The Dark Night of the Soul

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Seva
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The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by Seva »

I am in need of some advice please. I am almost 2 years sober, I have worked the steps & do regular service. I would sy that I am a very spiritual person but not religious. However, I came to believe in a power greater than myself which I refer to as God. I see God as source energy that we are all connected to & I am a firm believer that the Ego separates us from God. I have studied various spiritual paths although not in depth such as Buddhism, Zen & I love the work of Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer amongst other spiritual teachers.

Recently I have been really looking into the Ego & reading various books on the topic. A New Pair of Glasses by Chuck C describes how he believes the Ego is the one & only problem & I do truly believe this. Harry Tiebout who had strong links to AA said that he believed the 12 Steps brought about a complete deflation of the Ego.

With all this studying of the Ego & looking at Steps 4 through to 9 of the program I have started to see how we are all just a bundle of labels, beliefs & stories that result in our behaviour some of which is undesirable. I can see people suffering due to the Ego & spending their whole life chasing after happiness from materialistic things & this is having me contemplating what is the point in our existence.

I have started to feel really despondent as if I have lost my direction in life. I can feel my faith in God diminishing & I am actually contemplating whether God even exists. I this I know is dangerous where us alcoholics are concerned. It feels as if there is a darkness over me.

I have always been familiar with the term The Dark Night of the Soul which is also known as Spiritual depression & wondered if I am going through some kind of similar thing? I am certain it isn't the usual depression as I have suffered from that before & it doesn't feel the same.

I am trying to look at what I am feeling as something I need to go through & maybe it is the plan of my HP. I am pushing on with my meetings & trying to reconnect with my HP hoping this feeling shall pass.

Has anyone else experienced this?

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Brock
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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by Brock »

I can’t say that I have experienced quite the same thing, and always thought the dark night referred to the period when we had been beaten so badly we finally surrender. But this has opened my eyes to the possibility that I am wrong, it’s a very important thing to post about, but unfortunately I have found not too many AA’s realize that.

I don’t believe as Harry Tiebout did that the steps offer a complete deflation of the ego, they do deflate it to some extent, but it has taken me reading of Tolle, (who you mention), to see that I had a long way to go in that department. I also tried reading a few other spiritual writers, but found myself getting confused and not really advancing, I am a believer that following one main teacher is best.

Our literature speaks of times when we sort of revolt spiritually and find we want nothing to do with spiritual matters for a while, there seems to be a lot of three steps forward two back sort of thing. But for me looking at where I was three years ago when I first opened a Tolle book and where I am now, I can see a very great advancement in my attitude towards life, and a contentment I enjoy very much. My study is really only when I feel like it I read, maybe a few times each week for an hour or less, if I don’t feel like doing it it’s almost a waste of time, and reading slowly with stops to ponder the meaning has been the key. It’s been three years with just two books, but some folks will take literature like this and read it in one weekend and say they don’t find it helps, I am not saying you have done that but I have met those in meetings and on here who have, so I am just mentioning it.

I sincerely hope the darkness you are experiencing lifts soon, until it does have faith that it will, the sort of pursuit of spiritual enlightenment you are on is unfortunately rarely seen in AA and one wonders why, the program introduces us to it but says we must advance our knowledge using other books as you are doing. I have a picture I will attach which speaks about us feeling badly at certain times.


Right Spirit..jpg
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innermost
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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by innermost »

Hello seva

Nice to read your experience.
In my own life I go through seasons.
Like Winter gives way to Spring and new growth
my life can go through times that seem dark and it
can be a great time for deep introspection and inventory.
The dark days have always passed and given way to new growth
and I even look forward to these dark days and find I certain
strength and peace in them, knowing that the Light of Day
is on it's way.
This can be a time of building faith and then trust in a HP
and the workings of the uni-verse.

While all along discovering how the ego likes to operate creating fears.
Last edited by innermost on Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
The first 164 pg. is the program!

Seva
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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by Seva »

Brock wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:18 am
I can’t say that I have experienced quite the same thing, and always thought the dark night referred to the period when we had been beaten so badly we finally surrender. But this has opened my eyes to the possibility that I am wrong, it’s a very important thing to post about, but unfortunately I have found not too many AA’s realize that.

I don’t believe as Harry Tiebout did that the steps offer a complete deflation of the ego, they do deflate it to some extent, but it has taken me reading of Tolle, (who you mention), to see that I had a long way to go in that department. I also tried reading a few other spiritual writers, but found myself getting confused and not really advancing, I am a believer that following one main teacher is best.

Our literature speaks of times when we sort of revolt spiritually and find we want nothing to do with spiritual matters for a while, there seems to be a lot of three steps forward two back sort of thing. But for me looking at where I was three years ago when I first opened a Tolle book and where I am now, I can see a very great advancement in my attitude towards life, and a contentment I enjoy very much. My study is really only when I feel like it I read, maybe a few times each week for an hour or less, if I don’t feel like doing it it’s almost a waste of time, and reading slowly with stops to ponder the meaning has been the key. It’s been three years with just two books, but some folks will take literature like this and read it in one weekend and say they don’t find it helps, I am not saying you have done that but I have met those in meetings and on here who have, so I am just mentioning it.

I sincerely hope the darkness you are experiencing lifts soon, until it does have faith that it will, the sort of pursuit of spiritual enlightenment you are on is unfortunately rarely seen in AA and one wonders why, the program introduces us to it but says we must advance our knowledge using other books as you are doing. I have a picture I will attach which speaks about us feeling badly at certain times.



Right Spirit..jpg
Thank you for your reply. You are correct in that the dark night can also mean a type of 'rock bottom' where we surrender. I think it can refer to various things dependant on where you are in your journey.

Yeah I think it's impossible to completely deflate the ego, maybe I quoted that incorrectly. However, there is or should be a big deflation in Ego & the first stage of this is Step 1 with surrender. I love Tolle books & a lot of what he says resonates with me. I find some spiritual writers to be hard to understand & I end up getting confused or reading conflicting things. I think this can be my problem sometimes with trying to take too much information in over a short period of times. I have 3 books that have short meditations in that I read each morning which I find a compliment to the program & just enough spirituality to start my day.

I do feel better today to be honest thank you. I am putting my faith into my HP & one thing that I listened to yesterday from an AA speaker which sent a shiver down my spine was something along the lines of this. "In the Step 3 prayer you say "God, I offer myself to Thee to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt" this means that you have given God the permission to give you what he thinks you need & this maybe not the things you think that you do need & some of these things may feel uncomfortable but you should try to have faith that its for the greater good even though it may not feel like it at the present time"

That picture is amazing thank you! I can relate to this & the wrong spirit getting nervous is the Ego!

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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by Seva »

innermost wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:32 am
Hello seva

Nice to read your experience.
In my own life I go through seasons.
Like Winter gives way to Spring and new growth
my life can go through times that seem dark and it
can be a great time for deep introspection and inventory.
The dark days have always passed and given way to new growth
and I even look forward to these dark days and find I certain
strength and peace in them, knowing that the Light of Day
is on it's way.
This can be a time of building faith and then trust in a HP
and the workings of the uni-verse.

While all along discovering how the ego likes to operates creating fears.
Thank you for this & yeah the analogy of seasons I can relate to. I try to look at these dark times as periods of growth the same as from from suffering we grow too.

Yes, I believe what I am feeling is the ego's fear!

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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by Pamela J »

Hello, Seva ~

"Don't give up 5 minutes before the *next* miracle happens."

..."& this is having me contemplating what is the point in our existence." Good question - same question I had, and many others through the ages! The Way to the Answer IS in AA:

"We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us." BB Ch. 4

On the "top-side" of AA, "Acceptance is the answer; willingness the key." On the underbelly of AA, "Awareness is the answer; willingness to see, the key."

You have studied about Ego but have you *experienced*/become aware of the separation of you and Ego?

I first saw it when getting sober. *I* desired not to drink, but there was another 'thought pool' that said things like, "Who do you think you are thinking AA will work for you?" "You *know* you can't do life without alcohol!" "AA is soooo hard...one drink will take the edge off."

I knew those thoughts were not coming from ME. AA had promised to restore me to sanity...and I thought I was going the rest of the way 'round the bend. But I was also fascinated. :) Who knew there was more than just me in my head? AA, truly, is an 'inside job'.

Yes, I hit what I called a 'sober bottom' in my third year sober. It was a misery that was worse than my drunk bottom. Spent 3 mths there until the 'way out' came about.

My suggestion is to Trust that the Great Reality is Within. Ask for a situation where you can "see" the separation of your thinking and Ego thoughts.

Then Trust that there is More. Don't give up...no matter what the 'Ego within' says. It helped me to think of Ego as an entity who was cut off from the Light. It was suggested to me not to hate it but to seek Understanding.

Feed Hope,

Pamela J

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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by avaneesh912 »

In the book Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, the first chapter is titled "You are not your Mind". The first 3 chapters are great ones to return back to until the concepts sink in. In the Book A New Earth he talks about "Voice in the head".

What a liberation to realize that "The voice in the head is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees it!". Meditate upon those statements. You will get relief.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

Seva
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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by Seva »

Pamela J wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:02 am
Hello, Seva ~

"Don't give up 5 minutes before the *next* miracle happens."

..."& this is having me contemplating what is the point in our existence." Good question - same question I had, and many others through the ages! The Way to the Answer IS in AA:

"We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us." BB Ch. 4

On the "top-side" of AA, "Acceptance is the answer; willingness the key." On the underbelly of AA, "Awareness is the answer; willingness to see, the key."

You have studied about Ego but have you *experienced*/become aware of the separation of you and Ego?

I first saw it when getting sober. *I* desired not to drink, but there was another 'thought pool' that said things like, "Who do you think you are thinking AA will work for you?" "You *know* you can't do life without alcohol!" "AA is soooo hard...one drink will take the edge off."

I knew those thoughts were not coming from ME. AA had promised to restore me to sanity...and I thought I was going the rest of the way 'round the bend. But I was also fascinated. :) Who knew there was more than just me in my head? AA, truly, is an 'inside job'.

Yes, I hit what I called a 'sober bottom' in my third year sober. It was a misery that was worse than my drunk bottom. Spent 3 mths there until the 'way out' came about.

My suggestion is to Trust that the Great Reality is Within. Ask for a situation where you can "see" the separation of your thinking and Ego thoughts.

Then Trust that there is More. Don't give up...no matter what the 'Ego within' says. It helped me to think of Ego as an entity who was cut off from the Light. It was suggested to me not to hate it but to seek Understanding.

Feed Hope,

Pamela J
Thanks for your reply Pamela
"Don't give up 5 minutes before the *next* miracle happens."
I like this :)
You have studied about Ego but have you *experienced*/become aware of the separation of you and Ego?
I am aware of the illusion that the Ego projects which creates the sense of 'ME' 'MINE' & 'MY'. Which creates the sense of separation & thus fear based thinking which results in a lot of our self centred behaviour. However, I do not think I have experienced true ego-less. I think for the moment awareness of the Ego is key & I think the awareness that can see the Ego is my true self.

I am aware that I can spend literally hours in a state of been totally identified with the Ego. I am currently concentrating on cultivating mindfulness to hopefully become more present & have longer spells of disidentifying with the Ego.
I first saw it when getting sober. *I* desired not to drink, but there was another 'thought pool' that said things like, "Who do you think you are thinking AA will work for you?" "You *know* you can't do life without alcohol!" "AA is soooo hard...one drink will take the edge off."
It's truly amazing when we realise that those thoughts, that internal dialogue is not actually 'I' & we are the witness, the pure awareness that observes these thoughts. This is the first step to liberation & the hold those thoughts have on us. Those same thoughts, that same voice is the one that harbours all those resentments & fears.
My suggestion is to Trust that the Great Reality is Within. Ask for a situation where you can "see" the separation of your thinking and Ego thoughts.

Then Trust that there is More. Don't give up...no matter what the 'Ego within' says. It helped me to think of Ego as an entity who was cut off from the Light. It was suggested to me not to hate it but to seek Understanding.
Yes I have spent the last couple of days trying to 'witness' these thoughts & feelings & I truly believe that it has been my Ego trying to trick me, as we know alcohol & the Ego can be cunning, powerful & baffling! I do feel a lot better today & I feel like I am reconnecting to my HP. Maybe it was a test, maybe a lesson. Who knows but I know for sure faith & awareness is the key.

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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by Seva »

avaneesh912 wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:23 am
In the book Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, the first chapter is titled "You are not your Mind". The first 3 chapters are great ones to return back to until the concepts sink in. In the Book A New Earth he talks about "Voice in the head".

What a liberation to realize that "The voice in the head is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees it!". Meditate upon those statements. You will get relief.
Both brilliant book & I find I have to read them over & over again as my spirituality grows & flourishes. I think what I call The Dark Night of the Soul can be when the Ego is literally fighting to survive for its place in our head because as you say we are not that voice we are the one that witnesses it. I can see this more & more each day & I can also see it in others. I have never tried mediating on that but I shall. I have listened to a few Youtube videos about self enquiry & meditating on the thought 'Who am I'. The late Ramana Maharshi made this statement famous.

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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by tomsteve »

i believe one of the greatest things ive read from dr bob is this:

There are two or three things that flashed into my mind on which it would be fitting to lay a little emphasis. One is the simplicity of our program. Let's not louse it all up with Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind, but have very little to do with our actual A.A. work. Our Twelve Steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words “love” and “service.” We understand what love is, and we understand what service is. So let's bear those two things in mind.

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Brock
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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by Brock »

We may want to keep it simple indeed, but discussing spiritual books and spiritual experiences is certainly not engaging in - “Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind, but have very little to do with our actual A.A. work.”  

The Big Book speaks of the need for spiritual advancement in many places, here are a few -”For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life ….All went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life.” And with a little emphasis added - “The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines.  The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection."

The principles are guides to progress, in the chapter ‘Into Action’ they advise on a way we might make this progress by telling us - "There are many helpful books also." We are discussing some of those books and our experience of spiritual growth, and if Dr. Bob were here I expect he would happily join in.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by Seva »

Brock wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:41 am
We may want to keep it simple indeed, but discussing spiritual books and spiritual experiences is certainly not engaging in - “Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind, but have very little to do with our actual A.A. work.”  

The Big Book speaks of the need for spiritual advancement in many places, here are a few -”For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life ….All went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life.” And with a little emphasis added - “The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines.  The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection."

The principles are guides to progress, in the chapter ‘Into Action’ they advise on a way we might make this progress by telling us - "There are many helpful books also." We are discussing some of those books and our experience of spiritual growth, and if Dr. Bob were here I expect he would happily join in.
My personal opinion is that the program & steps work wonders & get straight to the spiritual sickness. However, as you have brilliantly stated there is a lot more that we can learn & we are actually encouraged to do so. I think in my case though we should try not to overwhelm ourselves with the books, teachers, teachings available to us which is extremely extensive.

I find myself trying to consume too much information. A good example of this is a book I bought a few months ago. It was by William James & called The Varieties of Religious Experience. William James is mentioned in Chapter Spiritual Experience of the BB. When I spotted William James name I purchased the book. This book is very difficult to read but loos extremely interesting. However, I just found it too difficult due to the language used. I am hoping to revisit it again one day when I am hoping it may make more sense.

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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by avaneesh912 »

We can find solace throwing ourselves into service and be engaged in meetings. But at one point we have to deal with ourselves. Thats were these hunger for seeking this spiritual knowledge and experience peace is rewarding. For me the teachings of Eckart Tolle has had deep impact. The chapters Consciousness-The way out of Pain was a gate way to a deeper understanding on how our human mind operates, so I could distance myself out when the committee in the head gets noisy.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by DaveP1951 »

This whole “ego” thing really threw me for a loop in my first years of Recovery. It just seemed like a too complicated and deep a concept to get my mind around. What helped me understand ego in it’s simplicity is this. When dealing with the word ego I found out it manifests in two forms. Egotism and egoism. Egotism refers to the “egotist” feeling superior to others physically, intellectually or in some other way. "Egoism" is a preoccupation with oneself, but not necessarily feeling superior to others. Put a simple way Egotism is “thinking a lot of yourself” whereas Egoism is “thinking of yourself a lot.” I believe most of us are more of the Egoism type that think way too much about how certain outcomes will affect us. A form of self-centeredness which our literature calls the “root of our problems.” Very tough to overcome when “I” am the one “I” am with all day. By constantly thinking about myself, the very ego I was trying to defeat, I was feeding and giving strength.
Last edited by DaveP1951 on Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Dark Night of the Soul

Post by Db1105 »

Just because I feel that I am not growing spiritually, doesn't mean I'm not growing spiritually. My Sponsor repeatedly had to remind me that you don't get 5 years of sobriety until the earth goes around the sun five times. My biggest spiritual hurtle was when I stopped trying to get sober, and just started living sober. Also for me, I found that a nice long hike brought more spiritual solace that sitting down reading about it.

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