The Atlantic article on the dark night

Fisher also emphasizes two categories that may cause dark nights to surface. The first results from “incorrect or misguided practice that could be avoided,” while the second includes “those [experiences] which were necessary and expected stages of practices.” In other words, while meditators can better avoid difficult experiences under the guidance of seasoned teachers, there are cases where such experiences are useful signs of progress in contemplative development. Distinguishing between the two, however, remains a challenge.

– from The Dark Knight (sic) of the Soul in The Atlantic

The Atlantic published an article on the dark night of the soul, which must be one of the few articles on this topic in a mainstream magazine. It’s quite good, although they do seem to conflate spiritual emergencies (which can take many forms) with a dark night of a soul (which is one particular form of spiritual emergency). Also, I suspect an editor mistyped the title and wrote “knight” instead of “night”. (Of course, going through a dark night is a form of a hero’s journey, so the accidental? knight metaphor is not completely inappropriate.)

The paragraph above is especially interesting to me, and seems to refer more to spiritual emergencies than a dark night of the soul. Spiritual emergencies may be triggered, or seem to be triggered, by pushing or seeking to “raise” the energy etc. (Less skillful ways of practicing.) A dark night of the soul, in contrast, is a phase many go through, and seems to be a natural phase of the process. I agree that it’s wise to practice under guidance to someone sober and familiar with the terrain, to minimize unpleasant spiritual emergencies. Although when they happen, there is often a gift there too. Spiritual emergencies have their own gifts, and become part of our journey. 




– why dark “knight”? (esp w/out clarifying, addressing)
– natural part of the process…..
— invitation to disidentification, embracing shadow, healing wounds/trauma, wider embrace of our humanity, humbling,
— anything unfelt, set aside etc. will come up, will want to join, seeks love/understanding
— anything in human experience comes, to be met w love, understanding, find a sense of ease through ups/downs/any experience
— invitation to meet w + recognize as love, recognize as awareness, inquire into, see what’s really there etc.
— eventually, more sense of ease through “ups” and “downs”, the wide range of human experiences….
— nothing went “wrong” and at the same time, can do what’s possible/reasonable to inform, ease the process, prevent serious crashes etc. (f.ex. if push hard, has consequences, may crash, need time to recover/move through)

– very simple, ordinary, unremarkable


– article
– describing spiritual emergency (broader than dn)

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