Dark Nights & Dying

During the dark night of the senses (phase two in the outline of Tozan and Underhill), there is a sense of being pulled apart and dying. What is dying is only the exclusive identification with our human self, but since this is an exclusive identification, it is experienced as dying. We die as everything we know ourselves as. And we are reborn – or rather discover ourselves as – the Witness, formless awareness, the Unborn, our Original Face. This can be a quite traumatic and painful process.

During the dark night of the soul (phase four), there is also a dying – although this one is experienced quite differently. Here, we die to our identity as the absolute (phase three), and this dying is experienced more as a complete loss of everything we found comfort in. We find ourselves back as a human being, not able to find comfort anywhere. And this leads to another rebirth, now as a more fluid and unremarkable integration of our human self and Ground, as the relative and absolute.

The sense of it being special, remarkable and an accomplishment from phase three is now (mostly?) worn off, and what is remaining is just the complete ordinariness of it. And a recognition of it as a process of continuous clarification, deepening, integration and maturing. There is a new humility here. We are just an ordinary human being.

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