Into The Abyss: Lessons From My Shadow Side

“Into The Abyss: What I Learned From My Shadow Side” was written by guest contributor, Samuel Kronen.

I feel somewhat grateful to know what the abyss actually looks like, to understand the vast expanses of human suffering and the greater depths of personal anguish and sorrow.

It’s really not as animated as we tend to think, it fact it’s rather subtle. It is not some earth shattering adventure, some deeply momentous realm of dark intoxication. In reality, the abyss could not be more dull.

If we think we know how bad things can get, then we are wrong. We have no idea how bad things can get. The pit of human sorrow is bottomless. There is no limit to how horribly we can feel and how much we can suffer.

What is so prevalent about experiencing sorrow is that it is dreadfully mundane. The banality of suffering is really the worst part about it. What most people tend to overlook is that sadness is actually kind of a good feeling. It feels good to cry and let it all out, but imagine if our pain was so utterly acute and enduring that we couldn’t possibly cry enough.

What happens when the tears dry up, and we have no emotion left to give. All we can do is soak ourselves in our own self-loathing agony, abide in our own ashen misery, and hopefully through the process come upon something meaningful enough carry on.

A personal story of suffering…

I don’t mean this to be some kind of self-satisfying riff, because the truth is that I’ve garnered a tremendous amount from my suffering and really hope to share some of what I’ve learned through my experiences in the abyss.

I’ve been contending with a severe chronic illness for about four years or so, and I can say with full confidence that I at least have some vague idea of what the bottom looks and feels like.

Again, it is the banality of suffering that makes it all the more severe and desolate, and in light of that we are forced to go much deeper into the very depths of our soul being that we have nothing more that we express. We express grievance through emotion, but when the tank is empty we are pushed into oblivion, forced to contend with the sheer chaos that sits just beneath all of our beliefs and assumptions of how things are.

We descend into the shadow side.. The territories of our consciousness which we had up to this point been left uncharted, unscathed, untouched. This is when things start to get interesting.

When we have nowhere to go, where do we go? The answer is down. We delve into the more deeply rooted and fundamental dimensions of our psyche, because we simply have no other direction to move in.

This is what I’ve learned from my journey into the shadow side…

I’ve learned that what I am most fundamentally does not have a name or a face. It is entirely without identity. It is not a person, in the sense of being an isolated individual distinct from everything that is other.

It came to be fairly clear to me, mostly through implementing various meditative practices, that this nameless and faceless consciousness is something much larger and much more expansive than my waking mind.

The more I tapped into this underlying awareness, this foundational sense of intuition and insight, then the more connected I felt with everything else. I felt closer to nature as well as to other people, and even found a great deal of joy and meaning in everyday activities that I hadn’t found particularly exciting before.

There was something that grounded me that I couldn’t quite explain, something that made me feel alright about how badly my life sucked.

There is something much deeper than our thoughts that exists within us, and my realization of this has been absolutely integral to my success in surviving this disease. If I had simply accepted that my thoughts contained intrinsic value or truth, then the abyss would’ve surely taken me for my thoughts could not possibly have been more dark.

When we are faced with the abyss, forced into contending with our shadow side, propelled into sheer chaos, we only have one tenable option as far as I can see, and that is to be courageous in the face of suffering and let it teach us what it needs to teach us.

My suffering has taught me that I am not my thoughts.

This is quite beautiful actually, because when we see this clearly then we cease to be driven by the utter neurosis of the ego mind. We come to be in accordance with something much more fundamental to who and what we actually are. I don’t know what “it” is exactly, nor do I know that it even is an it, but the one thing that I do know about this underlying consciousness is this: it loves.

(To see more of Samuel’s articles and videos, click here)

The essence of consciousness is pure and unconditional love.

It loves in spite of whatever it is we might be dealing with in our lives, and when we embody this love we come to, in the words of Joseph Cambell, “participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.”


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About the Author: Samuel Kronen is a young writer, spiritual entrepreneur, and warrior of the soul whose life work is comprised of the pursuing of higher consciousness and the propagating of love and compassion on a collective level. You can also reach him directly via at sjkronen @ gmail (dot) com or follow him on YouTube here

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