Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

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Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Forum: The Nanas/Insight Stages

Nice video w/ Ken Wilber responding to a young woman who is clearly in the dark night on the way to stream-entry: http://integrallife.com/applications/dark-nights-meditation-practice

She is very sincere, and he gives a pretty cool response about going through three major dark night periods (dark night of the Senses, dark night of the Soul, and dark night of the Self). It's good to see other teachers out there sharing this stuff.
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Thanks for posting this, Vince.

You're right, she is very sincere. It's too bad she had such a bad experience with a guru, which is all too common these days, unfortunately. Someone should direct her to the Dharma Overground :-D

Jackson
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
Vince,

Time and again, you seem to provide the most appropriate and useful answers to all my questions - it's almost as if you are able to diagnose things correctly - and so, after having watched that video in which the woman talks about her experiences, I am now wondering if you would like to respond to one more question.

The first couple of minutes into that video, it suddenly struck me that the woman was pretty much talking about the same kind of experiences that I had a couple of years (maybe, a year) ago. I wasn't into any kind of meditative practice during that time, but for some inexplicable reason during a certain phase at that time, I quite often used to wake up from my sleep with palpitations, sometimes accompanied by sweaty forehead. The overwhelming feeling inside me was that of "me" getting sucked into some long tunnel, with my "soul/self" being dissolved/evaporated/dissipated/vanished in that process. Needless to say, such a feeling was very disturbing. And, just when such a dissolution was about to reach its completion, I would somehow "pull" myself away from that tunnel, following which I would wake up with the palpitations that I just mentioned above. Also, feelings of extreme sadness/melancholy and reflection on one's inevitable death followed.

Actually, it was only after such "nightmares" gained in frequency (perhaps, once a week) that I started looking around for possible answers on the Internet, which is how I found out about Buddhist Geeks, in the first place!

Any thoughts? Thanks.

Best,
Vishal
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
I forgot to mention that I went through a severe depression (during the time I mentioned above) that lasted for a year or a couple. In fact, the depression really confused me because I had everything going well in my life until that phase started for no particular reason. I also visited a psychologist to treat my depression but after a dozen or so sessions with him, I realized that nothing fundamentally was gonna change for me. Pep talk wasn't really helping me at all!

From what I can tell, the depression has now more or less gone. I guess with my practice becoming stronger since January of this year, I feel much better mentally.
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Hey Vishal,

What I've observed is that it really isn't that hard to cross the A&P, and can oftentimes happen with little or not spiritual practice (though it can just as easily happen with a lot of spiritual practice). As Daniel often points out, if you are searching out spiritual information, going on retreats, in short are in some position of "seeking," that often means one has "insight disease" (i.e. has crossed the A&P). That said, knowing you are in dark night (whether you are or aren't) is kind of like the booby prive of meditation. It doesn't really help all that much to know that you have "insight disease". As Ken points out in the video interview you still have to go through it, and find a cure for what's ailing you. It often is like dying, as he points out, but it's also a process of re-birth. Good news / Bad news. emoticon
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Also, I woudn't go so far as to reduce all signs of depression / difficulty to the dark night. As I understand it, the dark night can amplify one's "stuff" but it isn't the cause of that "stuff" to begin with. Honestly, I've seen friends who have a tremendous amount of psychological baggage hit the dark night and they have become almost dysfunctional. Others, with a more 'normal" amount of weird psychological issues, just become more cranky, irritable, and dark but are generally functional. And then I'm better there are those people who haven't crossed the A&P, but who have a ton of bagged, are depressed, etc. From where I'm standing, I don't think we can use just the emotional difficulties as a criterion for the dark night, and reduce everything to that.
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Ant_808

thanks for clip vince.... I know how she feels
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Interesting. To me, her description correlates a lot more with what I went through the first couple of times I entered High Equanimity. When I had what I thought was my first "close brush" with fruition I was almost panicking, my heart racing, fearing I'd have a heart attack, and thinking it was really crazy to try to induce this weird event about which I knew nothing first-hand. Fortunately it was still possible to see the experience clearly and then it went away for the most part, replaced mainly by regular cravings, which in a way are harder to see through since they're so ordinary. Could this be what he's calling "Dark Night of the Self"?
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
Thanks, Vince! That was helpful.
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
No, I don't think this is the Dark Night of the Self. That, as I understand it, is the territory between 3rd and 4th path of The Simple Model. The 1st dark night is what he refers to as the Dark Night of the Senses.

And her description sounds nothing like High Equanimity to me... High equanimity in my experience is chilled out, wide open, neutral, and often times slightly boring and sleepy. I guess it's possible for one to get really excited about getting stream-entry while in high equanimity, and to experience some of what you mentioned, but I don't think that's indicative of the normal experience of high equanimity. Perhaps that's just what happens with map-monger's like us... ;)
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Ah, D'oh. Daniel's book does mention that there can be a tendency for fear of death or madness while in Equanimity, so I imagine it's not too rare either. But you're right, that happened only a couple of times, probably because it was new territory leading to "weird stuff". I was trying to shoehorn Wilber's description into a single path emoticon (knowledge of the three characteristics is a teensy weensy dark night after all). First path is clearly my new toy.
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RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: ccasey

Vince, thanks for the info. I just watched the video, and understand what he said to her-interesting. I was hoping he would tell her to try noting practice and just note the thoughts about dying as just "thinking".
Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ken Wilber on the Dark Nights

Posts: 5 Join Date: 9/2/09 Recent Posts
I've heard this description of the tunnel-like feeling from a few people who described enlightenment experiences. Probably the most popularly well known now is Eckhart Tolle in Power of Now:

"Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words ‘resist nothing,’ as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside."