“Thou hast been a child at the breast, a spoiled child,” said the Eternal Wisdom to Suso. “Now I will withdraw all this.” In the resulting darkness and confusion, when the old and known supports are thus withdrawn, the self can do little but surrender itself to the inevitable process of things: to the operation of that unresting Spirit of Life which is pressing it on towards a new and higher state, in which it shall not only see Reality but be real.
– Evelyn Underhill, from the Dark Night chapter in Mysticism.
Big Mind, what can you say about this?
This applies to P. He had an initial awakening – into cosmic consciousness, absence of I, and then many years in a unity consciousness. Then, there was a second dark night (the first lasted for about a year prior to the initial awakening) and all of this was taken away from him, or that’s how it seemed to him.
This second dark night is a gift, it’s love – as all of it has been. It couldn’t be better, even if he has many stories – and some of them still seems real to him at an emotional level – that says otherwise. That’s part of the process too.
The second dark night brings what’s left to the surface and helps it release.
During the unity phase, he still believed in an “I” at an emotional level. He still associated reality with some of the sugar coating of the initial awakening (bliss, passion, influx of insights and inspiration). He still believed, at an emotional level, in several other thoughts. There were still wounds there that needed to surface and heal. All of that has surfaced due to the dark night.
He has struggled against it. He has a thought that it’s a mistake. He has experienced pain. He fights it tooth and nail at times.
And yet, it’s as it should be. It really cannot be differently. Life creates a dark night. He resists, until he doesn’t.
What advice do you have for him?
Relax. It’s OK. You know what to do.
You know when to rest. You know when to identify your thoughts and inquire into them. You know when to seek assistance.
Is there anything he needs to see or do?
You are loved. It’s all better than you can imagine. And yet, you have a calling. In this moment, what’s your calling? It could be to make a cup of tea. Go to the bathroom. Rest. Sleep. Inquire. Go for a walk. You have a calling. In this moment, what’s your calling?
Do that and you’ll be fine. Don’t do it, and you’ll be fine too. But it’s more fun for you if you try it, ask yourself…. What’s my calling right now, in this moment?
I keep returning to this, as a reminder to myself.
During the initial expansion and unity phase, reality is recognized, although with a few veils.
One veil is that although all is seen as God, it appears to happen to an “I”. This “I” is recognized as God too, and it may even be recognized as just an appearance – an image, and yet, there is still some identification there. There is a belief in the story of I.
Another veil is beliefs about the side-effects of the initial expansion/awakening. If find a couple of sets of beliefs here for myself. (i) If X (bliss, passion, in-pour of insights) goes way, clarity about reality (awakening) goes away. The side-effects of awakening is associated with, and mistaken for, clarity about reality. (ii) I need…. bliss, passion, insights, luminosity. There is an I here that needs all of these things.
And a third veil is any other remaining beliefs, many of which are temporarily “hidden” by the bright light of unity/expansion. I am inferior. I need her to like me. My neighbor is too noisy. There are still ordinary and universal beliefs and wounds that are not quite clarified or healed.
During the unity phase, I am like a child to the breast. I get all sorts of good stuff without having to work for it and without my remaining beliefs having to go.
The dark night of the soul is an invitation for lifting each of the veils. Life withdraws the breast. There is a weaning off from the side-effects of the initial expansion/unity, and really, there is a weaning off from beliefs, from identification with certain stories.
It’s an invitation to move from seeing Reality to reality awakening to itself.
I suspect that sometimes, reality does wake up to itself at the end of a dark night of the soul. And in other cases, there is still something left and life continues the invitation even after the dark night.
And some beliefs around this:
There is a dark night.
A dark night is necessary.
A dark night has to be tough.
Awakening is a process.
- initial expansion/unity state
- reality is recognized, with one or two remaining veils
- all is seen as god, yet happening to an I
- confusion between big mind and states (the side-effects of opening may be mistaken for reality itself)
- any number of other beliefs may still be there, temporarily “hidden” by the bright light of unity/expansion
- the dark night is an invitation for remaining veils to lift
- reality awakens to itself, the belief in an “I” is recognized as a thought/belief
- beliefs about states wear off (I need bliss/passion, bliss means i am on the right track etc.)
- remaining beliefs/wounds surface to clear/heal
Any initial expansion and/or unity state is a foretaste. In a unity state, reality is directly recognized, although with one or two remaining veils. All is seen as God (as Spirit, Big Mind) and yet (a) it’s happening to an apparent “I”, and (b) there may also be a confusion between reality (that which all happens within and as) and states (bliss, expansion, insights etc.)
So the dark night of the soul is then an invitation for these remaining veils to lift.