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The Cloud of Unknowing
The author is unknown. The English Augustinian mystic Walter Hilton has at times been suggested, but this is generally doubted. It is possible he was a Carthusian priest, though this is not certain.”For the first time you [lift your heart to God with stirrings of love], you will find only a darkness, and as it were a cloud of unknowing […] Whatever you do, this darkness and the cloud are between you and your God, and hold you back from seeing him clearly by the light of understanding in your reason and from experiencing him in the sweetness of love in your feelings. […] And so prepare to remain in this darkness as long as you can, always begging for him you love; for if you are ever to feel or see him…it must always be in this cloud and this darkness.”
This is Evelyn Underhill’s translation of the medieval spiritual guidebook called The Cloud of Unknowing, written by an anonymous English monk. At the core is a mystical approach to Christian prayer, in which God is found not through rote knowledge, but through ‘blind love.’ It has been described as Christianity with a Zen outlook.The Cloud of Unknowing (Middle English: The Cloude of Unknowing) is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in Middle English in the latter half of the 14th century. The text is a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer in the late Middle Ages. The underlying message of this work suggests that the way to know God is to abandon consideration of God’s particular activities and attributes, and be courageous enough to surrender one’s mind and ego to the realm of “unknowing”, at which point one may begin to glimpse the nature of God.
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