Formal Irrational: Negative
The spiritual dilemma grows ever deeper. While scaling vertical intuitive states of development, one steadily loses contact with horizontal rational states. In order to cope with the psychological problems this entails, one is driven to a purer level of commitment through an extremely intensive level of spiritual purgation.
This is the really critical stage on the transpersonal journey. It is the famous "dark night of the soul" or simply "dark night" though this is somewhat vague. St. John refers to it more accurately as the "dark night of spirit".
What it entails is a radical erosion of all deeply rooted conceptual structures.
Initially purgation was limited to the more concrete phenomena. Now in addition all formal phenomena must be uprooted so that nothing remains in consciousness. This involves the negative direction of formal rational understanding (esp. in relation to inner judgement (the active night of spirit). More importantly it involves the negative direction of the recently acquired formal irrational understanding (i.e. suprarational structures in the passive night of spirit). Not surprisingly it is most arduous psychologically involving a type of suffering that can only be appreciated by those who have directly experienced it.
The stage typically gets underway through being plunged into such deep darkness that one feels completely lost and desolate. One experiences in a deeper way the misery of the human condition where one's own suffering reflects the suffering of humanity which now seems to grow without limit.
After a while though the darkness does not lift one adjusts better to this new underworld and bravely tries to carry on without consolation. For a while one may still conscious of a very faint light enabling a degree of spiritual hope.
A very refined form of internal translation now takes place. This is the development (in relation to judgement and feeling) of the internally based irrational structures. Decisions now seem extremely finely balanced and relative. One daily agonises with one's conscience waiting for a dim intuitive signal confirming that one is doing right. However as the light grows dimmer, the agony becomes more acute and one develops severe scruples.
The affective aspect of this phase involves a generalised form of compassion whereby one identifies with suffering in all forms. There is however a feeling of complete helplessness. One can see no way of actually relieving this misery.
However the stage inevitably gets even more difficult. The negative direction of these internally based structures now is developed, so that all remaining light is taken away. One is completely alone in a terrifying darkness. Though living increasingly by pure faith there is a growing conviction that one has finally lost one's way. Severe communication problems arise and psychotic symptoms in the form of severe depression are likely to surface. These only seem to confirm that one's spiritual quest has finally ended in tragic failure.
One now heads towards a terrible crisis.