I've been reading thru the threads here and I see that "Dark Night of the Soul " periodically shows up - usually in reference to faith and doubt issues. I'm not so sure this view matches the vision being described in the writings of John of the Cross by that title. The Dark Night experience would seem to be a powerful process of discovering the inner mounting flame that is the love of G-d. In fact, that's how St John describes it in a commonly quoted passage from the work by that title: In secret, when none saw me, Nor I beheld aught, Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart. I had no guide, no light, save that which burned within my heart. And yet this light did guide my way more surely than the noonday sun unto a place where waited One who knew me well.Here the burning light appears to be a longing for G-d. The burning theme is taken up again later, and this time the element of longing is stated identified fairly clearly: (B)y not hindering the operation of infused contemplation that God is bestowing upon it, it can receive this with more peaceful abundance, and cause its spirit to be enkindled and burn with the love which this dark and secret contemplation brings with it and sets firmly in the soul. For contemplation is naught else than a secret, peaceful and loving infusion from God, which, if it be permitted, enkindles the soul with the spirit of love, according as the soul declares in the next lines, namely: Kindled in love with yearnings. Notice that the language suggests a welcoming and acceptance of an experience that involves a "peaceful and loving infusion." This acceptance seems to happen after purification and a clearing the mind. Mortal anguish and mental confusion may previously have made it hard for the person to understand and appreciate what is going on:This enkindling of love is not as a rule felt at the first, because it has not begun to take hold upon the soul, by reason of the impurity of human nature, or because the soul has not understood its own state, as we have said, and has therefore given it no peaceful abiding-place within itself. Yet sometimes, nevertheless, there soon begins to make itself felt a certain yearning toward God; and the more this increases, the more is the soul affectioned and enkindled in love toward God, without knowing or understanding how and whence this love and affection come to it, but from time to time seeing this flame and this enkindling grow so greatly within it that it desires God with yearning of love. I wonder if the night might seem dark only because the spiritual heart is on fire. There may indeed be turmoil that derives from not understanding how G-d is working with the soul. The Dark Night experience ultimately provides that understanding. Notice that in the above passage, the Dark Night is not presented as an isolated event. The term "at first" suggests there are follow-up experiences that are more easily assimilated at a later time.And this is the second way of grieving in desire and yearning which comes from love in the bowels of the spirit, which are the spiritual affections. But in the midst of these dark and loving afflictions the soul feels within itself a certain companionship and strength, which bears it company and so greatly strengthens it that, if this burden of grievous darkness be taken away, it often feels itself to be alone, empty and weak. The cause of this is that, as the strength and efficacy of the soul were derived and communicated passively from the dark fire of love which assailed it, it follows that, when that fire ceases to assail it, the darkness and power and heat of love cease in the soul. Far from treating the Dark Night as something to be fended off, it should be noted here that St. John values the Dark Night as an experiential reality that has much to offer: Indeed, his description suggests the soul feels most alive and comforted during the Dark Night. Needless to say, it is very hard to take care of one's day to day duties when in a permanent state of rapture, at all times engulfed by spiritual fire. But the experience can be internalized and applied. Indeed would say that the light at the end of the darkness has the potential to be of substantial value. The Dark Night often yields gift of increased mindfulness and reverence a sense of gratitude for the blessed opportunity to renew the vows of Dedication with ever greater resolve and a chance to deepen love of G-d and increased compassion and deeper contentment. Thomas Moore aptly notes our problematic attitude toward the Dark Night: I think sometimes people think of the dark night of the soul as a problem to be solved, and they get hyperactive trying to solve the problem, and it doesn’t go away because that’s not really the issue. The issue is something else, it’s their attitude, the way they’re dealing with some difficult period in life. So true. In a sense this is a separate issue from the spiritual significance of the Dark Night. But it is also related in this day and age. Despite the Bush administration's almost nonstop Shock and Awe treatment, the US continues to be a nation driven by instant gratification and histrionic personalities like the charming "socialite" and trendy, ultra-compatible "good time girl" are veritable cultural archetypes. Being the center of attention is perceived as valuable principally because it lends itself to demonstrating one's marketing skills, thus signalling success and the power to consume. In this environment, anything vaguely serious may be perceived as a sign of a hangover or a brain infection. Such an attitude toward negative emotion renders us at odds with our experience and cuts us off from growth possibilties inherent in most any experience. The culture does little to encourage other attitudes. In fact, it has given rise to an environment that places a premium on superficial impressions of well-being combined with lots of opportunities to avoid existential confrontations of any kind. Perhaps this is why some observers fear western societies are indeed going into spiritual decline. For now, we need a little more "existential openness," that is, a more open and acceptant attitude. We can't benefit from our experience if we think it should be other than what it is and incorrectly define it as a "negative experience." We can't learn from experience if we try to fight it off all the time. Personally, I feel the Dark Night of the Soul is a natural experience to be welcomed for what it is .