Friday, November 4, 2011

Shadow Material related to the Dark Night?

I was listening to the Buddhist Geek podcasts with Willoughby Britton about her research into the Dark Night phenomenon.  She doesn't get into details of the maps of the meditative path, but in the Theravada Progress of Insight, this is a period that follows attainment of the 4th nana aka the Arising & Passing, which is often a big experience of love, bliss, and lights.

This is perhaps the first attempt to take a scholarly approach to this whole phenomenon and is formally known as the Adverse Effects and Difficult Stages of the Contemplative Path Research Project.

In the wake of my recent experiences with the psychological shadow, I'm tentatively beginning to wonder if dark night experience is in some way related to shadow psychological material. 

The Dark Night by the nanas:

  • 5th nana - Dissolution
  • 6th nana - Fear
  • 7th nana - Misery
  • 8th nana - Disgust
  • 9th nana - Desire for Deliverance
The shadow is material that society more or less forces us to repress.  Viewing it indeed creates feelings of fear, misery, disgust, and desire for deliverance.

My view of both meditation and use of psychedelics is that we start at the surface level of the mind, where everything is tied up tight, although not necessarily neatly.  With higher doses of meditation or psychedelics (for me the range of say 0.7 to 3.0 grams of dried psilocybe cubensis) the various bindings unravel and one enters a deeper territory where shadow material is uncovered.  At still higher doses of meditation or psychedelics (say 3.5 grams or more for me) one goes deeper, beyond the level of repressed emotions, and so this is a level of great freedom.  This might happen during a big experience of the 4th nana, or on a high dose of psychedelics.  Sometimes I notice that after a very pleasant experience of oneness, during the slow comedown I slide back down the scale into shadow material, and perhaps this is similar to what happens in meditation after realizing the 4th nana.  The Yogi has opened up deeper layers of the mind that must be dealt with.

I experienced the shadow again after my last post, and every time it becomes more  pleasant to hang out with.  I would encounter the anima in various forms, and as I got more comfortable with it, my identity and the identity of the anima would become confused, merging and flipping.  Am I looking at it, or at myself?  Both?  Neither?  Whatever - just be okay with it all.

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