Mother Theresa's Inner Darkness
A new work is out, from Mother Theresa's proculator (petitioner for her sainthood), that reveals Theresa lived in a state of spiritual dryness, aridity, and separation (of feeling) from God for the last 40 plus years of her life.
Article from Time. The book (Come Be My Light) is a series of letters and personal meditations from Theresa.
From the article:
That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything." Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love," she remarks to an adviser. "If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'"Her words are powerful and her suffering immense.
So what is going here? Christopher Hitchens of course (so pathetically ignorant) chimes in that Theresa knew, like the rest of us, religion is a fraud.
There is a more subtle answer, to say the least.
Theresa realized spiritual union in a famous vision of total rapture and conversation with Christ on the Cross prior to her leaving to work with the poor. When she did, Christ vanished from her interior world. He entered into the face of the poor.
She had reached the climax of interior connection to the Divine on the relative plane.
Her dryness was due in part, I would argue, to the fact that she was never taught there was another plane of (non)spiritual realization: The Nondual.
The article mentions St. Paul of the Cross, famous early modern saint, who for 40 years himself was in aridity, only towards the end of his life to have been raised from the Causal (John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila's Mystical Marriage) to the Nondual Indistinct Union (Meister Eckhart's Gottheit).
If Teresa had known this path, the path of inquiry, the aridity might have been less. She was searching in the realm of the soul-God when she had already exhausted everything capable in that realm.
The Soul in Mystical Marriage is fired so that it might burn through life (in love)--as she did so wonderfully. Eventually (a la Bernadette Roberts) meant to burn out completely. On the far side of the annihilation of the Soul, lies the realization of the Witness/Godhead and from there to the dropping of the Witness, to Isness Alone.
On the far side of Isness (Sahaj Samahdi) lies a new Burning, without selfhood--Bhava Samadhi. An evolutionary-Pentecostal burning. God and creation burn together in that place.
Melt, like liquid fire.
Theresa, could have asked, "Who is it that is Aware of this Dryness/Absence of God?" That one is free of the pain/torment of the Absence.
To ask that question is to take the red pill and go down the rabbit hole.
This is why the work of Indistinct Union, bringing back the awareness and the practice--without the fear of heresy labels--is so important for Christianity.
Siddhis who are free to participate (or not participate) in whatever states and reality emerge. From the perception of Isness, Absence and Presence (of God, of anyone, of anything) is equally the manifestation of the Ultimate.
God's Presence and God's Absence are only two sides of the same Godhead-minted coin.
Update I: Vince has a good post on the subject referencing Bernadette Roberts as well. I have a comment in the comment section.