Beyond the Dark Night of the Soul
Meeting with Gangaji.
San Diego, California - March 7, 1997
There is a particular snag in the spiritual investigation that must be unhooked, that must be unraveled. It's not a new one. You've certainly heard of it before. It is the tendency and the habit to look for truth or perfection or realization outside of oneself. It's important to understand how this comes about. Then maybe that understanding will be the means of unraveling this very tight snag.
An exquisite and important moment in a lifestream occurs when one recognizes the disgusting habits, the addictions, the horror, the violence, and the filth that one has called oneself. It is a great shock, a great shaking, and it is very important, otherwise, the horror and filth just continue to accumulate in the name and the exultation of "me" and "my story." This recognition is a spiritual shock, and there can be, and usually is, a great trembling, and then a desire to find what is true, what is real, what is pure, what is holy, what is free. So, the search begins "out there."
We have many exquisite examples of "out there." There have been sages and saints, messiahs, god women and god men throughout time who we can point to and say, "Ah, there it is. Why can't I get there?" Then there are many attempts to fix what was seen as disgusting and limited so that it can be like what is imagined to be pure and holy. All of you have tried this. Certainly this is not news, right? There is striving and working, a sense of gaining ground and sense of losing ground, until finally, there is another great spiritual shock. I call it "the great disillusionment." When it is recognized that all of the fixing of the character or the personality or the habits or the addictions still has not touched that seeming gulf of separation between who you are and the perfection itself, there is a great disillusionment. Such a gulf appears there. This is the soul's longing for God. And you see clearly that all of the scrambling and gaining and climbing up the ladders still hasn't touched the depth of this longing. This is crucial. This is the dark night of the soul. It is the recognition;
I will never be able to do it. I've tried, I've worked, but I will never be able to do it.
There are many, many avenues away from this moment. You might encourage yourself with thoughts like,
Yes, you can do it. Just wait, God will come for you. Try harder. Stick to it.
But I invite you, rather than taking any of those avenues, to actually allow yourself to fall onto this double-edged sword of disillusionment and longing. Fall right through the middle so that the sword rips apart this sense of a gulf of separation. Fall right into the gulf.
Refuse to take any avenue of comfort or hope or at this point, even belief. Actually be willing to meet the sword, to have it rip open your heart.
This is the true invitation of satsang. It is a radical invitation. It is an acceptance of not moving from the longing, from the disillusionment, to see, Who am I, really? What is really here? It is an acceptance to see what is deeper than what is perceived, what is deeper than what is sensed. It is an acceptance to die. All of the conditioning is not to die. All of the support and the hope and the belief is, I won't die, or If I die, I'll go to heaven where I'll meet my grandmother, or my friends who went before me. Under all of these hopes and beliefs is this longing. I invite you to fall into that longing. Not into the story of the longing, but into the longing itself. It is not separate from the disillusionment. True disillusionment is holy. Illusion is wiped out. What cannot be imagined, what is not subject to the mind's simulation, reveals itself.
While it is awesome to meet some person or some moment that can shake loose the illusion, and while that cannot help but be revered, it is very important to see how the individual mind creates a gulf of separation. All of the greatest teachers have said, "You and I are one," or "I and my father are one," or "All is the one Self." It is ironic how the mind takes that and makes it into an illusion of separation; He and his father are one. She and they are the same. All is one, except for me, and I am left out. It's familiar, isn't it? These habits of thought are strong, and even with the best intentions, they get reinforced. In the willingness to stop feeding these habits of thought, the longing and the disillusionment are faced directly, much as Christ on his cross faced the apparent abandonment of God.
This is open to everyone. Somehow, to some degree or another, you have accepted the invitation. There is always more. Come in more deeply, more deeply, until finally, you can find no distinction between in and out, between the father and the child, between God and soul, between you and me. This is the possibility that the invitation to satsang reveals. This is your possibility. It is not limited to Buddha or Christ. It is not limited to Ramana. It is not limited to Gangaji. It is not limited, and that is the greatest teaching. It is limitless. God's presence is omnipresent, everywhere, every time.
This is the promise of all great teachings. It is the message that my guru's guru transmitted to him. It is the message that my guru transmitted to me. It is the message that is freely transmitted to you. It is the message that comes from the core of your being. To simply receive what is already in the core of your being is the willingness to come in. Not some other time, but now, always now. So I welcome you. I welcome you in. What appears to be out is also in.
Two weeks ago I didn't know what satsang or Gangaji was. But when I saw your tape and I looked into your eyes, the longing was fulfilled. I didn't see form, I saw my heart.
Very lucky that the longing was so close, so close that it was no longer hidden. Somehow it burst forth to find itself.
Fortysome years of longing . . .
Oh, forty million years! Truly, much more than this lifetime. You don't even have to subscribe to reincarnation. Our genes are encoded with the lifetimes of our ancestors and the desires and the fulfillment and the disappointments of forty million years, at least.
What you just said was perfect. It described the journey. I was terrified two weeks ago when I had to completely face the terror of falling on that sword . . . and it was . . . all of the terror passed away. It is a great lie that we are this small imagined concept. Up until that moment, the terror was just a thought, it was just a story, something I had to cross. And I'm so glad.
I am so glad! What good news!
That depth terrified me, because I didn't know who I was, and I was so afraid to experience what was on the other side of that. It came on the heels of a total reckoning with being left and abandoned. What I had imagined is that I would die, and in a sense, I did. But the way is through it. I'm so grateful that I trusted enough and saw that the invitation was to receive, to surrender into that which we are. Until that moment of surrender . . . sweet, sweet surrender . . . I had never known surrender in my life. So I am so grateful I heard your cry. I don't experience you in form; I experience my heart in you.
Yes, your heart there, and your heart here. Oh, this is such good news for the whole planet. The reverberations of this good news are immense. The whole cosmos participates in this awakening.
So now I walk as lover, rather than trying to be loved, and the deeper longing-because it does get deeper-is that those who come in my presence will also experience you there.
Oh, hallelujah. That's right. May all Being awaken to itself.
The resting is profound.
I love you.