Shinzen Young on the dark night

 

1. Accentuate the good parts of the Dark Night even though they may seem very subtle relative to the bad parts. You may be able to glean some sense of tranquility within the nothingness. There may be some sense of inside and outside becoming one (leading to expanded identity). There may be some soothing, vibratory energy massaging you. There may be a springy, expanding-contracting energy animating you.

2. Eliminate the negative parts of the dark night by deconstructing them through noting. Remember “Divide and Conquer”—if you can divide a negative reaction into its parts (mental image, mental talk, and emotional body sensation), you can conquer overwhelm. In other words, eliminate the negative parts by loving them to death.

3. Affirm positive emotions, behaviors, and cognitions in a sustained systematic way. By that I mean gradually, patiently reconstruct a new habitual self based on Loving Kindness and related practices.

– Shinzen Young about the Dark Night, from The Power of Gone

I see that this can be helpful, and it’s – in some ways – a distilled form of what I have discovered for myself. The pointers are practical and helpful, and easy to understand. At the same time, they are written in a way that – at first glance – may seem to feed into and reinforce our habitual ideas of “good” and “bad”. Since those are potentially stressful thoughts they will be included under no. 2., and can be taken to inquiry…!

Accentuate the good. Even in a dark night, there is what we may think of as good. One way to discover this is to ask the question, is it true that what I am looking for is not here? More specifically: Is it true that peace is not here? Is it true that love is not here? Is it true that contentment is not here? Is it true that allowing is not here? 

Eliminate the negative. Examine the apparent problems through how it appears in words, images and sensations. What happens when you see words as words, images as images, and sensations as sensations? What happens when you take time and feel sensations as sensations? (Living Inquiries.) What stressful thoughts do you have about what’s happening? What do you find when you examine these? (The Work.)

Affirm the positive. Find love through ho’oponopono, tonglen, metta and similar practices. (Do these practices also on the suffering parts of yourself.) Meet the suffering parts of yourself in satsang. Pray to the divine. Ask for guidance. Ask for surrender. Ask for support in meeting what’s apparently troublesome with love.

And, I would also add, question any thoughts of good and bad, and right and wrong, and anything else that’s stressful.

Is it true what’s happening is bad? Is it true something went wrong? Is it true I am doing something wrong? 

Is it true it’s discomfort? Is it true it’s emotional pain? 

Is it true it’s too much? Is it true I can’t handle it? 

With the living Inquiries:

Can I find bad? Good? Right? Wrong? The one who is doing something wrong? Discomfort? Pain? Overwhelm? (And whatever else is coming up.)

With The Work:

Something went wrong. I am doing it wrong. I will never get through this. It’s too much. I can’t trust life. I can’t trust the process.

It’s pain. It’s discomfort. It’s too much. It shouldn’t be here. It would be better if I had another experience.

Finally, here is the song 🙂

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