The Dark Night of the Soul
This ACIM Blog post is written by Sudie Shipman
When I endeavored to set out on the spiritual path, I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing or even that I was undertaking a new direction.
It was as if my mind was enveloped in dark clouds of unconsciousness and all I knew was that somehow there had to be a better way to live.
I did know, was aware, that I was terrified of dying.
Early in my childhood one of my favorite uncles died, and though I didn’t understand death, I deduced by my parents and family’s devastation/grief that death was not a good thing and something to be feared.
So with that fear fully present in my awareness as a young adult, I made a decision to overcome that fear of dying before death came to my door, so that I could face it without terror.
I truly had no idea what was in store for me and I’m pretty certain I felt that I would fail, and that the task I was undertaking was impossible.
A few years into that journey I was introduced to “A Course In Miracles,”
and though, in the beginning, I resisted the messages in the book and in general christianity (the teachings of Jesus) I knew that these big blue books (which came in three volumes at the time) were exactly what I needed.
You could say my soul knew and somehow I could fathom its voice and direction, even though I doubted it.
Through the years of my undoing of the ego self, I had many dark nights of the soul.
Many encounters with death and even thoughts of suicide,
though much more frequently just sheer terror at the thought of my demise, which kept me from any real consideration of taking my own life.
These were times of deep and extremely uncomfortable fear, and I would shake, cower and withdraw from the world to work my way through them.
Once I spent five days locked in a dark room on a family vacation, telling everyone I was sick, in truth I was ill with terror.
However, I did allow myself to feel the fear.
Much like being physically ill, I knew I had to withdraw and give myself time to heal.
I spoke to Jesus a lot and even felt His presence with me, though it brought no comfort at the time.
And then I was through it and it felt just like coming out of an extended illness.
I had to get my strength back, and there was great relief that it was done.
That was a classic dark night of the soul experience, and my worst one.
There was a lot more fear to process, but it would never be days of debilitating terror again.
If you are finding yourself on the spiritual path and confronting your own demons, this is written to help you and give you some assurance that you will get through these night terrors of fear, that they will pass and you will see peace and light on the other side.
When you feel your feelings fully, you will find that the fear takes over you less and less and that peace finds you more and more.
What could be terrified if not your ego?
It is actually your ego that believes in death.
If you read ACIM you will learn that the ego’s entire purpose is to lead you to death, to keep you fearful of death and to ultimately prove to you that it is real by your death.
The purpose of “A Course In Miracles” is to convict you through miracles that you are in fact not the ego, but rather “The Holy Son of God Himself.”
To put that another, more palatable way would be to say that you are in fact an eternal spirit that is infinitely one with God and can never die, because it was never born into physical form.
Spirit is Spirit always.
It has no beginning and has no ending, because it is inherently without form.
So what about this dark night of the soul then? Will you have one?
Maybe you are in the midst of one now.
Maybe it has passed already.
Most likely it is an experience you will have. It’s something to be welcomed rather than feared because it is an indication that you are making great strides in your spiritual progress.
Here are words to help:
FEEL EVERYTHING! No matter what you are feeling, abject terror, deep depression, uncontrollable grief, rage, allow yourself to express it, feel it, be with it.
Take time out of your day, your week, your year, sit down and FEEL, cry, scream, journal, acknowledge your feelings and let them pass through.
Feelings are just blocked energy. In your rejection of them previously to now, you have barricaded energy from expressing through you. You built a wall and then forgot or ignored it was there.
Our spiritual work brings these things back to the surface of our conscious mind and we MUST acknowledge and release them.
You might be able to do this on your own, but if you are too terrified you might need the assistance of another person who can help you.
These individuals can be found in any group of people that gather for spiritual work (ACIM study groups, the range of meetings related to AA, etc.) or the more traditional routes of therapy.
You will know what is best for you.
One of the foundational pieces of ACIM is to teach you to listen to the Holy Spirit in your mind.
This is how you will know what is best for you, because Spirit will tell you.
It may seem like a faint and distant voice, a bit rusty and underused, but that Voice will become easy for you to hear as you learn to give it your attention.
The best thing that you can be armed with on the spiritual journey is awareness.
If you are aware that these feelings will come and that you can feel them and let them go forever, you will be much more at ease with the time arrives.
It’s part of our process, part of our undoing, it is the purification that is necessary to find the love and peace of God below those clouds in our minds.
A while back I channeled this bit of writing below from my own inner voice, the Holy Spirit in my mind which we all share.
It was the inspiration for this short essay and I hope all of it comforts you.
The Holy Spirit is the Great Comforter and It is always available to you in your own mind and through the voices of the messengers of God who have dedicated their life to Him. The spiritual path is, for those of us going through mighty changes in our life, letting go of our personal self and embracing our divinity, we can at times be faced with feelings of wanting to die or that we are going to die. This is indeed the death of the ego or of your identifying with the personal self. I can assure you that nothing changes and you have nothing to fear. But I do want you to be aware that you may feel something wants you to die or that you feel like you are going to die, and this is most often accompanied by intense fear. Let these words assure you, that this is common to those going through spiritual transmutation.
If you find yourself feeling this way, first know that it will pass.
It always feels like it will never end, but again I assure you that it will pass.
Second, and obviously, don’t act on your feelings of suicide.
Realize that this is the ego self on its way out of dominating your mind.
Third, observe your mind and what is going on.
Become the observer, not the doer.
Just watch and breathe and allow all feelings and thoughts to pass by.
Finally, if you need too, call a friend or reach out to us online.
It always helps to know that others have been in the same situation and made it through.
You are not alone.
We are all here for each other.
It is important that you allow yourself to reach out to others and share. It is part of the process of learning to receive and give Love.
You are loved beyond your ability to comprehend in human form.
That Love is revealing Itself to you and as you journey through this process, suppressed emotions and even collective consciousness emotions will surface and leave.
Know that it will pass and you will feel greater love and joy as a result.
It won’t feel that way in the midst of it leaving, but once again I assure you that it will pass.
Joy, peace and love is what you are and you cannot fail to be what you are.
The blocks to this Truth are being removed - “the blocks to the awareness of Love’s presence.”