January 29th, 2015

The Cloud Of Unknowing (49) - Chapter Eight And Forty


How God will be served both with body and with soul, and reward men in both; and how men shall know when all those sounds and sweetness that fall into the body in time of prayer be both good and evil.

.....But this may I say thee of those sounds and of those sweetnesses, that come in by the windows of thy wits, the which may be both good and evil. Use thee continually in this blind and devout and this Misty stirring of love that I tell thee: and then I have no doubt, that it shall not well be able to tell thee of them.....

Cloud of Unknowing - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

The Cloud Of Unknowing (50) - Chapter Nine And Forty


The substance of all perfection is nought else but a good will; and how that all sounds and comfort and sweetness that may befall in this life be to it but as it were accidents.

AND therefore I pray thee, lean listily to this meek stirring of love in thine heart, and follow thereafter: for it will be thy guide in this life and bring thee to bliss in the tother. It is the substance of all good living, and without it no good work may be begun nor ended. It is nought else but a good and an according will unto God, and a manner of well‑pleasedness and a gladness that thou feelest in thy will of all that He doth.
Such a good will is the substance of all perfection. All sweetness and comforts, bodily or ghostly, be to this but as it were accidents, be they never so holy; and they do but hang on this good will. Accidents I call them, for they may be had and lacked without breaking asunder of it. I mean in this life, but it is not so in the bliss of heaven; for there shall they be oned with the substance without departing, as shall the body in the which they work with the soul. So that the substance of them here is but a good ghostly will. And surely I trow that he that feeleth the perfection of this will, as it may be had here, there may no sweetness nor no comfort fall to any man in this life, that he is not as fain and as glad to lack it at God’s will, as to feel it and have it.

Cloud of Unknowing - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

The monk's fourteenth century Engliish has been so difficult for me.
This chapter was clear as a bell.
The universe must have wanted me to take heed of it.

The Cloud Of Unknowing (51) - Chapter Fifty


Which is chaste love; and how in some creatures such sensible comforts be but seldom, and in some right oft.

AND hereby mayest thou see that we should direct all our beholding unto this meek stirring of love in our will. And in all other sweetness and comforts, bodily or ghostly, be they never so liking nor so holy, if it be courteous and seemly to say, we should have a manner of recklessness. If they come, welcome them: but lean not too much on them for fear of feebleness, for it will take full much of thy powers to bide any long time in such sweet feelings and weepings. And peradventure thou mayest be stirred for to love God for them, and that shalt thou feel by this: if thou grumble overmuch when they be away. And if it be thus, thy love is not yet neither chaste nor perfect. For a love that is chaste and perfect, though it suffer that the body be fed and comforted in the presence of such sweet feelings and weepings, nevertheless yet it is not grumbling, but full well pleased for to lack them at God’s will. And yet it is not commonly without such comforts in some creatures, and in some other creatures such sweetness and comforts be but seldom.
And all this is after the disposition and the ordinance of God, all after the profit and the needfulness of diverse creatures....... And also on the tother part there be some creatures so strong in spirit, that they can pick them comfort enough within in their souls, in offering up of this reverent and this meek stirring of love and accordance of will, that them needeth not much to be fed with such sweet comforts in bodily feelings. Which of these be holier or more dear with God, one than another, God wots and I not.

Cloud of Unknowing - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

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The Cloud Of Unknowing (52) - Chapter One And Fifrty


That men should have great wariness so that they understand not bodily a thing that is meant ghostly; and specially it is good to be wary in understanding of this word “in,” and of this word “up.”

AND therefore lean meekly to this blind stirring of love in thine heart. I mean not in thy bodily heart, but in thy ghostly heart, the which is thy will. And be well wary that thou conceive not bodily that that is said ghostly. For truly I tell thee, that bodily and fleshly conceits of them that have curious and imaginative wits be cause of much error......
..... work to think on nought but on God.

Cloud of Unknowing - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Yes, any words we use to try to express things of the spirit are inadequate and erroneos.
Words are "metaphors," "maps," and "fingers pointing at the moon."
But mind, body, soul, and spirit are connected.

And the monks advice can easily be turned around.
Don't think that words should be interpreted spiritually
just because they are in a scripture
or just because a holy person speaks them.Collapse )