When you experience the dark night of the soul, you will feel a spiritual depression & existential crisis.
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Khalil Gibran
Although we are all born with Souls, not all of us know how to fully embody them and integrate them into our human experience. The truth is that in our modern world, we live Ego-centrically rather than Soul-centrically.
Mystics, saints, and shamans throughout history have referred to our struggle as humans in different ways – but they all pointed to the need for us to consciously grow into our divine potential.
These days, the concept of the Dark Night of the Soul has come to be used in a much broader way. What was once a term reserved for people actively going through a Spiritual Journey, now has come to easily label anything ranging from a few bad days and a period of depression to the death of a loved one.
But what really is the Dark Night of the Soul?
First, we’ll start with a basic definition:
What is the Dark Night of the Soul?
The Dark Night of the Soul is a period of utter spiritual desolation, disconnection, and emptiness in which one feels totally separated from the Divine. Those who experience the Dark Night feel completely lost, hopeless, and consumed with melancholy. The Dark Night of the Soul can be likened to severe spiritual depression.
7 Omens That Herald the Dark Night of the Soul
I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses. – Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
“What’s the difference between the dark night and depression?” you may still wonder.
Even back in the 16th century, Saint John of the Cross himself was at great pains to distinguish the Dark Night from mere melancholia (depression).
After all, the symptoms of the Dark Night of the Soul are not that different from depression. But while depression is psychological/neurological/biological, the Dark Night heralds a deeply occurring change within known as spiritual transformation.
Here are 7 “omens” that you might be going through a Dark Night of the Soul:
- You feel a deep sense of sadness, which often verges on despair (this sadness is often triggered by the state of your life, humanity, and/or the world as a whole)
- You feel an acute sense of unworthiness
- You have the constant feeling of being lost or “condemned” to a life of suffering or emptiness
- You possess a painful feeling of powerlessness and hopelessness
- Your will and self-control is weakened, making it difficult for you to act
- You lack interest and find no joy in things that once excited you
- You crave for the loss of something intangible; a longing for a distant place or to “return home” again
The ultimate difference between depression and the Dark Night of the Soul is that depression is usually self-centric, whereas the Dark Night is philosophical in nature and is accompanied by existential reflections such as “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?”
Also, when depression ends, not much changes in your life in terms of your beliefs, values, and habits. However, when the Dark Night of the Soul ends, everything in your life is transformed, and life becomes wondrous again.
Why Suffering is Necessary
My desire to live is as intense as ever, and though my heart is broken, hearts are made to be broken: that is why God sends sorrow into the world … To me, suffering seems now a sacramental thing, that makes those whom it touches holy … any materialism in life coarsens the soul. – Oscar Wilde “Letters“
Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dąbrowski coined a term Positive disintegration which views tension and anxiety as necessary in the process of spiritual and psychological maturing. In other words, it is the friction within us that causes the mirror of our Souls to be polished enough for us to glimpse our True Nature.