I have written about this before, but wanted to revisit it for my own sake.
There are a few possible reasons for a dark night of the soul:
It’s a common stage in an awakening/embodiment process. It seems to be part of the process, for many or most.
It’s a part of natural swings. After a “high” there is a “down”, and the dark night of the soul sometimes comes after a honeymoon phase, an initial “high”.
With these swings, the invitation is to see, feel and love it all as awareness (Spirit, love), and to find ourselves as that which already is and allows it all.
It helps us see what’s left in terms of unloved and unexamined wounds, trauma, fears, beliefs, and identifications. It’s an invitation to find a new wholeness as a human being, and for identifications to (continue) to wear off.
It seems the dark night happened because I left my guidance. I went against my knowing and my guidance on a major life decision, and didn’t leave the situation even if it continued to not feel right. This led to a sense of being deeply off track, and eventually fatigue and collapse at many levels.
All of these may be part of the picture. It’s a natural phase, it’s an expression of natural swings, it’s an invitation to see/feel/love all as what I already am, it shows me what’s left, and it happened the way it did because I left my guidance on a significant life decision.
What are some possible reasons for an especially long and/or intense dark night of the soul? And, in particular, what may be some reasons in my case? (I am thinking of DNs that last 10-15+ years.)
It followed a long and intense initial awakening phase. The unusually high high was followed by an unusually low low. (Respectively 10+ years, followed by a transition, and then 10+ years.)
I may have special difficulties in finding love for what’s here, and examine it thoroughly. Perhaps due to trauma? In my case, it seems that it’s been difficult for me to allow it – the love, trust, understanding, insights – to deeply sink in and work on me at a deep(ish) level.
I continued to go against my guidance for several years, which deepened the sense of being off track, brought fatigue, and led to eventual collapse. I stayed in a situation that didn’t feel right, at a deep level.
On the topic of stages, here are some as described by Evelyn Underhill and Adyashanti.
Evelyn Underhill’s stages: Initial interest, dark night of the senses, illumination, dark night of the soul, unitive life.
Adyashanti’s stages: Calling, awakening, trails and tribulations, abiding tranquility, transfiguration, relinquishment, transmutation.
To me, it makes sense that a dark night of the senses leads to a more abiding tranquility. It seems that the only (?) way through it is to find a deep love for what’s here, including the deepest pain, and recognize it too – including at a felt level – as awareness and love. And it makes sense if this leads to a deeper sense of ease with what’s here, whether it’s easy or difficult, pleasant or painful, “light” or “dark”. It’s a deeper level of “one taste”, one that’s not only seen or loved, but also felt.
I am adding these points which came to mind:
A year or two before the dark night of the soul happened, I prayed for full awakening no matter what it would cost (for days, in front of the main altar in Bodh Gaya of all places). This is a type of “dangerous prayer” which may give us what we ask for, but not in the way we expect or (think we) want.
About six months before the darkest phase of the dark night, I received diksha (energy transfer) which led to about half a year in a (simple, easy, unremarkable) nondual state. This was followed by sudden fatigue and collapse at almost all levels. It’s possible that this was a response to the diksha. It may have tried to push or force a natural development that is better left to unfold in its own time. (Of course, this became part of my process and how it all unfolded.)
A couple of weeks before the absolutely darkest phase of the dark night (two years after the diksha event), I said another dangerous prayer. I asked to be shown what’s left, and was plunged into about nine months of primal and immense dread and terror.