A possible view of Dark Night from a materialist perspective

seth tapper, modified 4 Years ago at 6/14/18 10:49 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 6/14/18 10:49 AM

A possible view of Dark Night from a materialist perspective

Posts: 477 Join Date: 8/19/17 Recent Posts
I am not exactly sure what all the components of Dark Night and associated suffering are, so I apoligize if this is all way off base.  In my own experience, my mind attributes an importance and an aversion level to sensations that arise.  It is as stupid as a computer program and when meditating to me it has felt like a video game, each new level of insight or relaxation allows more "intense" sensations into consciousness.  Those sensations have been ones that the brain has reserved for really bad or really good situations, so the mind is not used to them.  They seem like a new Boss and are blissful or terrifying.   When you win the Superbowl and feel amazing, it doesnt seem supernatural or universe shattering that those feelings arise.  When you are just saying a mantra and all of a sudden you feel like you won the superbowl, it feels like God has touched you.  The neural activity is the same, it is just that the meditative brain discovered a direct route to producing the experience with out going through a bunch of invented hoops - like winning a superbowl.  Think of a last second jump shot to win the NBA Finals.  One whole city feels like shit and one feels amazing, yet the action that triggers those reactions -  a piece of leather going through a piece of metal - is objectively meaningless.  

I have spent a lot of time doing nervous tension release practices.  At first, everytime I could sustain a big release for long periods, I would emerge into a new universe of sensations. The layer of nervous tension that had been in consciousness was released and a new "deeper" layer would take its place.  Subjectively, this felt like getting closer to my true self and both the positive and negative feelings that arose when I lost mindfulness of the body - say when not in meditation - felt much more important than they had before and much more blissful or abject.   Eventually, this became the new normal and my brain would adjust its importance levels.  Sometimes, a sensation stream would rise to consciousness that I did not have the realization level to see through.  The shit felt real.  In that space, I would spend weeks lost in suffering, but knowing that I had just been in a place where suffering was absurd.  I could not regain stable body mindfulness because too much that I was averse to would arise - I just wanted distract myself.  Eventually, my rational mind would think its way out  - I would gain the level of realization to realize that I was worried abouth nonsense and could move on.  

Since I see that what people call the Dark Night seems to occur after some kind of major episode of tension release, I imagine that this could be at least one of the causes. 

The two solutions, other than just rational thought - which works, by the way - that I found effective were very intense massage - a la rolfing.  This just forces the mind to see the body as the body from all the pain and it will reset the sensation and thought stream.  It will only work if you are convinced that your Dark Night is a physical phenomenon and not a spiritual one.  If you are hung up on it being spiritual, my guess is the mind will just make the same mistake again in the new post rolfing sensation space. 

The other solution that worked for me was get out of my head.  The brain will naturally read body sensations as just that if it isnt caught up in an interior space in which it is reading "feelings, intuitions and anxieties " onto the sensation stream.  There are a lot of ways of doing this - intense physical exercise in which the mind is fully engaged, say Ice Hockey is probably the best.   I box, badly.   It is hard to do this enough to be a cure, though unless you like to rock climb.   Reading an engrossing but non spiritual or emotional novel is really good.  Anything by Mario Puzo or Ludlum, etc.  Long hours in a book will collapse the interior space and give your brain time to adjust to the new, post release, sensation space. 
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/17/18 3:21 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/17/18 3:21 PM

RE: A possible view of Dark Night from a materialist perspective

Posts: 6670 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Interesting. I have found a similar approach helpful in times of really bad reactions following a blissful state. Applying a psychotherapy approch to it has only made things worse. Now that I have the framework of spiritual development, I find it even more helpful, though, but I see no contradiction in using both the spiritual framework AND the physical and chemical explanations, so that’s what I do. There are aspects that I would say require more than rational thinking to overcome, at least if you mean rational in and intellectual way. A certain spiritual maturity is needed to see what can then be rationalized as rational thinking, I would guess. Wisdom is more than logic. Somehow, you need to ask the right questions and find the right premises. Otherwise logic will mislead us. I don’t think that rationality can deliver that. You have to be able to not only think outside the box, but also see that there is no box, if that makes any sense.

But there is undeniably a major infrastructure rewiring going on (which I find fascinating), so the material side to it is definitely not unsignificant. I agree that this can be a very helpful approach, especially if the spiritual aspects seem overwhelming and vague and creepy, because It’s a way to systematically approach the unchartered territory, albeit limited by our perception and perspectives as always. It provides something tangile to work with, and it makes it possible to verify and falsify hypotheses. I believe Shinzen Young is on to something there when he talks about the potential contribitions of science to meditation (and, of course, vice versa).