69 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2010
I'm a 23 year old who suffers bouts of deep depression - sometimes it feels like there is no way out. I was in therapy all of last year and finished a month ago. This was one of the books that came highly recommended by my therapist, so I thought I'd give it a go. When you feel depressed, it's hard to convince yourself that a book can help you - it's almost a pride thing - "Pffft - no one can help me, no one understands, so what good is a book going to do"!
However, this was just what I needed at that time, and it really opened my eyes to my condition. It comforted me and made me feel normal again - and although it didn't "cure me", it definitely put the wheels of recovery in motion.
Everyone will be able to find a section of the book that is relevant to them - I was a depressed, alcoholic musician that lacked faith in my own musical ability, and at the same time thought I was an undiscovered genius. Yes - there was an even a section about that specifically!!!
There are a lot of self help books out there that promise to rid you of depression forever, but I personally don't think they are helpful or realstic. This is a very spiritual and philosophical approach that will guide you through those dark nights of the soul, and teach you the tools to help deal with your condition.
This book really did change my life. It helped me to stop looking for happiness in all the wrong places, and whenever I'm having a bad spell this book is always within reach to help me out the other side.
PS - I'm aware this review makes me sound like a hippy who sells incense on street corners. Just wanted to let you know that I'm not!
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
“The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross” consists of the writings of this 16th century Spanish Mystic and Doctor of the Church. St. John was a Carmelite friar and friend of St. Theresa of Avila. A valued spiritual counselor, many of his works were written as instruction to religious who sought his guidance.
The book consists of four major works and many minor works. The major works are “The Ascent of Mount Carmel”, “The Dark Night”, “The Spiritual Canticle” and “The Living Flame of Love”. Each of the major works consists of a poem, written by St. John, and an extensive, word by word, explanation. In the explanation, St. John reveals his own theology, supported by verses from Scripture.
The minor works consist of letters written to his contemporaries as well as a collection of St. John’s poetry.
This is definitely not light reading. The reader must concentrate on his the text in order to appreciate what he is reading. I am glad that I read it from two perspectives. From an historical perspective, it provides the reader with a good introduction into the world of mystical writing. More importantly, from a spiritual perspective, this book gives the reader an insight into God’s call to all Christians to draw themselves more closely to Himself. The spirit of this book is difficult to explain. It is a classical book which is better experienced than described.
82 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on 26 December 2004
This book says it all. Thomas Moore's sensitivity, perception, humility and depth makes this work the most magical piece of literature! He explains life's entirety! His views about how to care for those dark times and heaviness that many of us experience are so insightful! Instead of being scared of the dark and running away from the shadows (and then trying to cure this "condition", something which most of us have been taught to do in society these days) he embraces them and shows us where the magic, myth and the deepest, most transforming spiritual energy hides: in the darkest abyss of nothingness. Definitely read this one!
71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2006
This book answersed all of the questions i had, in terms of my own spiritual journey. It explains why the dark days are so awful and why the light days are so in abundance with joy. Having read many spiritual guidance books, in religeons across the board, i found this to be the definative guide to understanding my own true existence.
God has to make us endure pain, desolation and deep emotion in order for us to appreciate and fully understand the path we are on. If we had only 'positive' days we would not endlessley search for spiritual fulfillment. This journey is fully explained in this book and its a reflective tool that we can use daily to enchance our understanding of a spiritual journey.
The soul is illuminated by positive experiences, the serenity felt lulls the soul into feeling comfortable. however, each stage of the journey brings a deeper, and more desolate emotion. Through this book, you learn to battle through this, and achieve a sense of calm that enables you to proceed to the next stage.
Its a book that i am able to read again and again, each time gaining a deeper understanding of my own spiritual journey. Well worth a read!.
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2007
I had been going through an extended and extremely difficult - albeit very beautiful - period spiritually. A trusted friend with whom I shared my journey said, "I'm going to lend you a book." I thought, "Oh no, not another book! Almost everybody I speak to at more than a superficial level recommends a book to sort me out!" I politely accepted, however, intending only to thumb briefly through Gerald May's 'The Dark Night Of The Soul.' To my amazement, I devoured every word and was often in tears. Why? For a while before reading, I had come to question the validity of my spiritual experience but almost every paragraph in this book confirmed its authenticity.
Subsequently I ordered three copies for myself. One is heavily annotated with comments like "Yes, yes, yes!" or "That's me!" The second copy is for my bookshelf and the third is for lending to anybody I believe it might help.
Dr. May's treatment of the teachings of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, which are the subject of this book, is thoughtful and thorough. More than that, it is carried out with great love and insight and is beautifully and clearly written. Contrary to popular belief, the dark night of the soul does not denote great suffering, often seeming to manifest without reason and bringing forth no worthwhile outcome. Rather does it mean that God takes us, in love, to places where we would not or could not go ourselves in order that we might grow spiritually, and while there can be considerable pain, there is also great beauty.
The value of the book for me is that it was confirmational rather than aspirational, that is, it helped me because it confirmed what was already in place in my inner life. Had I come from a different direction, happened to come across the book and regarded what it describes as a state to aspire to - or be afraid of - I could well have found it frustrating. I say this to guide the would-be reader. If you have experienced a deep inner spirituality that nurtures you beyond what you could have thought possible, even though frequently painful, then you understand the paradoxical blend of miracle and misery that can leave you bewildered. If this describes your present circumstance, and you find that your experience is frequently challenged by all kinds of outside influences, in other words if you are somewhat like me, there is a strong possibility that you will find this book very helpful whether you are Christian or not, for most of Dr. May's message is universal in its appeal. If you are at an early stage of your spiritual journey, you might be wise to postpone reading the book until the conditions I have described apply more or less to your situation.
60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2005
When I first started to read this book I got lost. I then skipped a few pages at the start and the rest was much easier. The more I read of the book, the more I realised how accurate it was - the problems listed in the book were the problems I was facing in my spiritual life. I had thought that I was on my own but this book gave me great comfort to see that what I was going through was so similar to the problems others had as well.
It gave me the chance to open my heart to God and see how to carry on.
85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 1999
The first time I attempted this book it was beyond me. After I had experienced a great tragedy in my life, however, I was more in tune with what St. John was talking about. Sometimes God must remove all of our props to get us to love Him, rather than the goodies He can give us. This may even include having to undergo a purging of the senses, and long periods of depression. My prayer to God for a long time has been, "Lord, whatever it takes, make me a man of God". Sometimes I have a hard time dealing with the "whatever it takes" part, but it's well worth it. Find a quiet place alone and read this book.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2006
I found this book thoughtful, wide-ranging, well written and extremely useful when I first read it. Although I generally don't read this type of book in one go, I made an exception! I have returned to it often since and it always helps me gain perspective. Definitely worth buying.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2012
This book is truly enlightening. As a therapist for more than 20 years and being an eternal optimist, this has answered so many questions and enabled me to help others to an even higher degree. I had studied Jung extensively and embraced and taught the shadow side but Thomas Moore has an incredibly elegant way of introducing and actually almost seducing you to be brave enough to enter this level of understanding that is liberating. This book is now in my top ten best reads ever - and my library is very extensive!
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2006
This is a classic book - richly descriptive of spiritual realities, and providing sound guidance by a Doctor of the Church. It is probably best to have had an introduction to the spiritual life first, try 'The Introduction to the devout life' by St Francis de Sales; for a contremporary and helpful introduction try Fr Thomas Dubay ' Prayer Primer' and his introduction to St John of the Cross ' The Fire within'.
Just a note - St John would have laughed at the idea that the devil is only your own ego! Or that God is a deeper region of yourself! This book takes seriously the idea of growing closer to a real god who is passionately in love with you, expect to be challenged to change and grow.