Sunday, March 29, 2009

47. Dark night of the soul, ninth installment

We were discussing the detail of the second night

The aridities and the trials are similar to those of the first night. Lack of joy or sweetness with spiritual practices, absence of consolation from God or creatures. Understanding and will become feeble and memory turns fuzzy. There are periods of profound forgetfulness. Soul becomes dispirited and unhappy. Affections turn bitter. Nothing gives comfort. However the love for God remains ever strong. The fervor to serve God is undiminished. He will happily give a thousand lives for God.

Remember, during the first night the greatest source of depression was the thought that God has abandoned him, same is the case this time.

Remember, during the first night the person thought that his miseries will never be over, since he is so unworthy and full of defects, same is the thought this time.

Remember, during the first night one thought that God has shut out his prayers; same is the thought this time.

Remember, during the first night nothing helped, till God Himself decided to end his misery, same is true this time . Let me quote St John here, since it is written so well by him :

“….The soul is so powerless in this case as one who has been imprisoned in a dark dungeon, and is bound hand and foot, and can neither move nor see, nor feel any favor whether from above or from below, until the spirit is humbled, softened and purified, and grows so keen and delicate and pure that it can become one with the spirit of God..”

Remember, during the first night, the dark period was not continuous but there were intervals of great happiness and consolation, so is the case this time.

Remember, during the first night, soul asked itself again and again, if it has caused Him to be offended. So is the case now

Let me furnish some examples of the pain and suffering of Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist mystics. To avoid exaggeration I have selected only from autobiographies or authentic biographies,

David (in Bible) said, “After the manner wherein the wounded are dead in the sepulchres, being now cast off by Thy hand, so that Thou remembers them no more, even so they have set me in the deepest and lowest lake, in the dark places and in the shadow of death and Thy fury is confirmed upon me and all Thy waves Thou hast brought in upon me.” “….the pains of hell surrounded me; I cried in my tribulation.” “I was annihilated and I knew not”.

An example of mortification by a British Buddhist mystic, Tenzin Palmo’s. She remained, alone, at 13200 feet, in a cave in snowy Himalayas, for twelve years. She slept and meditated in a three feet square box and never lay down, because the box was not long enough. She encountered wild beasts and avalanches.
I have included her here, but it should be noted that she remained joyful and peaceful during her isolation in the cave. She never had dark night of the soul.
(See ‘cave in the snow’ by Vicki Mackenzie)

To be continued

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