Philosophy

This Is The World’s Dark Night Of The Soul

The union of science and spirituality has never been more important [Credit: Elena Mozhvilo]

Now is a time of global emergency. But this isn’t cause for despair. Emergencies require urgent attention and often cause panic. Yet emergencies offer opportunities to learn, evidenced by the Latin etymology of emergere: to arise, or bring to light.

Our collective response to the current coronavirus pandemic has the potential to drastically alter the future of humanity and lead to lasting change. What is brought to light emerges from the shadows, and at a time of collective crisis, a spiritual emergence is possible.

In my presentation at SAND Italy 2019, Welcome to the Age of Re-Enchantment, I argued that the individual awakening process is mirrored in the collective, as the Hermetic principle as above, so below suggests. Each individual awakening is a microcosm of the macrocosm, and the Earth as a whole is undergoing a powerful shift in evolution.

I see patterns of Carl G. Jung’s process of individuation in this current pandemic. Less than a year ago, while enjoying the Italian rays and beautiful surroundings, I didn’t expect “collective awakening” would manifest so abruptly and so quickly. Yet as events unfold, it’s clear the content of the collective have to emerge, to be brought to light.

As someone who’s awakening consisted of depression, psychosis, and severe anxiety, I can vouch individuation (the path of becoming your authentic, unique self) isn’t easy. It’s only when we reach breaking point that growth truly begins. Globally, we’ve reached breaking point. But any breakdown can lead to a breakthrough.

Shadow Work On A Global Scale

The organic unfurling of individuation is messy, evidenced by Jung’s emphasis on shadow work. Just as any individual has to face the deepest, darkest elements of the psyche to grow into fullness, so does society as a whole. As this global emergency unfolds, the insufficiency of outdated ways of being and spiritual malnourishment is painfully clear.

Our collective response is vital. Any individual can choose to protest and resist, the organic unfurling of contents from what Jung calls the unconscious. The ego always will protest, because it is painful, because it takes courage, because it threatens the identity formed at the earlier stages of growth. Resistance, however, only causes more suffering.

Life’s natural flow, that reason, logic and rationality pushed back into the shadows, is bursting through the illusion, just as the authentic self bursts into the subjective psyche and has to be integrated.

The current collective ego identity, along with the systems and structures built in its image, has to move aside. This identity is heavily influenced by the 17th century age of enlightenment and emphasis on the intellect and reason. Stripped of intuition, instinct and sensing, our society reflects a worldwide consensus of mistaken identity. 

As Jung notes, civilization disconnected us from our true nature. Because of this, false beliefs about who we are, how we relate, and limitations on our potential have to be unlearned. Life’s natural flow, that reason, logic and rationality pushed back into the shadows, is bursting through the illusion, just as the authentic self bursts into the subjective psyche and has to be integrated.

This global reset can be a doorway to an enchanted way of living, aligned with planet Earth and our organic spiritual nature. If we learn from it. If we don’t resist. If we integrate the lessons nature is currently humbling us with.

The Spiritual Lessons To Learn

The evaporation of the collective dream has pulled the rug from under our feet. These are rich sacred waters, for the common illusion — what Buddhist call maya — is paused. Conceptual realities are exposed, as are concepts of borders, certainty, fixed, permanent things. The collective unconscious is coming to light and with it comes uncertainty and fear.

The disintegration of the illusion is a collective ego death, an identity crisis of the masses. This paradigm shift is temporary, but there’s much to learn. Do we choose to return to the old and familiar? Or can we take lessons from this temporary new world, to create a future world more aligned?

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”

JOseph Campbell

These are the questions facing us. At a time when distracting ourselves from ourselves has never been easier, we’ve suddenly been thrust into self-isolation, unable to escape ourselves, unable to escape nature’s evolution and yearning for fullness.

We are being forced into presence because future projections are too painful to bear. We are being forced to consider essentials because there’s no guarantee supermarket shelves are full. We are being forced to consider simplicity as we are confined to our homes and limited in options.

Above all else we’re forced to confront the unconscious, as painful and raw it may be. The big questions cannot be avoided. We must approach mortality, loss, what it means to be human, truly human. In Chinese, “crisis” is made of two characters: one for danger, one for opportunity. Now is an opportune moment to reassess our values, individually and collectively.

Joseph Campbell wrote: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” More than ever, we must choose love and togetherness, as we choose to care for those close to us, for ourselves, for those less fortunate. We must build resilience in the face of fear and have the courage to act against it. Only then, do we find the treasure.

The Union of Science And Spirituality

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” — Albert Einstein.

The union of science and spirituality has never been more important. We are waiting with bated breath on the sharp minds of the world’s scientists to find a vaccine, to prevent spread, to inform us of practices such as social distancing and self-isolation, to tell us when our lives can return to normal.

Yet science is exposed for its insufficiency in confronting matters of the human spirit. Spiritual practice nourishes the realm of emotional, mental, spiritual health. Not as empty concepts or platitudes but genuine, verifiable techniques and approaches. Here, there is reassurance. Spiritual practice is a soothing balm in times of crisis. It won’t stop the spread of a global pandemic, but it can ease global panic.

Evolution is spiritual, not material, and the fabric of existence is immaterial, unseen, benevolent. Consciousness is the guiding principle, not something born from matter via happenstance. Has this mysterious cosmic mind led us here to learn a valuable lesson?

Unless we are so flippant with our own faith and divinity that we reject it during times of hardship and despair, we must accept this. Speaking from experience, it’s exactly these Dark Nights of the Soul that bring faith to the surface. Psalms 23:4 states: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Make no mistake, this is the walk we are on. It’s easy for fear and powerlessness to take control. Yet, we return to love and return to faith. And thanks to technology, we can still serve during times of self-isolation. All over the world people are connected, logging into webinars for meditation, yoga. Our natural response is to turn to these ancient tools in times of need.

There must be a tipping point, when the number of individuals birthing into a new reality becomes the majority. This is required to create lasting change on a global scale. The response to lean on ancient spiritual technology during this Dark Night could be the domino effect the world needs for radical change.

The (Re)union Of Spirit And Matter

For any individual, a spiritual awakening can be a gradual or sudden realisation of the metaphysical riches of reality, that which is delicate and obscure. But what would a global spiritual awakening look like? Marie-Louise von Franz, a Swiss Jungian analyst, summarises the potential for finding a new where the spiritual and the material come together:

“Spirit and matter are two unknown realms of existence which we call inner and reality. We have to make such a dualistic distinction because there are two archetypes at work—father-spirit and mother-matter… The rationalism of the seventeenth century thus had one advantage after all; it drove father-spirit and mother-matter so far apart that now we can reunite them in a cleaner way.”

Now is the opportunity to reunite matter and spirit. At a time when handshakes are off-limits, science and spirituality can march forwards hand-in-hand, through the shadow of death, to explore new horizons, to bond over the crumbling, antiquated empire-of-what-was, to combat danger and seize opportunity, to dare to dream of the phoenix rising, the new dawn, the emergence of a new future.


Published by Ricky

mm
Writer. Coach. I'm devoted to understanding the human psyche and spiritual growth. Undergoing a life-long process of minding my ego.

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