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how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?

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how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Mike Kich 1/20/11 11:25 AM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Daniel M. Ingram 1/20/11 5:53 PM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Mike Kich 1/20/11 11:49 PM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Ian And 1/21/11 1:55 AM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Victor Cova 1/21/11 7:30 PM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Mike Kich 2/12/11 5:47 AM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Bruno Loff 2/12/11 8:36 AM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Mike Kich 2/12/11 11:10 AM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Bruno Loff 2/12/11 11:22 AM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 2/12/11 12:30 PM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Crazy Wisdom 2/12/11 10:49 AM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Mike Kich 2/12/11 11:18 AM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? ratanajothi - 2/14/11 6:09 AM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Bruno Loff 3/5/11 9:36 AM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Mike Kich 3/10/11 3:16 PM
RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? Jill Morana 3/15/11 12:40 AM
Haha, ok. Thanks Daniel.

So I don't think you addressed this so much in your blook, at least not that I can remember to quote from, but how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase? I'm speaking of a boy-girl sexual way, yes, but I'm not asking necessarily specifically about long-term relationships and that sort of thing. I've noticed this transition for the longest time now that's felt, as said in the article, both freeing and disturbing at the same time, but I can't even really explain it well. It's as if the people I find attractive, I still find them attractive in some sense sexually but...not really as before. It's as if I'm incapable of experiencing the sort of intoxicating crush/infatuation phase about anyone at all, and past a certain point I'm much more interested in the idea of a relationship than actually taking the steps to initiate one in practice. This probably has something to do with the fact that I'm going through quite a few transitions in my life right now, but it's something else too I think. Well so I'm interested to hear from anyone, how did you sort of accommodate this phase in that respect?

Feel free to move this post to a more appropriate arena, btw.

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
1/20/11 5:53 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Everyone is different, and this has been covered a lot, but a few summary points:

The Dark Night can make people less interested in all sorts of things and more introverted, reclusive, reactionary, depressed sometimes, cynical, and yet haunted by this strange need to find something, though the ways that fundamental feeling can manifest are really, really wide. However, this is all in shades of gray, is often quite a moving target, and people can have a wide range of different presentations and subtleties and extremes and variations on these basic themes. If you cruise around you can find countless tales of DhO members having adventures in this territory on this forum.

In general, the more intense the practice, the more imbalanced the effort, the less good guidance and the less basically stable the practitioner, the more all this will likely be trouble. Others may take things much more in stride, though that doesn't mean that the people they are in relationships with will have the same opinion.

In fact, I think the greatest work that needs to be done is to try to figure out how to minimize and hopefully eliminate the Dark Night effects that some/most experience. I am still intrigued by Bruno Loff's AYP experiments and the like. More innovation on this front would be of amazing value.

Anyway, as to how I accommodated that phase was quite a mixed bag and varied widely year to year and situation to situation. I can tell you it got somewhat better after I learned the maps and wasn't so blindsided by the post-A&P effects, but things were not really workable in the way I was looking for until arahatship.

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
1/20/11 11:49 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
"Try to imitate normal life as best you can and avoid rash decisions such as sudden and permanent renunciations of things you will want later on. Try to be nice to people and do your very best to keep your “stuff” from bleeding onto those around you. Find ways to honor and deal with your stuff that don’t involve projecting it out onto other people or making a mess of your life."

I'd just like to say that, especially with emphasis on the part about avoiding rash decisions that may make a mess of your life, knowing if it's rash or following your heart is really, really, REALLY hard. I wouldn't be up at 6 am otherwise failing utterly at concentration. Just to give a bit of background to why I'm saying this (and because I feel like talking about it and venting frustration coming from fear about making the wrong decision), I'm considering trying to find a way to extend my stay in Germany basically permanently by asking into how I would get a work permit, looking for part-time jobs, and basically saying fuck it to my family, friends, and any aspirations of grad school stateside in order to stay inside of a society that I feel much more in harmony with. The idea of at best ending up at one of my top choice grad schools where pompous dipshit professors are gonna try to con me into believing that they can teach me more about German or Germanic languages and culture than the actual people in the society itself, and into believing that the pseudo-religion of argument and publication that is academia is worth paying homage to is really difficult to sell myself on. On one hand there's the very convincing, slightly static-ey part of my mind giving me the "don't do it kiddo" speech, but on the other hand there's the argument that there's nothing worthwhile won without loss and risk - also damming up that later argument is the fact that living in Ohio is somewhat ok at the best of times and utterly ambition-destroying at the worst of times, and that basically no one who's fallen in on the intellectual or spiritual sides of life has a place in that culture. If I don't end up being lucky enough to be both accepted by and offered a teaching stipend from one of about a dozen grad institutions in the next 30 days or so, then I will have nowhere at all to go stateside except back with my parents trying to find one of the very sparse part-time jobs in shitty rural Ohio. You can try to ignore it but at least as far as I've experienced it for myself it doesn't get easier to ignore the widening gulf between your motivations, values, and personal perspective and those of everyone else.

It's a very seductive temptation, as most all real temptations are, but the question then comes as to whether seductive is necessarily bad. True it's obscuring me from realizing something and it's powerfully disturbing, but it's also offering something. Do you wanna sleep with the pretty lady who might turn out to be really bad for your life in all sorts of spectacular ways, or do you wanna be the loser who replies no with the dubious promise to himself of "I'll see the wisdom in that in my later years."

So I suppose my real purpose in writing/asking this is to see if anyone can come up with a sufficiently good argument that might sway me to one decision or another, and perhaps help me in avoiding making a mistake that I can't perceive well right now. Obviously the decision is mine to make in the end, but some help in seeing clearly is always nice. The other stressing factor among legion of them is that I have basically this week to come to a decision about asking into living here if I want that, and then as I'm given to understand it my window of opportunity closes.

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
1/21/11 1:55 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Michael For me to know and you to find out Kich:
I'd just like to say that, especially with emphasis on the part about avoiding rash decisions that may make a mess of your life, knowing if it's rash or following your heart is really, really, REALLY hard. I wouldn't be up at 6 am otherwise failing utterly at concentration.

Just to give a bit of background to why I'm saying this (and because I feel like talking about it and venting frustration coming from fear about making the wrong decision), I'm considering trying to find a way to extend my stay in Germany basically permanently by asking into how I would get a work permit, looking for part-time jobs, and basically saying fuck it to my family, friends, and any aspirations of grad school stateside in order to stay inside of a society that I feel much more in harmony with.

The idea of at best ending up at one of my top choice grad schools where pompous dipshitt professors are gonna try to con me into believing that they can teach me more about German or Germanic languages and culture than the actual people in the society itself, and into believing that the pseudo-religion of argument and publication that is academia is worth paying homage to is really difficult to sell myself on.

On one hand there's the very convincing, slightly static-ey part of my mind giving me the "don't do it kiddo" speech, but on the other hand there's the argument that there's nothing worthwhile won without loss and risk - also damming up that later argument is the fact that living in Ohio is somewhat ok at the best of times and utterly ambition-destroying at the worst of times, and that basically no one who's fallen in on the intellectual or spiritual sides of life has a place in that culture. If I don't end up being lucky enough to be both accepted by and offered a teaching stipend from one of about a dozen grad institutions in the next 30 days or so, then I will have nowhere at all to go stateside except back with my parents trying to find one of the very sparse part-time jobs in shitty rural Ohio. You can try to ignore it but at least as far as I've experienced it for myself it doesn't get easier to ignore the widening gulf between your motivations, values, and personal perspective and those of everyone else.

It's a very seductive temptation, as most all real temptations are, but the question then comes as to whether seductive is necessarily bad. True it's obscuring me from realizing something and it's powerfully disturbing, but it's also offering something. Do you wanna sleep with the pretty lady who might turn out to be really bad for your life in all sorts of spectacular ways, or do you wanna be the loser who replies no with the dubious promise to himself of "I'll see the wisdom in that in my later years."

So I suppose my real purpose in writing/asking this is to see if anyone can come up with a sufficiently good argument that might sway me to one decision or another, and perhaps help me in avoiding making a mistake that I can't perceive well right now. Obviously the decision is mine to make in the end, but some help in seeing clearly is always nice. The other stressing factor among legion of them is that I have basically this week to come to a decision about asking into living here if I want that, and then as I'm given to understand it my window of opportunity closes.

Hi Michael,

Thanks for providing a bit more background on the dilemma you are facing. It helps to have something solid in mind in terms of an example of a real life situation, rather than just speculating about what someone is talking about.

That said, there is really no easy answer to your questions. I'm speaking from 58 years of experience, and I can relate to the dilemma you are in, having been in a few of my own in my time.

Let me just say that whatever decision you take, you should be just fine. Don't worry too much about "making a mess" of your life. If you end up buying lemons, you can always make and sell lemonade. Everything is redeemable in time and depends on your attitude and approach to the situation. And being as young as you are, you have time to correct any perceived "mistakes" you might make at this point. So, don't necessarily let that weigh too heavily on your mind when considering what you want to do.

With regard to your family and such, you might consider just WHO is living your life for you: YOU or someone else! Who is going to have to live with the immediate affect of any decisions you take, in other words: YOU or someone else? In other words, is someone else going to bail you out of any decision you take based on having made it according to their criterion? And would you want to have made those decisions based on your own examination and evaluation of your situation or at the behest of someone else's evaluation who won't have to "live" with that choice in YOUR skin. It's your aspirations and dreams you have to follow. Not someone else's for you.

And finally, what I have learned in over half a century of living is that you have to follow your own TRUTH, whatever that might be in the present moment. Nothing is ever permanent in terms of certain choices we make in life. You can always make changes. It just depends on whether or not you want to step outside your comfort zone and take a chance that you might learn something that if you hadn't taken that road you may never really know or be sure about how it may have turned out.

It's kind of like that old Rolling Stone's song: You can't always get what you want. / But if you try sometimes you just might find / You'll get what you need.

There is a small poem I read one time that was hand-written on the inside of a used book cover which seemed quite profound and read: Be like the bird / Halting in flight / On a limb too slight / Feels it give way beneath him, / Yet sings / knowing he has wings. (It was attributed to V. Hugo, although I never bothered to look it up to confirm it.)

And then there is this quotation from a greeting card that I copied down:

I have learned to be happy where I am.
I have learned that locked within the moments
of each day are all the joys, the peace,
the fibers of the cloth we call life. . .
The meaning is in the moment.
There is no other way to find it.
You feel what you allow yourself to feel
each and every moment of the day.

And finally, there is the quotation from Wei Wu Wei (otherwise known as Terrance Gray, an Englishman writing under that pen name, from his book Fingers Pointing Toward the Moon): "Wise men don't judge: they seek to understand."

Wishing you the best, whatever decision you take.

In peace,
Ian

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
1/21/11 7:30 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Here's my advice, from the perspective of a non-yet-enlightened bum of about your age (I'm 23): This does not sound like a nihilistic decision taken from the throes of a Dark Night, but on the contrary a fairly healthy intention. If anything, remaining in Germany for one more year will improve your chances at getting into Grad School if you so desired. And don't forget that Germany also has universities, fairly good ones at that, and they're a lot cheaper than american ones. But is your situation in Germany really as rosy as you picture it? Do you have friends there, chances of getting a job? What do your friends (in Germany and at home) think about this decision?

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
2/12/11 5:47 AM as a reply to Victor Cova.
Well to update everyone, it looks less and less likely that I'll be staying in Germany after all. For some reason, there's still a temptation, but its hold on me lessens and lessens. Part of that has to do with that it does indeed become less and less rosy the longer I stay here, and for multiple, subtle reasons. Spirituality, especially in northern Germany, is basically non-existent. I can never accuse most Germans of being inhospitable, unhelpful, or unfriendly...but as far as I've seen so far the way they lead their lives lacks heart and spontaneity. Last night I was out with a group of American friends and one of my best friends just decided to start running down the streets, just running because of the joy of running, and I looked at him and joined him, just putting aside the burden of judgement and acting; the Germans around us all looked at us like we were nuts. They just don't get it it seems. Everything's planned out about their lives, and they're for the most part comfortable fitting in like clockwork. Ever wanna hang out with someone? Hope you brought along your day-planner, because the days of just callin' up your buddy or a girl and asking them if they wanna just hang out right here and now are gone with the wind around these parts. Add to that that I've run into and spoken with several other Ausländer (foreigners), and we all agree with each other, that northern Germans at least are somehow cold...like I said, you could never say they're unfriendly or unwelcoming, and they're almost always willing to help you if you need it, but that's different. There are exceptions of course, like a friend who lives in another part of Germany, but people like him seem to prove the rule. I could be wrong about all of this, but a month here so far seems to pretty well confirm it.

Ohio is pretty dry for Buddhism, but somehow it seems even dryer here. You walk into a bookstore, any bookstore in any of the major cities in Niedersachsen, and you find a total of half a shelf dedicated to religion in general, and most of that's pop Christianity. If the people of Ohio haven't for the most part understood sort of who I am as a being struggling through the Dark Night, it seems the people here definitely won't either. The other part of that has to do with the fact that I have to wait on these grad school applications to come back until at least mid march, and that getting a job here and getting a visa...it just feels like this is the wrong time in my life to be doing that.

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
2/12/11 8:36 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:

The idea of at best ending up at one of my top choice grad schools where pompous dipshit professors are gonna try to con me into believing that they can teach me more about German or Germanic languages and culture than the actual people in the society itself, and into believing that the pseudo-religion of argument and publication that is academia is worth paying homage to is really difficult to sell myself on.
(...)
but as far as I've seen so far the way lead their lives lacks heart and spontaneity. (...) Everything's planned out about their lives, and they're for the most part comfortable fitting in like clockwork. (...) northern Germans at least are somehow cold...


I wanted to point out that I recognize this sort of judgmental thinking from my own time in the dark night. Not just the kind of thinking, but also the content: I remember specifically being utmost critical towards academics (I had just embarked on a PhD), and towards the people in the country I happened to be living in.

As if somehow the world wasn't good enough for my "keen eye" and my "deep sensitivity," which of course others lacked. Later it turned out that these judgements were the result of mental pain caused by the dark night, on one hand, but particularly they arose from the serious lack of sensitivity inherent in this stage. Later I found that when I am really utterly sensitive, when pain and suffering aren't hampering my senses and intellect, the world is suddenly seen as bountiful, regardless of circumstance. In such a condition, studying in germanic languages in Ohio, or spending a few years with northern germans, can't help but being a fulfilling experience.

Beware of what the dark night makes you think. Judgmental and cynical thinking especially. For me it was hard to realize and admit that, in the end, I am the sole cause of my own angst. (but can you see how empowering that conclusion actually is?)

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
2/12/11 10:49 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Why limit yourself to Ohio vs Northern Germany? What about San Francisco for example? Amazing city, lots of Buddhists, sunny etc. For me it is important to stay close to my family but I live in a city that is big enough for me to stay. If my family lived in the middle of nowhere I would have felt it necessary to go somewhere else. How about Berlin? I don`t know what the average citizens spirituality score would be but it is a big enough city for you to find any sort of group you would like. It is also a really happening city with lots of artists and interesting people. Personally I absolutely can`t stand artists as people for the most part but it does make it a more interesting place. Does Germany have any former colonies were the language is still spoken a lot? Then you might have the warmth and spirituality of say an african or caribean culture coupled with german language and to some extent culture.

I would go to grad school. Important for your future probably and you can always move back to germany later.

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
2/12/11 11:10 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
You are right about that. I'm really not sure though how much of my cynicism is due to the Dark Night, and how much it's just my psychological baggage. In the last few days I've felt really irritable in general, especially at certain points, and even when I consciously don't want to be and don't know why I feel that way; it does help some when I meditate though. I try to be wary of being judgmental and irritable around people, especially when I know that in most cases it has nothing to do with them really, but it's kinda difficult to hide that sense around people, I mean people pick up on it when you're on edge. People ask me what I'm thinking sometimes, and I don't really know how to communicate to them that nothing I'm thinking at that point is really me or my opinion, and so almost everything I say will come out sounding like something other than what I really intend.

It's also somewhat startling to consider that, if the mental phenomena that I experience on a day-to-day basis are stemming from the Dark Night, then I've probably been in the Dark Night to various extents for almost half of my life, at least since my early teenage years.

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
2/12/11 11:18 AM as a reply to Crazy Wisdom.
Living in San Francisco would be crazy cool yes, if I had a good way to go there and stay there. I don't know of a grad school in the San Francisco area that offers a German or Germanic languages program, at least none showed up on my searches, and in general the admissions date is already past if I wanted to be considered for a stipend of some sort. I'm set to go visit Berlin this month though, so I'll get to see how it seems.

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
2/12/11 11:22 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Suffering sucks, no way around it. Did you know that there is a bunch of mental practices that you can do to get completely rid of suffering for the remainder of your life? emoticon

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
2/12/11 12:30 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Suffering sucks, no way around it. Did you know that there is a bunch of mental practices that you can do to get completely rid of suffering for the remainder of your life? emoticon
Bruno Loff:
Suffering sucks, no way around it. Did you know that there is a bunch of mental practices that you can do to get completely rid of suffering for the remainder of your life? emoticon


=P made me smile!

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
2/14/11 6:09 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
The problem with Dark Nights are its intractable nature. It's layers of content beneath other layers of content. Even the disaffection is a layer of content that has to be abandoned, and then the disaffection with the disaffection. etc.

I found having someone act with kindness towards me at the right moment helps a lot. Unfortunately, it is not something that you can call out for and get it whenever you want. But I think it is important not to try to struggle on your own but reach out to friends and family. This is the chance for you to understand interdependence. Don't waste the opportunity.

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
3/5/11 9:36 AM as a reply to ratanajothi -.
ratanajothi:

I found having someone act with kindness towards me at the right moment helps a lot. Unfortunately, it is not something that you can call out for and get it whenever you want. But I think it is important not to try to struggle on your own but reach out to friends and family. This is the chance for you to understand interdependence. Don't waste the opportunity.


Funny, that a big realization for me, during my dark night period, was that no matter how much sympathy I got from friends and family, it still wouldn't go away. At first I was still desperately trying to ascribe a cause, a reason why I was suffering, but I eventually concluded that it was gratuitous, mechanical suffering, caused by the way mental processes work, rather than any particular external conditions.

It was a great chance for me to understand how I can be responsible for my own misery and happiness (rather than believing that they arrise due to external circumstances). Nowadays my suffering is very diminished, but when it does arise I don't try to get consolation from others.

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
3/10/11 3:16 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
I sort of agree, in that I've found all of my experiences during the past few years increasingly and incredibly valuable, though the challenge lies in realizing when and how and why so very many of the things I've experienced are so valuable. For example, I just got back from Ireland; during my time there this past 5-6 days, I saw unforgettable things but also experienced my dukkha intensely, though sometimes more subtly, both in terms of the people and the places. Sometimes it was more obvious, like bitching or listening to a friend endlessly bitch about minor details of youth hostel living, even though I at least know the bitching emanates from a deeper dissatisfaction that has nothing to do with the conditions or the people. It grows quickly tiring, to hear first yourself and then others comparing literally anything. First this is the best, then it's decided the next experience trumps the previous and the previous becomes increasingly of shallower worth, and so on. I became aware that such a thing is not only intensely annoying and boring to listen to, but that my tendency to befriend people like myself offers an oftentimes comical and stunningly stark mirror into how twisted up in my own shit I am. Literally no one and nothing is safe from it, and sometimes I just wanna eliminate all contact from humanity and from my daily responsibilities/routines in order to protect the world and myself from the suffering that my judgement creates. There's the awareness too that the reason why I can count my real friends on two hands is that I unwittingly find things about people dissatisfying, doesn't matter who they are. I consciously know and remind myself that no one's perfect, and yet I still subconsciously keep searching for that friend or (if I'm lucky) a girlfriend who'll never disappoint me, who will always remain mindful and who might even function as my quasi-developed vision of a teacher. The funny part is that every experience I have teaches me. I met a new friend on the trip to Ireland who, it quickly became apparent, is more authentically Buddhist than I am and he's not even Buddhist, nor does he know what Buddhism's about. But then that's the point - he lives more unconditionedly and has arrived at more of a basic realization of truth to some degree than I have, whereas I'm still stuck in philosophical/theoretical notions at times. I had to laugh at that, and I even said to him that, at the risk of inflating his ego, that tickled me pink. As you see from reading this, I have a strange kind of equanimity that comes out pretty often, especially when I'm in the mood to be writing on here, but I'm yet still stuck in the Dukkha nyanas. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Other times it was that unabating awareness, even while looking at some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen, that the happiness/contentment I wanted to pretend into existence just wasn't there at it's core, and it also wasn't for my buddy. That being said, things like the Cliffs of Moher are unforgettable and should be seen, especially for the time when I do come out of this phase (however and whenever that might happen). In that sense I was perennially glad.

RE: how do human relationships in general work during the Dark Night phase?
Answer
3/15/11 12:40 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:
... I've found all of my experiences during the past few years increasingly and incredibly valuable, though the challenge lies in realizing when and how and why so very many of the things I've experienced are so valuable.

dark night or psychological baggage alike, i think it's a great idea that you keep an open mind and try to see how all experiences can be valuable. what if you go just a bit farther and try to see the world you live in (life situations, circumstances, people, places) as a mirror reflecting the self and its conditions? really facing this "mirror" and examining its reflection can lead to a ton of progress.

i totally agree with what Bruno said,
Bruno:
...when I am really utterly sensitive, when pain and suffering aren't hampering my senses and intellect, the world is suddenly seen as bountiful, regardless of circumstance. In such a condition, studying in germanic languages in Ohio, or spending a few years with northern germans, can't help but being a fulfilling experience.


when the mirror is showing something unsatisfactory, painful, blind, slightly off or out of tune, what is it that's causing that? where is the corresponding component inside? what's being reflected here?

but naturally, facing it too much, too often and too intensely can be exhausting, because despite knowing or suspecting that such silver lining hides in all situations perceived as negative, it's probably not practical to choose all the worst life situations possible just for the purpose of facing and learning from the twisted self and its baggage all day long!

in the dark night it's hard to know what to choose, but i think what does help with not ruining relationships and situations is the recognition "this experience i'm having somehow reflects the current conditions of this self". staring down the unsatisfactoriness inside that is no one's fault (but is my responsibility), not only are all blame games and "bleed through" avoided, but the urgency of doing something about it (insight practice) also multiplies.