A few brief thoughts on the dark night:
Most simply, a dark night happens any time there is friction between our stories of what is and what should be.
The term is be used in a quite free way, any time we are going through a “dark” period in our life. If a neighbor is noisy and I believe she shouldn’t be, there is a small dark night. If I am diagnosed with a terminal illness and believe it’s a bad thing, there may be the experience of a more intense dark night.
And it can also be used in a more technical sense.
Here, it can refer to the dark night of the senses, an initial/early dark night where life reveals itself as awareness – as God, the divine, while there may still be identification with many stories, including the story of I. For me, this was an experience of being pulled apart and put together differently, along with very high energies running through body and mind, and seeing energies, influx of insights, and so on. This phase may be preceded by initial prayer, meditation or other practices, or it may happen – as it did for me – on its own, out of the blue.
The dark night can also refer to a dark night of the soul. This is the one I usually refer to here. It may happen after a period of illumination, of a relatively stable seeing and recognition of all as Spirit, as awareness, God, the divine. It’s a period where the shadow (in a depth psychology sense) surfaces to be seen, felt and loved. It’s also a period where the remaining clinging to an identity as an I and me are challenged even more than it may have been previously. Remaining beliefs around life and death tends to also surface.
It’s possible that the dark night of the senses reduces identification as a me – as a human being with a certain identity in the world, and the dark night of the soul reduces identification as an I – as a doer, observer and so on.
And these phases are really just facets of a process. The two dark nights can happen separately or at once, they can be brief or long, hard or easy. There are no prescriptions apart from our expectations, and life is under no obligation to conform to these expectations.
What makes the second dark night brief or long, easy or difficult? I suspect it may be related to how much fear is in the system, which fuels clinging to beliefs and identities. How much shadow material there is to see, feel and love. And generally, how much (identification with) resistance there is to what’s happening. We can slip into and through it, if there is little resistance. And we can be dragged kicking and screaming into and through it, to the extent there is. For me, there was certainly quite a bit of fear, clinging and resistance – even as I recognized it, consciously worked with it, and aimed at aligning myself with the process.
I also suspect that these two forms or facets of the dark night continues. They may show up most clearly during specific phases in our life, and they may also surface in smaller ways any time as long as there are more identifications and beliefs left. A major difference may be how we relate to it. At first, there may be a great deal of resistance. Later on, as we have more experience with it, there may generally – although not always! – be a more of a conscious alignment with the process.
And is it really a dark night? After inquiry on that thought – it’s a dark night – it seems equally or more true that it’s a brilliant day. It’s a process of inviting what’s left to align with reality.
– exhaustion, figure eight, swing back,
– loss of plans, health, identities, friends etc., “abandoned by god and man”
– dark night –> bright day, see what’s there,
– when belief, if couldn’t think the thought
– two forms: (a) senses – , (b) spirit –
– happens in daily life as well, whenever life doesn’t go “my” way – not aligned with beliefs (shoulds, expectations, identifications)
– easier -> not much material to bring into light, or doesn’t go as deep, or allow/welcome
– harder -> more material, goes deep, caught in resistance