That in the time of this work the remembrance of the holiest Creature
that ever God made letteth more than it profiteth.
AND therefore the sharp stirring of thine understanding, that will
always press upon thee when thou settest thee to this work, behoveth
always be borne down; and but thou bear him down, he will bear thee
down. Insomuch, that when thou weenest best to abide in this darkness,
and that nought is in thy mind but only God; an thou look truly thou
shalt find thy mind not occupied in this darkness, but in a clear
beholding of some thing beneath God. And if it thus be, surely then is
that thing above thee for the time, and betwixt thee and thy God. And
therefore purpose thee to put down such clear beholdings, be they never
so holy nor so likely. For one thing I tell thee, it is more profitable
to the health of thy soul, more worthy in itself, and more pleasing to
God and to all the saints and angels in heaven--yea, and more helpful
to all thy friends, bodily and ghostly, quick and dead--such a blind
stirring of love unto God for Himself, and such a privy pressing upon
this cloud of unknowing, and better thee were for to have it and for to
feel it in thine affection ghostly, than it is for to have the eyes of
thy soul opened in contemplation or beholding of all the angels or
saints in heaven, or in hearing of all the mirth and the melody that is
amongst them in bliss.
... thee sooth, let God draw thy love
up to that cloud and strive thou through help of His grace to forget
all other thing.
.... (Thought} though it be good and holy, ... in this work* it letteth more than it
profiteth. I mean for the time. For why? Surely he that seeketh God
perfectly, he will not rest him finally in the remembrance of any angel
or saint that is in heaven.
* "This work" unless otherwise specified almost always refers to spiritual contemplation.
A clear distinction is made between "meditation" (which can be on a topic) and "contemplation" (which is, as nearly as possible, thoughtless, "naked" presence.
Contemplation is work, but it is unlike any other work. My small experience is that i feel refreshed rather than tired afterwards. It is a work of silence, solitude, and mystery. It is like Centering Prayer or Zazen (sitting meditation). It helps if the room is quiet, but it is more important that the mind be quiet. I can not (at least not yet) force my mind to be quiet. I can close or partially close my eyes and wait for quiet to come.
Contemplation is the most important work!. I am told that in the twelvth century, contemplation in the West went into decline from which it has barely begun to recover. Certainly this fourteen century monk will not allow us to forget its centrality as part of the perennial philosophy