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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.
Many spiritual teachings refer to the illusion of the separate self; the belief in being an isolated and deficient self seems to lie at the heart of our suffering. When we assume – or when life circumstances have led us to conclude – that we are unlovable, wrong, damaged or inferior, we are bound to suffer for as long as we continue to believe that assumption. Many of us know that suffering intimately, just as we know the relief that comes when we realize that we are not the person we have assumed ourselves to be.