Long before the idea of “mid-life crises” became part of our modern nomenclature, there have been men and women throughout the ages who have undergone some tough, emotional and psychological—and spiritual—crises. Sixteenth-Century Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross, called this period “the dark night of the soul.” Evelyn Underhill, in her 1911 book, Mysticism, said this period of time “is a deeply human process.” In this passage, Underhill describes the process.
I never read a book without underlining sentences. And in the many books I’ve read, I’ve underlined a lot of sentences.
I used to think it an odd habit until I once read what the renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell had to say about it: “I remember Alan Watts asked me one day, ‘Joe, what kind of meditation do you do?’ I said, “I underline sentences.”
This section offers a random sampling of sentences I have underlined from books old and new, on topics across the board.
Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement contains a richly textured narrative about the brutalities of World War II in Europe. Here he describes how the love of a woman at home sustained a soldier through it all, and fed his effort to return to her.
Chögyam Trungpa was a renowned Tibetan Buddhist of the Shambhala tradition, which believes, he wrote, “that in this world, as it is, we can find a good and meaningful human life that will also serve others.” In one of his first books, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, he writes of how the essence of fearlessness is not in denying that fear exists but in going beyond fear.