The first Dark Night of the Soul generally occurs for sincere practitioners when the blush of initial enthusiasm for the spiritual path begins to give way to the recognition of the reality of our condition: our bondage to our own fixations.
The habits we enjoy, we recognize as desperate distractions from our fundamental discomfort in the world. The people we criticize or denigrate, we recognize as mirrors of our own feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred. Where ego anxiously seeks meaning and refuge, we find a deep, dark void.
Our lives seem to have fallen into a crevice. We can no longer fool ourselves that the pursuit of worldly success, food, friends, sex or the latest techno gadget is going to bring us ultimate happiness. Yet, we are nearly beginners on the path, and so we also doubt the way forward.
We don’t know which way to turn; no way seems like the right way. We no longer feel we have a stable identity or a secure place in the world. We experience deep grief and fear.
This is a supreme moment of choice for any person. When we fall into ‘gaps’ where old ways cannot be resurrected and new ways have not yet solidified, we have an opportunity to discover our real motivation, our real longing, and to take responsibility for that, affirm it and act on it.
This first Dark Night of the Soul is the time to stop fighting, fixing, running from or identifying with our fear and sadness. It is a time to sit quietly, allowing obsolete self-concepts to fall away.
Then, in contemplation in the space of the heart, we rediscover the diamond-like natural longing for Reality, for God, that is our true inheritance, our royal road to wisdom. It is time to allow the ourselves to rediscover the indestructable Self-knowledge that got us onto the path in the first place.
When we do discover that vajra longing, affirm it, cultivate it and grasp it as our one and only guide, all questions of purpose, meaning and direction will end. We will have discovered the life process itself.
This Dark Night of the Soul is also the time to cry out, to reach out and ask for nourishment from our teachers and the wisdom masters who guide us and love us. It is the time to gather whatever confidence you have in life, and turn decisively toward life, even in the midst of despair.
If the Dark Night of the Soul is traversed with courage and supreme softness, with responsibility and surrender, on the other side is a new confidence in life, a new awareness of how the life process is always moving us toward greater Self-revelation, and a new appreciation for the loving responsiveness of life to our sincere efforts to Self-realize.
In Ma’s love,
"Faith is a dark night for man, but in this very way it gives him light" -St. John of the Cross (from: Dark Night of the Soul)