[2.5 minute read]
[see more in Dark Night of the Soul (0) – Resources & Recommendations]
Excerpts from Thomas Moore’s Foreword to Starr‘s translation
… how do we distinguish between depression and…the dark night John describes (not all painful transitions qualify as a dark night of the soul)? …What we call depression is a kind of initiation rather than just an emotional problem… the soul’s need and longing for transcendence, …not merely psychological development… an all-important shift from curing the personality to caring for the soul.”
“… how do we distinguish between depression and…the dark night John describes? The key is to distinguish between the ego and the soul. The ego [is]the concern of modern psychology and self-help books… The soul is vast in comparison [to the ego] and full of mysteries.”
“At the end of struggles people sometimes claim that they have gone through an ordeal and have come out happy on the other side… I’m not convinced that these victories signal the kind of darkness John describes so carefully. Many spiritual guides warn that we can play tricks on ourselves, bolstering a fragile ego with the thought that we have triumphed… not all painful transitions qualify as a dark night of the soul.”
John of the Cross is speaking of mysterious developments in the vast realm of the soul… We tend to see difficult feelings as a form of illness, which we hope to conquer, cure, and expel. He has a far greater imagination of human life: his goal is not health but union with the divine.
John’s analysis applies to the human condition, not to a class of believers… a book about transcendence, not merely psychological development… John might help us see that what we call depression is a kind of initiation rather than just an emotional problem… Depression has its physical, emotional, and psychological dimensions… But it is also spiritual and potentially valuable in making a meaningful life.
Mysticism doesn’t have to be a life profession. …depression, anxiety, and addiction has to do with what John writes about: the soul’s need and longing for transcendence. This need is instinctual and unavoidable.
…everything to do with how we feel and how well we deal with life. Spirit and soul are distinct but inseparable… reintroduce the spiritual into our everyday lives. Without it we lack the vision to deal with our personal and social problems effectively and make sense out of a mysterious and challenging existence.
…the book speaks about our daily, if hidden, attempts at transcendence… an all-important shift from curing the personality to caring for the soul.
Neil D. 2020-07-07