After reading the comments on the previous post, a word of explanation seems to be required. "Looking into the dark and listening to silence" is not a metaphor for depression, it's just another way of talking about the via negativa, the spiritual path that has appealed to countless mystics over the ages, as well as folks like Dave and me. From the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, to St. John of the Cross, to Thomas Merton, as well as many Buddhist scholars, the via negativa has been a fruitful way of seeking and speaking about spiritual truths.
For people unfamiliar with this term, the via negativa means looking for answers about God and existence in "what is not" rather than saying “God is this, and God is this”, or declaring “here are the answers”, or “sign this pledge, join this organization, say these words and find salvation.” Words like "dark" and "silence" are metaphors for the obscurity one faces when pursuing this path. One throws out previous conceptions, and approaches "God" in what can NOT be seen, felt, heard, touched, rather than trying to define and describe the Holy in normal terms related to everyday life. This does not mean that we don’t see God as being “light” or “Love”, and it certainly doesn’t mean that a person drawn to this path is miserable and unable to laugh or sing – quite the opposite. It means more that God, approached in this way, is increasingly undefinable, unknowable, exceeding our human concepts, impossible to quantify. That does not mean, however, that one feels small and insignificant by comparison; in fact, this “dark” path tends to illuminate the ways in which God is everywhere, interpenetrating all of existence, filling ourselves and others and the spaces between beings. It is akin to much of Buddhist thought and yet, in the Christian form, we do find something we call “God” in that emptiness.
Another characteristic of the via negativa is that it is just about impossible to talk about. This is the realm of paradox ("one must lose one's life in order to find it") and metaphor ("for the moon there is the cloud"), of experience rather than words, of uncodified truths rather than dogma and doctrine. Normal verbal prayer becomes redundant when one realizes that everything is already known, including our thoughts; the seeker who empties herself in silence becomes a vessel to be filled as well as an overflowing cup, linked to the inexhaustible source of all that is. Rather than finding easy answers that one day may prove to be insufficient or false, one realizes that this is a path that never ends; that on it one may continue and grow in wisdom throughout an entire lifetime, while realizing, paradoxically, that one actually knows less and less! It is not, however, easy; one has to be content with questions rather than answers, with obscurity and things half-seen, with a “sense” of things rather than proof; and it is also solitary, though one tends to find companions along the way. The via negativa does not negate beauty, life, light, and love; in fact it is a way to begin to see and embody them as they really are, existing side-by-side with their opposites, no longer denied but accepted and held, gently, in the other hand.