Author Fiona Robertson joins Zahra Achouak in Amsterdam to talk about her new book, The Dark Night of the Soul: A Journey from Absence to Presence. In the beautiful surroundings of the Buurtboerderij, Zahra and Fiona discuss many aspects of the dark night journey, including falling apart, the nature of the persona, the feeling of pain, and discovering the hidden parts of ourselves.
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The Emperors Are Naked, As Are We All
The world itself appears to be in the throes of a dark night. The old structures, now demonstrably rotten, are falling apart. The nakedness of the emperors and their courtiers has been exposed, despite their desperate attempts to persuade us of the finery of their clothing. 
The Dark Night of the Soul, Afterword, page 157
There are so many teachings, teachers and practices out there in the “spiritual marketplace.”
How do we find our way through the maze?
How do we discern what is right for us and avoid what may be unhealthy or even damaging?
At this online book launch, Jen and Fiona talk about many aspects of the dark night of the soul, including the falling apart of the mask or adapted self, the pull to withdraw from the matrix of oppression, the challenge of staying with our nervous systems, and the richness of deep honesty. This discussion will be of interest to anyone who is going through or has gone through a dark night of the soul, spiritual emergency or crisis, or some kind of awakening journey.
“The shame of being me was a frequent visitor during my dark night…It felt shameful to have all these feelings. The shame was difficult to feel, not least because it felt endemic to my whole being. Every cell of my body, every memory, felt shaped by humiliation. It had misshapen my whole being.”
The Dark Night of the Soul, page 81.
A few years ago, during the bedraggled final tatters of our relationship, my ex-partner and I were out walking our dog when we got into yet another heated argument. I can’t even remember now what we were disagreeing about, but as he asserted his view I asked, ‘But how do you know that’s actually the case?’
He replied, angrily and brim-full of conviction: “I know that’s how it is, because I AM RIGHT!”
History was my favourite subject at school. Until I was seventeen, I assumed that everything I read was fact. Just as the dates and names of kings and queens were beyond question, so too was everything else I had learnt. So it was profoundly shocking to read Edward Hallett Carr’s book What Is History?
Nearly ten years ago, my life fell apart suddenly and catastrophically. I ceased to be able to function in the outside world, was physically ill and was engulfed by feelings, sensations and memories that—up until then—I’d been successfully avoiding or suppressing. Fortunately, I recognized that this was far more than a nervous breakdown. It was the beginning of a long dark night of the soul. Very early on I realised that, over the years, I had become disconnected from my deeper self. My soul was now calling me home and I was willing (if totally ill-prepared) to heed its call.
Looking back, I recognise that I was anxious from a very young age, but the extent of the anxiety didn’t become apparent until I was in my late twenties and started having panic attacks. A close friend of mine had dropped dead in tragic circumstances a few days before they started, and very soon I found myself facing the suppressed horror and grief of a previous loss, the death of my best friend in an accident when we were eighteen.
Denial runs deep in our various cultures, and seems particularly prevalent just now. Climate change deniers are turning their backs on worldwide scientific consensus. There are those who deny that well-documented events – including the Holocaust – ever happened. Some even deny that the earth is round. The human mind, it seems, has an extraordinary capacity for denial, even of the most obvious facts.