Another Quote from Gerald May

I’ve been consumed with a presention on ethics I’ll be offering to the Heart of Texas Counseling Association in a couple of weeks, and so blogging has, once again, fallen to the wayside.

However, I wanted to let you in on these words from Gerald May (the formatting is mine):

[The dark night of the soul experience] liberates desire by diminishing attachment.
The immediate result is expansion of human freedom.
Freedom, however, is not an end in itself.
It is not just freedom from something;
it must also be freedom for something.

In the spiritual life, freedom is for nothing other than love.

Human beings exist because of love,
and the meaning and goal of our lives is love.

In Christian understanding, every-thing that is authentic in the spiritual life points toward the increasing fulfillment of the two great commandments:
to love God and
other people
in a completely unfettered way.

Liberation from attachment is only a means to this end.

Gerald May, The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth, p. 98


About Wes Eades

I've been a pastoral counselor, marital therapist, and overall listening ear since about 1989 or so.
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6 Responses to Another Quote from Gerald May

  1. Emily says:

    Freedom, loving others… yes this makes sense but “liberation from attachment?” What exactly does that mean?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Could it mean something like Philippians 4:11? ” …for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

  3. Bob says:

    My Dear Eades: How does one love w/o attachment? Maybe in a Platonic world. Love w/o attachment seems pretty sterile. Or does attachment imply a degree of selfish ownership?

  4. Practical Spirituality says:

    Yes… love implies an absence of selfish ownership… the freedom to love without expectation…

  5. Emily says:

    Another thought on leaving attachments:

    “To love God as He ought to be loved, we must be detached from all temporal love. We must love nothing but Him, or if we love anything else, we must love it only for His sake. ”
    — St. Peter Claver

  6. Emily says:

    I’m slow… months later I’m still chewing on May’s words about liberating desire by diminishing attachment.
    Maybe I’m finally getting it:
    God is the one constant and most significant attachment… outlasting all other attachments (family, friends, income, education, etc.). When I keep my one constant relationship/attachment to God separate from everything else, I am liberated from all other attachments (they are diminished). Then I am freed to fulfill love, unfettered… by loving God and loving others.

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