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This treatise on the spiritual experience by the 16th century Carmelite priest St John of the Cross is one of the most useful books I have read in English (translated from the Spanish) for anyone seriously pursuing any form of bhagti marg.

It describes in beautiful poetry the feelings that impel one on the path to spiritual union with the Supreme Being and then describes the sense of darkness that besets one on the path before arriving at one's destination. This unpleasant sense of emptiness or loss, this growing sense of painful separation from Him, St John of the Cross dubs la noche oscura del alma, or "Dark Night of the Soul".

Although this can be a terrible experience for the budding mystic, St John describes it as a spiritually cleansing process which shatters the identification with one's ego and strips one of all those character traits that are antithetical to spiritual progress. The Night, says St John, is the mystical equivalent of the pain suffered by a child at birth, or the struggle that the flower's bud goes through before it opens to let in the light of the Sun.

The end result of this painful process is that one's love for the Divine matures beyond purely personal and selfish concerns to enable one to accept His Hukam - one goes from a struggling mystic striving to obtain Darshan to a Soul-Bride calmly waiting for one's Lord's assured appearance in the Bridal Chamber.

You can find the translation here:




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