Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Mind over easy, modified 10 Years ago at 4/28/13 1:02 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/28/13 1:02 PM

Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Posts: 288 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
So, I've been doing daily noting, as usual, and I picked up the pace in the last few days.

The A&P-
Yesterday, I was experiencing such amazing joy. My body felt great, my mind felt great, and I felt like the king of the world. Just sitting in the sun sent so much pleasure through me. I felt so connected to everybody, so sharp, and so amazingly human. I was having a great time with my friends, feeling on top of the world. Nothing could go wrong. I was so social and so carefree. I could also note very fast at this point, like I was intensely aware of reality. At any point, I could close my eyes and watch/feel vibrations at a quick rate. They were perfectly clear.

The morning after-
Here I am now. As I woke up, still not even fully conscious, I was aware of how tense and low my mind was. It was like I woke up just worrying and reflecting on negativity. I got plenty of sleep, but my mind was so slow. Just to get dressed and get coffee, I've ran back up the stairs a few times, just forgetting to grab something, realizing I grabbed the wrong thing, etc... This could even sound like some sort of hangover, and indeed, it physically and mentally feels similar, though this is all from a sober experience. There is a sense of tension in my gut, like I'm forgetting to do lots of important things. There's also the sense of overwhelming sadness in my head, kind of around my eyes. Motivation is almost nonexistent. In fact, the dark night has been so troublesome of a territory for me, since when I get into it, the overwhelming negativity and slowness make me feel like just giving up on everything. A slipping grade is nothing, unemployment is nothing, it's all just meaningless. The more I worry about what I need to do, the more I get the sense of helplessness, like I am capable of nothing, as well as a sense of purposelessness, like I'm just a mass of flesh, going through the motions and putting socks on my ugly toes.

Thinking about friendship, I feel so alone at this moment. It's like all my friendships mean nothing, like no one can really understand how painful this tension is, and how hard it is to find the source of it. It seems to emanate from everywhere and nowhere at once. Content-wise, there isn't really anything that could account for suddenly feeling so terribly blue and down, but in the experience, it's all dark and negative if you search it out. It's all bad. There is definitely a sense of inner compassion within suffering, as though there is a caged bird inside, the true self, wanting badly to be released. Companionship and friendship are really the most difficult things for me, since I just have no one to share this pain with. Most people will simply not understand what the A&P is, what the dark night is, what vipassana is, etc... They just see a sad person with no legitimate reason. All the while, it feels like some sort of death sentence, like everything is fading, like it all goes downhill from here. There is the sense that it's all over, like I was one with the storm-cloud of humanity, yet now suddenly I'm falling, cold, alone, and isolated.

Hopefully this account will help others who are less familiar with the territory, or doubtful that such an experience could indeed be dark night and not just depression. I seem to understand that for most people, dark nights are much less strong, but for me, it can be a really big deal, a really big crisis. The remedy is both simple and unsatisfying: you just have to keep practicing, keep noting, keep doing whatever you're doing to notice reality. Suffering is predominant in this territory, so dive into the observation of suffering without reservation, and stick it out, and you will land in equanimity. Don't be dismayed by those who would tell you that the dark night is a sign that this spiritual practice is bogus. That isn't the case. If you were wearing your shirt inside out, and someone pointed that out, you could either make an effort to turn your shirt back out the right way, and endure the cold as you take it off and put it back on correctly, or you could blame the act of noticing the shirt was inside out, claiming everything was fine until that fact was seen. If there's a problem though, and you gain sight of it, you use your perception to get to the bottom of the problem. Ignorance is a very temporary solution, and the whole reason this community exists is because people are interested in finding better solutions.

If you're dark night-ing, do share, do connect to people who accept and understand the notion of a dark night. Share on DhO, share with meditation teachers who understand the dark night, share with people who care. If other people go through this, I'm obliged to extend a hand of friendship, because I know that it sucks and support for this dark night phenomenon is actually not quite so common. Good day and thanks for reading.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 4/28/13 1:05 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/28/13 1:05 PM

RE: Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Posts: 881 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Good luck because it just gets worse. There's no way out, either, apparently. Sucks.
Mind over easy, modified 10 Years ago at 4/28/13 1:39 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/28/13 1:39 PM

RE: Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Posts: 288 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts

So where are you at? What's up? Working towards 1st path, or maybe 2nd or 3rd or 4th? Doing vipassana or some other practice? What's bumming you?
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 4/28/13 2:20 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/28/13 2:20 PM

RE: Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Posts: 881 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Just pissed off. Sometimes if feels good to just rage out.
tom moylan, modified 10 Years ago at 4/29/13 1:46 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/29/13 1:46 AM

RE: Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
your descriptions are familiar. if my DN were a kid it would be entering kindergarten now. while i REALLY want this to be over i find the scariest / darkest / least palatable aspect of this thing is that the DN will have more tenacity than my commitment to not allowing it to ruin my relationships. there has already been some damage. i was always a bouyant conversationalist and socially adept. i even desired to mix socially. now that aspect of me has taken a darker turn / tone in both content and attitude.

i hope that my resolutions stay strong and have more staying power than this self-created depression. i don't regret my choice to move through this realm as i really do believe that it is a necessary phase of learning and purification. strong egos require strong cleaning and intellectually oriented minds are recalcitrant when asked to simply experience without analysis.

good luck my friend and thanks for the scream in the dark.
Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 4/29/13 4:07 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/29/13 4:07 AM

RE: Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Posts: 3268 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Oh, there is most definitely a way out: it does get better, just need to integrate space, untangle the knot, flip the thing over and have it stay flipped.

Remember: things happen in this space: remember that experientially again and again and again: make it a way of life.

Commit to one field, one integrated field with everything in it as it (and only what is in it!), one volume you are in (or, finally, one volume in which there is no you at all in any divided or segmented way), as no way out is actually the way in, the way through, the way that totally reframes the problem and turns it into something that is vastly more workable, more realistic, more in proportion, vastly more tolerable, much more in alignment with how things really are, how strong various experiences really are, what is really going on.

Integrate the field totally. Leave no part out. Anything can be integrated, and when integrated: Ahhhh! So much better...

Simon T, modified 10 Years ago at 4/29/13 4:21 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/29/13 4:19 PM

RE: Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Posts: 383 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
The social aspect is something I hope the pragmatic community will manage to do something about in the real world beyond some obscure forums. It would surely be nice once in while to go grab a pint of non-alcoholic beverage with our dharma buddies and talk about that bad case of re-observation with had at work today. In the DN, socializing with people off-path feels like being a Vietnam veteran. "You can't understand... you haven't been there...".

When we let people off-path know that there is something wrong going on, the odds are that we will receive some advice along the line of "you should change this and this about your life", something we don't want to hear too much when trying to be fundamentally ok with how things are.

When we take the DN to the street...

Eric Michaels, modified 10 Years ago at 5/2/13 10:03 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/2/13 10:03 PM

RE: Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Posts: 14 Join Date: 10/16/12 Recent Posts
I just made it through a DN a couple of months ago so it's fresh in my mind, and I suspect another one will be coming along soon.

I spent about two weeks in a state of panic, having panic attacks and generally feeling like the world was coming to an end. Human interaction made it worse, and of course I'm a cashier. Reporting for work was agonizing. Moved into the sadness phase and just felt lots of sorrow and heartfelt misery. It was especially bad when I read about kids dying in the paper. That sort of thing is hard off-path as a father, but during the dark night it was horrifying. I remember there was a two year old that was accidentally dropped into an enclosure in the zoo and mauled to death by dogs, and then there was this four year old in Texas that was mauled to death by a pitbull. I stopped reading the paper after that because I couldn't handle it.

The whole renunciation thing was really strong too; I made plans to sneak off to the nearest Buddhist community, but that would have meant abandoning my wife and kids, so that was obviously a no-go. I also tried to embark on some kind of vision quest in the woods, which is basically a death sentence during Maine winters, so that didn't fly either. I was so sick of society, so tired of the whole thing, why did I have to be born, etc etc etc. If I didn't have a family I probably would be in some sort of monastery somewhere, trying to sort myself out.

And I'd like to point out that I am in excellent shape as far as mental health goes and I'm a very rational person. So, I know how destabilizing and humiliating these dark mind states can be.

What helped me-- contemplating the 3C's was a big help. Take one specific thing that is bothering you during the dark night and really think about the 3C's. Is it permanent? No, it will pass one day and never be seen again. Is it satisfactory? Obviously not. Is it a self? No, I can find nothing that could be considered a "self," and in fact, it's really just another set of sensations to note... and who's to say that one sensation is fundamentally different from another sensation?

It sounds a little wishy-washy but it did help me quite a bit.
This Good Self, modified 10 Years ago at 5/3/13 1:26 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/3/13 1:25 AM

RE: Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
The only thing that's going to help is if someone you know and trust finally breaks through to the other side.

Here's some Osho. There's no comfort here, and it rings true with what I've experienced. Waking up is sheer terror. If you haven't experienced that terror, your ego is very much intact.

This is death because you don’t know if a new life is going to emerge out of it – during the process you will know only death. Only when you are dead as you are, as the false entity, only then will you know that the death was just a door to immortality. But that will be the end. During the process you are simply dying. Everything that you cherished so much is being taken away from you – your personality, your ideas, all that you thought was beautiful.

All is leaving you. You are being denuded. All the roles and robes are being taken away. In the process fear will be there, but this fear is basic, necessary, inevitable – one has to pass through it. You should understand it, but don’t try to avoid it, don’t try to escape from it because every escape will bring you back again, you will move back into the personality.

Those who go into deep silence and solitude, they always ask me, ”There will be fear, so what to do?” I tell them not to do anything, just to live the fear. If trembling comes, tremble, why prevent it? If an inner fear is there, and you are shaking with it, so shake with it. Don’t do anything. Allow it to happen. It will go by itself. If you avoid it – and you can avoid it. You can start chanting Ram, Ram, Ram; you can cling to a mantra so that your mind is diverted. You will be pacified and the fear will not be there – you have pushed it into the unconscious. It was coming out – which was good, you were going to be free from it – it was leaving you and when it leaves you, you will tremble. That is natural because from every cell of the body, of the mind, some energy which has always been there pushed down, is leaving. There will be a shaking, a trembling; it will be just like an earthquake. The whole soul will be disturbed by it but let it be. Don’t do anything. That is my advice. Don’t even chant the name of Ram. Don’t try to do anything with it because all that you can do will again be suppression. Just by allowing it to be, by letting it be, it will leave you – and when it has left, you will be altogether a different man.

The cyclone has gone and you will now be centered, centered as you never were before. And once you know the art of letting things be, you will know one of the master keys which opens all the inner doors. Then whatsoever the case is, let it be, don’t avoid it.

If just for three months you can be in total solitude, in total silence, not fighting with anything, allowing everything to be, whatsoever it is, within three months the old will be gone and the new will be there. But the secret is allowing it to be, howsoever fearful, painful, howsoever apparently dangerous, deathlike. Many moments will come when you will feel as if you will go mad if you don’t do something and involuntarily you will start to do something. You may know that nothing can be done, but you will not be in control and you will start to do something.

It is just as if you are moving through a dark street in the night, midnight, and you feel fear because there is no one around and the night is dark and the street is unknown – so you start whistling. What can whistling do? You know it can do nothing. Then you start singing a song. You know nothing can be done by singing a song, the darkness cannot be dispelled, you will remain alone, but still, it diverts the mind. If you start whistling, just by whistling you gain confidence and you forget the darkness. Your mind moves into whistling and you start feeling good.

Nothing has happened. The street is the same, the darkness is the same, the danger, if there is any, is there, but now you feel more protected. All is the same, but now you are doing something. You can start chanting a name, a mantra, Ram, Ram, that will be a sort of whistling. It will give you strength. But that strength is dangerous, that strength will again become a problem, because that strength is going to be your old ego. You are reviving it again.

Remain a witness, and allow whatsoever happens to happen. Fear has to be faced to go beyond it. Anguish has to be faced to transcend it. And the more authentic the encounter, the more face to face, the more looking at things as they are, the sooner the happening will be there.

It takes time only because your authenticity is not intense. So you may take three days, three months, or three lives – it depends on the intensity. Really, three minutes can also do – three seconds can also do. But then you will have to pass through a tremendous hell, with such an intensity that you may not be able to bear it, to tolerate it. If one can face whatsoever is hidden in oneself, it passes, and when it has gone, you are different. Because all that has left you was part of you before, and now it is no longer a part.

So don’t ask what to do. There is no need to do anything. Non-doing, witnessing, effortlessly facing whatsoever is, not even making a slight effort, just allowing it to be... remain passive and let it pass. It always passes. When you do something, that is the undoing because then you interfere.

And who will interfere? Who is afraid? The same which is the disease will interfere. The same ego which has to be left behind, will interfere.

I told you that the ego is part of the society. You left the society but you don’t want to leave the part that society has given to you. It is rooted in society; it cannot live without society. So either you have to leave it or you have to create a new society in which it can live.

So you can create an alternative society. That is one of the greatest tricks of the mind. It has always been so. You can create a different society. You can create an ashram. Twenty people who think they want to live in solitude can create a monastery – then the monastery has become an alternative society. So they move from society but they create another society, so basically nothing changes. They remain the same. Rather on the contrary, they may become more egoistic because now they are the chosen few, the elect. They have left the world but they have created another world, and the same pattern of relationship moves again. Then there is the chief, then there are the disciples, then there is a master, and all hierarchy and everything comes in, in miniature form. And then there are good disciples, there are bad disciples, there are successful ones and the unsuccessful ones... so it is the same. In a small group the whole society is there.

That will not do. Now this is happening in the West. A great number of young people are leaving society because they feel that society is rotten, decadent, dying, and they feel it is so decadent that it cannot be changed. This is a very new thing. Young people always think that the society is rotten, but they think it can be changed, transformed, so a revolution is needed. Only in the last stage of a society or civilization does this happen – people start thinking that nothing can be done, that revolution is nonsense, that society is so dead that no one can revive it, that you cannot change it. So you just drop out of it.

You cannot do anything, the house is on fire – so you simply escape from it. This is what is happening in the West: hippies, beatniks, yippies, others, all dropping out of society. But they are creating another society, an alternative society. Hippies themselves have become an alternative society.

In ordinary society if you have long hair, others will look at you as if you have gone astray. Something is wrong. In the hippie society if you have short hair, you are wrong! Something is wrong with you. What is the difference?

In ordinary society if you live in a dirty way you are wrong – you are unmannerly, uncultivated, uneducated, unacceptable. But in a hippie society if you live very cleanly then something is wrong with you. Then you are still clinging to the old mind which said that cleanliness is next to God, God has died a long time ago, now the second thing, cleanliness, has also died. It cannot exist without God.

The same condemnation and the same appreciation is there. You can create an alternative society with just the opposite rules but it makes no difference – your ego can be fed again. It has been transplanted. A new soil has been formed.

To be solitary means not to create an alternative society. Just move out of society, and then whatsoever society has given you will leave you. It can exist only in a milieu, in the social milieu, it cannot exist out of it. You will have to drop it It will be painful because you are so adjusted to it, everything is so arranged. It has become such a comfort to be adjusted, where everything is convenient. When you change and move alone, you are leaving all comforts, all conveniences, all that society can give – and when society gives something to you, it also takes something from you: your liberty, your soul.

So it is an exchange – and when you are trying to get to your soul in its purity you have to stop the bargaining. It will be painful, but if you can pass through it, the highest bliss is just near. Society is not as painful as loneliness; society is tranquillizing; society is convenient, comfortable. But it gives you a sort of sleep. If you move out of it inconvenience is bound to be there. All types of inconveniences will be there. Those inconveniences have to be suffered with the understanding that they are part of solitude, part of regaining yourself.

This is TAPAS, this is austerity, and you will come out of it new, with a new glory and dignity, a new purity and innocence.
This Good Self, modified 10 Years ago at 5/3/13 2:15 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/3/13 2:15 AM

RE: Just a Dark Night account, if it helps someone

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
A little bit more comfort here:
Question - If I Let Go I fear I am gone forever.

Osho - You fear rightly: you WILL be gone forever; but you cannot escape now. The very fear shows that you cannot escape now. The VERY fear shows that you are understanding rightly: that you will disappear if you let go. But you are your misery, nothing else; you are your hell, nothing else. So how long can you cling to it? Sooner or later, you will have to let go.

I will tell you a story. The story is very old; the story is about King Midas.
Midas was hunting for the wise, for someone who could become his Master. He heard about a companion of Dionysus; the name of Dionysus' companion was Silenus. He searched, he searched long, and finally he caught him. But when he finally fell into his hands, the King asked,'What is the very best, the most preferable thing for man?'

The demon remained silent, stubborn and motionless, until he was finally compelled by the King, and then broke out into shrill laughter uttering these words:'Miserable, ephemeral species, children of chance and hardship; why do you compel me to tell you what is most profitable for you not to hear? The very best is quite unthinkable for you. It is: not to be born. It is impossible because you are already born. The very best is not to be born, not to exist, to be nothing. But the next best thing is: to die as soon as possible. The next best only is possible.'

Midas became very angry. He said, 'I have come in search of life, not of death.'

Silenus said, 'Nobody has ever come to know life until he dies.'
So I know your fear, I understand it, and the fear is perfectly true. It is not deceiving you, it is telling you the truth: that if you let go, you are gone forever. But there arises a need, when one NEEDS to drop completely and die completely, because only then is there resurrection. When you die, something bigger than you will be born, and that is the search. Out of death comes life. Allow death.

I understand your difficulty. In spite of your fear you will have to let go.
There was one very famous Zen Master, Tosan. A disciple asked him,'Master, what is Tao?'

The Master said,'A dragon singing in the dry wood.'
The disciple said,'I wonder whether there is anybody who can hear this.'
The Master said,'There is no one in the entire world who does not hear this.'
The disciple said,'I don't know what kind of composition the dragon's song is.'
The Master said,'I also do not know, but all who hear it lose themselves.'

Whatsoever I am singing is the song of that dragon in the dry wood. Whosoever hears me will disappear. Now it is up to you: either you hear me or you hear your fear, the fear that you have been hearing forever and ever. Through the fear you have lived up to now, and nothing has been attained.

Your life is just an empty barrenness, a desert with not even a single oasis in it. You have listened too long to your fear; now don't be bothered by it. Say to it' Shut up!'; and in spite of it, move. You will disappear, but that is the only way to gain yourself. Says Jesus,'If you try to save your life you will lose it. If you lose it you will gain it in abundance, in eternity.'

Only the momentary is lost and the eternal is gained. Only the useless is lost and the ultimate is gained. Now it is for you to decide. Either you decide for your fear, or you decide for my love.