John of the Cross, the Dark Night of the Soul, and the <i>Jh?nas</i> and the <i>Ar?pa States</i>
A Critical Comparative Study
Keywords:jhāna, arūpa states, pīti, sukha, meditation, contemplation, comparative spirituality, dark night, union with God
This paper examines function and structure within the religious paths advocated by John of the Cross (1542–1591), and the Buddha, with particular reference to the jh?nas and the ar?pa states, as represented in selected suttas within the P?li texts. First, John of the Cross and the jh?na and ar?pa states are contextualised. The teaching in The Ascent of Mount Carmel and The Dark Night (John of the Cross), and the S?maññaphala Sutta, the Niv?pa Sutta and the Anupada Sutta (Sutta Pi?aka) is then summarised. The two are then brought into conversation with each other to examine the extent to which the religious paths described move within the same landscape of spiritual practice. Differences in context and metaphysical underpinning are recognised. The paper argues, nevertheless, that similarities are more than evident, particularly with reference to attachment to sensory objects, discursive thought, and the idea of the self or the ‘I’. The paper demonstrates that the two speak of mystical paths, which share many of the same practices and fruits, although couched in different metaphors.
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