An Interesting Analogy of the Dark Night

Sweet Nothing, modified 9 Years ago at 8/22/13 11:37 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 8/22/13 11:34 AM

An Interesting Analogy of the Dark Night

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Here's an extract from one of my favorite non Buddhist/Religious books which reveals deep spiritual truths in incredibly abstract ways.

The book is called "The Book of Mirdad".

I was reading it again and I realized there was an entire chapter dealing with the Dark Night phenomenon and in much more detail than anything else I've come across.

This might be a longer read than expected but it's totally worth it. Here the words used are "The Great Nostalgia" instead of "The Dark Night of the Soul", but it's just as poetic and way more detailed.

A little background into the story so you're not confused as you read through.

Naronda is the narrator and one of the 7 members of the monastery where the events of this book take place. He is also the foremost disciple of "Mirdad" aka Master, who is the newest member of the Monastery. Mirdad is an awakened Christ like being who is attempting to bring the members of the Monastery to complete realization, or "The Spirit of Holy Understanding" as he calls it (inspired from the biblical "Holy Spirit").

Micoyan is another member/monk of the Monastery. So without further ado, hope you can relate to it as well as I did.



Naronda: For a long stretch before and after the Master’s return from Bethar Micayon was
observed to behave as one in trouble; he kept aloof most of the time, speaking little, eating little,
and rarely leaving his cell. His secret he would not confide even to me. And we all marveled
that the Master would say or do nothing to assuage his pain, although the loved him very
One , as Micayon with the rest were warming themselves round the brazier, the Master began to
discourse on the Great Nostalgia.
MIRDAD: a certain man once had a dream;. And this is the dream he had:
He saw himself upon the green bank of a broad, deep, and noiselessly flowing river. The bank
was alive with great multitudes of men, women and children of every age and tongue; and all
had wheels of various sizes and tints, which they rolled, up and down the bank. And the
multitudes were dressed in festive colors, and were out to frolic and to feast; and their hubbub
filled the air. Like a restless sea did they heave up and down, back and forth.
He alone was not dressed for the feast, for he was aware of no feast. And he alone had no
wheel to roll. And hard as he strained his ear, he could not catch a single word from the
polyglot crowd that was akin to his own dialect. And hard as he strained his eye, it could not
rest upon a single face that was to it familiar. And further more, the crowd, as it surged about
him, cast meaningful glances in his direction as if to say, ‘Who is this comical being?’ Then it
dawned in upon him that the feast was not his, and that he was a total stranger, and he felt a
pang in his heart.
Anon he heard a great roar coming from the upper end of the bank, and forthwith he saw the
multitudes fall to their knees , cover their eyes with their hands and bend their heads to the
ground, breaking as they fell in two rows and leaving between an open, straight and narrow
aisle all the length of the bank. He alone remained standing in the middle of the aisle not
knowing what to do an which way to turn.
As he looked up to whence the roar was coming, he beheld an enormous bull spitting tongues of
flame from his mouth and blowing columns of smoke from his nostrils, and dashing down the
aisle at a lightning speed. In terror he looked at the furious beast, and sought escape right and
left, but could find none. He felt as if transfixed to the ground, and was certain of his doom.
Just as the bull approached to where he felt the scorching flame and smoke, the man was lifted
in the air. The bull stood beneath him shooting more fire and smoke upward; but the man rose
higher and higher, and though he felt the fire and the smoke, yet did he gain a certain
confidence that the bull could no longer do him any harm. And he set his course across the
Looking down upon the green bank he saw the crowds still kneeling as before, and the bull
shooting arrows at him instead of smoke and fire. He could hear the arrows hiss as they passed


beneath him, some of them pierced his garments, but none did touch his flesh. At last the bull,
the crowd and the river were out of sight, and the man flew on.
He flew over a dreary, sun-scorched land without any trace of life whatsoever. At length he
alighted at the foot of a high, rugged mountain desolate not only of a blade of grass, but even of
a lizard and an ant. And he felt as though his only road lay up the mountain.
Long did he look for a safe way up, but all he could see was a barely traceable trail such as
goats only can walk. That trail he decided to follow.
Scarce had he risen a few hundred feet when he saw, not far to his left, a broad and a smooth
roadbed? As he stopped and was about to leave his trail, the roadbed became a human stream,
one half of it labouringly ascending, the other rushing headlong down the mountain. Men and
women in t untold number struggled up and rolled down, head over heels , and sent forth as
they rolled down such moans and groans as to strike terror in the heart.
The man observed this weird phenomenon for a while and decided in his mind that somewhere
up the mountain was an immense madhouse, and that those rolling down were some of its
escaped inmates. And he continued on his winding trail , falling here and rising there, but
always winding higher and higher.
At a certain height the human stream dried up, and its bed become entirely effaced. Again the
man was alone with the somber mountain, and no hand to point the way, and no voice to bolster
up; his waning courage and steel his rapidly failing strength, excepting a vague belief that his
course lay upwards the summits.
On and on he plodded tracing his path with his blood. After much soul-rendering toil he arrived
at a spot where the earth was soft and stone less. To his indescribable delight he saw some
delicate tufts of grass sprouting here and yon. And the grass was so tender, and the soil so
velvety, and the air so aromatic and so lulling that he felt as one robbed of the last ounce of
strength. So he relaxed and fell asleep.
He was awakened by a hand touching his hand and a voice saying to him, ‘Arise! The summit is
in sight. And spring awaits you on the summit.’
The hand and the voice were those of a most beauteous maiden – a paradise being – dressed in a
robe of dazzling whiteness. She gently took the man by the hand; and the man arose
invigorated and refreshed. And the man did glimpse the summit. And the man did smell the
Spring. But just as he raised his foot to take the first step forward he awoke from his dream.
What would Micayon do where he to awaken from such a dream and find him stretched upon a
common bed, hemmed in within four common walls, but with the vision of that maiden
glowing behind his eyelids, and the fragrant effulgence of that summit fresh in his heart/
Micayon: (As if stung) But I am that dreamer, and mine is that dream. Mine also is the vision
of that maiden and the summit. It haunts me till this day and gives me no repose. It made me a
stranger to myself. Because of it Micayon no longer knows Micayon.


Yet I dreamed that dream soon after you were led away to Bethar. How come you relate it in
such minute details? What manner of man are you that even dreams of men are to you an open
Ah, the freedom of that summit! Ah, the beauty of that maiden! How trite is all else in
comparison. My very soul has deserted me for their sake. And only on that day when I saw
you coming from Bethar did my soul rejoin me, and I felt calm and strong. But the feeling has
left me since, and again am I drawn away from myself by the threads invisible.
Save me, O my Great Companion. I languish away for a vision.
MIRDAD: You know not what you ask, Micayon. Would you be saved from your savior?
Micayon: I would be spared this unendurable torture of being so homeless in a world so snug
at home. I would be on the summit with the maiden.
MIRDAD: Rejoice because your heart has been seized with the Great Nostalgia ; for that is a
promise irrevocable that you shall find your country and your home, and be upon the summit
with the maiden.
Abimar: Pray, tell us more of this Nostalgia. By what symptoms may we recognize it?


MIRDAD: Like mist is the Great Nostalgia . Emitted by the heart, it shuts away the heart , as
mist, effused by sea and land, obliterates both land and sea.
And also as the mist bereaves the eye of visible reality making itself the sole reality, so this
Nostalgia subdues the feelings of the heart and makes itself the feeling paramount. And
seemingly so formless , and aimless, and blind as the mist, yet like the mist it teems with the
forms unborn, is clear of sight and very definite of purpose.
Like fever also is the Great Nostalgia. As fever, ignited in the body, saps the vitality of the body
while burning up its poisons, so this Nostalgia , born of the friction in the heart, debilitates the
heart, as it consume away its dross and every superfluity.
And like a thief is the Great Nostalgia . for as a sneaking thief relieves his victim of a burden,
yet leaves him sore embittered, so this Nostalgia, by stealth, lifts all the burdens of the heart, yet
leaves it most disconsolate and burdened by its very lack of burdens.
Broad is the bank and green where men and women dance away, and sing away, and toil and
weep away their evanescent days. But fearsome is the fire and smoke belching Bull that
hobbles up their feet, and brings them to their knees, and stuffs back their songs into their vocal
chords , and glues their swollen eyelids with their tears.
Broad also and deep is the stream that separates them from the other bank. And neither can
they swim it , nor can they row across it with an oar, nor sail it with a sail. Few – very few – of
them venture to span it with a thought . But all – almost all – are eager to adhere to their bank
where each goes on rolling his pet wheel of Time.
The man with the Great Nostalgia has no pet wheel to roll. Amid a world so tensely occupied
and pressed for time he is alone without an occupation and unhurried. In humanity so decorous
in dress, and speech, and manner he finds himself naked, stuttering and awkward. He cannot
laugh with the laughing, nor can he with the weeping weep; Men eat and drink, and have
pleasure in eating and drinking; he eats without a relish, and his drink is vapid in his mount.
Others are mated, or busy seeking mates; he walks alone, and sleeps alone, and dreams his
dreams alone. Others are rich in worldly wit and wisdom; he alone is dull and unwise. Others
have cozy corners which they call homes; he alone is homeless. Others have certain spots of
the earth which they call native land and whose glory they sing very loud; he alone has no spot
to sing and to call his native land. For his hearts eye is towards the other bank.
A sleepwalker is the man with the Great Nostalgia amid a world apparently so wide awake. He
is drawn by a dream which those about him neither see nor feel. Therefore they shrug their
shoulders and titter in their sleeves. But when the god of Fear – the fire and smoke belching
Bull – appears on the scene, then are they made to bite the dust while the sleepwalker at those


they shrugged their shoulders and tittered in their sleeves, is lifted on the wings of Faith above
them and their bull, and carried far over the other bank and to the foot of the Rugged Mountain.
Barren, and bleak, and forlorn is the land over which the somnambulist flies. But the wings of
Faith are strong; and the man flies on.
Somber , and bald, and blood-curdling the mountain at whose foot he descends. But the heart
of Faith is indomitable; and the man’s heart boldly beats on.
Rocky , and slippery, and barely discernible his trail up the mountain. But silken is the hand ,
and steady is the foot, and keen is the eye of Faith, and the man climbs on.
He meets on the way with men and women laboring up the mountain along a broad and smooth
roadbed. They are the men and women of the Small Nostalgia who crave to reach the summit,
but with a lame and a sightless guide. For their guide is their belief in what the eye can see,
and what the ear can hear, and what the hand can feel, and what the nose and tongue can smell
and taste. Some of them rise no higher than the mountain’s ankles; some reach its knees; and
dome the hips; and very few the girdle. But all slip back with their guide and go tumbling down
the mountain without so much as glimpsing the fair summit.
Can the eye see all to be seen, and the ear hear all to be heard? Can the hand feel all to be felt ,
and the nose smell all to be smelled? Or can the tongue taste all to be tasted? Only when Faith,
born of divine Imagination, comes to their aid will the senses truly sense and thus become
ladders to the summit.
Senses devoid of Faith are most undependable guides. Though their road appear to be smooth
and broad, yet is it full of hidden traps and pitfalls; and those who take it to the summit of
Freedom either perish on the way, or slip and tumble back to the base from which they made
their start; and there they nurse many a broken bone; and there they stitch many a gapping
The men with the small nostalgia are they who, having build a world with their senses, soon
find it small and stuffy; and so they long for a larger and airier home. But instead of seeking
new materials and a new master builder, they rummage up the old materials and call upon the
same architect – the senses – to design and build for them a larger home. No sooner is the new
one built than they find it so small and so stuffy as the old. And so they go on demolishing and
building, and never can they build the home that gives them the comfort and the freedom they
carve. For they rely upon their deceivers to save them from deceit. And like the fish that jumps
from the frying pan into the fire, they run away from a small mirage only to be lured by a bigger
Between the men of the great and the men of the Small Nostalgia are the vast herds of rabbitmen
who feel no nostalgia at all. They are content to dig their holes and live and breed and die
therein; and they find their holes quite elegant, and roomy, and warm, and would not exchange
them for the splendor of a kingly palace. And they snicker at all somnambulists, especially the
ones who walk a solitary trail whose footprints are few and very hard to trace.


Much like an eagle hatched by a backyard hen and cooped up with t brood of that hen is the
man with the Great Nostalgia among his fellow-men. His brother-chicks and mother-hen would
have the young eagle as one of them, possessed of their nature and habits, and living as they
live; and he would have them like himself – dreamers of the freer air and skies illimitable. But
soon he finds him a stranger and a pariah among them; and he is pecked by all – even his
mother. But the call of the summits is loud in his blood, and the stench of the coop
exasperating to his nose. Yet does he suffer it all in silence till he is fully fledged. And then he
mounts the air, and casts a loving farewell look upon his erstwhile brothers and their mother
who merrily cackle on as they dig in the earth for more seed and worms.
Rejoice, Micayon. Yours is a prophet’s dream. The Great Nostalgia has made your world too
small, and made you a stranger in that world. It has unloosed your imagination from the grip of
the despotic senses; and imagination has brought you forth your Faith.
And Faith shall lift you high above the stagnant, stifling world and carry you across the dreary
emptiness and up the Rugged Mountains where every faith must needs be tried and purified of
the last dregs of Doubt.
And Faith so purified and triumphant shall lead you to the boundaries of the eternally green
Summit and there deliver you into the hands of Understanding. Having discharged its task,
Faith shall retire, and Understanding shall guide your steps to the unutterable Freedom of the
Summit which is the true, the boundless, and all-including home of God and the Overcoming
Stand well to the test Micayon. Stand well, you all. To stand but for a moment on that summit
is worth enduring every kind of pain. But to abide forever on that Summit is worth Eternity.
Himbal: Would you not lift us now to your summit though for a glimpse, however brief?
MIRDAD: Be not in haste, Himbal, and bide your time. Where I breathe freely, there you
gasp for breath. Where I walk lightly, there you pant and stumble. Keep you hold on Faith; and
Faith shall perform the gigantic feat.
So taught I Noah.
So I teach you.