(1) Psychologically considered, the Dark Night is an example of the operation of the law of reaction from stress. It is a period of fatigue and lassitude following a period of sustained mystical activity. “It is one of the best established laws of the nervous system,” says Starbuck, “that it has periods of exhaustion if exercised continuously in one direction, and can only recuperate by having a period of rest.” However spiritual he may be, the mystic—so long as he is in the body—cannot help using the machinery of his nervous and cerebral system in the course of his adventures. His development, on its psychic side, consists in the taking over of this machinery, the capture of its centres of consciousness, in the interests of his growing transcendental life. In so far, then, as this is so, that transcendental life will be partly conditioned by psychic necessities, and amenable to the laws of reaction and of fatigue. Each great step forward will entail lassitude and exhaustion for that mental machinery which he has pressed unto service and probably overworked. When the higher centres have been submitted to the continuous strain of a developed illuminated life, with its accompanying periods of intense fervour, lucidity, deep contemplation—perhaps of visionary and auditive phenomena—the swing-back into the negative state occurs almost of necessity.


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