotiate the Dark Night?
The best way — or, perhaps, the only way — is to keep moving forward, knowing that this, too, shall pass. One must have faith in the principle of impermanence, which leads to letting go of clinging. Though it may be counter-intuitive for a person to plunge headlong into the mouth of her or his most frightening demons, this is exactly what is required of the skillful and rigorous contemplative.
…and let the process work itself out through an Intelligence greater than our own.
Once we come to this realization of being propelled, third jhana is quickly established and we are able to engage the advanced stages of sadhana that seemed so enticing before we ever heard of the Dark Night of the Soul.
Only then are we ready for the real work, the true purpose for our existence.
~ Michael Hawkins
We cannot heal what we cannot see. We cannot evolve if we cannot see. The Dark Night to me allows us to see what we otherwise could not see, as it will bring the deepest often most rejected aspects of our being into consciousness: our fear, our rage, areas where we lack acceptance, of illness, of suffering, of God, our ego identification.
Wake up each day expecting not to know what will happen, and looking with curiosity for the events to unfold. Instead of worrying and controlling, simply be present to whatever arises with the intention of meeting it with your best effort. Whatever happens in the process of spiritual awakening will be unpredictable and will move on, if you are simply the one noticing it, and not doing battle or making a big project out of it.
You may have emotional swings, energetic swings, psychic openings, and other undesired shifts that feel unfamiliar to your personality as you knew it. Be the observer. Don't feel you have to fix or change anything. It will pass.
~ Bonnie Greenwell
The Abyss was the place of transformation for the mystics. In its depths shone the illumination of the 'divine dark,' where divinity revealed itself. Dionysius the Areopagite even speaks of God as the 'Divine Darkness' and sees darkness as the secret dwelling place of God. In his imagery there is a 'divine progression,' a ladder or chain that links ordinary mortals with the divine. Another of the great mystics, St. John of the Cross, speaks of the 'secret stair' by which one descends in the dark night to meet the Beloved — the way the soul journeys into union with God. But prior to that union of ecstatic rapture with the Beloved comes the Dark Night of the Soul, that painful period of privation when one feels imprisoned in The Abyss ...
~ Linda Schierse Leonard
You become the wounded healer, someone who has made the descent and knows the territory. You take on depth of color and range of feeling. Your intelligence is now more deeply rooted and not dependent only on facts and reason. Your darkness has given you character and color and capacity. Now you are free to make a real contribution. It is a gift of your dark night of the soul!
~ Thomas Moore
As a pastor and therapist, I often encounter people whose lives have been invaded by despair. Often they approach me, not quite sure what's going on. "Maybe I'm going crazy. Or perhaps I'm just depressed. Can you help?" Here are three ways I’ve found to understand these “dark nights of the soul.” Dark nights provoke deep questions. These seasons of confusion can be a scary experience, for laypeople and pastors alike. The fifteenth-century Christian writer John of the Cross described this experience; he called it la noche oscura, or dark night, that difficult invasion of God's astringent grace that opens us to new realms of spiritual experience. However, it's easy to miss this moment of grace, especially if we fail to ask deeper questions about what God might be up to.
~Chuck DeGroat,"Three Truths About the Dark Night of the Soul, A painful and profound reality that shatters illusions."
To continue article see:
The life of the believer is like a torrent making its way out of the high mountains down into the canyons and chasms of life, passing through many experiences until finally coming to the spiritual experience of death. From there, the torrent experiences resurrection and a life lived in concert with the will of God while still going through many stages of refinement. At last the torrent finds its way into the vast, unlimited sea. Even here the torrent does not totally come to be one with the vast ocean until it has once more passed through final dealings by the Lord.
~ Madame Guyon
The mind is everything. What you think you become.
In going through suffering we acquire the qualities and the attributes that are doorways to other ways of understanding and to other ways of being: faith, trust and surrender.
As in the processes of dying and birthing, a paradigm shift is occurring, from that which was, to that which must be. It begins in your own garden of Gethsemane. Here is where great darkness falls upon the soul and spirit and the travailing begins.
~ Sis. Bonita Petroff
The term “dark night of the soul,” coined by sixteenth century poet-mystic St. John of the Cross, refers to the kind of spiritual crisis that leads us from profound unknowing to radiant transformation.
~ Mirabai Starr
In the process of discovering our true nature, the journey goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. We move down and down and down, and with us move millions of others, our companions in awakening …Right there we discover a love that will not die.
~ Pema Chodron
My child, if you accept my words
and treasure up my commandments within you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;
if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding;
if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures—
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk blamelessly,
guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his faithful ones.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path;
for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
~ Proverbs 2:1-10
To be Christ-like is to be compassionate. There are three linguistic expressions of compassion that underline what it means to be compassionate. The Latin root words literally describe compassion as "suffering together with another." The Greek root words literally describe compassion as "a wrenching of one's guts." The Hebrew root words literally describe compassion as "a powerful emotion of birth that yields personal and societal transformation."
Therefore, being compassionate means to enter into the deep wounded heart of the world. This means to identify with the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the homeless, the dying, the exploited, the oppressed all whom God identifies with. However, when we open ourselves to the hurts and pains of the world, we inevitably open ourselves to our own hurts and pains as well. Too often, we have experienced brokenness in our own lives and are in need of the transforming embrace of God.
~ Joe Colletti
Lectio Divina: A Call to Serene Contemplation and Social Commitment
Now the standard cure for one who is sunk is to consider those in actual destitution or physical suffering — this is an all-weather beatitude for gloom in general and fairly salutary daytime advice for everyone. But at three o’clock in the morning, a forgotten package has the same tragic importance as a death sentence, and the cure doesn’t work — and in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day. At that hour the tendency is to refuse to face things as long as possible by retiring into an infantile dream — but one is continually startled out of this by various contacts with the world. One meets these occasions as quickly and carelessly as possible and retires once more back into the dream, hoping that things will adjust themselves by some great material or spiritual bonanza. But as the withdrawal persists there is less and less chance of the bonanza — one is not waiting for the fade-out of a single sorrow, but rather being an unwilling witness of an execution, the disintegration of one’s own personality…
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Crack-Up”
Great art deepens the soul, inspiring a thirst for greatness and purifying it of what is base. It opens our minds to a clearer perception of truth and our imaginations to a more radiant vision of moral goodness and nobility.
~ Madeleine Stebbins, Looking at a Masterpiece
There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul, a total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were.
~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
Psychologically, then, the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ is due to the double fact of the exhaustion of an old state and the growth toward a new state of consciousness. It is a ‘growing pain’ in the organic process of the self’s attainment of the Absolute. The great mystics, creative geniuses in the realm of character, have known instinctively how to turn these psychic disturbances to spiritual profit…
~ Evelyn Underhill
The dark night of the soul represents this time of being "in-between" worlds; it marks the always "in the dark" transition that takes place as the consciousness of the seeker of truth moves out of one order of existence, and into another (higher) one.
~ Guy Finley
The journey to full remembering and reconnection to Spirit includes moments of vastness, joy, love, inspiration and awe; as well as moments of seeming lostness, anger, numbness, sadness, or even utter despair. It includes times of bright clarity and connection, as well as through the valley of the shadow, via negativa, or "dark night of the soul."
While everyone's journey to remembering, to deepened connection with Universe, Spirit and Wisdom is unique, there are also similarities along the path. There are ancient myths that point the way; there are maps being drawn by those of us who've walked the path.
There are kindred spirits and shared resources; there are avenues to reconnect with the deep Wisdom of our ancestors; and there is an abundance of "new wisdom" that joins the ancient.
The the association between bipolar disorder and creativity first appeared in literature in the 1970s, but the idea of a link between "madness" and "genius" is much older, dating back at least to the time of Aristotle. The Ancient Greeks believed that creativity came from the gods, and in particular the Muses, the mythical personifications of the arts and sciences, and the nine daughters of Zeus, the king of the gods. The idea of a complete work of art emerging without conscious thought or effort was reinforced by the views of the Romantic era. It has been proposed that there is a particular link between creativity and bipolar disorder, whereas major depressive disorder appears to be significantly more common among playwrights, novelists, biographers, and artists.
Psychotic individuals are said to display a capacity to see the world in a novel and original way, literally, to see things that others cannot.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
~ John 12:24
Personally I think there is grave danger in treating the symptoms of kundalini arousal with psychiatric drugs and other forms of suppression such as stodgy food. Since the metamorphic symptoms represent a dismantling, purification and strengthening at work, it is these functions that should be supported and encouraged. Thus our intent must be to go-into and work-with the process, rather than fight it in the effort to remain bound to the pupael bodymind. Understanding the psycho-biology of the transformation is vital to navigating the storms of this greatest of upheavals.
Kundalini is the raising of the energy of the body in an alchemical process of spiritual emergence of the higher self. The medical world do not yet know what they are dealing with in kundalini.
~ Jana Dixon,The Biology of Kundalini: The Fire of Life “Evolution is not an Illness”
Perhaps there can be no clear boundary between a nervous breakdown and the religious experience of the dark night of the soul.
I am in the process of exploring the idea (and experience) that psychoanalysis--broadly conceived-- is (paradoxically) a secular vehicle for achieving the sort of spiritual depths that were available to pre-modern adepts only through piety, meditation, confession and prayer; a vehicle that amongst other things allows one the freedom of unencumbered, even infinite speech and dialog, that assists one in liberating the “sparks” from one’s own psyche, and permits a full, open and meaningful exploration of one’s personal “dark night of the soul,” but I will leave my comments on this theme for another day.
We learn to find solutions and through metaadaptation we can face-into kundalini without fear. “Consciousness” ceases to be a “problem.” The more people that do this, the more we awaken as a collective organism, and thus the less likely we are to commit global suicide.
Be assured, if you should experience "the dark night of the soul" in any of its many forms, you are a person of significant potential, that God is challenging to enter a new level of being, which is beyond the domination of the lesser values of the material world. It is a humble beginning, but the humble do, indeed, inherit the earth!
~ Dr. Meredith J. Sprunger
It’s helpful, then, during a dark night, to constantly broaden your imagination of what is happening to you. If your only idea is that you’re depressed, you will be at the mercy of the depression industry, which will treat you as one among millions, for whom there is only one canonical and approved story. Maybe you’re overwhelmed but not depressed. Maybe life has sent you a great challenge, and you may need a vast spiritual vision to deal with it…
Meaning allows you to go through almost any form of change, no matter what the costs.
~ Thomas Moore
The dark night of the soul
comes just before revelation.
When everything is lost,
and all seems darkness,
then comes the new life
and all that is needed.
~ Joseph Campbell
If you could get rid of yourself just once,The secret of secrets would open to you. The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe Would appear on the mirror of your perception.
~ Jalal Ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
While the statements “seek and you will find” and “knock and the door will be opened” are true, they’re only true up to a point. The ego’s games and desires must be exhausted before any kind of ‘finding’ or ‘door opening’ will happen. In reality, what you must do is knock and knock and knock, seek and seek and seek, and when none of it works and you feel as confused and lost as you did at the start, you finally give up.
~ Jessica Davidson
And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
~ Hebrews 12:27
In order to expound and describe this dark night, through which the soul passes in order to attain to the Diving light of the perfect union of the love of God, as had as is possible in this life, it would be necessary to have illumination of knowledge and experience other and far greater than mine; for this darkness and these trials, both spiritual and temporal, through which happy souls are won’t to pass in order to be able to attain to this high estate of perfection, are so numerous and so profound that neither does human knowledge suffice for the understanding of them, nor experience for the description of them; for only he that passes this way can understand it, and even he cannot describe it.
~ St. John of the Cross, Prologue Ascent of Mt Carmel
Upon a darkened night
the flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest
Shrouded by the night
And by the secret stair I quickly fled
The veil concealed my eyes
while all within lay quiet as the dead
Oh night thou was my guide
of night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
to the beloved one
transforming each of them into the other
~ Loreena Mckennitt, beginning lyrics to her song, "The Dark Night of the Soul", metrolyrics.com
When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone
I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
~ Loreena Mckennitt, beginning lyrics to her song, "Dante's Prayer", metrolyrics.com
Increased awareness shines a light on dark corners of the personality and/or the world at large. So the dark night period is really a sign that transformation is occurring — the labor pains of personal rebirth.
If processed, all who have undergone the dark night of the soul agree that it is ultimately a doorway to deeper awareness and understanding. On the other side awaits a more authentic self and a broader concept of the world. But in the meantime the false constructs and denied aspects of self become increasingly uncomfortable, even painful, giving the impression that something awful is happening, when, in fact, this period can be seen as nature’s way of encouraging regeneration — as a snake’s partly shed skin irks and itches him until he rubs the husk off entirely.
So named after St. John of the Cross’ classic religious poem of the same title, the dark night of the soul is described by seekers of all mystical traditions as an important stage of the quest for deeper knowledge — as unavoidable as confronting the dragon who guards the treasure in every mythic hero’s story.
Only one who has risked the fight with the dragon,” notes the great Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, “and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the ‘treasure hard to attain’. . . . he has faced the dark ground of his self and thereby gained himself.”
The night sea journey takes you back to your primordial self, not the heroic self that burns out and falls to judgment, but to your original self, yourself as a sea of possibility, your greater and deeper being.”
~ Thomas Moore
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
~ Carl Jung
The Shadow is an archetype — a universal motif or image built in to all human beings. You can no more get rid of this inner Shadow than you can avoid casting an outer shadow when you’re in sunlight. For most of us, that creates a problem, because the Shadow appears as the sum total of the weakest, most flawed, inferior or even disgusting parts of yourself. It’s everything you don’t wish to be, but fear that you are.” (“The Tools” by Phil Stutz.)
When one is experiencing a dark night of the soul, one inevitably comes face to face with one’s shadow side.
“Most of us do not take these situations as teachings,” says Zen monk and author Pema Chödrön. “We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape — all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.”
Continues Chödrön,”It’s a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately trying to fill up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness.” By spaciousness, Chödron means the vast calm available to us in the “inner space” of turning inward in meditation and conscious presence. (For more on third eye meditations and inner space travel see “The Art of Seeing: Third Eye Perception and the Mystical Gaze”).
The only way out is through. Once we begin to see the value in our shadow aspects and dark night periods — whether it’s a dark night day, month or year — we can learn to stop resisting the discomfort and surrender to the process, to view it as an initiation, a transition. If we view every aspect of the journey as sacred, we are better able to glean its gifts, for behind the dark night awaits a silver dawn.
~ Tai Carmen, Navigating a Dark Night of the Soul
(a collection of great quotes and insights from many teachers)
The “dark night of the soul” as a distinct phase in spiritual life was first described John of the Cross, the sixteenth-century Spanish mystic Carmelite monk. Saint John wrote the “Dark Night of the Soul” when he was imprisoned for eight months by his own community for his unconventional religious beliefs. Through the trials of his imprisonment, he came to respect the majesty of the consuming disorientation of spiritual darkness. To John, the dark night was identical to the Christian concept of purgatory but happening now in this life, a passage that revealed painful truths, but was full of hope and promise of light.
~ Sandra Lee Dennis, “Dark Night of the Soul”
Maybe the emphasis on suffering that characterises Christianity affects the way these experiences are described. In contrast, Buddhism emphasises equanimity and selflessness, and so the experience of the Dark Night is seen as a stage to move through without getting attached. Perhaps there’s no real difference in the experience, just in the cultural conditioning and language used. (Also, it’s unfair to quote out of context. When you’re in the middle of it, the death throes of the ego feel very real, even if they are ultimately illusory.)
I have found both approaches useful in their own way. The torment and suffering described by the Christian mystics puts my own pain into perspective, and the rationality of Buddhist equanimity helps me to let go of that pain and not take it personally.
~ Jessica Davidson
For the great mystics, such periods of chaos and misery often lasted months or even years before the new and higher state of spirituality is reached; often the dark side is experienced before the possibility of the new is apprehended ... Heroism is required to endure and not succumb to the danger and the pain. The mystical journey is neither rational nor linear.
~ Linda Schierse Leovard, PhD
This darkness unknots your soul. It releases its bondage so you can be free to move into the next phase. Without this release, we stay locked inside the labyrinth of smallness and suffering. It sounds dramatic (it often is) but this is how humans have struggled and triumphed through their dark nights of the soul since the beginning. Similar to the butterfly who must push and squeeze her way out of her cocoon to find her ultimate release, these times of despair and darkness are the moments that we can blossom more fully and better express the life force that exists within us.
~ Alanna Kaivalyav
A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
Melancholia is, I believe, a musical problem: a dissonance, a change in rhythm. While on the outside everything happens with the vertiginous rhythm of a cataract, on the inside is the exhausted adagio of drops of water falling from time to tired time. For this reason the outside, seen from the melancholic inside, appears absurd and unreal, and constitutes ‘the farce we all must play’. But for an instant – because of a wild music, or a drug, or the sexual act carried to its climax – the very slow rhythm of the melancholic soul does not only rise to that of the outside world: it overtakes it with an ineffably blissful exorbitance, and the soul then thrills animated by delirious new energies.
~ Alejandra Pizarnik
I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.
~ Edgar Allan Poe
Acquainted With The Night
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-by;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
~ Robert Frost
Anne, I don't want to live. . . . Now listen, life is lovely, but I Can't Live It. I can't even explain. I know how silly it sounds . . . but if you knew how it Felt. To be alive, yes, alive, but not be able to live it. Ay that's the rub. I am like a stone that lives . . . locked outside of all that's real. . . . Anne, do you know of such things, can you hear???? I wish, or think I wish, that I were dying of something for then I could be brave, but to be not dying, and yet . . . and yet to [be] behind a wall, watching everyone fit in where I can't, to talk behind a gray foggy wall, to live but to not reach or to reach wrong . . . to do it all wrong . . . believe me, (can you?) . . . what's wrong. I want to belong. I'm like a jew who ends up in the wrong country. I'm not a part. I'm not a member. I'm frozen.
~ Anne Sexton, Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters
Socrates once said, “I call myself a peaceful warrior because the important battles are inside.” Now I faced my own inner battle — a time of disillusionment, cynicism, and mental paralysis. I felt frozen in place, stuck between two worlds, belonging fully to neither. I wanted to go back, but I had seen too much to do so; yet I couldn’t see a way to go forward.
As my psyche went through this process of reorganization, I experienced a time of profound disorientation and suffering, not unlike that of those suffering from mental illness. This was my dark night of the soul, as various spiritual traditions have called it. The dark night of the soul can be a lonely time. We may find it difficult to communicate with others. Our lives may look relatively normal or even pleasant from the outside but feel very different on the inside.
~ Dan Millman
I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth — and truth rewarded me.
~Simone de Beauvoir
Poverty is uncomfortable, as I can testify; but nine times out of ten the best thing that can happen to a young man is to be tossed overboard and compelled to sink or swim for himself.
I have had many troubles, but the worst of them never came.
~ James A. Garfield
The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.
~ Jamie Buckingham
The truth will set you free. But before it does, it will make you angry.
~ Jerry Joiner
Truth only reveals itself when one gives up all preconceived ideas.
Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.
~ Leo Tolstoy
All great truths begin as blasphemies.
~ George Bernard Shaw
If a thousand old beliefs were ruined in our march to truth we must still march on.
~ Stopford Brooke
I tend to think of the Dark Night of the Soul as the moment that creates the momentum for the final push of the book. This is where the hero resolves, “I will reach my goal or die trying,” and then makes one last grab for it. The tension for the reader is that by this point you’re invested in this character, you’re on board with their need to achieve the goal… and you have no idea how it’s going to work out. That’s what keeps you turning pages.
~ Carrie Ryan
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The unexamined life is not worth living.
Consciousness and Healing
To proceed very far through the desert, you must be willing to meet existential suffering and work it through. In order to do this, the attitude toward pain has to change. This happens when we accept the fact that everything that happens to us has been designed for our spiritual growth.
It is in the whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn.
~ M. Scott Peck
Dr. Tan Kheng Khoo
In Depth Studies of Every Form of Spirituality
The Stormy Search for the Self