Saturday, July 06, 2013

Kindle a Dark Night in Your Soul

Al W. and me in a Java House in Nairobi.
Before I went to teach in Kenya some Redeemer friends gave me a gift for my trip. It was a Kindle. Thank you again - I continue to use it!

I purchased (for only $3) St. John of the Cross's Dark Night of the Soul. I'd read it before, but decided to get this inexpensive version for my Kindle. Plus, I would be teaching a class for RMS graduates St John's Dark Night when I returned home.

The "dark night of the soul" does not mean "going through a hard time." Rather, it's about nondiscursive epistemology. For example, in the Prologue to Dark Night John writes:

“In darkness and concealment, My house being now at rest. In the happy night, when none saw me, Nor I beheld aught, Without light or guide save that which burned in my heart. This light guided me more surely than the light of noonday to the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me – A place where none appeared. ” (Prologue, 423-32)

These poetic words anticipate what is to come. The soul moves toward God, who is known in "darkness." The "lights" of the senses and reason and logic are left behind. For John this is necessary since God cannot be adequately known via our human powers of experiencing and knowing. As this "dark knowing" happens, it is a "happy night." One's "house" is at rest.

This is "dark knowledge." Such knowledge is relationally (not metaphysically) unitive, as the distance between knowing subject and sought-after Object is removed. Concerning religious epistemology, Dark Night expresses a mystical vision of what it means to know God.