Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines traditional descriptions of challenging stages of Jewish, Christian, and Islamicate meditative paths and some of the ways in which contemporary teachers and students in the West interpret them. It explores how these “dark nights” are understood in some contemplative systems as part of an oscillatory trajectory between expansive and constricting states of consciousness that ultimately lead to traditional goals. These contemporary traditions often draw upon classical mystical texts to appraise such challenging experiences but translate their medieval frameworks of purification into the arena of depth psychology. In introducing the conception of “non-linear paths,” this chapter seeks to highlight the ways in which certain meditation-related difficulties are interpreted and normalized even as individual variability and the unpredictable nature of these paths has been acknowledged for centuries in these traditions.

Keywords: meditation experiences, adverse effects, meditation-related difficulties, dark night, non-linear path, meditative path

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.