“The Dark Night of the Soul”

On the spiritual path, you encounter morons.  You also meet people who used to be religious and meet your enthusiasm with a jaded smile.  There are people who seem to possess secret wisdom.  There are people with strange warmth, awareness, and intelligence that you can’t explain, and that you desperately want to understand better but simply cannot.  There are people who say extremely rational, almost saintly things, but then couple those words with strange ideas like, “You just have to look for the archetype of the manic pixie in your sub-consciousness”.

Saint John of the Cross first termed the phrase “Dark Night of the Soul”.  In Vipassana meditation, the dark night of the soul is known as The Dukkha Nanas.  That is, as one cycles through the spiritual states of mind that are possible in the human psyche, they wind up stuck in our rawest understanding of the glittering jewel that is human suffering.  Some people surrender to it – adapt to it – very quickly.  Others take some time….years, even.  I think Daniel Ingram reported that he was stuck in the dark night of the soul for 10 years…he was a “chronic dark night yogi”.  You can look at the symptoms of the dark night as apart of growing up…as apart of being human.

There is a sort of vague, slippery magical element to life and to completely deny it is equally as irrational as completely embracing it.  And that subtle aspect of ourselves, for whatever reason, improved the chances of our ancestor’s survival…thus, all of the beautiful micro-cosms of the human brain.  Life is really beautiful…

It is difficult to respect the notion of a dark night in the West.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I’m just projecting the way my parents feel about spirituality.  In any case, it is real.  And I hope that if one winds up there, they start meditating.  I think the Buddha said, “A good horse runs at the shadow of the whip.”

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