In essence, the famed “dark night” is considered by some to be a transitional phase between a long novitiate of self-effort to a more direct path of self-transcendence through grace and active endurance, from a time of reliance on the ego to one of reliance on and transformation by the divine, from belief in a personal self to knowledge of its relative unreality, from identification with the ego to identification with the higher Self, and the very non-dual Self of consciousness-being that you are, and from the feeling of the soul exclusively being somehow inside the body to that of the body also being inside of the greater Soul. It brings a thorough purgation where the personal will passes through existential hopelessness and increasingly becomes sacrificed to the impersonal divine will. It works to produce a complete metamorphosis wherein one’s conception of self and world are literally turned inside out.
One spiritual master, Sant Darshan Singh, said, “when a saint takes a soul under his wings, he is anxious to compress twenty lifetimes into one; but if we want to pack twenty lives into one we must pay for it.” That is, the Master, the Overself, God, whatever, hears our prayers, takes us at our word, and assumes a much more apparently active hand in the work, doing what we can not do for ourself in so short a time. Even here there are periods of respite; it is not a constant ‘darkness or ‘down’ period, for most. The soul has periods, albeit short, when it feels more liberated than ever before, with more confidence in God even as it has less confidence in itself.
The revelations of the dark night are essentially what masters mean when they say that “self-knowledge precedes God-knowledge.” Indeed, Teresa of Avila held that “the first mansion of spirituality was true self-knowledge.” We see what we are really made of, in all our human misery, emptiness, and insufficiency, in order to be prepared to then see the awesome grandeur and mercy of God.
Read the full article by Peter Holleran, here.