A Course of Love · ACOL

Overcoming Dark Nights of the Soul

“In order to experience the truth, you must move into a state that is real. Nothing is as real as everything, and is what some of you will or have experi¬enced as a “dark night of the soul.” To realize that you reside in nothingness is but the counterpart of realizing that there is an all to which you belong.” (ACOL, T1:5.8)

Probably none of us has escaped a dark night of the soul. Sometimes we are cracked open, and in the cracking, we are made more willing to listen to God. Indeed, the broken places then often become stronger because we have opened to God. Ernest Hemingway says, “And afterwards, many are strong at the broken places.” Hemingway was onto something.

Most of us have a secret hope that now that we are on the right pathway, we won’t have hard times anymore. No more dark nights of the soul. But we are bargaining with God when we think this, and usually we do keep these thoughts to ourselves. There are no guarantees. Pain comes to those who follow God’s Way, as well as to those who don’t. And bargaining, we know, is not the way we ought to commune with our God.

It is true that our pathway will have given us clues as to how to handle a dark night of the soul. We know that prayer works, and in this Treatise, we have learned that prayer and miracles and the art of thought are the same. We may not fully understand this yet, but we are getting there.

Our dark nights are also known as the “void.” And they may signal a period of growth for ourselves. None of us are beyond the human condition, though to encourage suffering would be foolishness, and this Treatise makes that clear. We have many false ideas about suffering, but when we are just ourselves, being who we are as the Self, we are eliminating the false egoic ideals that are a precondition to suffering.

If we encounter a dark night (which may happen, given this quotation for today), we are not to lament our fate or to rail against a God outside of ourselves. Our God is within, and He does not plan nor encourage suffering. Rest easy, know that this too shall pass, and then the bad time will dissipate into the mists from which it came.

Only when we are consistently in our right minds and hearts will we be beyond a dark night. And most of us have not reach such a condition yet. But we have made progress, and as we proceed, the times of darkness will diminish, and eventually pass away. Just be ourselves, just be who we are—no false personas here. And the blessings of God will shine away, with His Light, the bad times.

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the lessons that dark nights have taught me. But I would get beyond all of this now. And with You, helping me, this is possible. I do not bargain with You, though. This is foolishness.

Help me just to be myself, a whole rather than in parts, projecting different aspects of a self. When I am just myself, the precondition to suffering is gone, and with it, the dark night.

Amen.

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