January 16th, 2015

The Cloud Of Unknowing (7) Sixth Chapter


A short conceit of the work of this book, treated by question.

BUT now thou askest me and sayest, "How shall I think on Himself, and
what is He?" and to this I cannot answer thee but thus: "I wot not."

For thou hast brought me with thy question into that same darkness, and
into that same cloud of unknowing, that I would thou wert in thyself.
For of all other creatures and their works, yea, and of the works of
God's self, may a man through grace have fullhead of knowing, and well
he can think of them: but of God Himself can no man think. And
therefore I would leave all that thing that I can think, and choose to
my love that thing that I cannot think. For why; He may well be loved,
but not thought. By love may He be gotten and holden; but by thought
never. And therefore, although it be good sometime to think of the
kindness and the worthiness of God in special, and although it be a
light and a part of contemplation: nevertheless yet in this work it
shall be cast down and covered with a cloud of forgetting. And thou
shalt step above it stalwartly, but Mistily, with a devout and a
pleasing stirring of love, and try for to pierce that darkness above
thee. And smite upon that thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of
longing love; and go not thence for thing that befalleth.

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The Cloud Of Unknowing (8): Seventh Chapter -- Mantra


How a man shall have him in this work against all thoughts, and
specially against all those that arise of his own curiosity, of
cunning, and of natural wit.

AND if any thought rise and will press continually above thee betwixt
thee and that darkness, and ask thee saying, "What seekest thou, and
what wouldest thou have?" say thou, that it is God that thou wouldest
have. "Him I covet, Him I seek, and nought but Him."

And if he ask thee, "What is that God?" say thou, that it is God that
made thee and bought thee, and that graciously hath called thee to thy
degree. "And in Him," say, "thou hast no skill." And therefore say, "Go
thou down again," and tread him fast down with a stirring of love,
although he seem to thee right holy, and seem to thee as he would help
thee to seek Him. For peradventure he will bring to thy mind diverse
full fair and wonderful points.....(You) shalt be scattered thou wottest not where. ..

And yet, nevertheless, the thing that he said was both good and holy.
Yea, and so holy, that what man or woman that weeneth to come to
contemplation without many such sweet meditations of their own
wretchedness, the passion, the kindness, and the great goodness, and
the worthiness of God coming before, surely he shall err and fail of
his purpose. And yet, nevertheless, it behoveth a man or a woman that
hath long time been used in these meditations, nevertheless to leave
them, and put them and hold them far down under the cloud of
forgetting, if ever he shall pierce the cloud of unknowing betwixt him
and his God. Therefore what time that thou purposest thee to this work,
and feelest by grace that thou art called of God, lift then up thine
heart unto God with a meek stirring of love; and mean God that made
thee, and bought thee, and that graciously hath called thee to thy
degree, and receive none other thought of God.... a naked intent direct unto
God without any other cause than Himself.

And if thee list have this intent lapped and folden in one word, for
thou shouldest have better hold thereupon, take thee but a little word
of one syllable: for so it is better than of two, for ever the shorter
it is the better it accordeth with the work of the Spirit. And such a
word is this word GOD or this word LOVE. Choose thee whether thou wilt,
or another; as thee list, which that thee liketh best of one syllable.
And fasten this word to thine heart, so that it never go thence for
thing that befalleth.

This word shall be thy shield and thy spear, whether thou ridest on
peace or on war. With this word, thou shalt beat on this cloud and this
darkness above thee. With this word, thou shall smite down all manner
of thought under the cloud of forgetting. Insomuch, that if any thought
press upon thee to ask thee what thou wouldest have, answer them with
no more words but with this one word. And if he proffer thee of his
great clergy to expound thee that word and to tell thee the conditions
of that word, say him: That thou wilt have it all whole, and not broken
nor undone. And if thou wilt hold thee fast on this purpose, be thou
sure, he will no while abide. And why? For that thou wilt not let him
feed him on such sweet meditations of God touched before.

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