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Dealing with the Dark Night

Other teachers who discuss the dark night

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I have run into quite a few other teachers who have discussed dark periods that arise in practice, particularly mentioning that they tend to occur after a decent amount of practice and go away as deeper insight develops. Has anyone else run into more mainstream teachers/non-pragmatic dharma teachers discussing the dark night? I essentially see these as more data points that indicate that insight can lead to dark before the dawn, which is reassuring. It seems like at least a few teachers see the same patterns in their students.

Here is what I have seen:
http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/143/talk/8212/
A talk by Rebecca Bradshaw. She mentions that after one starts to pratice for a while, there can be a phase where one's problems can grow, as awareness of them increases. She says this can last quite a while but slowly insights develop that let one see through them.

http://www.unfetteredmind.org/when-energy-runs-wild
An article by Ken McLeod about how energetic issues in meditation, talking briefly about one student he had who seems to have gone into a "dark night" phase.

And then of course there is Shinzen Young and his discussions of the dark night. He seems to view it as a rare phenomenon rather than a phase one will certainly pass through, however.

RE: Other teachers who discuss the dark night
Answer
5/29/14 8:07 PM as a reply to Elijah Smith.
Whether or not you experience a dark night will depend on what method of meditation you are using.  The Mahasi method in MCTB is pretty much guaranteed to create a dark night as well as most other methods that are similiar and even many that are dissimilar.  The severity of the dark night can vary widely from person to person even if the exact same methods are used.  Some people experience the dark night so mildly that they would not really understand the situation of people who are experiencing more pronounced dark night stages.  This is probably the case with these listed teachers.

RE: Other teachers who discuss the dark night
Answer
5/28/14 7:43 AM as a reply to Elijah Smith.
At the risk of stating the obvious ... you could always turn to originator of the phrase, St. John of the Cross.

The old, public-domain translations are freely available online, or you can buy the standard modern translations from ICS Publications of Washington, DC.

RE: Other teachers who discuss the dark night
Answer
5/28/14 11:46 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
Whether or not you experience a dark night will depend on what method of meditation you are using. 

Can you elaborate on this? Are you saying that there are methods that are known to not lead to dark night? If so what are they?

RE: Other teachers who discuss the dark night
Answer
5/29/14 3:07 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
The general theme is that the more gentle, the less direct, the more gradual, the less core-destabilizing, the more light, and the less hard-hitting the method, the less severe the Dark Night will be, though this is definitely not always true.

Really strong concentration coupled with insight can bypass a lot of Dark Night stuff: doing it all in realms of light and fluxing geometry can bypass plenty of the problems, it just seems that few can pull this off.

Certain energy practices seem to help, such as possibly AYP.

There is also great variability in how it hits people, and teachers tend to view things through the filter of how it happened to them.

RE: Other teachers who discuss the dark night
Answer
5/29/14 9:53 AM as a reply to Elijah Smith.
Some Christian meditators like to call it the "desert experience".

Also Ken Wilber talked about it briefly in a video on the Integral Life website, here's a link to a book where Wilber discusses the dark night:

http://books.google.com/books?id=n-92sivPE2sC&pg=PA99&lpg=PA99&dq=ken+wilber+dark+night&source=bl&ots=gqIcSJbzNs&sig=3ZX56d9zEeJW9F_IFWX5cMzhHxk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=UkmHU_KDOoegogTbwIKgAw&ved=0CEAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=ken%20wilber%20dark%20night&f=false

RE: Other teachers who discuss the dark night
Answer
5/29/14 12:58 PM as a reply to Elijah Smith.
RAW conceives of it within Leary's 8 circuit model as part of the 5th (neurosomatic) circuit imprint

Negative neurosomatic circuit effects are experienced by amateur yogis, by many pot-heads, and by a large number of schizophrenics. The neurosomatic feedback loop, in these unfortunate cases, reverses the above description. Sensory experience becomes unpleasant (any sound or touch is painful), sensuality turns into acute discomfort with the entire body, perceptions warp into nightmare, and general anxiety is imprinted. Light is particularly terrifying and painful, often associated with Hell or with "mind-control" manipulated by unscrupulous enemies.

Gopi Krishna, a Hindu bureaucrat who took up yoga originally only for health reasons, was abruptly catapulted into a negative neurosomatic state for several years. All sensations were so painful that he many times thought he would die. The details, in his autobiography, Kundalini, are pathetic, and sound much like schizophrenia. He came out of this finally, entered a positive neurosomatic state, and has been writing blissful books about the Perfection of the All, typical of this circuit, ever since.

Nikola Tesla, the Yugoslav genius, went through the same "Hell" or schizoid state, without yoga, in his teens. He came out of the horrors with the scientific theory of alternating currents worked out, a belief in extra-sensory perception, a superhuman memory, and a streak of visionary humanitarianism that led him
into continuous conflicts with the corporations that financed his more-than-100 major electrical inventions. (He earned over $1,000,000 before the age of 30, at a time when $1,000,000 was a lot of money, and he died broke, trying to sell an invention he said would abolish poverty.)

Most shamans, and many mystics, have been through similar negative-to-positive neurosomatic sensitization. Christian Scientists call it "chemicalization." St. John of the Cross called it, poetically, the Dark Night of the Soul. Cabalists call it "crossing the Abyss."
In Kazanzakis' The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, Odysseus sees a statue which seems to him urgently meaningful. The statue was Kazanzakis' symbol for the evolution of these circuits, which have been known (more or less) in various symbolisms for a few thousand years. E.g., the "seven souls" of the Egyptians, the ten "lights" of the Cabalists, etc. The Kazanzakis statue shows an animal (Circuit I), a warrior above the animal (Circuit II), a scholar above the warrior (Circuit III), a lover (Circuit IV), a face in agony ("chemicalization" the "Dark Night of the Soul", the "crossing of the Abyss" which equals the entry to Circuit V the hard way), a face in bliss (successful Circuit V reimprinting) and a man turning into pure spirit (Circuit VII). Circuit VI is missing in the schemata, as Circuit IV is missing in Jung, and everything above Circuit III is missing in Carl Sagan.
Some lucky souls jump to Circuit V bliss without passing through the horrors of "chemicalization" and the "Dark Night of the Soul."
I'm not sure I always agree with the 8 circuit model, although it can be useful when trying to reconcile mystical results and traditional psychology.

RE: Other teachers who discuss the dark night
Answer
5/30/14 9:50 PM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Trial And Error:
Tom Tom:
Whether or not you experience a dark night will depend on what method of meditation you are using. 

Can you elaborate on this? Are you saying that there are methods that are known to not lead to dark night? If so what are they?


You may want to check out http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2011/01/talking-in-jhanas.html .

"Or a yogi could technically bypass the "rougher" dukkha nanas via developing direct access to the first four "samatha" jhanas and practice discernment in them. Either way, if a yogi gets to the same strata of mind that is the 11th nana/4th jhana, a path moment is on the agenda. They are the same strata of mind!"