In 2014, I was in a deep depression.

Nothing felt meaningful or interesting. Even breathing was painful. But strange as it sounds, it was such an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Here’re 7 realizations about life, taught by the dark night of the soul👇

1. Compassion happens when you stop haggling with life.

It was a hard blow on the ego to see friends and peers lead productive, seemingly normal lives, while I was here struggling to even get out of bed.

The shame. The disappointment. The confusion. “Am I really so incompetent that I can’t even figure out how to be ‘normal’?” I resisted the pain. I tried to get out of it as fast as I could. Except I couldn’t.

Sometimes life offers you pain. It’s a precious gift. Yet you don’t understand it. You try your darndest to push it out of the door.

Self compassion happens when you stop refusing that gift.

2. Anything you chase is just a game.

I would come home every day, lie on the couch and stare at ceiling for hours. The usual human desires— for money, health, relationship, twitter followers— faded away.

When you are in a state so empty, you realize the stuff that used to fill that emptiness is in fact not essential. We chase them for sport, but at the end of the day we hold onto none. When you see this truth as what it is, it’s immensely liberating.

It means you’re free to play any game, set your own rules, and not mind what anybody thinks… if you so choose.

3. All experiences are valuable, when you decide it to be so.

We create value judgments out of thin air — black and white, good and bad, valuable and worthless… That’s what the human version of consciousness does, all day every day.

And yet we’ve all tricked ourselves into believing that values have to follow objective rules set by somebody. (Is that what we hired God for?)

Value is whatever you make it to be. Most humans are frightened by the prospect of such boundless freedom. So we decide to stay in the cage that doesn’t exist.

4. Consciousness is your only true identity.

The person you call “I” is as real as Santa Claus.

When I walked around the house, saw the furniture, computer, clothes, I would wonder how come those things were “mine”. I had nothing to do with them.

When you’re in so much pain, at some point the concept of an individual identity begins to loosen its grip. And you catch a glimpse of the truth—

You are just consciousness pretending to have a human experience.

5. Happiness is not more valuable than pain.

Of course this is easy to say when you’re not in pain. I don’t want to be insensitive to anybody who is currently going through hell. Still, when you’re not choked on suffering, you can see it more clearly.

Pain teaches you about your brain, about humans, about character, about reality. Pain forces you to know yourself. Pain humbles the ego.

Pain is a far more interesting experience than happiness.

6. You’re taking yourself way too seriously.

This applies to almost every single person on earth, including the ones who proudly say they don’t take themselves seriously (see the irony there?).

When you’re pressed breathless by pain, you realize how trivial the human will power is, and that the usual scheming and conniving we do all day against life is mere child’s play.

(People tell me you get the same realization if you go to space and look back at the earth, I’ve yet to try that one.)

7. Despite everything, you will be ok.

When you’ve fallen into the heart of darkness, the bottom of the bottomless pit, you realize you have nowhere else to fall. You hit the ground. And the ground is emptiness. There’s nothing there but a bare trace of existence.

And yet you live on as consciousness. You realize you are eternal, indestructible, forever.

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Because duality is baked into every human experience, you don’t really understand one thing if you haven’t experienced its opposite.

If you want to know happiness, you have to be open to pain. If you want to understand what heaven is, you have to take trips through hell.

When you can regard one end of the experience as no better or worse than its opposite, you realize you have nothing to fear. When you can pay equal respect to joy and pain, you have gained some real freedom that few humans possess.

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