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That God giveth this grace freely without any means, and that it may not be come to with means.

Cloud of Unknowing - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

There is a lot here and the meaning comes through the 14th century wording very well, but i am including most of the text of William Johnston's modern English verson.

"If you ask me just precisely how one is to go about doing the contemplative work of love, I am at a complete loss.  All I can say is that I hope Almighty God in his great goodness and kindness will teach you himself.  For in all honesty I must admit I do not know.  And no  wonder, for it is a divine activity and God will do it in whomever he chooses.  No one can earn it.  Paradoxical as it may seem, it would not even occur to a person ... to desiree contemplative love were it not already within him,  I believe, too, that often our Lord deliberately chooses to work in those who have been habitual sinners rather than in those who, by comparison, have never grieved Him at all. ...For I think he wants us to realize that he is all merciful and almighty and that he is perfectly free to work as he pleases, where he pleases, and when he pleases.

"Yet he does not give his grace nor work this work in a person who has no aptitude for it.  But a person lacking in capacity to recieve his grace could never gain it through his own efforts either.  No one at all, neither sinner nor innocent, can do so, FOR THIS GRACE IS A GIFT AND IS NOT GIVEN FOR INNOCENCE NOR WITHHELD FOR SIN....  The point I am making is correct, but if you cannot grasp it, then let it go until God himself helps you to understand.  Do as I say and do  not strain your mind over it.

"Beware of pride; it is blasphemy against God in his gifts and it makes the sinner bold... Contemplative prayer is God's gift, wholly gratuitous.  No one can earn it. It is in the nature of the gift that one who recieves it also recieves the aptitude for it.  No one can have the aptitude without the gift itself.  The aptitude with the work is one with the work; they are identical.  HE WHO EXPERIENCES GOD WORKING IN THE DEPTHS OF HIS SPIRIT HAS THE APTITUDE FOR CONTEMPLATION AND NO ONE ELSE.  For without God's grace a person would be so completely insensitive to the reality of contemplative prayer that he would be unable to desire or long for it.  You possess it to the extent that you will and desire to possess it, no more and no less.  But you will never desire to possess it until that which is ineffable and unknowable moves you to desire the ineffable and unknowable.  Do not be curious to know more, I beg you,  Only become increasingly faithful to this work until it  becomes your whole life.

"To put it more simply, let that mysterious grace move in your spirit as it will and follow whereever it leads you,  Let it be the active doer and you the passive reciever.  Do not meddle with it (as if you could possibly improve on grace) but let it be for fear you spoil it entirely.  Your part is to be as wood to a carpenter....Remain blind during this time cutting away all desire to know, for KNOWLEDGE IS A HINDERANCE HERE.  Be content to feel the mysterious grace sweetly awaken in the depths of your spirit.  Forget everything but God and fix on him your naked desire, YOUR LONGING STRIPPED OF ALL SELF INTEREST.

"I am trying to make clear with words what experience teaches more convincingly, that techniques and methods are ultimately useless for awakening contemplative love.  It is futile to come to this work armed with them.  For all good methods  and means depend on it, while it alone depends on nothing."

The capitalized words are to point up what seems more important  to me at the moment.

I am reminded of a piece of universal wisdom express by the Sufis as:  "You cannot find (truth) by seeking, but only those who seek will find (it)."

All mystics, i think, are able to appreciate all mystical traditions. and appreciate them equally with her or his own tradition.  While recognizing differences and having personal preferences, he or she can embrace the common  core  of wisdom that is in all of them.  Do i find this monk irritating at times, i sure do.  But often, as in this chapter, i find his words fruitful, truthful, and mindblowing!



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