Archive for February, 2012
“In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.”
– St John of the Cross
It was a Carmelite Monk in the 16th Century, St John of the Cross, who wrote a poem and thesis entitled “Dark Night of the Soul.” The text tells of the saint’s mystical development and the stages he is subjected to on his challenging journey towards union with God. The phrase has since come to be used for such a cathartic journey of self-discovery.
The dark night of the soul is a deeply disturbing experience in which intense suffering arises at a level not felt before. Such despair can continue for days, weeks or even years. During this time, we may have feelings of being abandoned by God or the Universe, and feel a great internal anguish and void. Life may seem to offer no reassurance whatsoever, no matter how many ‘good’ things there are outwardly. There could even be thoughts that one is going crazy, and of there being just no way out, no way forward. There could be much fear about whether the future will continue to be dark in this way. The dark night is not just another low period in one’s life, it is the lowest of the lows, it is as if there is no way to hide or duck from this. The intensity of misery that is experienced is a rock-bottom place, where the individual may view themselves as insignificant, alone, empty and defeated.
The most important thing to understand at this time is that there is a deeper, spiritual meaning to this situation. There is a hidden purpose to it. In these moments of darkness the Divine is touching and purifying us. This certainly may be hard to see and this is why help must be sought. It is very difficult for a human being to see the light in the dark night by him or herself.
The nature of human beings is such that it is often at the last hour, when things have reached an extreme point, that we summon the strength and endurance to do what is required for our own well-being and happiness. Hence it is no surprise that for some people the dark night of the soul occurs. Would we listen otherwise? Have we listened fully thus far when things have gone awry? Thus with the depths of pain that the dark night brings, it becomes much more difficult to escape the pain.
During this night we are urged to learn raw honesty. We are being called upon to awaken to the truth of our shadow self, or imperfections and are being shown that vulnerability is an expression of our fuller humanity. We may begin to see how we continually inflict pain on ourselves and on others. To realize this, is uncomfortable for sure, but if we examine our thoughts and actions openly, this will be found to be so. Embracing the darkness in ourselves makes it much easier to embrace it in others also. Therefore, love, given and received, is also made much more possible through greater acceptance of that which is not love. Perhaps for the first time in this life we start to learn what Love, with a big L, is really is all about.
The dark night is all about self-acceptance. This is very hard to do, but not impossible. As Carl Jung said, “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” But as we progress into the night, our pain can be gradually understood and released, and the truth of one’s Divine eternal Self can be given the space to finally surface.
The real despair in the heart of human beings is a feeling of being separate from everyone and everything, including, and especially God, or the Universe. The dark night represents an opportunity to find out that there is a completeness, a oneness within one’s Self, that even includes – and gradually dissolves – those feelings of separation.
As we see the truths about our own shadow or pain, ego begins to be relegated from its primary position. This relegation involves great anguish for a human being for we have known no other way to be up to this point. Up to this point we have been ego. Ego has run our life for us. Grief and great sorrow may be felt for an identity that we begin to understand we must now let go of. As this darkness is allowed to just be without resistance, the torch of truth may put the ego in the spotlight, and we may see the impact of a ‘me’-centred life on ourselves and others. Ego makes an empty shell out of us, with no real substance, a second-hand life lived from second-hand beliefs, these forming a wall around us keeping us feeling separated from others and keeping enduring love out of our life also.
In this space of honesty we may experience an unnerving nothingness, as well as fear which arises because there is now no known or familiar way forward. We are essentially facing an unknown future, without ego (which doesn’t serve us well but which we are understandably attached to), and with simply our Self, alone and aware. It is the experience of our own death in life.
The loss of ego or personality is rebirth in an individual. The state of being ‘reborn’ can only come through dying to our conditioned thinking, whether religious, cultural, social and so on. The dark night can be the starting point for this transformational journey. And it occurs when we are ready.
The acknowledgment of our false persona (ego) is what is made poignantly possible during the painful dark night. This might otherwise take much longer. Human beings are prone to wanting an easy ride, and whilst a life lived from an ego-based mind is in fact a life of suffering, it is nonetheless easy because it is what we know. It calls to mind the phrase ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.’ But in this case the ‘devil’ you don’t know is the one that will eradicate the need for all the other devils. We are entering the place of don’t know as opposed to all that we do know, and alien as it may feel, this is where the real Self will be discovered. If you could know your way to real, enduring happiness, then most of us would be ecstatic now. This is why one of Jiddu Krishnamurti’s most well-known books is entitled Freedom From The Known, because the known (ego, beliefs, relative knowledge) does not provide the freedom and joy we seek. In fact what we think and know are the blockages.
If we can summon our deepest resources of courage and endurance at this time, and allow the human ego to be finally relinquished, then grief and fear will quickly be replaced by That which is blocked by ego. This is the peace and joy of our Divine nature. It is only by acknowledging the detrimental and insidious impacts of ego in our own life that a human being will take the challenging steps to let this go. Until we can take responsibility for our own actions and where they originate in, we can’t move into a momentum of coming from a place of no-ego. But only the loss of ego can make room for reality, God or the real Self in a direct way.
The dark night brings us face to face with our own suffering. Its message is: we cannot know light unless we know dark. It’s the space in which we realize for the first time, that life has in reality been experienced as suffering yet we have played a constant game of denying this. In becoming more aware of the hidden and unsatisfactory experiences in our daily life, we gradually shed the attachment to such experiences, drama, desperations and neediness (for in the end it is attachment). This inauthentic way of living suffices no more. The relief is huge. It is the mind that gives rise to all our activities and it is contemplation and release of the imperfections of the mind (ego) that allow actions to become pure, clear and effective.
When the extent of the ego’s controlling ways are seen for what they are, beliefs, concepts and judgments become greyed out. What takes their place is an empty vessel from which to listen and speak, in innocence, focus, honesty and spontaneity. It may sometimes seem that freedom in reality is not the freedom we had previously imagined; it’s an alien feeling due to there being nothing to speak of articulately. Truth has a way of surprising us.
As one sees things in this new way, the world may appear to be more crazy than previously thought. But the mental hospital that the world now seems, is also now known to be perfect. Perfect in the sense that this is how it is. Universal laws are at play and things transpire just as they do. How could it be any other way? Arguing with reality is a lost cause. There is nothing wrong. There is nothing to change in this moment in which one finds oneself alive. Saying that, does not mean that things are necessarily beneficial or must stay the same, but that reality just is, neither good nor bad. “Good” and “bad” now become values which are null and void, paling in comparison with the brilliance of seeing reality – the Now moment – as it is. We don’t stop taking action to improve the world, but we do so from a place of accepting the outcomes whatever these may be. Action becomes joyful in and of itself without ego providing motive, such as desperate ambition or seeking renown.
As the truth of our own Self is glimpsed, it becomes evident that traversing darkness does indeed lead us to light. The dark night is the wake-up call we sent to ourselves to remind us of our true purpose on earth. The dark night of the soul offers a dynamic that can purify a person’s spiritual vision and resulting actions. It is ultimately a gift that reveals the real Self and brings one back to one’s unadulterated, untarnished state of happiness that is intrinsic, though hidden, in all of us.
Reena Gagneja runs the Spiritual Truth Blog, where you will find the ‘truth behind the scenes’ – vital information for these changing times. She is a Spiritual Counsellor, Soul Plan Reader and Amega Global Business Associate.
The Truth shall set you free!
When we think of our wellbeing, the first thing that usually comes to mind is our physical health. We equate it with how fit we are, how healthy the food we eat is, and how much vitamins and mineral supplements we ingest. But how often do we primarily equate it with spiritual development? How many of us view having inner balance, a sense of oneness and peace with the world as something that truly completes us? If you feel that you need to work on this area of your life, here are some of the essential keys you need to know and practice:
Control your thoughts. Spiritual development starts with removing all negativity from your thoughts. For instance, if you’re the type who always thinks of the worst case scenario, train yourself to be rational. Did your spouse fail to return your calls or messages on time? Rather than quickly assuming that they may have gotten into an accident, think of alternative, less nerve-wracking reasons. They may be in an area where the signal is pretty bad; hence they are unable to respond. Or they may have gotten caught up in a last minute emergency meeting in the office. Choosing to think of the “lesser evil” of the possible reasons will help calm you down and sustain your inner balance.
Control your actions. Your actions in the heat of the moment reflect the state of your inner balance. Don’t let your knee-jerk reactions get in the way of your spiritual development. You need to be in control of yourself during trying times. Getting carried away will only open you up to a world of regret when you have calmed down and reflected on your unsavory behavior. So if you want to minimize regrets and lessen the chances of destroying relationships permanently, count one to ten before you slap the offending party in the face!
Control your emotions. Spiritual development is also dependent on your ability to control your emotions. If you get easily flustered, panicky or hysterical when you hear bad news, get insulted or receive poor reviews, you won’t be able to attain inner balance and peace. Not to mention you will surely end up with high blood pressure and extreme anxiety which could lead to serious health issues! So the way to solve this is to build emotional resilience. Learn to detach yourself from the smallest, most insignificant things and focus only on those that matter. Handle crisis, stress and pressure calmly and with a level head. It also helps to plan ahead for outcomes you can easily predict; that way you’re not caught unaware and you lessen your chances of going on panic mode.
Be open-minded and flexible. Some of us can be micromanaging control freaks! If you are one, then surely you know the feeling of having your inner balance thrown off when things don’t go your way. If you give your child maths lessons so that he gets an A+ in the test, then he comes home with an A-minus, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t plan your travel itinerary to the letter because you might get crushed when the museum you planned to visit happens to be closed that day. Learn to look past the disappointments and focus on the good things. Learning to adapt to situations keeps you calm and, as a result, helps you achieve spiritual development.
Practice tolerance. In order to be at peace with yourself and with the world, you need to accept that people are different. There are cultures, religions, norms, political views and social practices that may seem alien to you, but if you exercise tolerance and respect for others, you will easily achieve spiritual development. Remove all prejudice and hatred from your heart. You will become a much better person without being weighed down by “preconceived garbage” in your heart and mind. Live and let live; with this maxim, attaining inner balance should be a cinch.
Achieving internal harmony need not require a trip to a monastery in some far flung nation. The truth is, the process starts and ends within you. So, rather than literally crossing mountains to find your enlightenment, aim to move mountains within by removing all barriers to your spiritual growth and development.
Aim for spiritual development as part of your self growth. Attaining inner balance is essential to one’s life if you wish to live each day with inner peace and a feeling of abundance.
- Developing Will Power and Self Discipline (joannewellington.wordpress.com)
As a clairvoyant and healer, I understand the importance of grounding myself on a regular basis. When you possess the ability read energy from a higher conscious place, it’s so easy for your soul to automatically transition into Spirit. In other words, you want to be in the place where you are channelling energy. Yet, we live on Earth so we must remain present here in our daily lives.
So what are the symptoms of not being grounded? Here are just a few that you might identify with:
- Feeling like your head is in the clouds
- Difficulty concentrating
- Forgetting things often
- Losing track of time
- Not living in the Present.
- Feeling constantly in worry mode
- Being accident prone
- Frequent mood swings.
- Avoiding life by excessively sleeping, reading, video games, drinking, TV etc..
- Feeling drained by other people
Here are a few tips that will keep you grounded, and make you feel like you’re on planet Earth once again:
Complete a Grounding Exercise
When you wake up every morning, place your feet on the ground, and imagine the roots of a tree, wrapping around the tops of your feet and going to the center of the core of the earth. You may also repeat this several times a day or simply say the words “Grounded” out loud or in your mind. My feet always tingle when I do this.
Eat earthy foods.
Avoid processed foods whenever possible eat whole grains, vegetable proteins such as legumes, root vegetables, minerals like calcium and iron., and red coloured foods that activate your root chakra.
This may be obvious but so many people hold their breath when they are stressed out. Take several time a day to take several deep breaths, and allow the oxygen to flow into every cell of your body. You will feel revived and refreshed.
Take a Hot Bath or Shower.
After an emotionally draining day, take a hot bath and sprinkle some epsom salts. Water itself is purifying and the sea salts work to detoxify all of the accumulated negative energies that you have gathered throughout your day. Always rinse the salt off of your body before you get out. If you are showering, sprinkle some epsom salts onto your lufa, and imagine all of the negative energy going down the drain.
Be with Nature
Nature is one of the most powerful healing agents in the world. Spend time with the forest, ocean, rivers and mountain peaks. Nature’s energy is incredibly healing. Have you ever leaned up against a tree and felt the energy of the tree healing you? Mother Nature has the ability to repair the cells in your body. It’s such a gift and it’s right outside your door!
Extra Tip: For an even stronger grounding and healing connection to the Earth, take your shoes and socks off.
Remember that we all need to stay grounded in order to live a happy and productive life.
Maxine Friend – About the Author:
Voted as most popular clairvoyant in Vancouver, Maxine dedicated much of her time and energy to noteworthy causes. Maxine is a member of the Canadian Association of Psychics, and is also an active member of the Scleroderma Association of British Columbia. Maxine has created her own fund in honour of her late mother. “In honour of Lise Friend” in order to raise money for Scleroderma research. Maxine is a level II Certified Reiki practitioner; specializing in Usui Reiki Ryoho. In her spare time, Maxine mentors other developing clairvoyants. Maxine also is a special investigative consultant with Find Me; a non for profit organization that assists people from all over the world in finding their missing loved ones.
From the black Eames chair that I have sat in as a therapist for well over 10,000 hours, 2012 parades forth as the catalyst humans need to jar them from their slumber. Blessings to the Mayans for their implantation of an alarm bell into the future collective consciousness of humanity.
Whether they have predicted the end of times, the beginning of a new spiritual era or nothing at all, we should not delay the existential question most everyone avoids in order to focus on thoughts that keep their self-concept and lives in tact. Now, let’s ask:
Unfortunately for my hapless parents and tolerant friends, I have asked myself this question dozens of times a day from far (far) too young an age. I ask this question of others for a living and when bored at social gatherings to receive countless blank stares accompanied by the white noise emitted from their overloaded machinery.
The majority’s momentum requires you not ask this basic question. Life, like molasses, tastes dense and yummy, sucks you in and dumps you into a sugar coma. Satiated with daily routine and dramatic life turns that we blame on others, life drips by drop by drop.
Why do you exist?
It’s not a scary question, yet 99.9% of humanity waits until they’re ill, on their deathbed or not even then to wonder what we’re doing here. Ask when you’re young, lucid, in good health, still have choices, before you procreate, marry and divorce.
This year, the Mayans dare us to consider the purpose of our existence before it’s too late. We may never know whether their assertion/prediction/invitation is real or not. Yet, we can use it as a tool to recover the inquiry that remains buried under the debris of our lives, beating a rhythm deep in our hearts. Even as we run from errand to errand, job to home, job at home, laundry, market, dishes, Monday to Friday and Sunday night, again too soon, it’s within us awaiting our attention.
No one wants us to ask. The world is against it, because the “Why?” contradicts society’s celebrated accomplishments and journeys. Measure, know and scour the material and anti-material energy that comprises everything outside of you to define you, others and your life’s value.
Revered as one of the greatest minds of our time, Steven Hawking’s work wholly concerns itself with the measurement and definition of the endless, unknowable outermost-reaches of the external world. No human will ever be able to confirm his life’s work.
NASA and its Kepler telescope seek to locate habitable, Earth-like planets. They’ve discovered numerous, though none of us will ever visit any of them. Millions of dollars and endless Earth resources spent searching for nothing knowable and incomprehensible to most. Despite my best efforts, I cannot fathom its relevance to any moment of my life.
Our only certainty lives alone, enclosed within our minds, through our perceptions, memories, hopes and moments. Yet we hold our certain truth against the structure and rules that we instructed are real, what society exalts, what we can define and measure.
We stay imprisoned for fear of ridicule and the potential destruction of our relationships and the lives we know. We live as if a single phone call or a moment in time will not provide the definitive push needed to consider the reason for our existence.
As I write this, my beloved friend approaches death in hospice annoyed that her friends and family are making her transition about themselves. Goodbyes said last week, her room filled with ipads and twitter tweets. She says nothing because she still doesn’t want to upset anyone. Who cares? They are upset and will be upset any way.
It doesn’t have to be that dramatic if you start today. Telling yourself that what you do, who you marry, what others think of you defines you or your existence creates a life filled with anxiety, fear and a primal terror.
Countless times I asked friends and clients to strip down what they fear most and have heard:
“People finding out.”
“Finding out what?”
“That I’m not who they think I am.”
Why are we taught to care what others think of us? The prison of societal expectation, real or fabricated, becomes a dangerous shelter in our life, on our way to death.
Solar flares illuminate the atmosphere and reveal the Northern Lights. Under their brightness, take a moment and allow yourself to wonder why you exist in this form, your specific body, with your talents, at this time, where you live. Why?
Dump the Western Psychotherapeutic inquiry of “Who are you?” for “Why are you here, as you, right now?” The latter inquiry subsumes the former and gives it intention and purpose.
Why we exist includes an other, whether a person, a cause, a purpose that pushes us forward in our development. It doesn’t need to earn you an Oscar, a spot in the NBA or a billion dollars. If you feel compelled to love the 100 year-old oak tree outside your house, then exist for that tree.
There is no wrong answer.
No one needs to know. It can be your secret inquiry. Too much of mass culture has mocked the question and killed it before its birth. Humans evolved to need another’s enthusiastic waves of proverbial pompons to ratify action or thought. We don’t need it. Ask what brings you your specific joy and, in time, acting upon it will provide comfort and celebration.
My inquiry led me to what lies in the depth, if not the breadth, of this life. For me, the action which resulted is to give good love. A consistent, open, humorous and real support that allows others to flourish and live more out loud and less alone in this ever-expanding universe than without my presence. I exist to love and believe all of us do.
Love that tree, your neighbor, your garden, lost cats, singing, your children, the Dali Lama, baking, Jesus Christ, travel, Bill Maher, little league baseball, cashmere sweaters or medical research. It doesn’t matter, if you grow from it.
Last Sunday, seven hours of playoff football on television was the best way I knew how to love myself, which allowed me to love others the next day.
Stay focused on the question.
After you ask and ask, time no longer speeds passed you. Monday feels like a week, filled with ebbs, flows, joy, stillness, stress, anger and nothing. All in one day. No one wants to live a life they don’t remember living.
Dare yourself to ask the question often. Don’t require action. Your inquiry will lead you step by step.
Somehow the action or the “do” finds you if you stick to the question, give yourself time to answer and accept the answer. The action doesn’t have to be vast, glamorous or even profitable. I doubt we get points over there for any of that. We’re created in these individual bodies to discover what lies within, not outside of it.
Mala Mukherji – About the Author:
Bio of Mala Mukherji
Born in Los Angeles, California to parents, who immigrated from Calcutta, India, Mala Mukherji began studying the differences between Indian and American cultures from an early age. Frequent and early trips to India and being raised in Covina, a homogeneous suburb of Los Angeles created the perfect climate for Mala’s future pursuits.
While attending the University of California at Los Angeles, she studied the psychological and sociological impacts of the politics and histories of numerous cultures. After receiving her degree from U.C.L.A., she attended Pepperdine University School of Law, where she concentrated on issues relating to individual rights. After passing the California State Bar Examination, Mala practiced law in the Los Angeles area for over eight years.
Throughout her law career, Mala studied and explored Western psychological theory and Eastern philosophy and their practical application to the individual’s experiences. As a result of those studies, Mala left law practice and created a modality of spiritual psychological therapy, which combines Eastern and Western theory. She has maintained a thriving therapeutic practice for the past eleven years. Her clients include numerous leaders in the areas of sports, business and entertainment.
Having worked as a therapist for eleven years and over 10,000 thousand hours, Mala researched and discovered what allows and motivates individuals to grow. Because not everyone has the resources to partake in therapy, she wrote ASHES, which provides women and men a vehicle by which they may consider the events of their life and how those events effect them in present day.
- 2012 – Armageddon Or New Humanity? (mediumsworld.wordpress.com)