Every spiritual aspirant’s journey is unique. Universally though, the dark nights of the soul are transition times in your spiritual life associated with the emergence of contemplative consciousness and a realisation that with all your searching you are already enlightened.
You are it right now. And of course, depending on how close you are to that realisation, your ego will undoubtedly argue the point to varying degrees. The great paradox is that you have to have known enlightenment at some point and at some level in your life to know what it is and that it’s what you want. At first, you know enlightenment instinctively but your enlightenment is not yet conscious. It begins with an instinct for enlightenment.
When you lose your keys, you know what you are looking for. You know exactly what your keys look like. You know you’ve misplaced them, but you know they are around somewhere, and so you keep looking until you find them. You are cognisant of your keys even though they are hidden. They are not yet visible. You have to re-cognise enlightenment. Your gut knows what it is to be enlightened, but you are yet to re-cognise it with total consciousness.
Some of the journey is active on your part, where you initiate certain practices or disciplines while other aspects of the journey are passive. The length of the dark night and its intensity also varies. A “Night of the Senses” may last an average of 12-18 months or more, whereas, a “Night of the Spirit” may extend for years. When you identify the quality of your relationship to the Divine, you have a place to begin your journey in a more conscious manner. There are a number of tools and maps, such as archetypes and chakras available to support this process, but any tool or map employed on this type of journey will not explain or rationalise your mysteries. It is not uncommon for seekers to abandon their spiritual journey during the onset of a dark night because of this. This is when you need someone qualified and experienced to support you. Find out more about my new course based on the Dark Night of the Soul by contacting me here.
There is a difference between an identity crisis and a spiritual crisis. An identity crisis involves your personality. It manifests as confusion about the roles that you play in life, concern about approval from others and your image, issues of self esteem and self sabotage. A spiritual crisis breaks into your soul. Everything in your physical, emotional and mental worlds lose their appeal for you. When you begin to reject the physical, emotional and mental gifts from spirit in favour of a pure and contemplative connection with the Divine then you know you are on the brink of the dark night of the soul.
The dark nights heal the damage done through years of wrestling with your head and heart, allowing your ego and personal will to dominate the way of your soul and divine will, and living under spells, illusions, false passions and conditioning. It is not easy. It is not pleasant. In order to truly develop and strengthen faith, you need at least one spiritual crisis to do it. And if your instinct to grow and evolve spiritually is especially strong, then you can expect to enter into more than dark night of the soul during your life time as your union with the Divine dives deeper and deeper. It’s an infinite journey.
The Dark Nights of the Soul will take you beyond thought, reason, sensation and feeling, and ultimately, they will bring you into a state of non-duality, into a realisation that ‘All is One, without a second’.