Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dark Night of the Soul

Ingram in his Mastering The Core Teachings of the Buddha, talks about the "dark night" of the soul.

This is an idea from Saint John of the Cross. He talks about a time when the sensuality of spirituality wears off, and there's nothing positive that pulls one to the routines of the spiritual life. I don't know what he means by meditation, but there is also prayer and good works. It's in the dark night of the soul when the seeker is really tested. God is notorious in the Bible for testing people.

Now in Buddhism there is no creator god, so there's nobody testing the seeker, but there could be a time when the joy of dhyana is no longer available for the next phase. According to Ingram that is.I've been around a lot of people with dhyanic smiles. I'm not sure I've wallowed in the joy of the dhyanas enough to enter into the dark night of Ingram, but like most people, I have experienced a loss of the sensual joys and lost my way at times. Ingram says the only way is through it, and that you need someone to help you through it, a spiritual community, friends.

I don't pretend to know enough about Saint John of the Cross, nor do I know enough about Ingram's use of the concept, but I am interested in it, and I wonder why he has to borrow something from Christianity when Buddhism does have a rich rich history. Well, he's just trying to articulate his experience, so he's free to choose from whatever tradition he pleases.

By the way, Saint John of the Cross is really good at articulating spiritual immaturity. I need to do some translation into a more universal spirituality for it all to be useful for me, but I find it very interesting. I find myself uncomfortably described in the traits of spiritual immaturity at times.

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