[This page presents links to excerpts and sources on this topic. More will come. Tap “Notify me of new posts via email.” at the end of this page to receive an email when more material is added.]
If you think this metaphor is about suffering and depression, you are right. If you wish this metaphor were about joy and optimism, you are also right, and won’t be disappointed. If you think this poetic conception is about the unity of suffering and joy, you may be most right.
This metaphor for the divinely human experience is so wonderful and wondrous, there must be as many ways to approach, discover, and encounter it as there are persons. Nay, more, for even each person can encounter it in a wondrous number of ways, even at a single moment of a ‘given’ time.
My own musings about it start elsewhere.
The sequence, content, and annotations of my recommendations below are not random, but are my construction for introducing this metaphor to the curious.
Common use of the phrase has drifted considerably from its original specific meaning. Two authors faithful to the original senses are Mirabai Starr and Brian Kolodiejchuk.
I selected excerpts from Starr to introduce you to one way one might arrive at a true dark night by apparent accident. She expresses it with no religious-denomination affiliation whatever, while also touching on all of them. Starr is an elite artist of the inked quill who exquisitely nails that magical and ever-moving median between popular appeal and unquestionably professional scholarship. She will suck in a reader — ANY type of reader — instantly. If you don’t care for poetic language, she will not trigger your loathing; but she is an insidious trickster with a pen. [Incidentally, Starr’s book is introduced by Thomas Moore, whom I consider today’s authority on the soul.]￼
I selected Kolodiejchuk because he further differentiates the singular night into its dual notions — night of senses, and night of spirit — faithful to Thomas Keating’s teaching system for the original. Keating is not to be neglected either; he has great online videos, though the only ones I’ve watched so far are academic/instructional; my recommendations don’t currently include his work because I do not know it fully enough.
Even if Kolodiejchuk is not your thing, don’t skip Michael Mirdad. His style and content are much more mainstream for readers browsing the web to explore a topic like this. In a single long page, he touches on its history and spans its symptomology in terms more familiar in popular psychology and psychotherapy than the strictly spiritual—-all with a contemporary facility.
Below Starr, Kolodiejchuk, and Mirdad are a few other sources, useful, but less orthodox or less meaty or less concise or more expansive.
For deeper expansion, I recommend the book from which Starr’s passage is taken (especially if you want the origin of the phrase), followed by the book of this subject’s title by Thomas Moore (he also authored the introduction in Starr’s book) — the best of what a book is.
Richard Rohr, a modern mystic, writes occasionally about the Shadow, the soul, and sometimes its dark night, like here, where he refers to the Yes introduced by Starr.
Lastly, the book from which Kolodiejchuk’s passage is taken: Mother Teresa’s writings are as painful to read as obsolete translations of Saint Teresa of Avila’s Seven Castles/Mansions—but it’s noteworthy that neither of their writings were intended to be read as books, or by general audiences. (It would be wonderful to have their work tackled by Starr or someone of her caliber.)
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Good page on the subject. Because of its sweeping breadth, you might find it a little thin to sink your teeth into and grasp the notion as deeply as you can concisely by some of my other recommended sources. It’s External Links have some useful translation alternatives to Starr.
This interesting couple are self-styled “spiritual mentors who blend a mixture of psychological and spiritual insight…” I stumbled into their (long) web compositions searching for material relating ego and soul. I’ve come to appreciate it, because soul is such an ephemeral notion that it cannot be very fully appreciated by consulting only sources orthodox in philosophy, psychology, or theology.
They take a shot at distinguishing between depression and an orthodox Dark Night, though I wasn’t convinced. But I have invested considerable time in exploring their larger corpus. To me, Mirdad bridges more central orthodoxy to these fringier commercializations.
To my senses of soul and ego, this site is virtually agreeable in all regards, and has great content of all sorts. Give them a read if you’d like to broaden your own horizons, and this excerpt appeals to you:
“…friction within us … causes the mirror of our Souls to be polished enough for us to glimpse our True Nature. I often hear people speak of the Dark Night as some kind problem they have to “fix,” or something they “went through a long time ago, that is now over, thank God.” But what these people thought was a Dark Night may have just been a glimpse of the darkness within them, especially when they speak egotistically about it as if it were a badge of honor.”
A related page: “Complicated grief can serve as an initiation onto your spiritual path through the Dark Night of the Soul.”
To my first recommendation (Mirabai Starr)
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3 thoughts on “Dark Night of the Soul (0) – Resources & Recommendations”