“There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” Carl Jung
In the abyss, at the bottom of a deep dark well, the stars shine brighter than ever and can be seen even during the day. When all seems lost and only the darkness surrounds us do we then have the eyes to see the heavens above in all their subtlety. One must wait out this time in quiet meditation until the danger is past. The I Ching has a great hexagram which I feel correlates well with this Dark Night of the Soul, Hexagram 55:
The shadows close in. The polestar can be seen at noonday. Going forward now invites mistrust and hate. But sincere devotion brings good fortune.
“From the depths of a mine shaft or a well, where the scattered light of the sun has been dissipated, it is possible to see the stars even at midday. The same phenomenon is visible during an eclipse. When the machinations of a powerful party obscure the brilliance of the ruler, it is a time for the wise man to give up any ideas of energetic advance. This would only earn him mistrust and envy. Nevertheless he should maintain his loyalties and his principals. In the end all will be well.”
I am currently reading a wonderful surrealist novel called The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami whose theme synchronizes perfectly with this idea. Perhaps the author is familiar with the Book of Changes himself. The hero of the novel, a recently unemployed and zen 30-something young man whose wife ran off, finds himself staring into the abyss, numbed and stuck in a stagnant life situation where he is completely floating without direction. As his life falls apart, he climbs down into a dried up abandoned well by his home and spends a couple of days down at the bottom in the darkness. A diviner once told him,” When you’re supposed to go down, find the deepest well and go down to the bottom”. He emerges after passing through the veil between the two worlds, our world and the Dreamtime world, a new entity now marked by his rite of passage.
This is a test and those who seek illumination must go through it completely alone. The 8–Circuit Model of Consciousness proposed by Timothy Leary is a system outlining the evolution of human consciousness based on the development of eight different neurological circuits (each one a unique state of consciousness) the last four of which are recent developments. Most of humanity is operating on the fourth circuit while only a few have passed the threshold into the second half of the higher circuits.
- The first Four are:
- The Bio-survival Circuit
- The Emotional-Territorial Circuit
- The Dextro-Symbolic Circuit
- The Ethical-Social Circuit
- The more recent developments:
- The Neurosomatic circuit.
- The Metaprogramming circuit
- The Neuro-genetic Circuit
- The Non-local Circuit
The Dark Night of the Soul is the midway point of no return. This is the test. If one passes through to the other side then one can further develop into the metaprogramming circuit(think of it as having access codes and being the computer programmer of your own brain). Save a few lucky individuals who are able to jump straight into the fifth circuit of neurosomatic bliss, most have to deal with the pain of passing through this wall. Those who don’t successfully make it through can find themselves stuck in anguishing limbo, wandering in the in-between world without a guide. Suicide is common at this point, which I reckon is what happened to the brilliant Vincent Van Gogh.
If you are currently going through this ordeal, remember that you are not alone, although it feels that way to you now. What seems like death to the the caterpillar inside the dark cocoon, is the dawn before the birth of a butterfly. Remember this. Wishing you all luck on this difficult journey and I hope to see you on the other side!
“What I want back is what I was Before the bed, before the knife, Before the brooch-pin and the salve Fixed me in this parenthesis; Horses fluent in the wind, A place, a time gone out of mind.”