Man is called into existence by the word of God, so God’s first impingement on his cognition has describable shape. For some individuals, later, there is contact with God the Spirit, and through this process the man moves from one epistemological universe to another, since each Trinitarian person, being a person, exudes a unique epistemological universe. These are not the uniqunesses of inferior to a superior; this is not the climbing of a mystical stair, since there is no heirarchy in the Trinity. It is the movement from knowing to being known.
The Spirit’s characteristic is to not be known, but to make Another known. So, He does not exist in a form calibrated to be known. Because His function is to make Another known, His default activity is to know. He searches the heart of the individual.
Being known entails the cognition of no form or concept because the soul is now object rather than knowing subject. Thus, the closeness of the Spirit is perceived at first, as darkness — not the moral darkness of the absence of light, but the perceptual darkness of the absence of form. To be known is a darkness, easily mistaken for something bad.
The Spirit knows us (He searches the inner deeps). The knowing of us must necessarily be without concept or feeling or form, for we are the object and not the subject. The knowing organ must necessarily be bigger than the known object (Comprehension is a means of circumscription.”)In Word there is verification, because there are delineations and boundaries. Indeed, to delineate is the function of the word. But in the Spirit there is no verification because the subject, the soul, is either within the boundaries or the Spirit has no boundaries (I’m not sure which, because it is dark). He blows where He will.
The ability to analyze presupposes distance from the object. Union makes analysis, makes verification, impossible. In order to analyze one must step back and get distance. So, the verification of the Spirit is in the Word, and not in the Spirit by direct perception. But this does not mean the Spirit cannot initiate His own verification, and in fact He does: He witnesses to us we are sons of God. But this verification which the Spirit initiates by the witness is very different and is known by a different knowing organ — a passive organ — than the verification in the Word, which is active and conceptual.
There are, then, multiple darknesses and most souls set themselves back years and years by not understanding this. The darkness from lack of form is the primordial darkness and is not evil. It is not to be hated. This is the root of the Dark Night of the Soul written about in Western mystical literature.
Moral darkness, or outer darkness, is the abode of sin and negligence and hell. It is to be hated. It is simply the night of having wandered far away from the Light at the center of the turning universe.
There are many other minor hours or days in what the soul percieves as darkness; these are just the natural ups and downs of our emotional life. Their extreme is what we call clinical depression. This is not — NOT — the Dark Night. (One of the silliest reductionisms in modern religious writing is to equate the Dark Night of the Soul with these natural blue periods. These modern writers on the “spiritual” life shouldn’t even be allowed to read John of the Cross, since they trivialize everything they touch.)
So, as I say, there are multiple darknesses. .