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The Cloud of Unknowing (4) - Third Chapter


How the work of this book shall be wrought, and of the worthiness of it
before all other works.

LIFT up thine heart unto God with a meek stirring of love; and mean
Himself, and none of His goods. And thereto, look the loath to think on
aught but Himself. So that nought work in thy wit, nor in thy will, but
only Himself. And do that in thee is to forget all the creatures that
ever God made and the works of them; so that thy thought nor thy desire
be not directed nor stretched to any of them, neither in general nor in
special, but let them be, and take no heed to them. This is the work of
the soul....
Let not, therefore, but travail therein till thou feel list. For at the
first time when thou dost it, thou findest but a darkness; and as it
were a cloud of unknowing, thou knowest not what, saving that thou
feelest in thy will a naked intent.......

In fhe pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.
      -- TTC, Chapter 48

I am reading Father Richard Rohr's online meditations which the last couple weeks have featured the Wisdom tradition and now are themed on wisdom and knowledge.  These particular meditations fit well with the reading of Cloud.  Father Rohr, a Roman Catholic in good standing, is also a part of the interspirituality movement which recognizes the common wisdom behind the mysticisms associated with all the world's religions, and with none.  This prevents my discouragement with the heavy dose of theology that accompanies the monk's wisdom.  He would argue that he knows what he knows because he is a Christian; i would argue that he knows what he knows in spite of being a Christian.  The curse of the Tower of Babel is alive in the world and the mystic is barely able to transcend it.

I am increasingly grateful to have Johnston's version of Cloud at my side as i try to understand Evelyn Underwoods edition.  The 20th century American mind (mine) has great difficulty with the 14th century English words.

Here the monk begins to talk about the "forgetting" theme that he will call "the cloud of forgetting" in the Fifth Chapter.  This discussion is worth the price of the book and  the effort of reading it.  Contemplation does require love toward the Creator, heartwork rather than brainwork, but it also certainly requires the ability to deal with distractions in productive and creative ways.  Forgetting should be numbered among the spiritual virtues of humankind, along with humility, mercy, forgiveness, and restraint.(or perhaps, compassion, loving kindness, equanimity, and acceptance).



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