Well now let’s get back to our castle with its many dwelling places. You mustn’t think of these dwelling places in such a way that each one would follow in file after the other; but turn your eyes toward the centre, the royal chamber.
The soul is capable of much more than we can imagine, and the sun that is in the royal chamber shines in all parts.
It should be kept in mind here that the fount, the shining sun that is the centre of the soul, does not lose its beauty and splendour; it is always present in the soul, and nothing can take away its loveliness. But if a black cloth is placed over a crystal that is in the sun, obviously the sun’s brilliance will have no effect on the crystal even though the sun is shining on it.
You shouldn’t want to know anything else than the fact that, although the very sun that gave the soul so much brilliance and beauty is still in the centre, the soul is as though not there to share these things
You must note that hardly any of the light coming from the King’s royal chamber reaches the first dwelling places. They are darkened so that the soul cannot see the light. The darkness is not caused by a flaw in the room, but by so many things that enter with the soul and don’t allow it to be aware of the light. It’s as if a person were to enter a place where the sun is shining but be hardly able to open his eyes because of the mud in them. The room is bright but he doesn’t enjoy it because of the impediments that make him close his eyes to everything but them.
In the first rooms souls are still absorbed in the world and engulfed in their pleasures and vanities, with their honours and pretences, the senses and faculties.
The soul is so involved in worldly things and so absorbed with its possessions, honour, or business affairs, that even if it would want to see and enjoy its beauty, these things do not allow it to; nor does it seem that it can slip free from so many impediments. If a person is to enter the second dwelling places, it is important that he strive to give up unnecessary things and business affairs. Each one should do so in conformity with his state in life.
St Teresa of Avila. The Interior Castle. 1:2
Now then let us deal with the divine and spiritual marriage…
In the spiritual marriage, there is still much less remembrance of the body because this secret union takes place in the very interior centre of the soul, which must be where God himself is…
What God communicates here to the soul in an instant is a secret so great and a favour so sublime – and the delight the soul experiences so extreme…
Thus the soul could be joined in this heavenly union with the uncreated Spirit…
The first effect is a forgetfulness of self, for truly the soul, seemingly, no longer is…
It experiences strange forgetfulness, for, as I say, seemingly the soul no longer is, or would want to be…
When the impulse comes to you, remember that it comes from this interior dwelling place where God is in our soul…
Nor does the Lord in all the favours He grants the soul here receive any assistance from the soul itself, except what it has already done in surrendering itself totally…
So in this temple of God, in this His dwelling place, He alone and the soul rejoice together in the deepest silence.
- St Teresa of Avila. The Interior Castle.
One has to follow this method…
this method of emptying
the faculties of their natural occupations
to make room for illumination.
Remain alone in a loving awareness,
without particular considerations,
in interior quiet,
without the acts and exercises of the faculties.
Remain only in general loving awareness,
without any particular knowledge or understanding.
The preparation for this union is not an understanding,
nor the taste, feeling, or imagining of God or any other object,
but the stripping off
of all experiences for God alone.
If individuals would eliminate these impediments
and live in pure nakedness,
their soul in its simplicity and purity
would then be immediately transformed
into simple and pure Wisdom.
- St John of the Cross. Ascent of Mt Carmel.
Oh, what a sheer grace it is for the soul to be freed from the house of its senses! This fortune, in my opinion, can only be understood by the person who has savoured it. For then a person will become clearly aware of the wretched servitude and the many miseries suffered when subject to the activity of the faculties and appetites. It will be understood how the life of the spirit is true freedom and wealth.
In the measure that the soul walks in darkness and emptiness in its natural operations, it walks securely.
Oh, then, spiritual soul, when you see your appetites darkened, your inclinations dry, your faculties incapacitated, do not be afflicted; think of this as a grace, since God is freeing you from yourself.
Indeed, the soul is getting lost from what it knew and tasted, and going by a way in which it neither knows nor tastes.
Another more basic reason the soul walks securely in darkness is that this light, or obscure wisdom, so absorbs and engulfs the soul in the dark night of contemplation and brings it so near God that it is protected and freed from all that is not God.
The spiritual light is so bright and so transcendent that it blinds and darkens the natural intellect as this latter approaches it.
Since the wisdom of this contemplation is the language of God to the soul, of Pure Spirit to pure spirit, all that is less than spirit, such as the sensory, fails to perceive it. Consequently this wisdom is secret to the senses; they have neither the knowledge nor the ability to speak of it, nor do they even desire to do so because it is beyond words.
- St John of the Cross. Dark Night II
The pure spirit does not meddle with exterior attachments or human respect, but it communes inwardly with God, alone and in solitude as to all forms, and with delightful tranquility, for the knowledge of God is received in divine silence.