Getting Through The Dark Night Of The Soul

Getting Through The Dark Night Of The Soul
by Tathina

What is the dark night of the soul? What is the cure? Deepak Chopra, MD

What is the dark night of the soul? What is the cure? Deepak Chopra, MD

Eckhart on the Dark Night of the Soul

Have you ever experienced the dark night of the soul? Your teachings have been so helpful through this difficult period. Can you address this subject?

The “dark night of the soul” is a term that goes back a long time. Yes, I have also experienced it. It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness. The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression. Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything. Sometimes it’s triggered by some external event, some disaster perhaps, on an external level. The death of someone close to you could trigger it, especially premature death, for example if your child dies. Or you had built up your life, and given it meaning – and the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.

It can happen if something happens that you can’t explain away anymore, 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.

The first lesson in A Course in Miracles says “Nothing I see in this room means anything”, and you’re supposed to look around the room at whatever you happen to be looking at, and you say “this doesn’t mean anything”, “that doesn’t mean anything”. What is the purpose of a lesson like that? It’s a little bit like re-creating what can happen during the dark night of the soul. It’s the collapse of a mind-made meaning, conceptual meaning, of life… believing that you understand “what it’s all about”. With A Course in Miracles, it’s a voluntary relinquishment of the human mind-made meaning that is projected, and you go voluntary into saying “I don’t know what this means”, “this doesn’t mean anything”. You wipe the board clean. In the dark night of the soul it collapses.

You are meant to arrive at a place of conceptual meaninglessness. Or one could say a state of ignorance – where things lose the meaning that you had given them, which was all conditioned and cultural and so on. Then you can look upon the world without imposing a mind-made framework of meaning. It looks of course as if you no longer understand anything. That’s why it’s so scary when it happens to you, instead of you actually consciously embracing it. It can bring about the dark night of the soul – to go around the Universe without any longer interpreting it compulsively, as an innocent presence. You look upon events, people, and so on with a deep sense of aliveness. Your sense the aliveness through your own sense of aliveness, but you are not trying to fit your experience into a conceptual framework anymore.

Dark Night of the Soul: St. John Of The Cross; translation by Mirabai Starr (Author)

Dark Night of the Soul
While imprisoned in a tiny prison cell for his attempts to reform the Church, sixteenth-century Spanish mystic John of the Cross composed many of his now classic poems of the soul’s longing for God. Written on a scroll smuggled to him by one of his guards, his songs are the ultimate expression of the spiritual seeker’s journey from estranged despair to blissful union with the divine

After escaping his captors, John fell into a state of profound ecstasy and wrote Dark Night of the Soul. Later, he added an important commentary to his poem to guide other searching souls along the arduous path to communion with God. Here, for the first time, a scholar unaffiliated with the Catholic Church has translated this timeless work.

Mirabai Starr, who has studied Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism, lends the seeker’s sensibility to John’s powerful text and brings this classic work to the twenty-first century in a brilliant and beautiful rendering

Mirabai Starr – Reading – From “Dark Night of the Soul”

Kali Takes America: I’m with Her ~ Vera De Chalambert

Donald Trump might have become the president of the United States. But make no mistake, it is really Holy Darkness that won this election.

Last year, Kali, the Hindu Goddess of death, destruction and resurrection, appeared on the Empire State Building, projected as an avatar of conservation by the filmmakers of Racing Extinction, a documentary about the environmental catastrophe now upon us. At the time I was so struck by the image, I wrote an article about the apparition. This is the sign of the times, Kali Takes New York, I raved.

On election night, as the results were projected onto the Empire State Building, all I could see was Kali’s fierce stare. This was déjà vu. This time, Kali took America.

Donald Trump might already be picking his deplorable cabinet, but it is the Dark Mother, the destroyer of worlds, oracle of holy change, the tenderhearted be-header, that won this country. Kali has brought down our house in a shocking blow; all the illusions of America, stripped in a single night. We are not who we thought we were. Now we must get ready to stand in her fires of transmutation. We need them.

Listening to Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, one had the impression that this was a different woman from the political candidate that we have come to begrudgingly accept as the champion of the Democratic Party, assured by the establishment to become the first Madam President.

Stripped of her hopes and lifelong dreams, speaking honestly and transparently about her pain, this woman in a dark suit was a far cry from the controlled, manicured version of her shiny political persona. Stripped of her agenda, stripped of her certainties, this Hilary might have won the country. This Hillary touched our hearts. This is what we look like after the Dark Mother has had her way with us.

We stop shining of the false light. As our heart breaks, as our veneer cracks, we open to more integrity, more truth, more tenderness. We stop trying to be all things for all people. We become this one small thing, feigning nothing.

“Only to the degree that people are unsettled is there any hope for them.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Paradoxically, the price of true hope, it seems, is being unsettled beyond repair. And this is exactly the opportunity our political moment is presenting to us all. Right now, from all corners of our shocked culture, there are cries of hope, demands of needing to become even brighter lights amidst the spreading darkness. I disagree.

I think that this moment gives us an opportunity for reckoning only if instead of running for the light, we let ourselves go fully into the dark. If instead of resolving our discomfort too quickly, we consider the possibility of staying in the uncomfortable, in the irreconcilable, in the unsettled.

Before we rush in to reanimate the discourse of hope prematurely, we must yield to what is present. Receptivity is the great quality of darkness; darkness hosts everything without exception. The Dark Mother has no orphans. We must not send suffering into exile — the fear, the heartbreak, the anger, the helplessness all are appropriate, all are welcome. We can’t dismember ourselves to feel better.

We can’t cut off the stream of life and expect to heal.

Cutting off the inconvenient is a form of spiritual fascism. By resolving to stay only in the light in times of immense crisis, we split life; engage in emotional deportation, rather than hosting the vulnerable. Difficult feelings need to be given space so they can come to rest. They need contact.

In a culture of isolation, be the invitation to everything.

The intuition that the Dark Mother has returned is pervasive if we heed the signs, and our thirst for the dark is deep. Her every apparition spreads like wildfire. My Kali article went viral within hours, it was as if that image of Kali up there on top of the world overlooking Manhattan nourished the collective soul.

There is a great yearning for change in the order of things, and the Great Mother is leading the revolution. I’m with her.

Christian theologian Mathew Fox speaks extensively about the reemergence of the Dark Feminine archetype into our collective consciousness in his piece The Return of the Black Madonna. It is really in darkness, he reminds us, “where illusions are broken apart and the truth lies.”

We are collectively getting so sick and tired of lies, of the superficial, of the shiny neon lights of pop culture, pop spirituality and politics as usual. We thirst for the Real. And the Dark Mother is here to quench.

We saw darkness reclaiming its place also in the passing of Leonard Cohen, this most belated of biblical prophets. He left us with his last and perhaps most spiritually astute album, “You want it Darker,” which has skyrocketed in popularity. The entire album is the ultimate invitation into Holy Darkness. Once he famously preached that the cracks are how the light gets in. Now, he assured us God wants it darker.

Many have interpreted it to be an expression of hopelessness. No. He is asking the only relevant question of our time, whether we can swallow the pill of darkness and still say Hineni! I am here, God, here I am, bring it on! In his last interview about the album, Cohen says that this track is about offering ourselves up when the “emergency becomes articulate.” I think we can all agree that it has finally become articulate.

The mystics tell us that we need spiritual crisis. That we must enter the Cloud of Unknowing, the deepest despair, the most profound darkness within, without hope, in order to grow spiritually. They call such a time of deep crisis, of great uncertainty, the Dark Night of the Soul. There, in our radical desperation, in our absolute abandonment, it is said, the Divine Doctor awaits. Holy Darkness was Her medicine all along.

Darkness heals us without a spoonful of sugar; the wound is the gift, and this election is a good dose.

As the spirit of the Dark Mother hovers upon the collective waters, she has much to teach us. Kali is the great protectress and ultimate sacred activist. She is standing at Standing Rock, roaring against the black snake and the abuses of corporate capitalism. She is marching in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

She is here mourning the dying out of species and showing her terrible tongue at the shocking xenophobic, nationalist regressionism swallowing the planet. She is the changing of the tides, and she means business. She has come to burn up the old paradigm of separation and transfigure the collective heart.

Scientists tell us we live amidst the 6th extinction. Every 20 minutes, another species disappears from our planet. Our oceans are dying, our rivers are burning. Kali beckons us to embrace our sacred fury and let our heart roar for all living beings. Like her, we must rise as protectors, else perish as fools. She knows that we belong to each other and share one fate.

Recently, three protesters at Standing Rock got their Kali on. In a radical act, worthy of the great Mother herself, they crawled inside the Dakota Access Pipeline, putting their bodies on the line. Reading about it, I was shocked, I was troubled, I was moved. Suddenly I realized that love is always a disturbing presence. We must disrupt the order of things to obey the orders of Love.

These acts will keep growing, because the fires of truth that Kali has lit are spreading. As the old story of convenience and profit turns to ash, hearts across the planet are aflame for love and justice. Over a million people checked into Standing Rock after organizers worried that police can track protesters through their Facebook statuses.

Started by an indigenous mother, the Standing Rock protest has become a cultural creative movement no one could anticipate. Here everything meets: social justice, ecological justice, economic justice, sacred activism. And there are reasons to celebrate, such as the Army Corps’ momentous decision to deny the pipeline permit.

This might not be the end of DAPL, but this victory is a testament to the sacred fire. This is a beginning. This is what a prayerful movement looks like. This is what a culture waking up looks like. The struggle is far from over, but the zeitgeist has spoken. Hineni! it bellows.

Deeply we recognize that we are living amidst the churning of ages, although the climate catastrophe is not yet visible, most scientists now believe it is inevitable.

Climate change is here, whether we believe in it or not. Politically, with the election of Donald Trump, our country and the world have entered a dark night of the soul. We might still live in a culture of shine, greed, glam and white supremacy, but the Dark Feminine has now reemerged into this cycle, and heaven has no fury like the Great Mother scorned.

Now we must rest here in this darkness, to lay heart to the ground as a country, and feel intimately all that is being unraveled here. After all, every seed must go into darkness, must turn inside out, must break open in order to grow.

It is my prayer that our country sprouts. That this regression give rise to a counterculture of grassroots movements the likes of which we have never seen. And to a culture of love beyond measure.

Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker (Lyric)

Leonard Cohen’s official lyric video for You Want It Darker. Click to listen to Leonard Cohen on Spotify:
Click to listen to You Want It Darker on Apple Music:, Click to listen to You Want It Darker on Google Play Music: Buy the album You Want It Darker on Amazon:

More videos from Leonard Cohen:
Travelling Light:…
Suzanne –…
First We Take Manhattan –…


If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord

Vera de Chalambert is a spiritual storyteller and Harvard-educated scholar of comparative religion. She recognizes the intricate process of healing and awakening, unfolding for so many around the planet at this time, and offers healing sessions and spiritual direction via Skype and phone. Vera has studied with spiritual teachers, healers and visionaries the world over, and mined for her soul at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, and Jason Shulman’s School for Nondual Healing and Awakening. She is deeply influenced by Buddhist and Kabbalistic lineages, and is a lover of the world’s great wisdom traditions. She speaks internationally and writes about mindfulness in the modern world and the Divine Feminine. You could visit Vera on her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

This article first appeared in the Rebelle Society

Related Dialogues

The Dark Night of the Collective Soul : Robert Atkinson, PhD, for Bodhi Tree

In this season of the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year, how could we not marvel at the entire universe obeying the same fundamental laws of nature? These laws are constant, can be observed and allow us to identify patterns in all realms of existence— physical and spiritual, individual and collective—since they are all part of the same ultimate Reality. All of creation is an indivisible oneness.

Individual and collective development, just like the cycle of seasons, follows the same pattern of maturation, decline and eventual renewal. It is well known from the world’s spiritual and mystical literature that we experience periods of doubt, confusion and conflict many times over in our lives, all of which can fuel a dark night that eventually turns into a process of transformation, or rebirth.

A Cyclical Time of Crisis

The journey into a dark night where all is new, unknown and at risk is a journey toward reshaping our lives, and redefining who we are. The phrase “dark night of the soul,” introduced by 16th century mystic St. John of the Cross, is now a classic motif in all literature and has come to identify a time of challenge, despair and spiritual crisis in a person’s life that often leads to transformation involving a symbolic death and rebirth experience, resulting in a deeper spiritual life.

But what about the dark night of the collective soul? Is there a similar process of crisis and despair leading to the transformation and renewal of the community, the nation or the entire human society as a whole? Is humanity currently experiencing a loss of soul, a spiritual crisis?

Civilizations and empires have long followed a pattern of rise and fall, bringing to mind the Egyptian, Aztec, Incan, Mayan, Greek, Roman, Persian and Ottoman empires, and in more recent centuries, Spain, Portugal, France and Great Britain. All these powers have risen and fallen yet continued to exist in a different form after their dark night of the collective soul.

A Pattern of Opposition Followed by Progress

Many feel we, humanity as a whole, are currently in that dark night of the collective soul. In our time, the transformation of one leads inevitably to the transformation of all. What affects the part, impacts the whole.

However, though we are becoming a global community, a “dark night” in one region of the world does not mean that transformation will occur in all regions of the globe at the same time. Global transformation would be a gradual, part-by-part process, in the long run resulting in the advancement of civilization as a whole.

All of creation participates in this pattern of opposition followed by progress. Nothing escapes the cycle of opposites that defines the nature and process of change and growth. It is a process of deep organic change in the structure of society that most characterizes the dark night of the collective soul.

A “two-fold process” of “universal fermentation” in every continent and every sphere of life (religious, social, economic or political) is, according to the Baha’i writings, “purging and reshaping humanity in anticipation of the Day when the wholeness of the human race will have been recognized and its unity established.”

This dual process is part of a collective pattern of growth characterized by “a series of pulsations, of alternating crises and triumphs,” forming “a dialectic of victory and crisis.” One aspect of the process is essentially integrative, striving to unify world systems, while the other is fundamentally disruptive, tending to oftentimes violently maintain the barriers that separate humanity, keeping it from its destined goal.

Humanity’s Rebirth

Ours is a time of one of humanity’s greatest transformations. We live in a world defined by the dramatic collapse of the old forms of society. This disintegrating force has made chaos the norm for the generations of the 20th and 21st centuries. Though this societal fermentation is a painful process, all of the elements that have been broken apart will gradually be reorganized and reformed into something entirely new.

Humanity’s story has taken this turn toward chaos and disintegration because it refuses to acknowledge and embrace the spiritually based principles meant to guide its own evolution into a new global era that demands cooperation and integration. A shortsighted and limited vision is holding humanity hostage.

The Way Forward

At the same time, a vast process of renewal is underway throughout the world. Our suffering is serving to purify and bring together the entire human race. Our dark night is changing us from one state of being to another. This is an inescapable part of our healing and rebirth.

The way forward may be through further pain and destruction. Yet this is what will finally bring the differences into sharper focus and help us learn to distinguish more clearly between poison and honey, dark and light, and illusion and reality.

The Promise of World Peace

In fact, as the recurring crises increase and intensify all around us, it is most important to maintain a focus on the whole overarching process that is indeed unfolding. The Baha’i writings provide this big picture, long-term perspective:

“The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divides and afflicts the human race is daily increasing… adversities unimaginably appalling, undreamed of crises and upheavals… might well combine to engrave in the soul of an unheeding generation those truths and principles which it has disdained to recognize and follow… Whether peace is to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity’s stubborn clinging to old patterns of behavior, or is to be embraced now by an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the earth… The current world confusion and calamitous condition in human affairs [is a] natural phase in an organic process leading ultimately and irresistibly to the unification of the human race in a single social order whose boundaries are those of the planet.”

The promise of world peace has been out there for millennia; it is up to us to bring it into reality. As a glimmer of the light at the end of the dark night begins to rise above the horizon, we must keep our eyes on this coming dawn, and on the signs of hope and progress we are witnessing.

Beneath the illusion of separation, humanity is one family. A global community with a consciousness of oneness is emerging. Don’t be distracted by seeming setbacks; hope is our inspiration, love our unifying force, and unity our ultimate destination. How we get there depends upon the stories we live by, and the action we take.

Robert Atkinson, PhD, author of The Story Of Our Time: From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness (Sacred Stories Publishing, February, 2017), from which this piece is adapted, and of which Michael Bernard Beckwith wrote, “A must-read by the widest of global audiences,” is professor emeritus at the University of Southern Maine, director of Story Commons, and the author of eight other books.

Eckhart Tolle: The Dark Night of the Soul

Published on Feb 10, 2016

A short clip of Eckhart Tolle discussing the Impersonal Nature of Awareness in Santa Barbara for Eckhart Tolle TV.

A Spiritual Journey by Susan Kapatoes, M.H.A.

Did you know? That we are powerful beings with the ability to use our inner strength for the benefit of humankind.

Throughout her life, Susan Kapatoes has felt moments of divine intervention – compelling events that caused her to remember and experience the omnipresent energy that is moving through our infinite universe and permeating our everyday lives.

A Spiritual Journey chronicles turning points in Kapatoes’s life. These are the unexpected moments that deeply touched her heart, revealing our existence extends far beyond the boundaries of the physical world. Stories of love, friendship, and difficulty are shared, along with those moments of grace, inviting the reader to expand his or her consciousness towards a greater reality.

Kapatoes shares the inner tools for igniting our own spiritual journey: sincerity, awareness, joy, and knowledge. We all have access to such tools. How we choose to use these instruments dictates the course of our own lives, and that of humanity. A Spiritual Journey empowers each of us to take positive action and awaken our own inherent wisdom.

Greetings to all 🙂 Throughout my life, I have had the unexpected opportunity to experience certain events that can be described as divine intervention. In a beneficial manner, I have been shown that we have a spiritual existence coinciding with our human reality. I felt compelled to write about these graceful times in order to help people expand their consciousness and connect to their own inner wisdom. We are powerful beings with the ability to awaken our inherent strength in a positive way. In “A Spiritual Journey”, I describe those moments of grace and share personal stories which have shaped my own life.

As a result of my life experiences, I like to write spiritual and nonfiction books with an uplifting theme. I have always been intrigued by success stories and understanding what drives people to find inner happiness.

In regards to my educational background, I hold a bachelor of science in Human Nutrition and a masters degree in Healthcare Administration management. As a complement to my formal learning, I have studied holistic medicine which utilizes a multidisciplinary approach in order to promote balance and optimal well-being in a person’s life.


A Spiritual Journey by Susan Kapatoes

Throughout her life, Susan Kapatoes has felt moments of divine intervention: powerful experiences that deeply touched her heart, revealing our existence extends far beyond the boundaries of the physical world. Stories of love, friendship, and spiritual grace are shared, along with those moments of doubt and uncertainty that beset any life.

Kapatoes shares the inner tools for igniting our own spiritual journey: sincerity, joy, a peaceful mind, and a strong spirit. We all have access to such tools. How we choose to use them dictates the course of our own lives, and that of humanity. A Spiritual Journey empowers each of us to take positive action and awaken our inner light and wisdom.

Is This My Dark Night of the Soul? Or just a case of the blues

illustration Credit: Glimmer by Amy Alice Thompson

I had wrestled with depression for 40 years. This was not depression.

Yes, some of the symptoms were the same: the lack of motivation, the boredom with hobbies, the never-ending fatigue. But the sadness was missing. So, in fact, was emotion of any kind. In its place were calm, stability, and clarity of thought that transcended feelings.

I wondered if I’d stumbled onto something that sages have written about for centuries: the dark night of the soul.

Today, many people use the phrase dark night of the soul to refer to an episode of depression. But experts who know both conditions take care to distinguish the two. John of the Cross, the sixteenth-century mystic, devoted a chapter of his classic Dark Night of the Soul to discerning the dark night from depression. Noted psychiatrist Gerald May, MD, has written extensively on the topic as well.

The distinction even shows up in research. A 2010 study in Transcultural Psychiatry, which focused on 10 Spanish nuns, observes:

The nuns’ descriptions of the Dark Night of the Soul coincide with Font’s … observations of the ‘salutary’ religious depression, which he differentiated from ‘pathological’ religious depression which is the domain of psychiatry. Although this salutary depression may share some symptoms with the pathological condition, the depressive symptoms could be the healthy expression of a process of spiritual growth.

Indeed, the nuns saw the dark night as indispensable to their growth. One sister, whose dark night lasted 10 years, told the researchers:

Given the option, I would not have avoided those many years of spiritual void and dissatisfaction, as they enabled me to become who I am today. I got rid of lots of baggage … so many imperfections! … I came out of it completely changed … it made me grow in my faith.

So how do you tell which is which? Gerald May suggests several differences. People in the dark night, he writes, tend to retain their sense of humor and compassion for others. Many continue to be effective in their daily lives. They often sense the value of the experience even as they endure it. None of these “symptoms” are typical of depression.

Still, the distinctions are subtle. To make things even more difficult, depression and the dark night can occur at the same time. My own dark night took place after two years of one life crisis after another—a seriously ill child, a nightmare job, elder care, marital stress—and the severe depression that accompanied them. When the cloud of depression lifted, however, that calm clarity was still there.

For months I reflected on this. I kept on doing what I needed to do, despite the fact that it brought me little happiness. And something began to dawn on me: I could live this way. I could do what my work, my family, and my soul asked of me, without emotion, and it would be OK—even fulfilling.

What lessons might emerge? As part of her dark night, Mother Teresa learned to identify deeply with the desperation and emptiness of the destitute people she served. As part of my dark night, I learned how thoroughly I often confused my emotions with reality; the lack of emotion allowed me to see the difference. Moreover, it helped me to see how the most valued gifts of the spiritual life—love, joy, peace—are not transitory feelings but rather states of being, permanent, available to us whenever we need them.

This knowledge has made me much more resilient in the face of the ups and downs of my emotional life. As it turns out, the Spanish nuns discovered the same thing: they used the lessons they’d learned in the dark night to manage the other stressors in their lives.

Unlike depression, which calls for treatment and recovery, the dark night invites us to explore, pay attention, make meaning—or, rather, let meaning emerge. So the next time the darkness comes, ask whether it’s depression, or something deeper, or both. Get the right help, and if you can find the riches within the experience, mine them and savor them for all they’re worth.
How to Learn from the Dark

Over the years, I’ve encountered several steps that have proved useful in living with dark nights:

Seek help. This always bears repeating: because depression can be dangerous, it’s best to start with a therapist to treat or rule out mental health issues. Beyond that, a wise guide of your choice—a spiritual director, shaman, guru, or even a close friend—can “listen with you” to your experience.

Ask questions of the darkness. Where is the Universe, or God, or your Higher Power in all this? What wisdom might the darkness have for you? Holding these questions in mind during meditation can yield more insights than you might expect. Journaling can encourage them to rise to the surface. So can going on retreat.

Read about others who have endured the dark.
My go-to book was Come Be My Light, a collection of Mother Teresa’s letters, which chronicles her 50-year dark night and the priceless lessons she learned from it. Writings like these can help you explore aspects of your experience that you might not have considered. Even better, they provide the comfort of knowing you’re not alone.

Keep moving. The point is not to distract yourself from the emptiness. Rather, you keep moving because you can still be productive even without feelings.

By: John Backman ~ Spirituality&health

The Stormy Search for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth Through Transformational Crisis by Christina Grof, Stanislav Grof (With)

Many people are undergoing a profound personal transformation associated with spiritual opening. Under favorable circumstances, this process results in emotional healing, a radical shift in values, and a profound awareness of the mystical dimension of existence. For some, these changes are gradual and relatively smooth, but for others they can be so rapid and dramatic that they interfere with effective everyday functioning, creating tremendous inner turmoil. Unfortunately, many traditional health-care professionals do not recognize the positive potential of these crises; they often see them as manifestations of mental disease and repsond with stigmatizing labels, suppressive drugs, and even institutionalization.

In The Stormy Search for the Self, Christina and Stanislav Grof, the world’s foremost authorities on the subject of spiritual emergence, draw on years of dramatic personal and professional experience with transformative states to explore these “spiritual emergencies,” altered states so powerful they threaten to overwhelm the individual’s oridinary reality. This book will provide insights, assurances, and practical suggestions for those who are experiencing or have experienced such a crisis, for their families and friends, and for mental-health professionals. It is also a valuable guide for anyone involved in personal transformation whose experiences, though generally untraumatic, may still at times be bewildering or disorienting.

Increasing numbers of people are experiencing “spiritual emergency”–a crisis that occurs when the process of growth and change becomes chaotic and overwhelming. Here, the pioneers of the field of spiritual emergency validate that such episodes have profoundly healing potential.

Christina Grof was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Her original career as a teacher of art was interrupted when a powerful spiritual experience during childbirth launched her into many years of emotional turmoil, later identified as the manifestations of Kundalini awakening. She taught Hatha-Yoga and was deeply influenced by Swami Muktananda Paramahansa, head of the Siddha-Yoga lineage; she was his student until his death in 1982.

Her own unusual experiences generated in her deep interest in nonordinary states of consciousness and transpersonal psychology. Together with her husband, Stanislav Grof, she has developed Holotropic Breathwork, an experimental technique of psychotherapy that combines controlled breathing, evocative music, and bodywork. She and her husband have also organized international transpersonal conferences in Boston, Melbourne, Bombay, and Santa Rosa, California.

Christina’s particular area of interest is the relationship between mysticism and psychosis. In 1980 she founded the spiritual emergence network, an international organization providing support for individuals undergoing transformative crises. More recently, her interest has extended into the area of the spiritual aspects of alcoholism and addiction. In the last decade she has conducted lectures and workshops in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. She is also co-author of the book Beyond Death.

Table of Contents

The Stormy Search For The Self Authors’ Note


The Uninvited Guest: Christina’s Story
God in the Laboratory: Stanislav’s Story

Part One: The Stormy Search for the Self
1. What is Spiritual Emergency?
2. The Dark Night of the Soul
3. Encountering the Divine
4. Varieties of Spiritual Emergency
5. Addiction as Spiritual Emergency

Part Two: Charts for the Inner Journey
6. Spiritual Lessons from the Other Times and Cultures
7. Modern Maps of Consciousness

Part Three: Living in Two Worlds
8. Strategies for Everyday Life
9. Guidelines for Family and Friends
10. Who Can Help and How?
11. The Homecoming

Spiritual Emergence and the Current Global Crisis

Appendix I
The Spiritual Emergence Network

Appendix II
A Vision for a Twenty-Four-Hour Care Center

Appendix III
Spiritual Emergency and Mental-Health Professionals


Christina Grof: Addiction, Attachment & Spiritual Crisis — Thinking Allowed w/ Jeffrey Mishlove

NOTE: This is an excerpt from the two-part, 60-minute DVD.…

Christina Grof describes her own struggle to overcome alcoholism and suggests that the impulse that leads to addictive behavior stems from our yearning for spiritual union. Crises of spiritual opening, she says, may often look like episodes of acute psychosis and are often difficult and even painful. Unlike psychosis, however, such crises can lead to higher states of personality integration.

Christina Grof is founder of the Spiritual Emergence Network. She is author of The Thirst for Wholeness, and is a developer, with husband Stanislav Grof, of Holotropic therapy.

The Sun at Midnight: A Memoir of the Dark Night by Andrew Harvey

Andrew Harvey’s celebrated book Hidden Journey chronicled the Oxford scholar’s departure from the materialistic doctrine of Western academia to his embrace of mystical Christianity. Shortly after Hidden Journey’s 1991 publication, however, Harvey experienced a schism with his then-guru that created shock waves throughout the spiritual world in which he is a leading mystical teacher.

Sun at Midnight is the story of Harvey’s efforts to pick up the pieces of his life, his faith, his marriage, and his sense of relationship to the Divine after a split that sent him reeling into depression, crisis, and fear for his life.

The book is based on the Christian concept of the “dark night of the soul,” whereby a part of oneself must die for a truer faith to be born. In “seven acts,” Sun at Midnight tells the story of Harvey’s break with the discipleship to which he had previously devoted his life; his struggle to understand whether those years were wasted in blind fantasy; his ultimate realization of the all-redeeming power of love; and his revolutionary leap into a new, more direct relationship to the Divine.

Andrew Harvey is an internationally acclaimed poet, novelist, mystical scholar, seeker, and teacher. He is the author of more than thirty books, including Son of Man, The Direct Path, Hidden Journey, The Way of Passion, The Return of the Mother, and A Journey in Ladakh.
Andrew Harvey – ‘The Death And The Birth’ – Interview by Iain McNay

Andrew Harvey ‘The Death And The Birth’ Interview by Iain McNay
Author of 30 books including ‘Hidden Journey,’ ‘The Hope,’ and his forthcoming book ‘Radical Passion’ talks about his life, his awakenings, his ‘dark nights’ and his work these days encouraging people to explore and engage in Sacred Activism. Talks about his time with Mother Meera, the importance of shadow work, and how as a human race we are right on edge of death, but also a new birth.
‘Compassion in Action is the marriage of practical action and spiritual wisdom to create a holy force capable of transforming our world crisis and preserving our planet.’

Living Your Supreme Destiny : The 8 Stages of Evolving ~ Jean Houston

1. Awakening
2. Purification
3. Illumination
4. Voices and Visions
5. Introversion
6. Ecstasy and Rapture
7. Dark Night of the Soul
8. Unitive Life

The first stage—Awakening—is one you may have already experienced, and it’s when you’re filled with the awareness that you are part of an enormous life in which everything is connected.

Then comes “Purification,” where I’ll take you through advanced processes to deeply remove the veils and obstruction of the ordinary, unexamined life.

You’ll be permanently released from old ways of being and able to recover your higher innocence.

The traditional third stage that comes next is “Illumination.” This is the light of bliss, often experienced as actual light, which literally pervades everything.

You’ll see beauty and meaning and pattern everywhere, yet remain who you are and able to go about your daily work!

This is also the stage that many artists, actors, writers, visionaries, scientists, and creative people are blessed to be able to access at times.

In the fourth stage of “Voices and Visions,” you’ll go beyond your five senses and interact with a much larger reality.

This larger reality experience may involve beings from different dimensions such as angels and archetypes, while also including those spiritual allies that lie within us that lead us to the unfolding of the unseen gifts we all contain.

Then comes “Introversion,” a turning to the inner life that includes silence in prayer and contemplation.

I’ll take you through some of the vast resources of spiritual technology to journey inward so you meet and receive reality in its fullness. The result is an integrated spiritual daily life that brings your inner and outer life together in a new way.

The sixth stage of “Ecstasy and Rapture” is when the divine presence meets the prepared body, mind, emotions, and psyche of the new you that’s fully developed.

At this point, you’ll be able to ecstatically receive the One and find the Spiritual Beloved. It involves decoding both the Art and Science of Happiness, and I’ll be providing you with an advanced toolkit to achieve this.

But alas, after all this joy and rapture, the seventh stage is the “Dark Night of the Soul,” which obeys the dictum that what goes up, must come down.

Suddenly the joy is gone, the Divine Love absent, God is hidden, and you must face the remaining shadows of old forms and habits of the lesser self.

The community support at this stage will be most crucial to midwife you through it and prepare you for the final stage.

And finally, the eighth stage is called the “Unitive Life.”

Here, you’ll exist in the state of union with the One Reality at all times. You will be both your one self and God.

I truly can’t emphasize enough how much of a life-altering, destiny-shaping process this is!

Over the decades, many of my students have had to travel long distances to receive the full guidance of moving through these 8 Stages of Evolving.

Those I’ve guided through this process have described feeling a sense that everything is possible. And indeed, once they go through the process and truly integrate it, they immediately experience life as a state of limitless possibilities.

They become world changers and world servers. They become powers for life, centers for energy, and partners and guides for spiritual vitality in other human beings.

They glow and they set others aglow. They’re no longer human beings as we’ve known them to be. They are living their supreme destiny . . .

And so can you.

To your life as an agent of change.

The Lessons Jean Houston Wants Everyone to Learn – Super Soul Sunday – Oprah Winfrey Network

What is the message Jean Houston most wants us all to know? Find out why she says we are all capable of handling the greatest challenges of our time. Then, watch as she turns the tables on Oprah and asks her one very important question: Where does she want to be at age 75?

Women Mystics and the Mystical Awakening

Wisdom University presents “Women Mystics and the Journey Toward Mystical Creativity” – taught by Jean Houston and Peggy Rubin. Excerpt from Day One – on Mystical Awakening.

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

From the New York Times bestselling author of An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark provides a way to find spirituality in those times when we don’t have all the answers.

Taylor has become increasingly uncomfortable with our tendency to associate all that is good with lightness and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness. Doesn’t God work in the nighttime as well? In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Taylor asks us to put aside our fears and anxieties and to explore all that God has to teach us “in the dark.” She argues that we need to move away from our “solar spirituality” and ease our way into appreciating “lunar spirituality” (since, like the moon, our experience of the light waxes and wanes). Through darkness we find courage, we understand the world in new ways, and we feel God’s presence around us, guiding us through things seen and unseen. Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most.

With her characteristic charm and literary wisdom, Taylor is our guide through a spirituality of the nighttime, teaching us how to find our footing in times of uncertainty and giving us strength and hope to face all of life’s challenging moments.

Barbara Brown Taylor’s last book, An Altar in the World, was a New York Times bestseller that received the Silver Nautilus Award in 2012. Her first memoir, Leaving Church, received an Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association and won the Theologos Award for best general interest book of 2006. Taylor spent fifteen years in parish ministry before becoming the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College, where she has taught world religions since 1998. She lives on a working farm in rural north Georgia with her husband Ed.

Click here to take a look inside.

Popular religious and spiritual teachers have a lot of positive things to say about “light” and “enlightenment,” but almost nothing to say about the value of “endarkenment.” Yet darkness plays an essential role in the spiritual life, especially when the well-lit structures of old-time religion are falling down. What might it mean to learn to walk in the dark? Could this be a skill that none of us can do without? Ordained Episcopal priest and memoirist Barbara Brown Taylor shares her personal spiritual journey of learning to walk in the dark outside of organized religion. Barbara Brown Taylor is the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College in rural northeast Georgia and currently a McDonald Lecturer at Emory University. An Episcopal priest since 1984, she is the author of 12 books, including the New York Times bestseller An Altar in the World. Her first memoir, Leaving Church, met with widespread critical acclaim. A book signing and reception on the plaza follows the program.

Perfect Madness: From Awakening to Enlightenment by Donna Lee Gorrell

The term “spiritual journey” is now almost a cliche, so it is a shock when one encounters the real thing. It was in 1972 that Donna Lee Gorrell made this astonishing and often harrowing nine-month passage that shattered all her concepts of mind and reality. It took her twenty years of contemplation and writing to gain the perspective she needed to describe it.

Driven by the flow of a primary energy force, she experienced bizarre physical symptoms, disorientation, trances and visions. She feared the disintegration that had befallen her schizophrenic mother, whom she remembered being taken from her home in a straightjacket. Donna Lee Gorrell’s passage was marked by a series of shattering insights and classic choices on the road to spiritual integration, which she amplifies and illuminates with crystalline confirmations by the masters of many mystical traditions.

Exquisitely observed and written, Perfect Madness is destined to be a spiritual classic in the tradition of best sellers such as Robert Monroe’s Journeys Out of the Body, and Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Donna Lee Gorrell, daughter of a famous jazz musician, grew up in Chicago. A spiritual explorer from an early age, she has practiced Zen meditation for many years and has read widely on the subject of Zen Buddhism. She lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago, Illinois

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The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong begins this spellbinding story of her spiritual journey with her departure in 1969 from the Roman Catholic convent she had entered seven years before — hoping, but ultimately failing, to find God. She knew almost nothing of the changed world to which she was returning, and she was tormented by panic attacks and inexplicable seizures.

Armstrong’s struggle against despair was further fueled by a string of discouragements — failed spirituality, doctorate, and jobs; fruitless dealings with psychiatrists. Finally, in 1976, she was diagnosed with epilepsy, given proper treatment, and released from her “private hell.” She then began the writing career that would become her true calling, and as she focused on the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, her own inner story began to emerge. Without realizing it, she had embarked on a spiritual quest, and through it she would eventually experience moments of transcendence — the profound fulfillment that she had not found in long hours of prayer as a young nun.

Powerfully engaging, often heartbreaking, but lit with bursts of humor, The Spiral Staircase is an extraordinary history of self.

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Armstrong: The Spiral Staircase

This is an excerpt from Karen Armstrong’s presentation on The Spiral Staircase from the Jesus Seminar (Westar Institute) Spring Meeting in 2004. For more information or to purchase the complete video, visit our website at or check out

Oprah sits down with Karen Armstrong—a former Roman Catholic nun and a world-renowned religious scholar—to discuss her memoir The Spiral Staircase. Karen reveals deep personal struggles that ultimately became steppingstones in her spiritual journey.

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