It now remains for me to give certain counsels
whereby the soul may know how to enter this night of
sense and may be able so to do. To this end it must
be known that the soul habitually enters this night
of sense in two ways: the one is active; the other
The active way consists in that which the soul can
do, and does, of itself, in order to enter therein,
whereof we shall now treat in the counsels which
The passive way is that wherein the soul does
nothing, and God works in it, and it remains, as it
were, patient. Of this we shall treat in the fourth
book, where we shall be treating of beginners.
And because there, with the Divine favour, we
shall give many counsels to beginners, according to
the many imperfections which they are apt to have
while on this road, I shall not spend time in giving
many here. And this, too, because it belongs not to
this place to give them, as at present we are
treating only of the reasons for which this journey
is called a night, and of what kind it is, and how
many parts it has. But, as it seems that it would be
incomplete, and less profitable than it should be, if
we gave no help or counsel here for walking in this
night of desires, I have thought well to set down
briefly here the way which is to be followed: and I
shall do the same at the end of each of the next two
parts, or causes, of this night, whereof, with the
help of the Lord, I have to treat.
2. These counsels for the conquering of the
desires, which now follow, albeit brief and few, I
believe to be as profitable and efficacious as they
are concise; so that one who sincerely desires to
practice them will need no others, but will find them
all included in these.
3. First, let him have an habitual desire to
imitate Christ in everything that he does, conforming
himself to His life; upon which life he must meditate
so that he may know how to imitate it, and to behave
in all things as Christ would behave.
4. Secondly, in order that he may be able to do
this well, every pleasure that presents itself to the
senses, if it be not purely for the honour and glory
of God, must be renounced and completely rejected for
the love of Jesus Christ, Who in this life had no
other pleasure, neither desired any, than to do the
will of His Father, which He called His meat and
I take this example. If there present itself to a
man the pleasure of listening to things that tend not
to the service and honour of God, let him not desire
that pleasure, nor desire to listen to them; and if
there present itself the pleasure of looking at
things that help him not Godward, let him not desire
the pleasure or look at these things; and if in
conversation or in aught else soever such pleasure
present itself, let him act likewise. And similarly
with respect to all the senses, in so far as he can
fairly avoid the pleasure in question; if he cannot,
it suffices that, although these things may be
present to his senses, he desires not to have this
pleasure. And in this wise he will be able to mortify
and void his senses of such pleasure, as though they
were in darkness. If he takes care to do this, he
will soon reap great profit.
5. For the mortifying and calming of the four
natural passions, which are joy, hope, fear and
grief, from the concord and pacification whereof come
these and other blessings, the counsels here
following are of the greatest help, and of great
merit, and the source of great virtues.
6. Strive always to prefer, not that which is
easiest, but that which is most difficult;
Not that which is most delectable, but that which is
Not that which gives most pleasure, but rather that
which gives least;
Not that which is restful, but that which is
Not that which is consolation, but rather that which
Not that which is greatest, but that which is least;
Not that which is loftiest and most precious, but
that which is lowest and most despised;
Not that which is a desire for anything, but
that which is a desire for nothing;
Strive to go about seeking not the best of temporal
things, but the worst.
Strive thus to desire to enter into complete
detachment and emptiness and poverty, with respect to
everything that is in the world, for Christ's sake.
7. And it is meet that the soul embrace these acts
with all its heart and strive to subdue its will
thereto. For, if it perform them with its heart, it
will very quickly come to find in them great delight
and consolation, and to act with order and
8. These things that have been said, if they be
faithfully put into practice, are quite sufficient
for entrance into the night of sense; but, for
greater completeness, we shall describe another kind
of exercise which teaches us to mortify the
concupiscence of the flesh and the concupiscence of
the eyes, and the pride of life, which, says Saint
John, are the things that reign in the world,
from which all the other desires proceed.
9. First, let the soul strive to work in its own
despite, and desire all to do so. Secondly, let it
strive to speak in its own despite and desire all to
do so. Third, let it strive to think humbly of
itself, in its own despite, and desire all to do so.
10. To conclude these counsels and rules, it will
be fitting to set down here those lines which are
written in the Ascent of the Mount, which is the
figure that is at the beginning of this book; the
which lines are instructions for ascending to it, and
thus reaching the summit of union.
For, although it is true that that which is there
spoken of is spiritual and interior, there is
reference likewise to the spirit of imperfection
according to sensual and exterior things, as may be
seen by the two roads which are on either side of the
path of perfection. It is in this way and according
to this sense that we shall understand them here;
that is to say, according to that which is sensual.
Afterwards, in the second part of this night, they
will be understood according to that which is
11. The lines are these:
In order to arrive at having pleasure in
Desire to have pleasure in nothing.
In order to arrive at possessing everything,
Desire to possess nothing.
In order to arrive at being everything,
Desire to be nothing.
In order to arrive at knowing everything,
Desire to know nothing.
In order to arrive at that wherein thou hast no
Thou must go by a way wherein thou hast no pleasure.
In order to arrive at that which thou knowest not,
Thou must go by a way that thou knowest not.
In order to arrive at that which thou possessest not,
Thou must go by a way that thou possessest not.
In order to arrive at that which thou art not,
Thou must go through that which thou art not.
12. When thy mind dwells upon anything,
Thou art ceasing to cast thyself upon the All.
For, in order to pass from the all to the All,
Thou hast to deny thyself wholly in all.
And, when thou comest to possess it wholly,
Thou must possess it without desiring anything.
For, if thou wilt have anything in having all,
Thou hast not thy treasure purely in God.
13. In this detachment the spiritual soul finds
its quiet and repose; for, since it covets nothing,
nothing wearies it when it is lifted up, and nothing
oppresses it when it is cast down, because it is in
the centre of its humility; but when it covets
anything, at that very moment it becomes wearied.