Dark Night of the Soul

Spiritual awakening doesn’t happen because you master some spiritual technique. There are lots of skillful meditators who are not awake. Awakening happens when you stop bullshitting yourself into continual nonawakening. It’s very easy to use disciplines to avoid reality rather than to encounter it. A true spirituality will have you continually facing your illusions and all the ways you avoid reality. Spiritual practice may be an important means of confronting yourself, or it may be a means of avoiding yourself; it all depends on your attitude and intention. -Adyashanti

Three years ago I had a shift of consciousness. It was not a sudden opening and it didn’t really feel like a big deal at that time. All that really happened is that I read Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now, and it made complete sense to me, whereas on previous readings it had not.

With the shift, I started exploring, mostly through reading.  I went through a period of high-energy and ecstasy. Life was eventful, fun and easy.  Just to be and breathe was delicious. Decisions came to me pre-made. Life was living itself, experiencing, in peaceful flow. I traveled. I wrote. I was engaged with family and friends and living.

I was also dealing with feelings of deep longing for someone. This was a little bizarre, because I had ended the relationship two years before. I was surprised that there were feelings that I had not been conscious of, and was really surprised at the intensity of the feelings.

After about a year and half, life slowed down. The ecstasy waned. Agony waxed.

The feelings of longing and what I had thought was unrequited love continued, and even intensified, to the point where I sometimes felt it was unhealthily obsessive.

There was anxiety, and this was a shocking disappointment. How could I feel anxiety, when I thought I had awakened out of depression and anxiety and the rest of the mess?

I have written about releasing anxiety, and releasing compulsive thoughts, and how to reconcile the feelings of longing.

Edvard Munch: The Scream

Even with this releasing though, what remained was not fun. For a long period I felt apathetic and detached and alone. There was no zest to life.

This depression is different from clinical depression.  In depressive episodes in the past, I had felt a deep sense of nihilistic futility and unhappiness. This spiritual depression was not unhappy or nihilistic. It was apathetic and inactive and indecisive.

I’ve heard this described as spiritual depression or the “dark night of the soul.”

Why agony

Consciousness is more conscious but embodied patterns continue.

The mind loves to run through its grooves of conditioning. My conditioning includes patterns of depression and withdrawal. For me the dark night shows up as ennui. It may be different for you. Old patterns die hard.

The agony of awakening is often exacerbated by expectation. We have certain ideas of awakening, usually very romantic ones. We’ve heard about oneness and bliss. The ego wants in on this, and it creates ideas of an enlightened future where we’ll be super-spiritual, super-effective, super-happy—essentially super-human.

So when old-habits re-emerge, it’s quite a let-down.

I think many people are even reluctant to talk about it, since they have set the expectation in themselves and others that they had permanently shifted to some sort of a blissed-out dimension.

We may feel that we are not fitting in. We feel inadequate and alienated. We’re in the middle stages somewhere with this awakening thing, and we may feel that there are people who seem be able to completely embrace awakening. Their lives, seemingly, are flowing and easy and directed, and yet here we are, somewhat opened up, and yet dragging the heavy burdens of old tendencies, unable to let go.

And the old drivers are no longer helpful. In the past, we may have been able to “power through”, by setting goals, and by positive thinking, and with self-discipline and effort. We now have the intuition that this sort of self-forcing cannot be sustained.

Friends and family may be concerned, and may try to help, but at this point we realize that nobody can really help us. It has to all come from inside.

We may find that our concepts are no longer of much help. We’ve probably at this stage left behind the need to intellectually dissect and understand. We find though that even spiritual concepts are of no help. We read about karma and compassion and acceptance and letting go, and yet these concepts no longer help in any real way. There is a continual checking back—what is it that I don’t know, what is it that I’m not doing, what is it that I’m doing wrong? Where is the damned flow that people love to talk about? Where is the freaking joy and peace that everyone vehemently shouts about?

And these times seem never-ending. Will I really see the light? Is there really a light to see? Or is this all some complicated play of the emperor’s clothes, illusions within illusions within illusions?

We can’t even go back to our old pretend-lives. We can’t muster up the old pretenses and drivers and make ourselves a conventional life in the sleepy auto-pilot mode, giving only bare attention to what’s going on inside us. Once there has been a willingness to see, there is no turning back.

Nothing seems to help. Certainly no thought or emotion or belief can help us for long. We don’t want to pretend any more. We don’t want the temporary solutions of discipline and re-arranging beliefs. Where do we turn? What do we do?

What to do

Well, I don’t have an earth-shattering answer.

This was not a satisfying article to write. I have presented a case for spiritual depression. I don’t know that everyone who is awakening goes through it, but there are enough references out there to suggest that many of us do.

Adyashanti talks about it here. What was striking to me here was the voice of the questioner.  Her despair and uncertainty come right through.

Whatever agony is showing up in us has always existed in us. It’s nothing new. It’s showing up now, a little differently and more acutely, because we are waking up. At some point, we recognize this, and we stop resisting. At some point, we realize that the only problem there ever is, is resistance.

And this may be it. The purpose of these agonizing states may be the opportunity to surrender. The answer may be in the very problem. The answer is in the questions we ask ourselves: where do we turn, what do we do.

It is not what we do. It is what we stop doing. We stop resisting.

In the next few articles I will consider this further.

Have you experienced this ebb and flow? What do you do about it?

210 thoughts on “Dark Night of the Soul

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  2. Brenda (betaphi)

    Hi Kaushik. Happy 2010!

    Earlier today I read an article by Jeannie Zandi titled “Dark Night of the Soul.”
    I also read something about conditioning, which said that our conditioning is nothing more than acquired learning, and that we learn mostly through repetition, and this repetition creates neural pathways in our brains that are as visible as grooves on vinyl. One of those pathways gets labeled ‘Sh*t Happens and it Hurts!’

    But that’s the jargon of the brain. If we can get totally behind the brain and see it firing away like a dutiful computer, sometimes opening the SHaH folder, we can see a little me at work, doing what it’s always done, what it was taught to do, which was to be a dutiful child. That’s why you say ‘Old patterns die hard’, b/c those patterns are literally etched into our brains by conditioning. And even if opening that SH file is unavoidable and ineluctable, we can still maintain a vantage point behind the brain and view it as just some stuff happening to the diligent student in us. That poor kid needs a break!

    I think ‘the opportunity to surrender’ would make a nice post title. I enjoyed this one very much and look forward to sharing this exciting new year with you.
    .-= Brenda (betaphi)´s last blog ..A Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Brenda,

      Yes, I’ve used the terminology of grooves. The mind, as you point out, is a fast habit computer. And with awakening, the ego rebels and uses our own thoughts and grooves to remain in control. We can do the work of releasing, and this helps. We can see that these are grooves, and the emotions are body sensations, and we let go. What can make SH files tough is we can’t always see them. They show up as low-energy or confusion or detachment. I like what you say, to maintain a vantage point in awareness, and watch, and take the opportunity to surrender.

      Happy 2010 to you as well my friend!

      Peace,
      k

  3. Masi

    You speak my heart, Kaushik. But I’m afraid I have nothing to add or contribute. I feel so drained. From where I’m at now… it’s like a circus show that’s falling apart and I’ve no desire to contain it …. and still there are old habits playing themselves out. I ask myself: have I not been here before? But it’s still going on and on… and every time I think the show is almost over, it surprises me again and comes back even stronger. At times I find it funny to watch the mind habits and the tricks… not even really making sense or satisfying to the mind itself lately… its like a broken record that’s getting louder that you can’t make out the words anymore… yet the resistance still shows itself… and at times it feels like the ego is laughing at me… and my drained Self is watching but tired, not amused anymore… waiting to get some rest before the next show.

    My only comfort is the stillness inside.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Masi,
      Yes, exactly. The “disturbing” states keep coming back until they are all released and we can abide in Awareness. I think it’s very common.

      I don’t know that there are any definitive answers. It can help to know we are not alone in this. The thoughts that come up when we’re in these states are: “What’s wrong with me? Why does this keep happening to me when it seems other people go through this much more smoothly? This will always keep happening to me.” Doubts come up.

      We know we should just let it be and watch and release. This isn’t always easy to do because these states are highly inconvenient. We have the business of life to attend to. Often we go through these states very quietly, but if we do seek help we may find that society and friends and family don’t really understand this.

      There are some practical things we can do, such as simplify our lives. We can decide not to make any big changes in our lives at these times. Exercise and taking good care of the body can help, but of course this too can be difficult in these states.

      We can watch these states with same awareness that we use to watch positive states. We can continue to release. In the end, it is about dropping all resistance–surrendering. We can even invite these states. By definition, inviting happens if there is no resistance to them.

      Take care my friend,
      k

  4. Dawn

    OOOOHHHHH do I understand this. As a matter of fact, I’m working through a little of this myself. It’s hard, especially when you’ve come so far. I have accepted this as a fact of life, and of growing…and I realize, with every ‘setback’ I come out a little stronger in the end. That’s not to say that I don’t wish there was a little magic “mantra” to knock me out of it…..
    .-= Dawn´s last blog ..My Resolution~Learn to Let Love In =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Dawn,

      Yes, we do come out stronger. I know what you mean, we wish for a quick fix. It seems to come down to the dropping of resistance, remaining in awareness, surrendering to it…

      Thanks for you thoughts! I hope you are well.

      Peace,
      k

  5. Don

    I got enlightenment by watching a movie. This movie awakened me by showing me that true life was not “out” there or over the rainbow. God was and is always with me at all times when I simply quit trying to find it. That I never had to go on any journey to find it. It was a journey without distance. Only after getting hit on the head did I begin to wake up. But the key was when I saw that the little man behind the curtain (organized religion) was just that- a little man.

    The movie that woke me up. THE WIZARD OF OZ, LOL.

    don
    peace out
    spiritnewsdaily.com
    .-= Don´s last blog ..Why conservatives hate Avatar =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Don,
      You’ve hit it. Seeking is an obstacle to the clear seeing that we already have it. It’s the dog chasing its tail. For many of us, we have to chase our tails till we’re exhausted and then we can allow.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

      Peace,
      k

  6. Lana - DreamFollowers Blog

    Thank you for sharing this post with us Kaushik. I especially could resonate with this part – “The agony of awakening is often exacerbated by expectation”
    I don’t remember which of the enlightened masters said it but he said :”It is Ego that wants to get rid of the Ego”. I think it goes perfectly with what you described.
    .-= Lana – DreamFollowers Blog´s last blog ..My 2010 Goals and Two Awesome Techniques I Used to Set Them =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Lana,

      Great quotation. Yes, it seems in the end that all the angst and thrashing about is to simply help us get past all of it.

      Thanks for visiting and your insightful comment!

      Peace,
      k

  7. Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice

    Hey Kaushik,

    At first I was wondering where you were going with this post and then I realised exactly where you were coming from.

    Allow me to share something I’ve learned. The times I’m down, are the times I’m grateful for the most, they allow me to appreciate the good times. Relativity has a purpose and it’s purpose is contrast so we can appreciate. People can fight and resist the bad times but ultimately they’re serving a purpose for us that.

    So when I feel down, I just go with it, it happens and it’s part of life, we’re not perfect and far from it. I believe the guru’s have those moment too, they just don’t show their discomfort, they’re detached from those feelings because they recognise deeply that it’s part of the great contrasting circle of life.
    .-= Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice´s last blog ..Why It’s Pointless Going To University To Get A Degree =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Amit,
      Yes, even as awakening deepens, and consciousness becomes more and more consciousness, the down times can continue, and sometimes they can get intense. The trick is, as you say, to drop resistance. Then we can learn lessons of self-acceptance. Of course, at the down times, these are not the easiest things to do, and that’s the lesson.

      Thanks for visiting and your insightful thoughts!

      Peace,
      k

  8. Nadia - Happy Lotus

    Hi Kaushik,

    My dark night of the soul occurred when I was 25. I remember that night as if it were yesterday. It was sheer and utter hell. I was scared and empty and had no clue what this all meant. However, it was the best thing that ever happened to me because it began a journey of facing up to my junk and peeling back all the crap that I had layered on top of myself for no good reason. I had a lot of issues to work through but I kept at it.

    Yes, there were moments of agony but with each new realization, the agony lessened. In my experience, I think a lot of it depends on the willingness of the person to endure the dark night of the soul. People want enlightenment without the work and it just does not work that way.

    In order to be awakened, you have to realize that everything that you were taught to believe in is not real. Many people like to be confined to what they know and the moment you have awareness, it just breaks all those perceptions. Not everyone is capable of handling that truth. I have seen people claim to be spiritual and yet be so unawakened. I have seen people who have no spiritual knowledge and yet be so intuned. There is no set method….thankfully! 🙂
    .-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..Decisions, Decisions, Decisions =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Nadia,
      It sounds like your dark night happened in a short, intense burst. Some people report these intense experiences, and others go through more extended ones, and some say they go through multiple experiences.

      I think that everyone is capable of handling the truth, because underneath it all, that’s what’s real. Some may go through intense experiences, some may go through multiple, extended, milder ones. As you point out when there is willingness, we can allow, and the agony lessens, at some point we are not afraid of whatever we experience. And this may be the lesson, because it is this falling away of resistance that makes the turn-around.

      There is no set method, indeed. There are so many varying experiences.

      Yes, being spiritual doesn’t always help–as Adyashanti says, he doesn’t quite understand how spirituality got mixed up with awakening. It’s not spiritual knowledge and it’s not intellectual understanding and it’s not any sort of practice–and yet these are the things some of us need to get ready.

      Great insights, Nadia. I hope you are well!

      Peace,
      k

  9. João

    Hey Kaushik 🙂

    Everyone gets frustrated like that from time to time. The fact that you were able to open and honestly expose what’s going inside of you was already a sign that your ego is falling apart. As you know the ego likes to attach itself to concepts and ideas – that’s the way it survives. “Ego”, “patterns”, “dark night of the soul” are nothing but mind stuff. They don’t exist per se, they are just pointers that were born out of what we are – silence. The silence of which awareness is made is the ooooonly thing that matters! Bet you’ve read this a thousand times before eheh but you know, sometimes it’s all about the timing 🙂 In case you haven’t already, take a look at the book “The Bost Direct Means To Eternal Bliss” by Michael Langford. It’s great 🙂

    Love,
    J.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Joao,
      I have read Michael Langford’s book. It’s available on line and the link is here. It’s pretty good–has a good description of how the ego works.

      You’re right, ultimately all these are concepts. The ego, stuck patterns, dark night and so on, are deeper and deeper concepts, and as we release and be aware, these deeper concepts surface. We can release these as we learn to allow and accept and see that this is just more mind-stuff.

      You’re absolutely right, that timing is crucial. We can learn something at one point and it might not make sense, and at another time, it is crystal clear. Awakening is when we stop bullshitting ourselves, and it’s a process.

      I completely understand what you were getting to in the comment, that there awareness, and everything else is mind illusions.

      Thanks for the great insights and thanks for visiting.

      Peace,
      k

  10. Andrew

    Hi Kaushik,

    Is this what you’re going through now or is it history?

    I totally agree with you – as the journey deepens, the ego’s concepts become much deeper, revolving around the self, our purpose, doubting our path, whereas before our concepts were much simpler (work hard, smile more often, impress the boss etc.)

    It’s perhaps this doubt combined with the uncertainty of shifting into new territory that leads to stagnation and the apathy that you describe…at least that’s how I believe it is in me, at least.

    The trick is to realize that these new doubts are just more attempts by the ego, and to really, truly, let go.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Andrew,

      Yes, that is indeed the trick to let go. We can take some comfort in knowing that we not alone in this, and that “this too shall pass,” and that these down times indicate that we are indeed letting go and seeing through the ego. It’s just more mindstuff, maybe deeper mindstuff, but nevertheless just mindstuff to let go.

      Great insight, thanks!

      I hope you are well!

      Peace,
      k

  11. Wilma Ham

    Hi Kaushik
    You are delightfully human, I would say when I read this:
    “So when old-habits re-emerge, it’s quite a let-down.
    We’re in the middle stages somewhere with this awakening thing, and we may feel that there are people who seem be able to completely embrace awakening. Their lives, seemingly, are flowing and easy and directed, and yet here we are, somewhat opened up, and yet dragging the heavy burdens of old tendencies, unable to let go.”
    AND at those times I need a hug and warmth and just comforting without indulging myself further in that feeling.
    You can either dramatize this and feed the pain body or you can accept it and see it for what it is, a temporary set back because the old status quo is still the water we swim in.
    The trick is not to get too upset and feel as a failure, again that is just the mind and ego and little voice playing up.
    For me I replace that mind chatter by doing physical things that need my attention and indulge myself in comforting myself and making sure I hold on to the knowledge that all this will pass.
    Good point to bring up.
    Love Wilma .
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last blog ..Only acceptance has you do things differently. =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Wilma,

      Yes, beautifully wise words. We simply allow, let it be, and watch. And the know that this too shall pass.

      Thanks, wonderful insight.

      I hope you’re well!

      Peace,
      k

  12. Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord

    Kaushik, as usual, your writing gets deeper and more meaningful to me as time wears on. I loved this post, even though (as you said) it was hard in some ways — to read and to write.

    I had a dark night of the soul that lasted very similarly to how you described yours from the middle of 2008 to the beginning of 2009. Almost a year. I love how you said that the old tendencies that surfaced (for me, an addiction) are always there; they’re just looking for cracks in our armor and a chance to surface and grab some sun. Certainly that was the case for me. I wasn’t clinically depressed, but I was definitely spiritually depressed. And the greatest thing is, even though it’s subsided for now, I know it can come back at any time. Probably when I’m feeling the most cocky and self-assured and JOYFUL! Those dark nights of the soul are tricky like that, but oh so necessary. Ennui is such a great way to describe it. I wasn’t self-loathing and super down all the time, but I lacked the same zeal for life I was used to having. And there were times when I dipped so low I scared myself… But never as low as before I landed on this spiritual path to begin with nine years ago.

    I can’t wait for your next post.
    Love to you, my friend.
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last blog ..Funny Cookies =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Megan,
      Our experiences are very similar. Suffering brought me to a path of awakening, and there have been periods of bliss and periods of ennui. You’re right, it doesn’t have the qualities of self-loathing or futility that clinical depression has. And that’s a great point, that there are times of fear. But through it all, when courage is needed, it shows up.

      Thanks so much for openly sharing.

      And thanks for the kind words!

      I hope you are well JoyGirl.

      with love, k

  13. Lisa (mommymystic)

    Oh Kaushik, that quote and video by Adyashanti and the questioner are so…spot on…as is everything you have written, so honest and resonant. For a lot of reasons, I don’t write about my own personal journey online, but yes, I recognize this, in my own way. And I don’t have any answers either – to offer some would be to fall into another trap, as you are already walking the walk with such integrity, what could anyone possibly add at this point? I do love your point about these points of crises being a new opportunity to surrender, and for myself this is how at this time I have come to view the process – a constant spiral through joy, surfacing of new resistance, dark night, new surrender, new joy, and then again. Can I love that process, every moment of it, even in the dark parts of the spiral? That is how I think these days, for what it’s worth….Love, Lisa
    .-= Lisa (mommymystic)´s last blog ..December Month in Review =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Lisa,

      What a wonderful comment! We have to allow and see that there is no actual problem, just resistance. And as you point out, loving the process, inviting it, is by definition dropping all resistance to it. It’s a great insight!

      Thanks for visiting and thanks very much for the kind words!

      I hope you are well!

      Peace,
      k

  14. Hulbert

    Kaushik, thanks for sharing this. I remember when I broke up with my first girlfriend, I became also depressed like you. I understood what what the pain it felt like. Even doing normal tasks that I loved to do seem to be difficult. And the more I thought about it, the more miserable I became.

    Two years went by, and still I had thoughts about her. It became unhealthy. One day I realized that I was trying to control my past. I was digging more and more into an illusion that couldn’t be controlled.

    When you go through so much pain, one day you wake up and you have a moment where you don’t think about anything. You just feel. That moment is a moment of peace. It is what Eckhard Tolle talks about in the Power of Now. To get over my emotional pain such as anxiety or sadness, I become more adept at letting go.

    Currently, I’m more serene when it comes to that past relationship we had together. I met somebody else who appreciates, loves, respects me for who I am. I wouldn’t have done so if I was still living in the past.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Hulbert,

      Thanks for openly sharing. I think you’re spot on. It is all about letting go, but sometimes we are not able to quite understand what it is that we have to let go of. we simply have to allow, even invite, and love the process. “…one day you wake up and you have a moment where you don’t think…” That’s it!

      Thanks for visiting and sharing. I hope you are well!

      Peace,
      k

  15. Gilbert Ross | Soul Hiker

    “It is not what we do. It is what we stop doing. We stop resisting”

    Powerful words Kaushik. Very meaningful indeed. It is very coincidental that it is the second time today that I came across the same theme I am currently writing a post about – non-resistance.

    We keep on tripping ourselves over by trying to stay in control and resisting the natural ebb and flow of things. It is like when you are meditating and a part of you keeps on checking whether you are doing right or not instead of flowing with the current.

    Good honest point about being let down by our expectations of awakening.

    Yes we all have a romantic idea about awakening and our ego stills try to poke its finger in it. I think that this disappointment comes from our skewed sense of change and achievement. We always think that change is round the corner and we get deflated if we find out that it is farther away than that. We keep on forgetting that what is important is not the destination but the journey itself.

    Once we let go of this sense of achievement, we awake a step further but awakening is a gradual never ending process. There is no graduation day. Ever.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Gilbert,
      Yes, your words resonate. It always comes down to resistance. We hear a lot about acceptance and forgiveness and so on–and these are important paths, but it’s difficult to understand them by accumulating concepts. My understanding came with the instinctive recognition that acceptance is something we stop doing.

      We simply have to allow the ebb and flow. Sometimes this feels exhausting, and wisdom is in the exhaustion. With exhaustion, we stop resisting.

      No graduation day, indeed!

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, and thanks for great insights!

      peace,
      k

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  17. Jodi at Joy Discovered

    Hi Kaushik,
    This post really spoke to me. I can relate exactly to how you describe spiritual depression. I’m generally joyful and positive and full of energy, but still, these episodes continue to occur for a day or a few days here and there. I’ve become better at dealing with them. For one, I observe them now instead of falling for them. I recognize that I’m in a spiritual slump and I don’t take it too seriously because I know it is temporary. And then I try to do the things I know will work to pull me through–time to contemplate, time to “play,” and a day or night out with my husband or friends. For me, these slumps are when I need to connect to other people more than anything. It’s the best antidote!

    I am excited to read your next article. This is a great topic! Jodi
    .-= Jodi at Joy Discovered´s last blog ..Shake Things Up! =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jodi,
      Yes, this seems to be common experience. After an insight, we still have these periods of spiritual depression. It is the resistance of the ego; it is continue clinging to concepts, and in the end, it is not real. We can see this, as you point out, with observing nd allowing. It’s wonderful to not take them seriously, not believe the story of it.

      Great advice Jodi, sometimes we can use these slumps to re-connect.

      I hope you’re doing well!

      Peace,
      k

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  20. Basabi

    Kaushik,
    Beautiful. Got reference to your blog through Blog Carnival. Will visit more often. This journey we are on has its peaks and valleys – we aim to be sthitapragna. Thank you for sharing.
    basabi
    .-= Basabi´s last blog ..Inherent Goodness =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Namaste Basabi,

      Thanks for visiting and I look forward to your future visits and comments. I had to look up sthitaprajna. It is Krishna’s reference to a stable-wisdom in the Bhagvad Gita, Ch. 2:

      54. What, O Krishna, is the description of him who has steady wisdom and is merged in the state of Sthitaprajna? How does one of steady wisdom speak? How does he sit? How does he walk?

      55. When a man completely casts off, O Arjuna, all the desires of the mind and is satisfied in the Self by the Self, then is he said to be one of steady wisdom!

      56. He whose mind is not shaken by adversity, who does not hanker after pleasures, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady wisdom.

      57. He who is everywhere without attachment, on meeting with anything good or bad, who neither rejoices nor hates, his wisdom is fixed.

      58. When, like the tortoise which withdraws its limbs on all sides, he withdraws his senses from the sense-objects, then his wisdom becomes steady.

      59. The objects of the senses turn away from the abstinent man, leaving the longing (behind); but his longing also turns away on seeing the Supreme.

      60. The turbulent senses, O Arjuna, do violently carry away the mind of a wise man though he be striving (to control them)!

      61. Having restrained them all he should sit steadfast, intent on Me; his wisdom is steady whose senses are under control.

      62. When a man thinks of the objects, attachment to them arises; from attachment desire is born; from desire anger arises.

      Thanks again.
      k

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  23. Sarah

    I like the last line of the Adyashanti clip “beware of how much suffering you take from someone because you might be taking away their key to freedom.” That’s been a hard thing for me to accept. I love people; I want to help; I see “the way.” I build my own suffering with that way of thinking; its ego. There is no lasting “cure” for suffering outside of awareness and self love, especially when pain is self-inflicted. We each have to power to break our own hearts, you know? And then, we have the power to kiss and make-up with our lower/higher Self. Buy ourselves flowers. Whatever. Let the lifelong romance continue.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..The Surfers =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Sarah,
      Your expression is beautiful.

      Yes, we add to our own suffering by resisting. We each certainly have the power, which is simply a moment to moment choice. We rest in Awareness, learn to release, and love ourselves enough. Yes, “kiss and make-up.”

      love and peace,
      k

  24. Spikyface

    When it feels like everything that made you real is falling apart
    Let it Fall

    When it feels like there is no meaning
    Live without one

    When emotion rises up and overwhelms you
    Allow it to swallow you completely

    Birds fly
    Lions hunt
    Humanity adapts

    Embrace your true nature

  25. estrella

    Hi EVERYONE! IJUST TAKE ADDERALL! ITS THe BIGGEST RELIEF FROM THIS TIRTURE AND SAF AND NON ADDICTIVE BUT IT SAVES MY KIFE EVERYDAY!ALSO TAKE LORAZIPAM FOR ANXIETY ALONG WITH IT THEN YOU CAN START TO FEEL LIKE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING AND DO THE WORK YOU NEED TO DO TO HANDLE YOUR PERSONAL SITUATION! DONT HESITATE

  26. Danniell

    Hi Kaushik,
    That is a beautiful name you have! I just wanted to let you know that I googled Dark Night of the Soul, Opening up to Intuition, and I found this wonderful post. Your unsatisfying post turned out to be a great success! I am being coached by intuitives through my dark night of the soul right now, and apparently because of the decisions I made before coming to this planet are what put me in this. I am on the fast track. I am 25, and this awakening has been happening to me since I was born, like us all, but has really quickened since I started the seeking and purifying my soul. It’s a crazy thing that when we open ourselves up to healing our soul, we start to go through this shedding process that causes so much fear, depression, anxiety, pain. I thought reiki would just make all the pain from heartbreaks and a rocky childhood go away… Well, reiki is not a bandaid that keeps the wounds from hurting, but it instead ended up being a process like chemotherapy in a way. I had to burn out the old ways and bring in new. I had to face all the people, places and feelings that were imbedded as dark spots in my energetic body. The dark night of the soul hurts because we are healing the sore parts of us, and with love. It’s scary! Every time another depression hits, it forces us to use our inner strength to come out of it. Love has to come to the surface, or else everything else is too painful. We need love, and no I don’t think allowing and acceptance is the only answer when you are in the dark spot, even though all the books I read tell me that. I think it takes callibrated energy of love and desire to “get better” while also looking around through the eyes of love, and blessing the simple things of life like beauty, nature, family, and even seeing that every other human out there is a broken and imperfect being because we are humans. Accepting imperfection and seeking the joy, beauty and love in different ways will be what makes these dark times more tolerable. Things that give us happiness are not “bad things” because they are human. Even in heaven they enjoy having fun. If you remember to laugh the dark night of the soul will be so much more tolerable, and that is something I have not only learned but have been told by the white spirits who are coaching me. Love to you all, we’ll be fine <3

    -Danniell McCallister

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Daniell,

      Thanks for sharing your story. Thank you also for the kind words, and for visiting and commenting.

      As you point out, the dark nights of soul are a process of healing. Healing can sometimes hurt, as we bring up repressed emotions and stories and delusions, and re-experience them before letting go.

      Yes, remember to laugh. Decide to find it amusing!

      Thanks. I hope you are well.

      Love and peace,
      k

  27. eliza

    I am 18 and for almost 8 months i have been going through this spiritual depression.it reached its peak in the last two months which were also my first 2 months of college.since the past few days it was peaceful but i’m wondering when it will completely end and what exactly are the causes and effects of such experiences which are confusing to u and the people around u.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Eliza,
      When it comes to depression (and the moderate affective disorders like bipolar and anxiety and OCD and so on), I suggest to people that they use every means available to them. This includes medication and therapy and simplifying life and meditation and releasing and so on. Be open.

      Spiritual depression, in my experience, comes about from emotions turned inward. As we become more aware, and we release, we expose deeper layers. These deeper layers can bring about some confusion, agitation, frustration, low-energy and so on. The ego (that is, the bunch of thoughts and emotions that we think are us) will fight back. It doesn’t want to be exposed. The pain-body (that is, our remembered pain and conditioning) does not want to be seen, and it puts up fear. This, at least in my experience, is what spiritual depression amounts to.

      When is it over? That’s hard to say. There’s a zen parable which implies that asking the question doubles the time it will take. The parable is meant to point out that there really isn’t an answer to this. In my experience, at least so far, there hasn’t been an event which I can point to and say, hey this is when it was over. In my experience, it has been a gradual releasing, a gradual seeing through of the ego (the ego is completely a part of me and yet does not define me), a learning of how to release emotions, a gradual development or radical self-honesty. What I’m working on now, is seeing through false sense of “me.”

      I hope this helps, Eliza.

      love and peace,
      k

    2. Kaushik Post author

      By the way, in the external resources page, I list an Eckhart Tolle forum, which is an excellent resource for these sort of questions.

  28. Jennifer

    Hi! Thank you so much for writing this. I am about to be 23 and I have been in a dark night of the soul very intensely for a little over a year now. I have never met anyone else going through this so it helps to know I am not alone. None of my family understands and thinks I am nuts.

    I heard that Adyashanti video a few months ago and it really resonates with me. I feel so stuck right now because I am fighting and resisting. This is so painful because my “demons” are all coming up to the surface for me to finally face, embrace, love, and accept. I feel like I am going through a spiritual detox. I am very grateful for this because I know I will come out being my true Self, stronger, and more radiant for and I will be able to truly be of service to humanity, but it is difficult when you are in the eye of the storm. I feel as if my ego wants an “awakening” so that all the problems in my life will end (financial, family, etc.), but it won’t give up its “control” (I know this is the nature of the ego) I know I need to allow this process to pass, but I guess I am not ready yet. Like Adyashanti said, you will feel the pulls and fighting and you will feel tired of it, but when you truly are tired of it, you will drop the resistance. I usually feel like I am doing something wrong since my old life is collapsing, but I guess this shows that the detox is working. : )

    Thanks again for this blog. It really helped me to put this into persepective and realize this is a normal process for the transition of an ego dominated life to living a life from our true Self. Namaste.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jennifer,

      You are completely ready.

      This article resonates with most of us who are awakening because I think what happens is that we get the insight into the problem, but not the solution. This shows up differently in different people, but basically it is that we now know there is division in us, and we know that we can be whole, but we’re not sure about the path. This is why many people get distraught after reading Eckhart Tolle.

      And of course, as you say, old stuff starts coming up in us. What we can do with that is deal with it from a place of love. We acknowledge that it is happening. We can take some comfort in that the process is working. We love, allow, watch and be patient, and release.

      There’s another point to make here though. Part of the reason we get distraught is that we start believing the myth that awakening is difficult or tricky. We hear stories of long-suffering people who spent 30 years meditating or chasing spiritual concepts, and they’re still seeking. And of course the people who have invested in long years of spiritual seeking want to promote this myth. We even hear and absorb that seeking is what keeps us trapped and yet we don’t how to do this without seeking.

      These days I’m wondering if all of this backwards.

      The core delusion is the delusion of the self. Shouldn’t we tackle that first? Go right after it, and see it through? That’s reasonable, but of course people will say well that’s not an easy thing to do.

      And I wonder if that too is a myth.

      Look directly at the self. See that you do not exist. See the world from that viewpoint. Don’t take this on as a belief. See it.

      Thanks Jennifer for you visiting and commenting.

      love and peace,
      k

  29. Mikkel

    First I would like to thank you Kaushik for sharing your experience on the subject. Its hard to find a good community on this subject, but perhabs…here?

    I have probably experienced the dark night for one year, because I concentrated on removing my filter of observing other peoples suffering. I have many questions, especially because you can´t really know who are the right one to ask.

    Do you think it can be helpful to let as many negative feelings in as possible in order to overcome them?

    Im wondering if you would characterize the evil as a bliss, once you accept your situation? Or is it simply remaining as an undescribable experience, that shouldn´t be theorized too much?

    I often think of this process as spicy food. When you eat chili for the first time, perhabs you will burn and panically run for water. But when you keep eating it, you start thinking: `Hey, it´s not dangerous no matter how much it burns in your mouth`, and finally you will love it all and put chili on every meal.

    I can recognize the idea from myself that everyone are already seeing clear but without knowing. But this issue is quite difficult for me to understand fully, how one can stand with one leg in Nirvana and another leg in a shit hole. Is it simply a question about theorizing one selfs condition and that inlightened people might go through heavy depressions too?

    1. Spikyface

      “one leg in Nirvana and another leg in a shit hole”. Sounds like a line from an Alanis Morrisette song, nice!

    2. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Mikkel,

      Emotions are built-up cycles. There is an energetic thought which might result in a feeling, that is sensations in the body, and then they energize each other, and we feel this as an emotion. Emotions build up with time. When we can consciously observe the emotion and know that it is just a thought associated with body sensations, we can remember how to release them. So, to answer your question, yes, let in the negative emotions, watch and allow and release. You are not really letting them in–they are already in. You are just deciding to watch them instead of repressing them.

      Evil is a label and bliss is a temporary state of mind.

      When enlightened, you don’t have an idea of “me” so I don’t see how enlightened people can possibly get depressed. On the other hand, Anthony de Mello says enlightened people do get depressed, they just don’t mind it as much. I am not enlightened, but in my own experience, through releasing, anxiety is gone. If it comes back, it is easily released. Depression can still come about, but the psychological symptoms of sadness and futility are gone, or at least they don’t get to extremes and they don’t last long. The physical symptoms, like low-energy and insomnia, still show up. But in the absence of psychological sadness, the physical symptoms are not hard to handle.

      I hope this helps.

      light and peace,
      k

  30. Another Way

    There are no mistakes. I quit writing my spiritual blog last night because I felt it was time to stop writing about my experiences and get serious about awakening. The blog was inspired by a life-changing event. Anyway, I have spent several years doing the spirituality thing, following gurus, working with techniques, reading, and either adding drama to my pain, causing suffering, or glossing the pain over with a spiritual overlay and convincing myself I felt good when I really didn’t. I saw where my writing was a distraction after a while. I was more concerned with telling others what I’d learned than actually seeing Truth and I finally realized, after re-reading Tolle the other day — first time in three years — it was time to do the work. Anyway, an hour after I signed off my site last night, I found your site and a series of insights that rang true with everything I had been experiencing and writing about. Eerily similar. So when I came upon your piece about spiritual depression today, I can’t say I was surprised. I am going through the exact experience you describe here, including holding on to intense feelings for a person some 2 1/2 years after we separated. The difference is now that I’m able to be honest with myself and really observe the thoughts, emotions, stories and lies that I accumulate around the false “I” and the false “you.” Anyway, reading your posts makes me feel that I’m seamlessly gliding into the next phase of awakening, right on time. Thanks.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      It sounds like you’ve crossed a critical threshold.

      At some point in our awakening, we take complete responsibility. We no longer just absorb what others say, even if it comes from gurus and spiritual traditions and famous people and high monks. We no longer automatically nod our heads at platitudes and clever sayings. We look, we weigh, consider the truth of it, with utter honesty. Then we see how it was that we had lied to ourselves, and how other so easily lie to themselves. We see that a lot of spirituality is suffused with the ego, and we see that a lot of spiritual beliefs are a bypass, a distraction from actual awakening.

      It’s funny you mention holding onto intense feelings for someone–it seems that there are lot of people who I’m talking to right now who are doing just that. The Dalai Lama said “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” These feelings seem intense and long-lasting, but they are also our best opportunity to awaken. It was for me.

      Thanks for a very insightful and open comment.

  31. Franco

    Well, I’m going through a dark night of the soul, began at age 19, 2009, first with a great darkness for a year, there were traumas and much of the past. It is an broken all expectations of what was gonna be the awakening. now it’s not like a plan it should be much better than that. Today I am lighter, but still I am in a “vacuum” is not may return backwards, after losing all connection with issues outside with friends, passions, and many things I loved otrs.
    But this is still not over, and it is almost for my spirit is fully embodied in the earth, and then my rebirth:).

    namaste.

  32. whitespy

    i entered into the dark night 6 months ago, and now cracks of light are coming through – with FORCE! before that i had a big kundalini activation – so after the HIGH there came the LOW! i began being obsessed with UNDERSTAND, ANALYZING the DARK NIGHT PROBLEM. this led to hysteria, depression and bad things in general. then i stopped all this frantic problem-solving activity. No solution when there is no problem, I now think! So now I just am (just being, am-ing still is difficult for the mind! it still says: well there is silence/absence, but your old identity/problems still exist, dont you think???? still the mind overwhelms me at times, but at other times I plain laugh at it! and i suddenly burst laughing at what other people tell me about their mind stuff. I feel very much a social outcaste because i felt like i aquired “secret teaching”, but now I feel more and more content again “to play the superficial society game, but supported with inner knowing”. thank you for your honest and helpful writings. strange that in these days one finds more solace in internet groups/discussions than in real life…

  33. David

    Thank you for showing me that I’m not alone in my dark night of the soul. What’s unique about my experience is that I’ve been there all of my 53 years. It’s all been struggle,confusion,frustration and pain. It has lead me to psychics, therapists, books and trying to wrap myself around concepts like the law of attraction etc. It’s amazing that I haven’t committed suicide. My life feels like I have a curse. It feels as if I’m a hostage, given some creature comforts and otherwise emotionally tortured. I have been deprived of alot of the basic pleasures most people enjoy. Whatever pleasures i have are dampened by depression. I’ve been given desire but not the power to manifest it. What torture. I feel that everyone is stronger than me. I feel powerless. I’ve read your other articles and i especially like your concept of acceptance and surrender. I have no other options. Thank you for your understanding and sharing your wisdom.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      David,
      Thanks for the open sharing, and giving expression to something that many people feel but are not able articulate. We have a lot of trouble facing ourselves. But that’s what awakening is: honest internal observation which eventually leads to resting at the source of who we really are.

      What you feel, many people feel. We feel we are alone in our misery. Tolstoy started Anna Karenina with “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” People who recognize their misery think that they are miserable in a unique way, and everyone else is reasonably happy.

      But everyone is uneasy. The source of all misery is this basic uneasiness, a basic fear, which comes about from having a mistaken idea of who we really are. Einstein called it an optical illusion of consciousness.

      Thanks, David.

  34. Franco

    The Dark Night of the Soul is a concept that lasts as long as “darkness” to release, then gradually loses meaning dark night as our mind is the natural state of balance. The dark night has been very difficult to accept because it is not easy to leave the control and acceptance into the mind like the fight game and the belief that one should never give up, the end must leave us, Just be a “gap” that the new can enter. At this moment I am more calm and less anxious, I gradually coming to the end of the tunnel with a great ending and a new life. This will not only for me but that is gone and loved the dark night of the soul.

    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thanks, Franco. It is exactly so. It took me some time to understand that full acceptance is the same as release.

  35. Tony

    Hi K
    Nice to know this place exists. Have been travelling this road now for about 11 months & shifted into intense pain about 3 months ago. Spent time with healers & psychlogists until I was able to understand to some extent the process. Am only now starting to see cracks in the veil have entertained suicide on many occassions & have recently entered a place of complete hopelessness. I am amazed how the process takes everything apart bit by bit with a take no prisioners abandon I have already experienced the deconstruction of my childhood, relationships & it’s now ripping through my career. No stone left unturned. I’d love to think I’ll make it out of this physically & hopefully I will but lately I’ve given up 2nd guessing anything. Thanks again for this place & creating the opportunity to vent
    Love Tony

  36. Myles

    Hi,

    I suspect I experienced my own “dark night if the soul” last night.

    It culminated in a “burst” of awareness, initially accompanied by a feeling of intense loneliness and desperation, which revealed a
    a clear and un-fogged perspective that mind and emotions are simply filters in which to experience life through. To be watched and experienced without judgment.

  37. ebony

    hello Kaushik,
    i would like to share a short story with you. I am not going through dark night (however i did go through it years ago on my own spiritual journey so i understand it and the intensity etc.) My wonderful relationship recently ended due to my partner going through extreme spiritual depression and believed to be entering dark night of the soul for the second time. This was a painful breakup for both of us as we dont understand why our relationship and connection had to end due to divine guidance or divine will. I would like to know if anyone else has experienced their marriage or long term relationship falling apart and ending suddenly due to a partner suffering through dark night or spiritual depression and if there was any positive outcome after the dark night was over..

    1. not human

      Hi ebony
      I am going through a reassessment of my relationship(s) at the moment bought on by the DNOTS process. All the egoic reasons for being with my partner were shead during the process along with everything else.
      I am in a state of uncertainty as everything has changed and that implies some further changes to be made and quite frankly from where I stand at the moment I don’t think I’ve got it in me to make a decision even about sandwich spreads let alone relationships or career.
      So yes this awakening does usher in change and relationships are the first against the wall. The awakening process doesn’t discern is just simply does.

  38. haha... nice try ;-)

    When I start drowning (no need to explain what I mean here, right?;)
    I usually close my eyes and be no-where (means, no special place, somehow just like in a greyish cloud.)
    I (“I” is in itselfe not defined or has any demand of being defined because it just doesn’t matter….it’s purest essence put in some kind of shape…that can change or not, again doesn’t matter) and I kneel down on a simple wooden prayer kneeler. In front of me is god / the one/ the creator / allah what you want to call him, sometimes he is noticeable and sometime he seems not even to exist….all that doesn’t matter! I kneel there and have NO kind of demand…..with all my terror, pain, fear whatever I might feel…..I just kneel down there and BE! I’m not asking for easement, I’m not expecting to feel better, I’m not even praying. All I do is I completly surrender to HIM without having any expactation of response or action. I’m no longer his servant (with all mind heart and soul) but transform to THE SERVING itself.

    At least that’s what I do in times of greates darkness.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      That’s good–it works for you and that’s wonderful.

      When we have the first insight that we are not who we think we are, even if the insight is vague, I think it’s pretty common to go through a period of despondency. It’s just hard to accept life the way it is after the insight. Things don’t make sense, life doesn’t make sense, we can no longer pretend, we are perplexed as to how it is that everyone else around us can go on pretending.

      During this time, just allowing and watching and releasing helped. It helped, but it wasn’t a magical cure.

      Now, after four or five years of “practicing” awareness and releasing and exploring awakening, I’ve come around to the thing that made complete intuitive sense from the beginning, but which I cleverly avoided by other distractions. And that is, just looking at myself, looking inside-backwards, at the sense of “I am.”

  39. Per

    It sounds familiar to me. Here, there was first a nondual awakening (reality awakening to itself), then unity (all as God/Spirit with the appearance of an I), then a dark night where “all” seemed lost, “everything” went wrong in life etc. What’s surfacing now is a more honest/real recognition that reality can notice itself independent of any states and experiences.

  40. Jeannie

    This was so inspiring. It lightened up the dark night that lasted so many months and was very different from a depression I would have had in my previous life. Thank you!

  41. devyn

    I had my little awakening phase magic, flow, ecstasy and light even dark waves and yin yang!! It was beautiful so many experiences for years like seeing god and now that it is all gone and I am left with something like a mental illness and depression I do not know what to do.

    I have 1 question and it is about the dark side. I’ve seen a dark face or demon face that is not necessarily evil but it brings dark energy and I’ve also experienced dark energy does anyone have anymore to say on this?

    Also when I saw this demon face or dark entity the words “dont fight it” or chaos” or “dark side” started coming into my mind. Please post an answer someone and thank happy to be here with a lot of like minded individuals.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      It’s the “awakening phase magic” as you so appropriately put it which had me trapped for five years. Yes, it can be beautiful and it can be futile and it can be depressing…and then the realization hit that these are all just mental states. Just mental processes, just what happens to be the case right now.

      It was a huge relief when I gave up chasing.

      Now it’s just the recognition that what binds every one of us is fear.

      k

      1. Patrick

        Wow, what an amazing site. I knew what I was feeling years ago and knew it was an awakening but through these past fast few years I have found nothing even remotely close to as exactly what ive been living for the past few years. This awakening hapended with me after my second trip through rehab to deal with my addictions which I fell to in an effort to numb the pain and sorrow experienced throughout my life, thats another story but obviously kept me from seeing life clearly or being awakened to the world. I too went through an ecstacy of life and amazement at being able to see life on a differnt spiritual level but like you this slowly evaporated. I knew it wasnt depression as I had known it before but exactly what you have described. I wish I could provide some answers to all these questions or a direction to follow to find them but I am still lost and looking for the right path. I just wanted to thank you for making me feel a small sense of connection with the rest of the world again. Amazing and powerful stuff here!

        1. devyn

          I would be able to go back into the states but im very unhealthy. About the magic it was real magic threw my created perceptions I even saw the future and god as the light. Patrick practice meditation everyday for at least 30 minutes in one sitting. Try sitting once or twice or even three times a day and you will most definitely go into these states again.

        2. Kaushik Post author

          Thanks, Patrick, and thanks for your openness.

          I’ve come to see that feeling lost and looking for the right path, is in itself part of the disease of fear. And paradoxically, that’s the way it typically goes.

          I hope to see here again.

          k

  42. Aaron Asphar

    Great article! Really timely for me: I’ve been cruising the internet with insomnia owing to the feelings of utter longing you describe, and strangely also feelings for an ex that have returned: I heard there was a link between kundalini spiritual energy and unrequited love, and I must say my ex coming back into my head was very much as you indicated – not to be expected. The spiritual depression – I concur with this and I might add also that I think it is coextensive with blood pressure and blood volume changes: so I think it might be physiological as well as psychological and emotional. The familiarity of the feelings you go through here is so reassuring for me and has really raised my seratonine levels on this raining Friday from Hell – so thank-u! Aaron

  43. Jon

    kaushik,

    just want to say thanks for this great article. I have for months been in a funk. no typical funk either. triggered by an intensely embarrassing moment at work combined by the failure of a project. I was volitile for weeks. anger and com

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hey Jon,

      Yes, life happens…anger, fear, and the rest. Try the release technique here, and also try the looking at the sense of I AM (check out John Sherman for that).

      k

    2. Jon

      sorry… phone glitch.

      …compassion and anger came on alternate days, fear and joy by the hour, other intense emotions by the minute. recently it’s settled down to this dullness. nothing in life is joyful. after reading dark night of the soul and other articles on your page. it’s nice to know I’m not alone. releasing is useful. thanks for writing and keep it up.

      1. Kaushik Post author

        You’re definitely not alone, but that feeling that “I am not at ease with myself but everyone else seems to be…”–that feeling is very common and I believed it too for many years.

  44. Max

    I’m on the tail end of a dark night, and I wanted to add that at the climax of it (well, there could be another climax but I feel as if it has passed) I realized I had no control over what has happened or what will happen. So now I’m practicing letting go of trying to ‘drive’ and not looking back or forward.

    Something that’s been helpful for me has been to realize that the self has had no part in this awakening. As I’ve let go and despair has shifted to joy, I will try to take responsibility for doing so, saying things like ‘I have awakened,’ but when I let the ego take credit, the darkness comes right back.

    To anyone out there in the heat of the dark night, my advice is to keep pushing through it and I’ve read that it’s HIGHLY discouraged to give up your meditation practice. During the intense periods of suffering you may feel very alone and feel like there is no end to your spiritual depression, but how could you know this?

    Best of luck to everybody, my dark night has been a very emotional process and once I’m finally out of it for good, I want to teach and help other seekers navigate the dark waters as they mourn the death of their false selves.

    Max

    1. Neerav

      Max,

      It is really the ego (ahamkara) that is mourning the death of the false self via the “Dark Night of the Soul”. Who you “really” are (i.e. the soul/Self) does not mourn or have the need to mourn because you are the abode of inifinite peace, joy and Divine Love of God. The ego’s mourning is all a parlor game and a trick by making you feel guilty of losing your (rather the ego’s) attachments. Don’t fall for it.

      Regards,

      Neerav

  45. Neerav

    Most of you here speak as if the “Dark Night of the Soul” (i.e. spiritual crisis, spiritual emergency or spiritual depression) is a real thing. However, to tell you the rather uncomfortable and stark truth, ultimately, it is NOT real, as it is an illusion of the ego. All of the so-called “suffering” that you are going through is really the ego (“ahamkara” in Sanskrit) that is suffering. You are suffering by an ego-created illusion, if you still associate with the ego and its attachments and positionalities, etc… Yes, after an experiene of spiritual awakening (an experience of non-dual awareness), your ego-identification and its effects will weaken, but remember, the ego is down, but NOT out. It reconsolidate itself and conjure up this false fantasy of a “Dark Night of the Soul” exprience in order to maintain its survival, as Andrew aptly (and very correctly) mentioned above in his comment. It is a trick – a game of the ego, in an attempt to maintain its survival and hence, keep you from returning back Home to God. The ego likes to make you and everyone else around you suffer for its own selfish/narcissistic purpose, and so, this is an attempt to gang on to its existence. DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, fall for this illusion/trick of the ego!!! For those who are already in this gloomy period, remember, you are suffering from an illusion/trick of the ego…….see if for what it is as this and not only refuse to entrance yourself in it, but surrender it to God! That is the ONLY way out – the more you do it, the quicker it will disappate.

    All spiritual traditions of the world ultimately consider the existence of the ego as unreal……..in other words, the ego is not real…….it does not exist, in the same way that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are not real and thereby, they don’t exist. That makes the ego’s illusion of the “Dark Night of the Soul” ultimately false – if the ego does not really exist (and is itself not real), then neither are any of its illusions such as this.

    For spiritual seekers/devotees of God who have not yet gone through the experience of the strong illusion of the “Dark Night of the Soul”, the best thing to do is to CONSTANTLY and CONTINUOUSLY surrender yourself to God completely and without any reservations – mind, body, all illusions of the ego (wants, needs, desires, demands, expectations, positionalities, judgements, opinions and beliefs – and even any attachments and aversions, as well as both the ego and it’s narcissistic core. Surrender all of this to God will help you to avoid having to go through this “Dark Night of the Soul” in the first place.

    Sorry to shatter all of your ideas about this with the truth/reality of the “Dark Night of the Soul” – as shocking, controversial and possibly unerving to all of you as what I mentioned is. But that is the stark truth – it is an illusion and trick of the ego trying to keep you away from God. But again, from the Absolute perspective of God (and those who have realized Him via Spiritual Enlightenment/Self-Realization/God-Realization), remember that the ego (ahamkara) is not real – it does not exist, and so, its illusions like this don’t exist either, but you are being made to believe that the ego exists, and so, you are suffering from a spiritual crisis, otherwise known as a “Dark Night of the Soul”. If you consider this perspective as a spiritual seeker/devotee of God, whether you are going through this “Dark Night of the Soul” or not, it makes things a lot more easier for you.

    Regards,

    Neerav

    1. Neerav

      Let me once again reemphasize that when the symptoms of a spiritual crisis (i.e. “Dark Night of the Soul”) manifest, if you can realize that this is just an illusion and a trick of the ego and surrender this, as well as the ego itself to God, then you won’t have to suffer through it. This goes for both those who are starting in it, as well as those who are deeply entrenched into this experience already.

      Surrender the ego’s illusion of the “Dark Night of the Soul”, as well as the ego itself to God! Why suffer unecessarily this way when you don’t have to!

      Regards,

      Neerav

    2. Kaushik Post author

      Thanks, Neerav.

      It is an illusion, but for people who are in the midst of it, as I was when I wrote this article, if feels very real. And the idea that it is an illusion doesn’t help.

      The ideas of “God” and “Absolute Perspective” and surrender have not worked for humanity in many thousands of years of trying. So I don’t recommend those.

      In the articles that I write these days, I try to describe what has worked for me. I don’t have complete clarity in words yet. But it’s not dissimilar to what you say about illusion.

      The core problem–the only problem–is the context of fear in human beings. This is the fear of life, the inner atmosphere of dissatisfaction–what the Buddha called dukkha–in which we develop as human beings. And so consequently, everything is uncertain. Ironically, it is this dissatisfaction which motivates us to seek spiritual solutions and surrender to God and so on.

      The dissatisfaction can be addressed directly. Looking at the sense of “I am”, the very ordinary sense of you, works.

      1. Neerav

        Kaushik,

        I had this inner realization of the truth of this idea several days ago. This morning, I had another realization that ultimately, the ego itself is unreal, which makes its temptations (which are illusions) more unreal and illusory. The “Dark Night of the Soul” is an illusion of the illusory existing/unreal ego, and so, if the ego does not exist, then this should not exist either. Yes, the highest perspective in spirituality and in all spiritual traditions (which I presented there and just now), which is from the Absolute, is very hard to understand, as it is very abstract and esoteric. This is the perspective of those who have gone further than just having and abiding in “awareness” and realize the truth of that awareness (as well as its Source) as the Self, which is the same as God Himself (as also being immament and not only transcendant, as he is both).

        It feels real because the ego wants to make you feel as if it is real. That is the point that I am trying to make. Whether you have gone through this or not, it is an illusion. For those who are going through this experience, recognize it to be false as an illusion of the ego. I see some of you used the technique of being an observer/witness without judgements – that is a good step. From there, you can see that this “Dark Night of the Soul” is an illusion of the ego and surrender it to God.

        Who is experiencing the “disastisfaction”? You who are is beyond all emotionalities – that is, the Self, which is the pure joy, peace and Love of God. It is the ego which is feeling that way. Who you are is the Self – who you aren’t is the ego and what it mistakenly identifies with – the body, mind and the phenonemal world. Both perspectives have to be taken into account for spiritual seekers, and not just one or the other, in order to make any spiritual practice truly effective.

        Lastly, I read your article “I don’t exist” and I have to warn you that this is a TERRIBLE philosophy – very nihlistic. You can realize who you aren’t, but that does not get you close to who you really are. In additon, when you say “I don’t exist” or “You don’t exist”, who is saying such things? Who am I (or you) who is making such statements – in the spirit of Sri Ramana Maharishi’s “self-inquiry” practice? A true spiritual awakening makes you both aware of who you really are and who you really aren’t and work from there. You have to have BOTH perspectives simultaneously, otherwise, you will end up being stuck in a ” Spiritual No-Man’s land” in between your false existence and Spiritual Enlightenment/Self-Realization, and will have no choice but to come back via reincarnation. The experience of the “Dark Night of the Soul” happens in this “Spiritual No-Man’s Land”, and this is one place you NEVER want to be! To know you are are and who you arren’t helps you to see one as false (which needs to be discarded) and the other and true (which has to be abided in). This is the philosophy that is a part of “Neo-Advaita” (Psuedo-Advaita or false spiritual non-duality) and I have seen many nowadays warn against this idea altogether as dangerous and ineffective. In fact, they tell spiritual seekers to avoid this spiritual practice altogether.

        Disatisfaction is a good driving force towards spirituality and God – it is what is motivating me right now. But so is the incredible love, peace and joy of God, which the Lord envelops me with daily, for which, I am eternally grateful to Him for.

        1. Neerav

          The “I don’t exist” and “you don’t exist” as a spiritual practice is associated with Neo-Advaita movement of recent, just to clarify, which is why some spiritual teachers and even spiritual seekers such as ourselves have been warning against it. I read the article and some people in reading the comments are right in doubting this as a spiritual practice. If you want to induce a “Dark Night of the Soul” experience (which is an illusion of the ego) this is one way to do it.

          – Neerav

          1. Kaushik Post author

            I explored the “I don’t exist” technique for a while. It doesn’t lead to anything so I gave up on it.

            1. Neerav

              Yeah…..there are a lot of teachers of non-duality (Advaita), mainly westerners, who are teaching this, and for the reasons that I mentoned, I am warning against it. It is like “Enlightenment for Dummies”, when, in reality, the spiritual path is not easy. False teachers abound.

    3. Max

      The constant surrender you mention (abandoning all ego illusions) seems like the best advice for really any seeker. I found myself in a dark night a year or so after I started practicing, and looking back, I realized that in that year I built up a nice little self-image for myself, mostly centered around being ‘awake’ and ‘older’ than most (to follow up on your comment, building up this spiritual pride really came back to smack me in the face, and I’m much happier when I don’t have these labels to worry about).

      1. Neerav

        Thanks. It has been a philosophy that has been emphasized by ALL spiritual/mystical traditions around the world, and still is today, from Christianity to Islam, and from Hinduism to Buddhism and Jainism. It is nothing really new. You mentioned just surrending the illusions of the ego to God. That is fine as well, but it does not get rid of the source of the problem of the ego illusions, which is the ego itself. Therefore, not only all of the illusions of the ego have to be surrendered to God, but the ego itself as their source has to be surrendered as well. Do both. I hope that helps. Be well.

        Regards,

        Neerav

  46. Max

    I’ve been reading some of the responses to this article, and I and others have given people advice about the realizations that get one out of the dark night. But after thinking about it, I wonder how much this advice helps. For some, I imagine it could be immensely helpful, but for others, it might only confuse. I’ve read that seekers should expect only nudges and inspiration from those further on the path, and that each person has to find wisdom on their own. For that reason, I wonder how useful on-line spiritual advice might be. I think the best situation is a personal relationship with a teacher who is able to help seekers, each of whom is at a very unique place.

    That said, there were a handful of things which were and continue to be immensely useful to me to abandon the false self. I’m hoping that these techniques will help others come to their own realizations, which cannot be handed to them. Useful to me has been:
    – Meditating daily: the more, the better. Strive for mindfulness as much as you are comfortable doing (or not and force yourself out of your comfort zone – doing so promotes growth).
    – Strive for presence: the perception of growth being difficult can be a huge roadblock; strive for presence, and the fear will be gone.
    – Linking the sense of self with suffering: this one has been very useful as good motivation to abandon the false self. Look at your sense of self (all attachments/aversions, labels of who/others are, planning, opinions, …, there’s a lot to it, and sometimes it manifests in very subtle ways, so it’s best to strive to be as honest with yourself as possible), then notice how you feel when you try to live up to it (and either fail or succeed to do so). Ask yourself lots of questions about it, and be honest with yourself. Possibly helpful idea: the more quickly you respond to a question and the more sure you are of your answer, the more chance there is that you’re deluding yourself (it seems to me this is a good indicator of defense mechanisms). Constantly link behavior/perspective to feeling (feeling may come in the future).
    – Motivate yourself to push forward: however you do this, find a friend who’s gone through the dark night, read lots of stuff on the internet, know that you have to push through and that otherwise you’ll continue to wander about in the dark, … . Motivation is highly important; I imagine it will very much shorten the transition.
    – Alternate behavior: if you see a constant behavior, try alternating to various types of behaviors. Pay attention to how the various behaviors feel. Try not doing something instead. Keep experimenting and pay attention to feeling.
    – Exchange of self and other meditation: the idea is to place yourself fully in another’s shoes, maybe take some time to really empathize with them, imagine what they’ve been through, how they do things, etc.. Then, you imagine yourself (i.e., you, not the person whose shoes you are in) doing some behavior, having some perspective, … (try lots!), then pay attention to how the other feels (whose shoes you are in). If the other suffers, then this is good motivation to abandon the behavior.
    – Detachment/dispassion meditation: Detachment is immensely useful. We are not free while we are attached to something, and there’s lots we get attached to (and the ego will keep re-attaching itself to new things as old ones go – be careful!). I don’t know how much I can help others to cultivate a sense of dispassion, because I don’t really know how I ‘discovered’ a way to detach myself from experience (I had great motivation to be detached and it was just sort of born). Look on the internet. I have some visualizations which have been helpful, if anyone is interested, reply and maybe I can post some of them.
    – Get creative with it: I keep a journal now, and I write down useful realizations, visualizations, and the like. When I think of a certain technique, it is usually useful for a while, but then it loses it’s spark, so instead of trying to revive it, I think of the use of the technique and come up with a similar one. Think of what you’re trying to accomplish and think of similar techniques to get to the core of the technique, then approach it from a new angle, with new words, images, …
    – Renunciation: if you can partially/completely (and honestly) renounce or honestly work towards renouncing behavior, it is a radical source of change. Renunciation can be scary, so sometimes I’ll renounce something for a week, or do alternating behavior where I renounce it one week, let it be the second week, then if I’m happier without the behavior, it allows me to abandon it (or start the abandonment process) easily and fearlessly.

    I hope this helps. I might later post some more things which have been helpful.

    1. Neerav

      Great advice…..this is not just useful for those going through this “Dark Night of the Soul”, but as a spiritual practice for all spiritual seekers! I am not sure which are my favorites that I like…….hmm. In additon to prayers, selfless and spiritual surrender, these are also good to do. I also recommend the “self-inquiry process” by the famous Hindu saint, Sri Ramana Maharishi. I am using that also, and is VERY effective. His contemporary, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj also uses it to help seekers abandon one’s false identity to get to the new one (Consciousness = Self and God). Any combination helps of all of these or even the ones that you listed. Even to avoid having to go through this “Dark Night of the Soul” or to get oneself out of i, this can be used. Wow! Good stuff, Max!

      Also remember that recunciation is internal, not external. But all of these are also of very good help. Just make sure that you are not replacing one thought or conditioning of the mind with another and end up beng stuck in the realm of the ego/mind. You have to transcend the dualistic egoic mind and not remin there in order to realize your true Self or true nature (i.e. God).

      You are doing good, Max! I can see you are making good spiritual progres! Keep it up!

      – Neerav

      1. Max

        Thanks for mentioning the self-inquiry process idea, it seems I’ve been doing something similar; this practice seems like one to do often.

        Max

        1. Neerav

          Hi Max,

          I actually started it (unintentionally) back in February when I started to question another “supposed” spiritual practice that I was doing at the time. That is what got me interested in Ramana Maharishi (by the Grace of God, of course!). It is very useful for me and effective. If you have not read on the process and on Sri Ramana Maharishi, you can search him on the internet and visit the website of his ashrama, and even by books assocaited with him and some of his disciples (like Sri Annamalai Swami and Sri Laxshmana Swami). Good luck!

      2. Kaushik Post author

        Nisargadatta and Ramana were on the right track. They presented to the world a very simple technique. It’s simple and it’s effective. It does not require belief or spirituality.

        Spiritual seekers seek comfort in ideas of God, Self, Home, Surrender. These concepts are enticing and impressive. The ego loves to talk about them. The ego loves to speak in mystical and spiritual terms.

        But the reality is so much simpler than all of this.

        It’s just looking at you. It’s exactly as Nisargadatta and Ramana and John Sherman say. Just take a look at the sense of I AM.

        Don’t worry about the rest of it. If you find comfort in concepts like God and Self and Home, well so be it. If you find comfort in inner renunciation, well so be it. That doesn’t help or hurt.

        It doesn’t take practice. You can meditate if you want, but you don’t have to. You can journal if you want, but you don’t have to. You can believe or not believe. You can even happily dwell in the ego’s favorite spiritual concepts. It doesn’t matter either way. It all falls away.

        It’s not a practice so we don’t have to get better and better at this. It doesn’t take knowledge. it doesn’t take belief.

        Just look at the sense of you.

        That’s all.

        What is required is only the looking. Look at the sense of I am. The sense of you. The very ordinary sense of you. Not the spiritual you, not the God-you, not the Home-you, not the consciousness-you. Just the ordinary sense of you.

        What is perhaps most difficult about talking about this is that it’s a very easy thing to do.

        1. Neerav

          The sense of “I” or “I Am” is associated with the body/mind – but we are before and beyond “I Am”, which is beingness. Yes, this is what Nisargadatta Maharaj taught, but let’s take this a step further in this way: Who is looking at the sense of “I Am”? The sense of you?

          – Neerav

          1. Kaushik Post author

            No need to take it further conceptually. Just look at the sense of you.

            It’s a strange thing, but in my experience, spiritual people find this more difficult to understand than ordinary people do.

            It’s just the ordinary, everyday sense of you.

            If you actually do this, you’ll find that you’ve done this before. You will recognize memories when you had looked at the sense of you in the past.

            1. Neerav

              Hi Kaushik,

              There is nothing that is difficult about looking at the “sense of I Am”…….the “sense of you”. Hmm……I think those spiritual seekers are making things more difficult than it should be. Why are they doing this? This is not actually very hard at all – it is a simple practice, actually. Curious.

              – Neerav

              1. Kaushik Post author

                It is particularly difficult for people who are attached to spiritual concepts and spiritual terminology. Looking at the sense of you is just looking at the sense of the very ordinary you.

                But people who are attached to words like consciousness, awareness, presence, God, Home, beyond, enlightenment and so on, do not look at the ordinary sense of you. They look at the concept of what they think you is or should be.

                So you are right. For those people who are fond of using spiritual terminology, it will be more difficult. But never impossible, because the looking at the ordinary sense of you, does not require any spirituality or understanding.

                1. Neerav

                  Hi Kaushik,

                  I was wondering something……what would happen if you turn the self-inquiry process by Sri Ramana Maharishi back onto itself? In other words, find out who is asking the question of “Who am I?” or any deerivative of that, that Sri Ramana Maharishi recommends doing?

                  I asked my mom about this…….she is curious also. =)

                  1. Kaushik Post author

                    The question “Who am I” leads to looking at the sense of you. But this can be confusing, because it brings up all sort of questions in the head, what am I looking for, who is doing the looking, can I look at what is looking, what if I turned this inquiry back onto itself…and so on. That’s how the mind works.

                    But there is no reason to wrestle with this.

                    To say to “look at the sense of you” is clear. Simply bring attention to sense of you, what it feels like to be you, to the taste of you. Just for a moment.

                    1. Neerav

                      Kaushik…….all the problems that you mentioned will end up surfacing anyways as a result of doing self-inquiry. When you look deep inside, you are bound to bring up negative emotions and past conditionings, like the ones you mentioned. Those conditions have to be healed and subsequently transcended in order to gradually free oneself from the suffering of one’s physical existence.

                      – Neerav

                    2. Kaushik Post author

                      Yes, that’s what it does.

                      There is no reason to wrestle with it. A spiritualized ego will want to think it through and filter it and try to fit it in with ossified spiritual concepts and beliefs and terminology.

                      It’s not necessary to do any of that.

                      It is necessary just to do the looking.

                      Look at the sense of you, the very ordinary sense of you. If you do, you will look for a while. You will remember other times in your life when you have looked. At some point, the the urge to look will go away.

                      How the recovery goes for any particular person is highly individual. In my experience, spiritualized personalities can have a more difficult time with this. It’s harder for them to get started. I was fortunate that I had already given up on spirituality when I came to understand what Nisargadatta and Ramana and John Sherman had been trying to say.

                      The important thing is to look. The wrestling of concepts around the looking are irrelevant.

                    3. tb

                      you have to isolate yourself for about two to four weeks, unplug every electrical appliance, stop everything, no reading, no tv, no radio, and try to stay in the present moment as much as possible. your ego cannot survive this. you know this is probably the answer, and if your not ready to attempt this you are not ready to let go.

                    4. Kaushik Post author

                      Hi tb,

                      I understand what you’re saying. I have done this, at the Vipassana retreats as well as on my own.

                      At one time I might suggested to people to simplify their lives. I no longer make specific lifestyle suggestions. I don’t think it’s necessary.

                      All these suggestions have value: to simplify, to isolate, to go out in nature, to observe, to be honesty, to meditate, to release and so on.

                      But the only thing I can really suggest is to understand that the basic problem is the fear of life, and the looking at you can eliminate this problem. Everything else is highly individual, and we can use our own intuition to gauge what and how we want to live life.

                      k

    2. Neerav

      By the way, Max, save this list on your computer (Word or Word Pad) and keep adding to it and, if you wish to post it here as well for all of us to see. I am proud of you as a fellow spiritual seeker and support you in all of your spiritual endeavors. I hope soon that you too will finally get to be back at Home with God

      – Neerav

      1. Max

        Thanks for the reply; that’s a great idea to save this list. I have a journal full of stuff I’ve written down over the past couple of months, and at some point, I plan to type it all up and consolidate it into specific techniques, meditations, and visualizations. When I feel I am ready to share, I am going to start a blog and post all of it and more. Once I do, I’ll post a link here.

        1. Neerav

          Are you going to have your own blog and such? I was thiniking of making one myself for some time, but haven’t gotten around to it – either because I am too lazy or I just don’t know if it is appropriate. Oie Vey!

  47. Neerav

    Ok, for those who think that I am trying to discount your “Dark Night of the Soul” experience, let me say this as a way to address possible criticisms of my posts ahead of time. First, I sympathize with the “hell” that you are going through. I wish I had some way to just snap you out of it or make you feel much better, but I don’t. To me, that does not feel good at all to see others suffer and I not being able to do much about it. It is a terrible feeling to have, truly. I am not saying that you are not really experiencing anything at all with the subjective experience that all of you are going through (or have gone through). I am not going to discount what you are going through as a subjective experience at all. Please don’t mistake me on that. At least, on this part, you have my undue support.

    What I am getting to is the reality of your subjective experience – the truth of what it really is that is, it is an experience of and by the ego, and not of your “true/essential nature”, which is the Self. The Self does not “do”, “cause”, “act”, “enjoy” or “experience” anything, it just “is”. As said before, the Self “is” God Himself as being immanent as opposed to ONLY being a transcendent, as God is simultaneously immanent AND transcendent. Therefore. it does not go through this “Dark Night of the Soul” – only the ego (and its partner, the mind) does. So as long as you are still attached to the ego-self, you will continue to go through this subjective experience. As mentioned before, this “Dark Night of the Soul” is an illusion of the ego that the ego itself makes you suffer through, so as long as you still believe that the ego-self is real with its attachments to the body/mind/world. That is the point of my initial post that I made on here. Some like Andrew, have already realize this fact, and I am happy about that.

    If you realize the Self as your true nature and abide in it, there can be no question of the ego and its illusions. The spiritual giants of Hinduism of recent – Sri Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadatta Maharaj, said exactly this.

    For those already going through the egoic illusion of the “Dark Night of the Soul”, ask yourself this: “Who is having this experience?” or “Who am I who is having this Dark Night of the Soul Experience?” This is the spiritual practice of “self-inquiry” as per Sri Ramana Maharishi. Keep asking yourself this question until the answer you get is no answer…….silence. Silence, as well as peace and stillness are main characteristic of the Self, which is beyond the body/mind that the ego wrongly associates you with. That same Self is also “beyond all time, space, causality and duality; as well as beyond all worlds, universes and dimensions” (to quote the poem that I wrote about my recent spiritual awakening experience). Here, you will realize that the Self, who you really are, does not suffer and has never suffered, as it is beyond it. All suffering is associated with the ego and its illusions.

    The information in my initial post, in my response to Max and Kaushik, and in this post should not be taken ONLY as theoretical and intellectual knowledge, otherwise, you have wasted your time reading all of what I said in the first place. Use it…….for those who have not yet gone through a “Dark Night of the Soul”, this will help you to either avoid it or lessen the effects when it happens. For those already entrenched in this subjective expereince, use this knowledged that I have imparted (as well as some of the good stuff that Max posted recently) to quickly get out of this illusion of the ego and be back full force on the spiritual path…….more engergized, dedicated and committed than ever.

    Lastly, the reason why I mentioned “surrendering” (to God and His Divine Will) is because it has been proven, time and again, to bea very powerful tool to help one through even difficult times for anything – mnaterially or spiritually. Every spiritual tradition espouses the power and benefits of surrendering, and it is a very powerful tool against both the ego and its illusions and temptations, such as the “Dark Night of the Soul” experience.

    Wishing everyone here a happy journey and all the best to you in your spiritual endeavors!!!

    Regards,

    Neerav

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Neerav, this is a little closer to the actual experience.

      I appreciate your comments. They can help expose the truth and delusions. It might be more useful if you comment on the latest articles. This particular article was written a long time ago.

      My purpose now is to bring to world the idea that this was always very, very simple.

      Because it is.

      I don’t like to talk about concepts like God and Home and so on, because they are misleading. This is the very reason that people are not able to see the simplicity.

      What stands between humanity and freedom is spirituality.

      This is the very reason that it took me five years of seeking, and then giving up completely, to see that it was always very simple.

      I fully understand that spiritual concepts are enticing. The ego loves to talk about God and Home and Consciousness and so on. But that is completely useless.

      I don’t see Ramana and Nisargadatta as the spiritual giants of Hinduism. That’s a very misleading thing to say. Neither was interested in Hinduism. Nisargadatta saw clarity by holding on the sense of I AM. Ramana saw clarity when he looked at sense of his being, what he called the “force of personality”, when he laid down to die.

      It was later, when they tried to explain to spiritual seekers what had happened, that they talked about Hindu scriptures. And I think that was a mistake because today that’s the part that people focus on.

      What both Ramana and Nisargadatta were saying is that all you need to do is look at the sense of you.

      Not Silence with a capital S. Not God. Not Consciousness. Not Home. Not Surrender. Not any high spiritual concept.

      Just the very ordinary sense of you.

      But of course, people have egos, and egos get spiritualized, and spiritualized egos run towards beautiful spiritual concepts.

      I have not yet found the clarity in words for this. When I do find clarity, it will be through ordinary, everyday words.

      John Sherman is someone who is able to be very clear about this. For those who get this, and those who are interested in Nisargadatta or Ramana, I suggest you check out John Sherman’s site.

      1. Neerav

        Hi Kaushik,

        I am not sure, but from what it sounds like, you are better going with Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism. They say not to get attached to any ideas or concepts, including those of “Samsara”, “Enlightenment” and “Nirvana”.

        Let me correct a misconception in your last post…….spiritual concepts, ideas, philosophies themselves are not bad, because they make things easier, otherwise, spirituality will be impossible to do as a practice and a way of being, and NO one will be able to do it. It is the attachment to the concepts (Buddhism and Zen Buddhism), as I mentioned above, which is the problem, which leads to an ego…….a spiritual ego, especially. You have to “be” the concepts (merge with them) in order to transcend them – yes, this sounds like non-dualism, but in that way, attachment to spiritual concepts is eliminated, which has to do with the ego/mind. This takes practice, patience and commitment. Spiritual concepts and philosophies are only pointers or signs on the spiritual path…….that is all they are, and are of use to any spiritual seeker. Otherwise, how would a spiritual seeker such as yourself even know what they are doing and where they are going? Don’t get attached to the signs – they are only your guide, and nothing more. The same thing with one’s external guru, whoever that may be. If people followed what you said, then spirituality would be impossible and people would give up trying to return to the Source (i.e. God) that they came, which is the whole point of religion, and moreso of spirituality, in the first place. Sorry, but this makes no sense at all.

        Let me correct you on another point…….both the people are associated with Hinduism and are revered by Hindus and westerners, as they are brought up as Hindus BEFORE they became enlightened, in which formal/organized religion is transcended. They are considered spiritual giants in Hinduism and in spirituality as a whole, along with Adi Shankracharya, among others. You can never disassociate these two from Hinduism, when you talk about the spiritual aspect of that religion. Thier talks and the answers seems to be very much based in Hinduism, and not on other religions, for the most part. You ask almost any Hindu, who is well read, about Nisargadatta Maharaj and/or Ramana Maharishi, and they will know who you are talking about. Even the name will be familiar amongst a good portion of Hindus if you mention it. Me, my mom, a good amount of my relatives and Hindus like us are familiar with them, even it is just the names themselves. Outside of Hinduism, the name is not very known. Ask a Jew, Christian, Buddhist or Muslim if they know who these two people are………most likely, they will have no clue.

        I did comment on another blog post “Here”, but won’t do ones more than 3 or 4 months old, because I am not sure if it is even worth bringing it back up from the dead. Jesus Christ resurrected Lazurus from the dead, but I would rather not do that.

        Looking at the sense of “I Am” (the sense of self) by Nisargadatta Maharaj is one of many spiritual practices out there both in Hindiusm and in other spiritual traditions with the same goal in mind. It seems from some your posts that this is the only one worth doing (drop all spiritual practices and just look at the sense of “I Am”, the sense of self), which only the ego would claim in terms of exclusivity of spiritual practice or a spiritual path. This is “dangerous” to any spiritual seeker, which can lead to his or her downfall. Be careful! In reality, there are many different spiritual paths and practices, and that should be obvious to you already as a spiritual seeker yourself. If this is what works for you as a spiritual practice, that is all well and good, but there are others that people like, maybe in tandem with looking at the sense of “I Am” that you are practicing. If they lik this one by itself, that is fine also. For me, it is meditation, prayers and devotion, selfless service and even the practice of self-inquiry. Others will have a different combination for themselves. It is all a matter of personal preference.

        Will take a look at John Sherman’s website, but I prefer the authentic spiritual teachers and traditions, and not any possible derivatives of it, since it may not reflect the original teachings, philosophies and practices of the authentic spiritual tradition and thier teachers. I am very weary of such things. .

        Regards,

        Neerav

        1. Neerav

          Spiritual concepts, practices and ideas are also useful to make sure that one has the right tools neeeded for spiritual growth. To know the true nature of God and the experience of those in a higher state of consciousness, for example, is good to know so when you get there (if there is such a thing), you already are familiar. That is why mystics and sages proclaim and even describe their state of being to the world to know and have written about it extensively To know spiritual truth or truths is very useful for beginning and intermediate spiritual seekers by studying various religious and spiritual literature and then applying is consistently as a practice.

          You take the position that seems to be close to Buddhism, and that is fine in terms of forgetting spiritual concepts, ideas or any efforts or practices whatsoever. But others may not be comfortable with that. To me, studying and applying various spiritual concepts, philospohies and ideas have lead to considerable spiritual growth and A LOT of deep spiritual insights such as the one written in my original post about the truth of the “Dark Night of the Soul”, and a closeness to a Higher Power (i.e. God) that is giving me the energy and inspiration to go all the way. A majority of spiritual seekers are doing exactly what I am doing also, if you take a survey of them. Yes, eventually, all spiritual beliefs, concepts, ideas, etc… must be transcended and thereby left behind, in order to realize who one truly is. Until that time, they are useful to spiritual seekers/aspirants, especially as a guide and inspiration to continue the journey Home.

          The reason I can write with such deep insight into stuff like what I wrote is because of not only deep spiritual study, but of consistent application of the spiritual concepts, philosophies and practices that I have studied in books and such if various spiritual traditions. Again, to do this as an intellectual excersise only is a waste of time. Why bother, if that is why you are studying spiritual literature?

          To say that you have to “do nothing” (no efforts or spiritual practices whatsoever) is not a good spiritual practice at all. Doing nothing, in reality, has to do with the ego not claiming of “doership” of one’s spiritual practices; and does not have to do with not making any efforts or doing any spiritual practices. Think “Wu Wei” in Taoism. I hope that this is what you are saying, otherwise, you are leading a lot of people in the wrong direction!

          – Neerav .

          1. Kaushik Post author

            If the objective is to be “spiritual”, then it’s fine to study spirituality.

            If the objective is to be a sane, natural human being free from suffering and resistance, then spirituality is irrelevant.

            If the objective is to be a sane, natural human being free from suffering and resistance, the only thing needed is to look at the sense of me.

            I have not written much about the looking itself–that is what I plan to do in the next few articles.

            Look at the sense of you.

            And the understanding that inner atmosphere of fear is the only problem there is–this is helpful to understand. And it can be helpful to be able to let go of uncomfortable emotions. The release technique I have here works very well for that. Others may prefer meditation, or some other thing. That’s helpful, but not essential.

            1. Max

              I would personally categorize this technique of looking at the sense of me as a spiritual practice. For me, spirituality is all about ending suffering and resistance, and nothing more. I’ve found that buddhist practice works for me, so I’m sticking to it. That said, it’s all too easy to get a spiritualized ego, so if this technique is as useful as you say, perhaps it can help people avoid their egos getting spiritualized.

              1. Kaushik Post author

                That’s fine. We don’t have to get caught up in words. The reason I say it is not a practice is to point out that it doesn’t require us get better and better at it, it does not require us to make it “abiding”, it does not require us to do it longer and longer, it does not require believing or unbelieving.

                It’s just a simple action we can take.

                1. Neerav

                  Kaushik,

                  Just to correct you…….practice here means “method” or “technique” in spiritual terms. Yes, you do get better at it as a result of knowledge and gaining of experience from actually performing the spiritual practice, which is a secondary.

                  – Neerav

              2. Neerav

                Hi Max,

                That is what I thought also……..he says first to not do any other spiritual practices except looking at the sense of “I Am”, but this too is a spiritual practice in itself that Nisardagatta Maharaj recommended to his followers or to any spiritual seeker, is it not?

                The term “practice” here in spiritual terms means “method” or “technique”, and not in terms of doing something to become better at it. Same thing with saying how one “practices medicine” as a doctor, or one “practices law” as a lawyer, etc… which means performing the duties or functions of such jobs. Yes, you do get better, but that is because of experience and knowledge being gained as you become better. You can also argue that practice, “is” both doing the job and perfecting it (i.e. becoming better at it) as you do it.

                Regards,

                Neerav

            2. Neerav

              Kaushik,

              Studying spirituality and applying it are two different things. The only point of studying spirituality is to get a greater understanding of the world, of one’s existence (life) and the Source of both (God), which can then be applied to one’s everyday life and in devotional and spiritual practices (meditation, spiritual contemplation, selfless service, etc…). If you study it and not use/apply anything you read or learned, then it becomes useless. You (I am refering to spiritual seekers) have then no choice then to continue to suffer the way you do until you can apply what you have learned to free yourself from this suffering. Spiritual practices, be it looking at the sense of “I Am”, various forms of meditation, self-inquiry, spiritual contemplation, etc… is aiming towards looking at the source of all pain, fear, anxiety, guilt, etc… and eventually transcending them, which is inwards, yes. Again, it is all a matter of preference.

              Regards,

              Neerav

  48. SkippityBoop

    I can honestly say that I first started feeling “the dark night” after I started to question reality and the validity of everything. I started feeling what is called derealization; After that everything seemed fake, lonely, and just voids of light, god, and consciousness. So then I thought am I going mad, what is wrong, and most importantly “where is god”? Then I thought “I am looking out for god where there is vast emptiness, maybe I should look inside for god”; then it stopped.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Don’t be afraid of the emptiness feeling. For me, I saw it is a reminder that I don’t really know anything. Which is cool.

    2. Neerav

      Hi SkippityBoop,

      It is the ego/mind that questions, intellectualizes and conceptualizes, as well as doubts. You are right to question the reality of everything, especially if you have studied any non-dualistic spiritual philosophy such as Advaita Vedanta in Hinduism, which states that the world is not real – it exists so as long as the mind exists. The ego basically set you up to have this “Dark Night of the Soul” by making you question the reality and validity of everything around you – possibly even your own existence. The whole thing, from start to finish, was a deviously clever plot by the ego to make you suffer for its own selfish gain, including making your life feel seemingly hopeless, lost and as if God has abandoned you. All of these are false as illusions of the ego.

      The thought of looking for God inside of you came from deep within (which is beyond the mind) as an inner realization, but appeared as a thought of the mind. This does sound difficult to understand (to the egoic mind), but this is how inner spiritual realizations/revelations happen. I know because I have had this happen to me many times, a lot of them unexpectectedly. It was the Self (God/Divinity within) that gave you this thought to help you realize where to look for God and to stop the progress of the “Dark Night of the Soul” in its tracks. I am glad you were able to get out of it and be well, and are able to share your experience with all of us. I hope and pray that you never have to go through another experience like that again, and can realize your “true nature” (Self = God/Divinity) without having to unecessarily suffer like that.

      ———————————————————————————————————————
      As I said before in my original post on here this “Dark Night of the Soul” is an illusion and a trick of the selfish, narcissistic ego, in order to trap you in its games so it can survive at YOUR expense (and those of others around you as well). It is to be refused and surrendered to God, prefreably as soon as the signs/symptoms of it start to appear.

      What SkippityBoop did was the right thing, and we can learn from him as to how to ward off this “Dark Night of the Soul” illusion of the ego as it becomes apparent, or even try to surrender the ego and any and all of its temptations/illusions constantly as you progress along the spiritual path so that you can avoid this egoic illusion altogether, or will be able to more easily deal with it when it happens to you. The point of my posts have been aimed at that, as well as for those who are already suffering through it. I hope it has provided a useful benefit to everyone here, whether they are going through the “Dark Night of the Soul” illusion of the ego or have yet to have such an experience. Thanks to SkippityBoop for providing us a means to help spiritual seekers (and those who want to end the insanity of suffering for oneself) to avoid having to go through the “Dark Night of the Soul”…….what he provided is valuable all of us and should be used to help yourselves and others with this. Thanks again, SkippityBoop, and great work!!!

      Regards,

      Neerav

      1. Neerav

        The questioning should be from the point of view of higher mind/Self and not from the lower perspective of the ego/mind, to clarify the seeming contradiction in the first part of my post where I mentioned about “Advaita Vedanta” in Hinduism. Be careful that your ego does not take over the process, otherwise, you can possibly get yourself into a “Dark Night of the Soul” like Skippity Boop almost did.\

        Regards,

        Neerav

    3. Cindy

      Hi,

      I been searching for almost 5 years now and now just came across this “dark night of the soul”. You see it sta rted with me in 09, but God & Angels guided me. I use to lay in bedat night, crying and asking God what was going on, the way I felt inside, that I didn’t want to die as felt I lost the will to die. upAs time went on, it got worse till one day in September I spoke outloud to God and said I needed a lifeline that I went as deep as I could. After that my soul started to climb back. But…..there is more to this story, I have seen the divine light and God gave me proof, I also have felt presence of Angels, presence of spirits, of being watch over, seeing aberation of Jesus. God is watching over me still, events happening in my life is proof. Lucky for myself, I have people that believe me.

      1. Kaushik Post author

        Hi Cindy,

        I’m very glad that you are in place where you feel natural and safe. That’s what I try to do here and write about it. The way it’s happening for you is something I have no experience with. I’ve moved through this relying on direct experience and trying to let go of anything conceptual or anything which is not in my direct seeing. So I’m glad you are sharing something which I don’t have any experience with. Please keep me updated.

        k

        1. Cindy

          Thank you, I will keep you updated. I feel by writing here, I can find others like me or close to it.
          Cindy

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