What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
SarathW
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What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by SarathW » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:47 am

What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?
What mental state is this?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

DooDoot
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by DooDoot » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:38 am

Kodhūpāyāsaṃ (MN 23) and bhayabherava (MN 4)

pyluyten
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by pyluyten » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:24 am

well if you mean as in La noche oscura del alma from St Jean
maybe "bhanga nupassana" and the next steps

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visuddhim ... rification

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No_Mind
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by No_Mind » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:29 am

This is indeed strange. Few days back (no more than a week) you had asked something and I was about to describe to you dark night of the soul but then stopped.

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binocular
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by binocular » Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:07 pm

SarathW wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:47 am
What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?
What mental state is this?
It's not clear that there can even be a Buddhist equivalent to the "dark night of the soul".

See this thread:
Canonical references about dark phases on the path (dark night, depression, etc)

binocular
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by binocular » Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:10 pm

pyluyten wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:24 am
well if you mean as in La noche oscura del alma from St Jean
maybe "bhanga nupassana" and the next steps

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visuddhim ... rification
A comparison like that would be meaningful if we take for granted that God, as described in Catholicism, in fact exists.

Caodemarte
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:45 pm

binocular wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:07 pm
SarathW wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:47 am
What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?
What mental state is this?
It's not clear that there can even be a Buddhist equivalent to the "dark night of the soul"....
It is a specific technical term in Christian, specifically Catholic, mysticism that refers to the felt withdrawal of God’s grace from someone in a deep personal relationship with (the Christian) God, I don’t see how there could be a Buddhist equivalent. Spiritual depression or darkness, frustration, near despair, longing, great difficulty, etc. can of course be felt, but that is not what the term really refers to. The term has been misappropriated and abused by people wishing to “dress up” or dramatize their own experiences (as in songs for romantic teenagers) or simply don’t understand it. From there it has spread to others.

dharmacorps
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by dharmacorps » Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:57 pm

In my 20s, I experienced a period that was sort of an existential crisis. I was raised in a atheistic home and all of a sudden began to be drawn to all things spiritual. That was when I found the dhamma (eventually anyway). In my perusal of Christian literature at the time I did read a description of the Dark Night of the Soul and have used it to describe that time in my life, although strictly speaking that is mainly because people understand what that means in the west, not because it really accurately describes it. E.g I never believed in god and never felt "his" absence. I am not sure there is anything in the canon about this specifically.

Caodemarte
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:01 pm

dharmacorps wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:57 pm
In my 20s, I experienced a period that was sort of an existential crisis. I was raised in a atheistic home and all of a sudden began to be drawn to all things spiritual. That was when I found the dhamma (eventually anyway). In my perusal of Christian literature at the time I did read a description of the Dark Night of the Soul and have used it to describe that time in my life, although strictly speaking that is mainly because people understand what that means in the west, not because it really accurately describes it. E.g I never believed in god and never felt "his" absence. I am not sure there is anything in the canon about this specifically.
Perhaps you should call it an existential crisis or sort of an existential crisis. That seems far more understandable and relatable to me, a person in the West, than the “dark night” phrase. This is meant as helpful suggestion. You are free, of course, to use whatever vocabulary you wish.

binocular
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by binocular » Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:17 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:01 pm
Perhaps you should call it an existential crisis or sort of an existential crisis. That seems far more understandable and relatable to me, a person in the West, than the “dark night” phrase. This is meant as helpful suggestion. You are free, of course, to use whatever vocabulary you wish.
The term "existential crisis" has some specific culutral baggage(s).

In my native language, for example, the calque "eksistencialna kriza" is usually taken to mean 'being unemployed and homeless, or facing unemployment and homelessness'; ie. it's not automatically understood in the philosophical sense.

Caodemarte
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:06 pm

binocular wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:17 pm
Caodemarte wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:01 pm
Perhaps you should call it an existential crisis or sort of an existential crisis. That seems far more understandable and relatable to me, a person in the West, than the “dark night” phrase. This is meant as helpful suggestion. You are free, of course, to use whatever vocabulary you wish.
The term "existential crisis" has some specific culutral baggage(s).

In my native language, for example, the calque "eksistencialna kriza" is usually taken to mean 'being unemployed and homeless, or facing unemployment and homelessness'; ie. it's not automatically understood in the philosophical sense.

One can always specify what kind of existential crisis one has, philosophical or spiritual and etc.

paul
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by paul » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:45 pm

Sixth stage of insight knowledge:

"Just as a fish in a net, a frog in a snake’s jaws, a jungle fowl shut into a cage, a deer fallen into the clutches of a strong snare, a snake in the hands of a snake charmer, an elephant stuck fast in a great bog, a royal nága in the mouth of a supanna (garuda), the moon inside Ráhu’s mouth (eclipse), a man encircled by enemies, etc.— just as these are desirous of being delivered, of finding an escape from these things, so too this meditator’s mind is desirous of being delivered from the whole field of formations and escaping from it. Then, when he thus no longer relies on any formations and is desirous of being delivered from the whole field of formations, knowledge of desire for deliverance arises in him."---Visuddhimagga, XXI.46

'When traders board a ship, it seems, they take with them what is called a land-finding crow. When the ship gets blown off its course by gales and goes adrift with no land in sight, then they release the land-finding crow. It takes off from the mast-head, and after exploring all the quarters, if it sees land, it flies straight in the direction of it; if not, it returns and alights on the mast-head. So
too, if knowledge of equanimity (or repulsiveness) about formations sees Nibbána, the state of peace, as peaceful, it rejects the occurrence of all formations and enters only into Nibbána. If it does not see it, it occurs again and again with formations as its object."—-Vism. XXI,65

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Modus.Ponens » Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:26 am

SarathW wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:47 am
What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?
What mental state is this?
It has to do with insights into unsatisfactoriness. One of the ways of describing the progress of insight is taught in this short dhamma treasure by Mahasi Sayadaw:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... gress.html
I am an online math tutor. If you are interested in this learning format, contact me by private message for details.

Saengnapha
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Saengnapha » Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:49 am

The most interesting book I've come across on this subject is "The Cloud of Nothingness, The Negative Way in Nagarjuna and John of the Cross", by C.D. Sebastian.

From the preface:
The notion of ‘nothingness’ is the leitmotif of this work. Nothingness, śūnyatā in
Nāgārjuna and (la) nada in John of the Cross, two representatives from two different
cultural, religious and philosophical traditions of the East and West – Buddhism
and Christianity – is the negative way that is discussed in this book. This study is not
aimed at looking for the fashionable search for sameness in the scheme of thought
that we find in the works of these two great past masters, but it attempts to identify
the distinctiveness of each. There is similarity as well as dissimilarity in the negative
way paradigms proposed by these two thinkers. There is a striking difference in
their goals, for Nāgārjuna is a Buddhist philosopher, speaking from a Buddhist
standpoint for whom the Buddha-vacana, the Word of the Buddha is of paramount
importance, whereas John of the Cross is a Christian mystic speaking from a Judeo-Christian
world view and belief for whom Dabar Yahweh, the Word of God, is the
ultimate source.
The ineffableness of Nibbana and God take root when there is a 'giving up', a dispassion towards the intellect trying to grab hold of what is not 'knowable', hence, 'the via negativa.' Neither religion can be measured against the other because of the vocabulary used in both traditions. Both men were shining examples of the culmination of their wisdom. Entering either gate is the end of inherent existence and dissolution of the person (selflessness). Flip a coin to pick your favorite path.

Caodemarte
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:42 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:26 am
SarathW wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:47 am
What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?
What mental state is this?
It has to do with insights into unsatisfactoriness. One of the ways of describing the progress of insight is taught in this short dhamma treasure by Mahasi Sayadaw:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... gress.html
paul wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:45 pm
Sixth stage of insight knowledge:

"Just as a fish in a net, a frog in a snake’s jaws, a jungle fowl shut into a cage, a deer fallen into the clutches of a strong snare, a snake in the hands of a snake charmer, an elephant stuck fast in a great bog, a royal nága in the mouth of a supanna (garuda), the moon inside Ráhu’s mouth (eclipse), a man encircled by enemies, etc.— just as these are desirous of being delivered, of finding an escape from these things, so too this meditator’s mind is desirous of being delivered from the whole field of formations and escaping from it. Then, when he thus no longer relies on any formations and is desirous of being delivered from the whole field of formations, knowledge of desire for deliverance arises in him."---Visuddhimagga, XXI.46

'When traders board a ship, it seems, they take with them what is called a land-finding crow. When the ship gets blown off its course by gales and goes adrift with no land in sight, then they release the land-finding crow. It takes off from the mast-head, and after exploring all the quarters, if it sees land, it flies straight in the direction of it; if not, it returns and alights on the mast-head. So
too, if knowledge of equanimity (or repulsiveness) about formations sees Nibbána, the state of peace, as peaceful, it rejects the occurrence of all formations and enters only into Nibbána. If it does not see it, it occurs again and again with formations as its object."—-Vism. XXI,65
Neither has anything to do with the Christian term “Dark Night of the Soul” which refers to the felt withdrawal of a very personal God.

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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:38 am

Vipassana without samatha and metta?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

Saengnapha
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Saengnapha » Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:50 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:38 am
Vipassana without samatha and metta?
You would have to know more about John's writings to see that it has nothing to do with the Theravada way as far as meditation goes. It is a via negativa and is not about attainment of any sort short of complete self-denial and its culmination in God's Grace, which is not sought or asked for. God's Grace=an event in nature, that happens to those who have negated self.

Dinsdale
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:36 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:50 am
Dinsdale wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:38 am
Vipassana without samatha and metta?
You would have to know more about John's writings to see that it has nothing to do with the Theravada way as far as meditation goes. It is a via negativa and is not about attainment of any sort short of complete self-denial and its culmination in God's Grace, which is not sought or asked for. God's Grace=an event in nature, that happens to those who have negated self.
I don't really know, but I have heard the phrase used in a vipassana context.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Aloka
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Aloka » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:19 pm

.

I think I remember seeing some topics about Dark Night at Daniel Ingram's Dharma Overground website.


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Caodemarte
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Re: What is the Dark Night of the Soul in Buddhist terms?

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:29 pm

Aloka wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:19 pm
...I think there might be some topics about Dark Night at Daniel Ingram's Dharma Overground website.
Yes, that author and site as well as self dramatizing teenage love songs is one of sources of this misappropriation, misunderstanding, and misuse of this term. A term that has nothing to do with Buddhism really. A lot to do with Christian mysticism.

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