The famous proverb “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” emphasizes that in the darkest hour of the night–symbolical for situations when all hope feels lost–darkness has reached its peak, from which it constantly gets brighter until light starts to illuminate the world again. Just when you feel all hope is gone, things will get better when morning comes at last. What the proverb beautifully relates is that when you have reached your lowest ebb in a downward spiral of negativity, dawn arrives and brings light and hope to you.
The dark night of the soul is just what the proverb describes: an existential crisis that drags you to the ground. A situation so severe and evidently hopeless that it makes you question everything you ever thought to know. Not only that, but it also takes you all your interest in the joys this material world has to offer. Your senses are deprived—if not deadened—for a certain period of time.
But during this period of mental stillness and “self-inflicted” sensory deprivation you will come to a really important conclusion. You will realize what is really important to you in your life. A realization so profound and powerful that it will change the way you regard your situation for the rest of your life. I, for instance, began to realize that friendship and family were more important to me than anything else in the world. That sports cars were just a pile of nicely fashioned junk; likewise the technological tools were are playing around in this modern era. Just a scrapheap.
The dark night of the soul is the point where your life has reached a fork in the road with only two directions to choose from. Death or transformation.
And just as one has to go through a really tough period in life until things become better, an individual will experience their darkest hour of the soul, which will transform their life forever. In my opinion, it will change your life for the better in hindsight to wisdom, insight and a broader understanding of life in general. One only has to have the courage, so to speak, to see the windows that open when a door closes. Just as one can learn from failures there is a lot to gain from the dark night of the soul, even though it is a very rough and painful period of time that makes one feel like all hope is lost.
Everything happens for a reason.
Something good comes out of everything that happens.
Did you know that in the ancient mystery traditions, the would-be initiate had to symbolically experience his own death during the initiation ritual? The symbolic death experience was an allegory to the dark night of the soul. During the experience the initiate would be symbolically born again, after he had caught a glimpse behind the veil of the upper world (heaven). During “death” the initiate realizes and overcomes the downward spiral of their birth into ignorance and is enlightened with the powerful wisdom of the group. The symbolic dark night of the soul would lead the initiate to metaphorically rise from the dead, proving the maturity to be instructed in the secrets of the mystery school.
And this is exactly what happens during the dark night of the soul, even though in a somewhat tougher and more painful manner. And a part of you dies during this experience.
The Dark Night of the Soul
But all hope is not lost, far from it! In fact, a far more powerful and wiser individual arises out of such a situation. And instead of waiting for dawn to illuminate the world again this person will become the beacon of light that shines through the pitch-black night, sharing hope and courage for those that are around.
In a sense, the dark night of the soul is necessary for an individual’s growth and development. It is the integral part of a life’s journey that turns everything upside down and leaves only the things behind that are important for the voyager and their progress. Without such an experience there would be no room for growth. There is no progress without struggle, as they say. Life would be a stagnating experience without the slightest chance for development. What would seem like a perfect world would sooner or later turn into a hellish nightmare from which one desperately would try to wake up.
If you are experiencing your personal dark night of the soul at this moment in time, it is important that you do not give up! Don’t allow it to consume your hope for a better future. Don’t let it take all your courage. Try to stay as calm as possible and see how things unfold. Most likely you will experience the gradual dismantling of your personality. The three primordial questions about existence might arise, maybe for the first time in your life. “Who am I? Where did I come from? And where am I going?” If you have the courage to pursue these questions you will find the right answers that will provide you a new hope.
Whatever is happening to you at this moment will pass eventually, making room for something new and positive. Remind yourself that something good evolves out of everything bad that happens to you. With this kind of powerful mindset nothing will be able to stand in your way. Have the courage to seek for the new opportunities that will arise as you are experiencing your darkest hour.
In more technical terms, the dark night of the soul is the process that quietens the mind and brings the soul to a peaceful serenity during which a transformation can take place. And one day you will look back at what you’ve gone through, how it affected you and how it profoundly changed your whole life and you will notice that it is you who has become a beacon of light, lightening the dark for others during their personal crisis. Then you know it was worth it.
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