Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Dark Night of the Soul

"The Abyss was the place of transformation for the mystics. In its depths shone the illumination of the 'divine dark,' where divinity revealed itself. Dionysius the Areopagite even speaks of God as the 'Divine Darkness' and sees darkness as the secret dwelling place of God.

Dark Night of the Soul
"Another of the great mystics, St. John of the Cross, speaks of the 'secret stair' by which one descends in the dark night to meet the Beloved the way the soul journeys into union with God. But prior to that union of ecstatic rapture with the Beloved comes the Dark Night of the Soul, that painful period of privation when one feels imprisoned in The Abyss...

"Evelyn Underhill, in her classic study of mysticism, describes this as follows:
Psychologically, then, the 'Dark Night of the Soul' is due to the double fact of the exhaustion of an old state, and the growth toward a new state of consciousness. It is a 'growing pain' in the organic process of the self's attainment of the Absolute. The great mystics, creative geniuses in the realm of character, have known instinctively how to turn these psychic disturbances to spiritual profit...
For the great mystics, such periods of chaos and misery often lasted months or even years before the new and higher state of spirituality is reached; often the dark side is experienced before the possibility of the new is apprehended... Heroism is required to endure and not succumb to the danger and the pain. The mystical journey is neither rational nor linear.
Linda Schierse Leonard, "The Dark Night of the Soul,"
Chapter 7 in Sacred Sorrows, pp. 51-52