A collapse of a perceived meaning in life … an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness is very close to what is conventionally called depression.
Nothing makes sense anymore, there is no purpose to anything. Sometimes it is triggered by some external event, some disaster, the death of someone close to you.
Or you had built up your life, and given it meaning – and the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.
You can not explain it away anymore, a disaster which seems to invalidate the meaning that your life had before. Really what has collapsed then is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it.
So that results in a dark place, in darkness.
But then there is the possibility that you emerge out of it into a transformed state of Consciousness. Life has a meaning again, but it is no longer the old conceptual meaning that you can necessarily explain.
Quite often it is from there that people awaken out of their conceptual sense of reality, which has collapsed. They awaken into something deeper, which is no longer based on concepts in the mind. A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life that is not dependent on explanations or anything conceptual any longer. It is a kind of re-birth.
Dark night of the soul is a kind of death that you die. What dies is the egoic sense of Self. Of course, death is always painful, but nothing real has actually died there – only an illusory identity.
Now it is probably the case that some people who have gone through this transformation realized that they had to go through that, in order to bring about a spiritual awakening. Often it is part of the awakening process, the death of the old Self and the birth of the true Self.
You are meant to arrive at a place of conceptual meaninglessness. Or one could say a state of ignorance – where things lose the meaning that you had given them, which was all conditioned and cultural and so on. Then you can look upon the world without imposing a mind-made framework of meaning.
It looks of course as if you no longer understand anything. That is why it is so scary when it happens to you, instead of you actually consciously embracing it. It can bring about the dark night of the soul – to go around the universe without any longer interpreting it compulsively, as an innocent presence.
You look upon events, people, and so on with a deep sense of aliveness. Your sense the aliveness through your own sense of aliveness, but you are not trying to fit your experience into a conceptual framework anymore.