Dante’s Inferno and the meaning of descent, with Rupert Sheldrake

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The Divine Comedy by Dante is one of the great spiritual works of the Christian tradition. But how can it be read and what does it mean?

In this episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon discuss the first part of Dante’s cosmic pilgrimage. It takes Dante through the circles of hell, until he reaches the lowest point of reality, the region furthest from God.

It becomes clear that descent into darkness is a key part of personal transformation because it helps the individual discern the dark side of experiences such as love, anger and fame, in order that the light they also bring might be discerned. This also explains why the Inferno can comfort as well as disturb: troubling experiences and spiritual emergencies can be as much a part of enlightenment as those that are delightful and satisfying. Rupert and Mark will talk about the Purgatorio and Paradiso in future discussions.

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