I was reading a very interesting blog which provoked much discussion concerning the subject of The Dark Night of the Soul, that spiritual crisis in which the beliefs that we define ourselves by and which give meaning to our lives are challenged. Historical characters who went through this process include St. John of the Cross, who wrote a book of the same name describing his torment. The Dark Night can be triggered by many different circumstances, and everybody who has been through the experience has a unique story about how they arrived there. It is a time of spiritual transformation in which one’s awareness is moved from the mundane, conditioned mind, into a divine space where the illusions of life drop away. In other words, one begins to see the world, and the actions of its inhabitants, through the eyes of God. While the process is deeply painful, once truth is reclaimed, it can never be disowned.
It got me thinking about my own experiences and the truly positive transformation in my thinking patterns. I’ve written about the painful process of the Dark Night in my blogs on depression. I won’t delve further into that aspect of it. Depression is just another name for the Dark Night and at different stages of our lives, for different reasons, we move through short or long periods of it. For another less emotional and very interesting explanation of what happens during the Dark Night, go to Navigating a Dark Night of the Soul; the author Lisa describes the process really well. In this particular post, I want to share with you the realizations that transformed how I live my life, and show the contrast between the person I was before The Dark Night and who I became after. Here are some of the major realizations that radically altered my view of reality and my place in the world.
Realization: God is my Higher Self
Before the Dark Night: God was an entity (a man, what’s more) ‘out there’ on some sort of throne, looking down on us, ruling the world like a monarch. Depending on the events in my life I was an emotional infant without any sense of responsibility, a victim of circumstances. I was punished, sinful, hopeless, grovelling, I was frightened of God. At other times I was hopeful, chosen, special, superior, critical, arrogant. I fought and raged against life’s hardships; I was angry and afraid. I appeased God, doing good things to ‘please’ him. I was an overachiever, working hard to earn points in order to get into ‘heaven’.
Now: I am an extension of God, the part which took a human journey many lifetimes ago and somehow became entangled by beliefs that tricked me into thinking I am an individual entity, separate from everything in the universe. I understand that this is why I have manifested a physical body; it serves and strengthens the belief in individuality. I am still in a process of untangling. When I get out of this sticky mess, I’ll be back where I (and everyone else) started; one with God.
Realization: I live in a Mirror Universe
Before the Dark Night: Life was a series of random events in which, depending on the situation, I was a victim, a victor, or an indifferent cog in the human wheel of existence. To me, things used to happen by chance; I believed in co-incidences, luck and in the idea of ‘being in the right place at the right time’.
Now: I now see that my experiences are deliberate occurrences, lined up to bring to the surface the personality characteristics that I disown. All the people that I meet show me some aspect of myself that I need to be aware of. I realize that when I am judging someone, it is a good thing, because I am able to describe myself; in them I see what needs to change and what does not. This mirror universe is the gift of God (my higher self) circumventing the walls my human mind has built against my negative characteristics.
Realization: There Aren’t Any Victims in this World
Before the Dark Night: I used to be a victim; a victim of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. I was a victim every time someone spoke cruelly to me, a victim every time I became ill, a victim every time someone made a dent in my car, or stole my purse, or robbed my house…
Now: I understand that I create these situations myself, through my God self, in order that I discover my best and worst aspects of self, in order that I see who I am with great clarity, in order that I release the beliefs that keep me imprisoned within this body life after life. Today, I take responsibility for my experiences. The difficult situations hold a gift for me. I try not to resist (I’ve realized it’s pointless anyway), I try to accept that everything that occurs is in my best interests. I’m still very human and have to remind myself of these things as I allow my emotions to go into a stew. I see clearly now that it is not someone else doing these things to me. I am doing it to myself since I’m technically one with God.
Realization: Everyone has the Same Purpose
Before the Dark Night: Different people had different purposes, some big, some small. Some were chosen by God to do truly great things; still others didn’t have any purpose at all. Some were still finding their purpose. If we didn’t find our purpose, we were miserable and we suffered.
Now: I discovered that there is only one fundamental purpose for being in this world, and that is to let go of the beliefs that keep us separate from each other. Everyone has this purpose. Every moment that we are alive, we are living with this purpose in mind. No matter whether we make history with our actions, do things for others, protest against a corrupt political or corporate system, achieve celebrity status, are homeless, are homemakers, are murderers, live off others, are mentally sick, live only a short while…we are all on a journey in which we are constantly learning about ourselves. I realized that it is only our beliefs that insist that some people’s purposes are more meaningful than others. I also discovered that our lives are actually extremely long, punctuated by many deaths. This life is one in many an incarnation, all a continuation of the letting go process.
Realization: We Can’t ‘Earn’ God’s Love…God Doesn’t Bargain
Before the Dark Night: I did what I thought was ‘right’ in God’s eyes, paying insurance against bad things happening to me, assuring myself a place in heaven. I read holy books that told me what was right and wrong; I listened to spiritual teachers who preached similar rules and regulations. I bargained with God; if I gave up alcohol, if I gave up eating meat, if I fasted five days a month, if I didn’t swear, if I didn’t watch so much television, if I was more eco-friendly, if I fed the poor, if I tipped the waiter handsomely…the bargain was for nothing bad to happen to my family, for me to always have money, food on the table, a nice car, a nice house. I was smug, morally superior, a sham.
Now: I now realize that God’s love can’t be earned because when all the beliefs that insist we are separate finally vanish, we are all God anyway. God IS love so love can’t be earned. In a simplistic sense, I am always loved, no matter what I do ‘wrong’. There is no sin; there are only beliefs that have hurtful consequences. I see now, that to earn back our true identity as God, we must let go of all the beliefs that (1). Separate us as human beings, e.g. beliefs about race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, moral values, etc, and (2). Separate us from God. All we need to do is let go. It’s as simple as that.
Realization: God Doesn’t Answer Prayers
Before the Dark Night: I asked God for comfort; I asked for security, both financial and physical. I asked for material things. I asked God to help others. I only focussed on the prayers God ‘answered’ (rather than the majority of things not answered). I convinced myself that prayer had power, in spite of the facts that demonstrated otherwise. I had a selective memory. I clung to this belief whole-heartedly.
Now: I learned that our lives are mapped out, that everything we do is pre-ordained. All our experiences serve to highlight the beliefs that we need to let go of. I realized that prayer had no place in the human journey because the human mind can never really know how to release itself from bondage. I discovered firsthand that it only knows how to save itself from pain, and letting go of our beliefs is always painful. The human mind can never serve us; it will only ask for things and situations that bring comfort.
Realization: There Is No Free Will In This Human Form
Before the Dark Night: I would always agonize over choices that I thought I had. Should I do this or that? Choose him or her? Go left or right? I didn’t realize that my beliefs owned me. I didn’t realize that they shape my world, my emotions, and my view of situations. I didn’t know that my beliefs are like puppeteers who in a situation where ‘choice’ is involved, yank the strings and take me down the road that resonates with them.
Now: I realize that free will belongs to those who are open to infinite choices, souls not bound by belief structures that narrow their field of view. In terms of free will, I am blind to any choice other than that which my current beliefs point to. So therefore I can simply never make choices. I discovered that if I believe in peace, it’s not possible for me to choose violence to solve a problem. If I believe that people only learn through a hard smack, then I couldn’t possibly choose a peaceful way of dealing with them. I learned that the concept of choice is a result of human arrogance.
Most importantly I learned that pre-destiny is shaped by our beliefs. Every situation in our lives triggers a train of thought, and those thoughts prompt us to act. Since every situation is pre-ordained, the beliefs that are challenged are then released at the pre-determined time. We can never make the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choices. We can only take a path governed by our beliefs.
These realizations came through a series of Dark Nights, each of which were more intense, and of a longer duration than the last. I had no choice in the matter, for I am on a journey pre-ordained by a God that needs to reclaim itself. Many of you have been through similar trials. I am interested in hearing your story.