Dark night of soul is a process through which every spiritual seeker passes at some stage of his quest. I myself have been through it and now I am able to look back at it with somewhat impartiality.
What is ‘Dark night of soul’?
Although the term ‘Dark night of soul’ is not to be found in the scriptures or in major spiritual texts, but the commonly accepted definition of it is ‘Loss of meaning and purpose in the hitherto acquired concepts, occurred due to the loss of ego self’.
Origin of the term ‘Dark night of soul’ is ascribed to Spanish mystic and poet St. John, due to his poem titled as ‘Dark night of the soul’.
Although anyone can pass through the dark night but this process is commonly found in spiritual seekers, hence I shall write this blog mostly in relation to a spiritual seeker.
The process of dark night is scary yet beautiful at the same time. Scary, because the hitherto nurtured ego is subjected to the loss of it’s frivolous existence, and beautiful, because it facilitates the journey of enlightenment by opening the door for the real self to shine in its full glory.
The earliest account of this kind of psychological situation dates back to thousands of years ago and has been elaborately described in ‘Yoga Vasishta’. In spite of being a prince, when he was 16, Lord Rama felt as if he had nothing to do with the kingdom and should run away to forest to seek the spiritual self. He had lost all the meaning in his royal presence as a prince and could not see any purpose in continuing with his external identity.
Signs that one is passing through ‘Dark night of the soul’
There are few psychological indicators which may be called as signs of dark night of soul. Although many prefer to describe them quite romantically, typically in terms of universal love and so on, but here I am trying to give a more realistic account of it.
1. The cultural and social considerations get shattered :
As one passes through the dark night, his hitherto sense of importance in social and cultural norms gets shattered. For some time, he may prefer to alienate himself culturally and socially.
2. The sense of reality goes down :
His sense of reality goes down quite dramatically in the affairs of the world. Even as regards to his personal engagements with the world, he may loose the importance of them quite drastically.
3. Previously stored emotions surface intensely and unexpectedly :
As his mind and brain are getting accustomed to the new reality, some deep rooted past emotions get surfaced suddenly and he feels as if a big load of energy is being released from his system. If he has purified himself enough and if he is in seclusion at the time of eruption, then he can cope with it without causing any relationship issue.
4. Feels miserable without external impetus :
He may sometimes feel miserable without anything happening around him. It just means that he has not found the answers yet.
5. Feels stuck :
He feels as if he is not going anywhere with his quest and sometimes prefers to get stuck in a certain psychological state or in a certain pattern of behavior. This is actually the ego self which causes this kind of sign within him, as the ego self realizes the danger on offer.
6. Experiences the duel within himself :
As he is going through the spiritual transformations, his brain recognizes what is credible for him but the ego self tries to dissuade him from embarking upon the union with the real self, the ego self being in danger of extinction. It creates a duel within his psychology which makes him more miserable.
Most interesting thing which happens to someone undergoing the dark night is that people around him may draw weird conclusions about him observing his tendencies and behavioral changes.
How to get over the dark night?
Normally, if a problem is physical then a physical solution can suffice. If a problem is psychological then a psychological solution can be offered. But the dark night is neither physical nor exactly psychological. Its a mixture of psychological, intellectual and spiritual quest which can truly get over only when the seeker gets his answers and gets a glimpse of his real self via subjective understanding of spiritual wisdom.
(Photo via Visual Hunt)