The Dark Night of the Soul — 20 minutes’ worth

by Andrew Gaines

I often say that “we must become the kind of people who can create and enjoy a life-sustaining society.” In this regard I am a work in progress myself. I thought I would share this bit of ‘inner work’ I just did.

There is a phrase in the literature on mysticism called the Dark Night of the Soul. It is a time — sometimes an extended period of time — when the person feels cut off from God and from life. I suppose it could be regarded as a form of depression. Its poignancy comes from the fact that the mystical aspirate has perhaps already tasted connection to divinity, and does not accept depression as the end of the story.

I have spent years below the technical poverty line while working on what has now become the Great Transition initiative. Recently there was an unexpected rise in my income, so in my small way I now have money to spare.

With this as background, I recently experienced what may be a version of the Dark Night of the Soul — except that it only lasted for 20 minutes. I felt what I describe as a ‘pull to be normal’ — i.e., a pull to relax about being passionate about social change, let myself drift, enjoy my relationships, and not really work hard at accomplishing anything. In other words, a pull to mediocrity.

Reflecting on this, it occurred to me to wonder why I shouldn’t enjoy doing all the things necessary to make the great transition initiative to work? Doing these things is as valid a use of my time as anything else.

In such dilemmas I often seek guidance from a wise part of myself. I do this by sitting down and writing about what’s going on, and what I think I should do about it. Then let that go and I pray for guidance, which comes through as writing. Here is what came through.

Dear Andrew,

This pull is powerful in many people. It acts like a magnet, a downward drag, a weight. It is a dull form of the pain body. [The pain body is a negative force in the psyche that feeds on negativity. It seems to be an amalgam of unresolved hurts from the past, and it acts like a crude intelligence. In its virulent form, which is quite common, our pain bodies at times skilfully provoke anger in others — i.e. provoke their pain bodies — and both pain bodies get to feed on the negative emotions. Eckardt Tolle describes this astutely in The Power of Now.]

This version of the pain body is not vivid. It is lethargic in character, but nevertheless a parasitic form of the pain body.

Its voice says

    Don’t bother; you deserve it (whatever ‘it’ might be); don’t go beyond mass consensus; fit in; be one of the sheep; enjoy; don’t work for something greater; you are alone; you have the money — so indulge!

So: the voice wants to pull you into middle class mediocrity. It wins whenever a person with talent and awareness stays small.

However, you are right: there is no reason why you should not enjoy doing the things necessary to make the Great Transition initiative work.

And yes, you can link the voice to Bluebeard — the sabotaging force that does not want humanity to succeed. [Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes about this in Women Who Run with the Wolves.]

“And,” says the voice of middle class mediocrity, “you can probably drift along okay before the looming collapse hits home hard.”

At this point I clearly had a choice. I could identify with my commitment to service, or I could identify with the pull to mediocrity. So I took an internal stand:

I choose to walk the path of service, and not succumb to the pull toward mediocrity.

I choose this for myself. And I choose it for humanity!

I choose to align with life, and act persistently, enthusiastically and effectively in the service of life through the Great Transition initiative, and to call/inspire others to do the same. We are not alone.


About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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