Taking responsibility and the Dark Night

This goes for any of us any time, and it also seems to be a key for me right now.

It is easy to slip out of taking full responsibility for our actions. When things don’t go according to plan, I may – sometimes slightly and sometimes more obviously – go into victim mode, and ask why me? Why is …. [he, she, they, God, life] doing this to me?

Instead, I can take responsibility for my own actions.

I can take responsibility for what I did that brought this about.

And I can take responsibility for how I relate to it.

Of course, at the time I made the choices they may not have appeared as choice. I just did it. And there are innumerable and good reasons why I did it – from culture to family to personal experiences to not having enough information to the situation itself.

And yet, it makes a huge difference to take responsibility for my own actions. It is the difference between being a victim, blaming others and not learning from it, and being in charge of my own actions, taking responsibility and having a chance to learn from it.

This is alive for me now in relationship to the “dark night” period of my life. It is easy to think why me, why is God doing this to me? It is easy to think it is part of a natural process. It often seems to happen following a period of oneness awakening. It is how more parts of us become aligned with an awakening life. And that may be true enough.

And yet, what is really powerful is when I take responsibilty for my own actions bringing this about. This dark night period consist of a long series of choices and events, and it gives an amazing shift to look at each of these in detail and honestly take responsibility for my part.

When it comes to situations, I can ask myself…..

What do I complain about? What happened that I regret or don’t feel good about?

What were my choices that brought it about? (And how have I previously blamed someone or something else?)

Did I act from beliefs or fear? What is the core belief? What do I find when I investigate this one?

How would I have liked to have acted differently? How would it feel to act in this way now and in the future?  

For instance, the dark night period for me started when I moved away from a situation at the Zen center in Salt Lake City that felt deeply right at all levels, to a situation in Madison, Wisconsin, that felt deeply wrong at all levels.

Why did I do it? I got married and my wife didn’t want to live in Salt Lake City (she hadn’t told me) and also was accepted into graduate school at UW. I wanted to support her in going to graduate school, and I also felt I needed to go with her and live with her in Wisconsin.

Did I act from beliefs or fear? Yes. I had beliefs about marriage that said “when you are married, you have to live with your partner.” I was afraid of acting against cultural expectations, and the expectations of family and friends. Also, I was afraid of what it would mean for our relationship.

How would I like to have acted differently? I see now that a much better choice wold have been for me to stay in Salt Lake City, and instead going to Madison for visits. If I had been more free around ideas about marriage, I would most likely have made that choice. It would have been much better for me, and most likely much better for our relationship. (I left a situation that felt deeply right, and found myself in a situation that felt deeply wrong, and this was hard on her and our relationship as well.)

This choice set in motion a chain of other events which deepend the dark night for me. And I can explore each of these in the same way, finding how I first blame life and then what happens when I take responsibility for my own actions bringing it about, and what happens when I take responsibility for how I relate to it.

Background: Working on taking responsibility in this way for a while, and also a conversation on backlash following shaktipat. Some folks receiving deeksha have an awakening of sorts, and then go into the reverse – for instance a lack of energy and lots of undigested material coming up. For me, it has been relatively easy to take responsibility for my choices there. I decided to receive deeksha. And I know the deeksha givers had the best of intentions. But I know that some have a very understandable resentment about what happened to them. They feel they should have been warned, or that deeksha should not be offered in general. That resentment comes from a story that is not true, as all resentment does. And there is a great deal of freedom and insight on the other side of the belief, when we find more clarity around it.

For me, what is more true is that I made the decision to receive deeksha. The deeksha givers – whom I know personally to some extent – had the best of intentions. It has helped me see and digest a great deal of undigested material. And it has helped me recognize the possibility of a backlash when we “force” a head-center awakening. Much safer – and often faster – to go down, to connect with the body, work with the shadow, open the belly centers, work on our relationships and so on, often in combination with simple mediation practices such as stabilizing attention and allowing experience as is. I thought I knew that before this happened, and I know now it in a much deeper and more personal way.


  • taking responsibility and the dark night
    • dark night – difficult period in life
      • easy to go into victim mode, why me, why are god/life/others doing this to me
    • instead, take responsibility
      • take responsibility for….
        • the choices i made that brought this about
        • the choices i make in how i relate to it
      • seems a big piece in resolving what’s going on


This goes for any of us any time, and it also seems to be a key for me right now in relating to what’s happening.

This goes for any of us any time, and it also seems to be a key for me right now.

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