Onceler wrote:Wow, this stuff is like gold. Keep it coming!coriolis wrote:I would say with Eric that it feels more like a loss of identity in the sense that what you always thought of yourself as and believed yourself to be is revealed to be mostly just a projection of a collection of memes you've built up over your lifetime into something you refer to, and believe actually is, a single separate me.KathleenBrugger wrote:Onceler, coriolis, and Eric: would you say that what's shifted is your identification? As long as you identified with your neuroses, they were monsters, but when you could see them as just psychological baggage you'd picked up along the way, and not really part of who you are, they turned into just a mess that needed cleaning?
Interestingly, I did not really have a dark night of the soul, unless you would count my whole life before the 'looking' resolution of the last few years. 6 months after the looking, at the time I didn't know what I had done, I had a very stressful, anxious period of several months where I didn't sleep much and felt like I was going crazy......but it was no worse than many other moments of my life and I almost looked at this period with curiosity, like what the hell? By contrast the rest of my life up to this point was pretty miserable and around the time I 'quit' spirituality things were looking up.
Perhaps the dark night is not yet upon me, though I am going through some very intense life changes right now. I must be tapping my inner 'what me worry?' Alfred E. Neumann......
Thank you Kathleen, Onceler, and Coriolis,
It's been a very fruitful conversation and it does help me to kind of write some of this stuff out.
Kathleen, have you ever seen the movie Jacob's Ladder, because in a way it reminds me of your question. It is an older psychological thriller. If you haven't seen it. It's starts off in the Vietnam War and the lead guy (Jacob) is attacked with his platoon. It seems that he is stabbed and looks to be dying. The next scene he is working in a post office, so it seems that he survived the attack. As the movie goes along though, he starts to see demons everywhere he goes. He feels like he is losing his mind and the only person he kind of confides in is his chiropractor.
It turns out that Jacob was supposed to die back in that attack, but for some reason he didn't. It also turns out that Jacob's chiropractor is also his guardian angel and he paraphrases Meister Eckhart and says to Jacob:
~Eckhart saw Hell too. He said: The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul. So, if you're frightened of dying and... and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth.
Eric: I can completely relate to this as an analogy in my own journey. I have found that it has been my clinging, my refusal to let go that has caused unneeded conflict, confusion, pain, etc. It's in the moments of surrender when I completely see this for what it is. In my experience of this "transition", I found that even with what I identified with that I felt was negative, I would still run back to this thinking, conditioned mechanisms that often led to negative behaviors simply because while they didn't make me feel good psychologically, there was a comfort of the familiar there. There was a structure, and anchor....something I could indentify with. I think that's what led to or maybe it was a symptom, or maybe there was a reciprocal relationship between the two of my version experience of the "Dark night of the Soul".
Once I began to "surrender" for a lack of a better word, then I began to see this (or accept it maybe a better term) as psychological baggage and then I began to let go and not run to this for "security and safety." What I have found also is that while these conditioned thought mechanisms and behaviors were alreadt there. Once the underpinnings began to become unraveled, my "pain" threshhold for these conditioned mechanisms and negative behaviors began to drop.
Just one example would be, arguments with others that really never seemed to consciously bother me before began to really affect me a lot. I really began to see the wisdom in the Buddha's saying, "You won't be punished for your anger, but by your anger." Yet, I still entertained the condioned mechanisms, because there was an anchor there, an identity, security, as distorted as that sounds.
Onceler, as far as dark night of the soul. I would say there is a wide spectrum to it. There is a podcast called, "The Buddhist Geeks" that has a Buddhist psychologist talk about this phenomena. They even started up a program to help people on the spiritual path to get through this, so it is much more common that we may think. As Kathleen echoed, most of the world is trying to keep it at bay with the distractions of the world.