Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dark Night of the Soul (5)

The “dark night” stage usually culminates in crisis.

Though one may with considerable good will conscientiously follow for several years an extremely arduous spiritual path, it seems to lead to abject failure.

One remains confined to an extremely dark oppressive underworld suffering an immense burden of grief and anguish.

Worse still all signs that one is on the right road have now disappeared with everything suggesting that one is totally lost.

Also, any remaining energy in the will seems to have evaporated.

One now can become depressed in a pathological manner. The darkness that once was associated with a (hidden) spiritual light, may resemble a thick form of treacle in the mind slowly suffocating one’s remaining strength.
Not surprisingly as one finds it more and more difficult coping with the world, external problems continually grow.

In any case because of the development of one’s “higher “spiritual self one may have devoted little attention to conventional skills and pursuits.

It takes a considerable time to realise that single-minded dedication to the spiritual life (with its strongly transcendent focus) has by degrees become a great problem.

In other words one now needs to switch back from (transcendent) spirit to (immanent) nature.

However initially this may be very difficult to achieve.

As one reaches a highly passive state (lacking the capacity for all but the most mundane activities) the troubles of the world resonate with one in a dramatic fashion.

Though unable to do anything worthwhile to actively relieve such problems, one becomes painfully aware of the poor, the starving, the homeless, the sick and bereaved, indeed in a general way with all human difficulties.

In one way, this is a good thing as it keeps the focus away from self pity. Rather one realises that the dimensions of human suffering and misery are truly unlimited. However while trapped in this underworld of darkness unable to see any hope of relief, it psychologically proves very wearing and compounds growing pathological symptoms of depression.

There may now be a desperate attempt to readapt to the world.

I remember in my own case that I had not yet learnt basic tasks such as swimming, driving a car, playing a musical instrument or learning to dance. This lack had then in my earlier existence inhibited me socially and was perhaps therefore a factor in later seeking a radical “spiritual” solution.

So it was at this time at my lowest ebb, that I tried to make a start to master these skills, which in my then state of mind was extremely difficult. I remember in particular the first night of ballroom dancing, just dreading the arrival of the instructor!

However the crucial turning point does not really arrive until one reaches the stage where paradoxically one finally gives up on the spiritual quest.

In other words one can no longer ignore the signs. Whatever one’s intentions, the journey has led to a horrible psychological state, leaving one incapable of coping with increasing difficulties.

So, in finally admitting that it has been a tragic mistake, one seemingly let’s go of faith itself! However what one really surrenders in this moment is this exclusive identification with its transcendent focus.

And in that moment of seeming despair, remaining conscious control is finally relinquished and nature mysteriously reborn, with the unconscious now at last free to be given direct expression.     

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