The Dark Night of the Soul

At the risk of confirming and deepening my current situation I offer this as a chronicle more than anything, of my journey.

Wow! After spending most of my youth living what I thought was a spiritual life: pure wholesome food, celibacy (which almost drove me insane), meditation, yoga, practicing compassion and unconditional love I thought I had an edge over most people in terms of my inner life. Re-engaging with the Law of Attraction, which has turned out to be furthering my spiritual journey I feel as though I have managed to look so deep in the well that all i can smell is shit in a pitch black darkness. I have been dealing with deep, profound bouts of depression, crying everyday and thinking of ending it all every other day – often entertaining the idea of driving into oncoming traffic on the highway at 110kph. Today I thought about jumping off the cliffs at Clovelly. What is going on? Where does all this come from?

It does come from my stupid thinking. Even saying ‘stupid’ thinking is limiting my experience.

Part of what I’ve been doing is adopting a strict diet for a period of time. Restricting myself to 800-1000 calories per day. Very Low Sodium. No animal fat, or other saturated fats. No meat. Just carbs and plant-based protein. For so long I’ve been using food to shield myself off from life. Over eating and eating crap food allowed me to suppress my emotions, my thoughts and my feelings. I didn’t have to deal with grief from multiple deaths including a suicide from those I loved so much. For over 25 years I’ve been hiding from life.

There are parts of the poem The WasteLand by TS Eliot that seem to resonate…

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

Indeed, the cruelty of mixing memory with desire. The memory of happy times long gone, never to be regained but the fertile spring rain bringing the promise of re-birth to a dull, dead root. The stillness, and dark and inactivity of winter is comforting for it forces us to withdraw, to seek shelter and it resonates with the deadness in my heart

it goes on …..

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust
.

What can grow out of an infertile soul? The withered, burnt and broken images of a promising life are laid out, exposed, illuminated by the sun so that nothing can hide. All is visible and I cannot notice. Inevitably we are destined to return to dust and that scares the shot out of me. But also helps me realise that whatever is going in in life it is precious, it is a gift. For one day you will not be able to breathe, as difficult as it might be at the moment, you won’t be able to feel, as painful as it is right now, you won’t be able to move even though you can’t move freely.

How quickly the sweet blossom of life becomes a bitter, withered weed. No regrets. NO REGRETS, but so many missed opportunities that are now wrinkled and noxious.

A great parable from the Mahabharata. The Man in the Well

Once upon a time a man was in the forest.

He heard the sound of a tiger. So he started running.

While running he fell into a blind well in the forest covered with bushes and creepers.

While falling down into the well he got stuck in the root of a tree that was growing on the wall of the well.

He was thinking at least, “The tiger cannot come down here to get me.”

Then he saw that the bottom of the well was dry and there were many snakes living there. They raised there hoods, hissing, and they were ready to bite him.

Now he was really in predicament, hanging from two branches, halfway down a well.

At the bottom, there are so many poisonous snakes waiting to bite him, and at the top there was a ferocious tiger just waiting to eat him.

At that time he was suffering in great anxiety.

Then he saw two rats. One side of the root he was holding was a black rat eating away the root and the other side was a white rat doing the same.

Now it was only a question of time. Either he had to climb out and and be eaten away by the tiger, or he would have to go down and be bitten by the snakes. He could not stay there.

Sooner or later the rats will finish the whole thing and he will not even have the root to hang on. In this condition, he didn’t know what to do.

At that time, when he was in this very precarious situation, he noticed a honeycomb on the branch of the tree.

Because the tree was shaking, some honey was dropping, and it just happened to be dropping very close to his face.

Taking this golden opportunity, he stuck out his tongue and a drop of honey came on the tip of his tongue.

He took that honey into his mouth and begin to relish the flavor, thinking, “How sweet! How sweet!”

In the mean time his friend came and saw that this man has gone down and so he brought a piece of rope and dropped it in and shouted – “Hold on to the rope and come out.”

But this person said – “No. No. I don’t want the rope. I want honey. You please push the branch of the tree, so that I can get more honey from the bee-hive.”

Despite the most dire situations we still want what is pleasurable. We still seek happiness. Externally. But what if true everlasting happiness is already with us. Inside us. As so many scriptures and teachers tell us. But how do we access that happiness and bring it into the outside world?

Thoughts are always welcome

Iskander

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