John of the Cross and Dark Night of the Soul

16th century Spanish poet, Roman Catholic mystic and Carmelite priest, Saint John of the Cross, wrote the poem Dark Night of the Soul and latera treatise commenting on the poem. It was written while John of the Cross was imprisoned by his Carmelite brothers, in opposition to his reformation of their Order, and narrates the journey of the soul from its bodily home to its union with God. The night in which the journey takes place represents the hardships and problems the soul meets in detaching from the world to achieve union with the Creator, represented by the light.

Successive stanzas relate the steps in this night journey. Central is the painful experience people endure in order to grow in spiritual maturity and union with God.

There are two phases of the dark night: first is a purification of the senses, and second the more intense purification of the spirit. The poem is divided into two books to that cover these phases. Saint Thomas Aquinas,  following on from Aristotle’s ideas, described ten steps on the ladder of mystical love. They are further described in Dark Night of the Soul. John of the Cross later wrote the treatise, as a theological commentary on the poem, explaining its meaning stanza by stanza.

You can read more about John of the Cross and other ancient and contemporary mystics in my blog A Reasonable Mystic, in which I discuss the place of mysticism in contemporary and postmodern Christian spirituality.

Go on to the Poem.

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Simon and Garfunkle – The Sounds of Silence

The Sounds of Silence

Hello, darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no-one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

‘Fools,’ said I, ‘you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you,’
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out it’s warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said ‘The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls’
And whisper’d In the sound of silence

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel

Paul  Simon wrote this song after hearing about President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963. He is quoted at the Simon and Garfunkle Homepage as saying it is “A societal view of the lack of communication.”

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Salvador Dali – Christ of St John of the Cross

Salvador Dali - Christ of St John of the Cross

Salvador Dali - Christ of St John of the Cross

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Dark Night of the Soul has moved to WordPress

Because Blogger will no longer support FTP blogs from May 1st I have moved this blog to WordPress. The default theme will soon be replaced by one under development.

Posted in Webmaster | 2 Comments

New Dark Night of the Soul Website taking shape

The rebuild of the Dark Night of the Soul website is coming along.

Over the last week I’ve got the section on mysticism up. On it so far you can find the complete text and explanation of the Dark Night of the Soul poem by John of the Cross. I’m working on putting other texts on line too.

There will also be sections on theology, psychology, art, literature,people’s experiences, and how to help someone going through the dark night experience.

Posted in Art, Burnout, Dark Night of the Soul, Depression, Evelyn Underhill, John of the Cross, Mysticism, Mystics, Neuroscience, Poetry and Songs, Psychology, Sociology, Spiritual Exercises, Spirituality, Theology, Webmaster | 6 Comments

Testing BlogJet

I have installed an interesting application – BlogJet. It’s a cool Windows client for my blog tool (as well as for other tools). Get your copy here:

It allows you to edit posts for your blogs while you are offline and publish them later.

“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.” — Albert Einstein

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Some of my blogs and Google groups are now linked

In the interests of wider communication I am experimenting with automatic linking between some of my blogs and their associated email discussion groups.

This is a test email to all of my blogs to see if the linking works OK. If it works this message will appear as a post on each blog and on its associated group. The blogs and groups involved are:

Blog – a reasonable mystic –
Google Group – a reasonable mystic –

Blog – Dark Night of the Soul –
Google Group – Dark Night of the

Blog – hobsonsbaychurches –
Google Group – Hobsons Bay

Blog – Mal’s Meanderings –

Blog – awakeningwestblog –

Blog – Speak in Tongues –

Website – Burden Bearer –
Google Group – Burden Bearer –

Website – Listening 2 God –
Google Group – listening2god –

Google Group – Prayer Ministries Network –

Mal Dow

Posted in Webmaster | 2 Comments