We return to providing a personal perspective with respect to the second of the three key levels of Band 3 (i.e. Band 3, Level 2). I have identified this here before with - what St. of the Cross refers to as - "Spiritual Espousal". But as my last blog entry would suggest, this perhaps is premature as St. John places undue emphasis on "The Ascent" with respect to the transcendent aspect of contemplative development.
So, though in many ways I found that a new spiritual "dawn" did indeed unfold, that in many ways closely resembled St. John's own account, I gradually realised that this was ultimately a false "dawn" in that it did not at all signify that a "Spiritual Marriage" was to take place in the foreseeable future.
Though I thought at the time that the required rebalancing of the transcendent with the immanent direction was now taking place with respect to experience, I have since come to realise that this was not the case.
In later attempting to articulate for myself what indeed had earlier happened at this time, I was reminded - using a mathematical analogy - of a term from secondary school differential calculus called an "inflection point".
Now differentiation is related to rates of change with dy/dx denoting the "infinitesmal" change of y with respect to x.
If in psychological terms we view y as development and x as the transcendent direction, at Level 1 (Band 3) the change in one's spiritual experience reflects the change with respect to focus on the transcendent direction. We could also refer to the rate of change with respect to the transcendent focus itself which - especially - during the "dark night of spirit" can be become accentuated to an extreme degree. Here the spiritual mountain to be ascended begins to resemble the North face of the Eiger. So this change in development with respect to the changing degree of transcendence involved (which accelerates during this time) is d2y/dx2.
Now for a maximum, d2y/dx2 = 0, signifying the extreme in terms of transcendence.
In other words when "the dark night of the soul" reaches its crisis (coinciding with the maximum degree of transcendence) it passes through this point of inflection, where now the change with respect to the transcendent emphasis begins to decelerate.
This relative easing in the situation then allows the immanent aspect to express itself (while however still remaining subject to a primary transcendent focus).
Indeed the analogy with an arduous mountain climb such as Mount Everest can be fruitful here.
Initially, one may attempt as it were, to climb the entire mountain without an oxygen bottle (through sole emphasis on the transcendent aspect). However eventually one can then get pushed beyond one's ability to endure in attempting to proceed further in this manner. In other words on reaching the crisis point of "the dark night of the soul", one may then be temporarily required to return to a lower level to recuperate. This certainly happened in my own case, where for several years, I appeared to assume a "normal" life again in the world. However once sufficiently recuperated, the ascent continued. However this time it was supplemented as it were by an adequate oxygen supply signifying that the extreme transcendent focus was no longer appropriate.
However the degree of immanence experienced was only sufficient to enable me to reach an even higher level of transcendence (at Level 3) representing the summit of the mountain.
So ultimately the considerable task of how to successfully descend the mountain, so that I could plant my feet firmly on the plains below, had still to be negotiated.
I was subsequently to learn that it is only on this descent that the full rebalancing of transcendence with immanence could take place. And whereas I found the spiritual accounts of the various traditions to be of considerable benefit in terms of negotiating the "ascent", unfortunately I found them of comparatively little value in terms of aiding the corresponding "descent".
Somehow, the mistaken impression is given - certainly to me - that the task of achieving unity is largely completed once "The Ascent" has been significantly negotiated where now one can joyfully fall into the arms of God (waiting to greet the disciple at the summit).
Indeed this is the very reason why I am writing this blog as I hope to offer a different perspective on the perennial spiritual journey, from a modern perspective, that also addresses other issues (such as its important links to mathematics and science) that are generally ignored by the esoteric traditions.
The "dawning" that takes place at this stage is therefore due to the temporary relaxation that follows the "dark night". Though sometimes comforted by an obscure presence, for many years one may have endured severe trials and considerable isolation in a highly congested inner environment.
Ironically it is only when one believes that all is lost that the internal straining for perfection can cease and the body finally achieve some degree of relaxation.
Though not all apparent in the darkness, as one's conscious world becomes slowly eroded, the unconscious wells below become deeply filled with the spirit.
So with the self now sufficiently relaxed, this spirit slowly reaches the threshold of consciousness revealing itself in a remarkable new holistic light.
This is not brilliant in the manner of earlier bouts of illumination, but rather a very dim tranquil light that like a breaking dawn slowly brightens up the world around.
It is very much as one waking from a deep sleep to discover creation being born in a marvellous new manner.
This dim illumination brings a profound feeling of certitude - and as it is received very passively - a great deal of inner peace.
A scientific analogy (which in truth is much more than mere analogy) can be given.
As we know the electromagnetic spectrum is made up of various bands (of which natural light comprises just one small band).
In spiritual terms, there is likewise a spectrum of energy comprising many bands (representing distinctive types of intuitive awareness). So the common sense intuitions that govern everyday affairs comprise the natural light band on this spectrum.
However the contemplative journey entails direct experience of further bands. Now, from the transcendent perspective, whereas illumination on the outward journey, entails direct experience of increasingly holistic bands (of long wavelength and low frequency), purgation entails direct intensive experience of energy (with short wavelength - such as x-rays - and high frequency).
So dim contemplation can be likened to radio waves (from a spiritual perspective) that are extremely passive with very long wavelength and low frequency.
However this insight is fully appropriate for obtaining a pure holistic vision of the nature of reality.
In fact, as we know radio waves now serve as a valuable means of achieving global communication.
In a similar manner, this dim contemplation likewise serves as an extremely valuable means of obtaining a truly global understanding of reality.
Now as on previous occasions, the pure illumination phase (of a dim spiritual nature) gradually gives way to incorporation with both affective and cognitive phenomena as a new worldview (in artistic and scientific terms) is formed.
We will deal with these in greater length in further contributions.
However if the ascent is to continue, such phases of illumination are not destined to last for too long.
So gradually, one finds that instead of spiritual consolation, lengthy periods of withdrawal can take place (as if continually facing into a cold north wind).
Though this does indeed represent a renewed form of purgation, it tends now to alternate in a much more seamless fashion with corresponding periods of illumination.
However gradually, as a compensatory reaction to very "high level" spiritual activity, one becomes subject to "low level" fantasies and projections of an increasingly intimate kind.
So once again the real battleground of this stage is the attempt to reconcile "high level" spiritual with "low level" physical instinctive activity.