Who amongst us can honestly say they have never been tested and tried in life? It's a fair assumption therefore to believe that every one of us has been through such rigours, by one definition or another, myself included. My own rigours and trials have ranged from Keystone Cop absurd to Kafkaesque disorientating, but they all leave their scars nonetheless.
I was asked recently how I have prevailed through my personal Dark Night of the Soul, and the question gave me pause, as I had never really given it any conscious thought. The first thing I did was to re-acquaint myself with Eckhart Tolle's definition of the Dark Night of the Soul, which in summary is...
“It can happen if something happens that you can’t explain away any more, some disaster which seems to invalidate the meaning that your life had before. Really what has collapsed then is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it. So that results in a dark place. But people have gone into that, and then there is the possibility that you emerge out of that into a transformed state of consciousness. Life has meaning again, but it’s no longer a conceptual meaning that you can necessarily explain. Quite often it’s from there that people awaken out of their conceptual sense of reality, which has collapsed.
They awaken into something deeper, which is no longer based on concepts in your mind. A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life that is not dependent on explanations or anything conceptual any longer. It’s a kind of re-birth. The dark night of the soul is a kind of death that you die. What dies is the egoic sense of self. Of course, death is always painful, but nothing real has actually died there – only an illusory identity. Now it is probably the case that some people who’ve gone through this transformation realized that they had to go through that, in order to bring about a spiritual awakening. Often it is part of the awakening process, the death of the old self and the birth of the true self”.
So, having endured this experience, how did I prevail? One thing is for sure: whilst in the midst of my Dark Night, I didn't know which way was up; exactly as Eckhart Tolle described. A metaphoric grenade had been thrown over the wall into my life and blown it apart. Carnage. It's at that point I had a choice; rule or be ruled by this experience, break it or be broken – it was a figurative fight to the death. I remember making a crystal clear and conscious decision to rule and break the situation, almost as soon as it had manifested itself. I decided then and there that I would prevail, and seared “it's not over until I win” into my psyche and into the fabric of who I am. I visualised a huge stone obelisk with the words being carved slowly, deeply and resolutely into the rock, never to be eroded in my lifetime.
When I say “it's not over until I win”, I am not referring to a single person or entity that I am somehow in competition or combat with, more the impact upon my life and upon the essence of who I once was. I had been surprised by the speed in which my life had taken a sharp and unexpected detour, which had catapulted me out of my comfort zone and long planned out future. I didn't feel in control of my life for a time and this was unacceptable to me, hence my vow to regain supremacy. The so-called plans I had made prior to the Dark Night (aka Karan, Act I), were now risible. All the goals I was visualising for Karan, Act II were clear, concise, concrete and achievable; but it would take a lot of hard work, so I recite the dictum to fuel my determination, many times daily.
Once this level of determination has been combined with an inherent iron will, all subsequent decisions are easily made when the end result is clearly in mind, i.e.: will it help me succeed? To this day I refuse to waste energy (be it mental, physical or emotional energy) on anything, or anyone, I consider to be trivial, spurious or indulgent. So focused am I on succeeding and achieving the goals I have set for myself, that everything else gets removed from my path or charged down and neutralised. Figuratively speaking of course, a Corleone I ain't!
However there must be equilibrium in all things; I need to stay grounded and focused on what is truly essential to me, which is: family, health and ascension. The touchstones of family and health need no further explanation, however I believe ascension warrants further clarification.
Ascension is the action of rising to a higher place or level and, for me at least, it refers to more than just the accumulation of material wealth, position and acclaim. Don't misunderstand me, the worldly goodies of which I speak would be bloody lovely, but they're not what drive me. Whilst I endeavour to ascend – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, materially – it is my deeply held desire to assist as many other people with their ascension as I go. Furthermore, the people I have either met, or become more strongly connected to since my Dark Night, also share this philosophy and aspiration, which brings to mind a beautiful African proverb...
If you want to go quickly, go alone
If you want to go far, go together
You would be forgiven for thinking I had come over all Dr Evil, having read the previous “it's not over until I win” statements; even I heard the cello-playing shark music as I typed them out! However, whilst there is a steely determination to succeed, there's no ruthlessness attached. Exactly as Mr Tolle stated, I see precisely why my Dark Night was necessary and, now I have achieved some chronological distance from the events themselves, I am actually thankful they occurred – regeneration always follows a destruction. Regeneration for me has been invigorating.
My point to you, particularly if you have experienced (or are currently experiencing) your own Dark Night, is this: trust the process and believe in your personal powers of regeneration. The human spirit can withstand more than you would ever believe possible, until your time comes to learn the truth about yourself. Once through the Dark Night, you will never be the same again; you will have experienced an awakening – exactly as Mr Tolle writes – and your true self will be revealed to you. I am not telling you it will be easy, but I am telling you it will be worth it.
Alongside my work as a small business mentor, I also help people with their personal development – however that may manifest itself with each individual. If you believe I can help you with your Dark Night, having experienced my own, then please feel free to contact me so I may help you. Please also be assured that our work together will be entirely confidential (within the confines of me legal obligations), and your privacy protected vehemently. You may contact me via 01536 601749 or via the Let's Talk! page of this website – there is no need for you to go through this alone, we all need support from time to time.
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