I started writing about the length and darkness of the dark night of the soul, and realized (a) that I don’t and cannot know much about it and (b) that I don’t need to know.
I also see that the dark night itself comes with an invitation to see and inquire into beliefs around this.
I need to know (what it’s about, how long it will last, what the “outcome” will be).
I need to understand (what it’s about, how to relate to it).
I need to control it (the process). It’s possible (for me) to control it. Understanding means control.
A part of the process is for these beliefs to come to the surface, and be worn out and/or inquired into.
That said, here is the initial draft of this post:
The length and darkness of the dark night
In reading and hearing about the dark night experiences of different people, it’s quite clear that it can be short or long, and less or more dark.
For Suso, it lasted ten years. For Douglas Harding, a few weeks.
I can see several different possible reasons for this:
The dark night is partly about bringing wounds to the surface so they can be healed and released, leaving space for wisdom and love to function through that part of the personality. So the more and deeper wounds, the longer it may take, and the more and deeper fears and beliefs may surface.
It’s partly about bringing primal fears and beliefs to the surface so these can be seen, felt and loved, and the thoughts released from belief. Again, it’s possible that deeper and stronger fears means a longer process, and possibly more struggle.
I also suspect that the process includes bringing more aspects of the personality “on line” so wisdom and love can function through a more well rounded and functional personality. Life brings challenges which brings up new aspects of the personality. The less developed these are, the longer this process may take.
So the deeper the wounds, and the deeper the primal fears and beliefs, the more is there to be seen, felt and loved. That in itself doesn’t mean a long and/or dark process. Not even the struggle or resistance against it does necessarily mean it has to be a long process. One of the beliefs that goes in this process is the belief that I can really understand or know what’s happening, or that I need to.
What I do see is that struggle and resistance makes the process less pleasant, and receptivity and willingness to follow the process gives more ease.
And I cannot necessarily chose to not struggle or resist. In fact, the process includes struggle and resistance surfacing so these too can be seen, felt and loved. What I can do is investigate what happens when I struggle and resist, see what fears and beliefs are behind this struggle, and investigate those thoughts.
Another of the beliefs that goes, it seems, in this process, is the belief in control. The beliefs that I can or need to control it, that there is an “I” to control it, and what it means if “I am not in control” (it won’t go as well, something terrible will happen).
Finally, I suspect the length and darkness of the process depends on how deep it goes, how much is brought to the surface, how much of the human self is reorganized and aligned, and so on. And that may not even be true (it probably isn’t).