” the most Divine knowledge of God is that which is known by not knowing”
This article contains some key extracts from the The Cloud of Unknowing (The Cloude of Unknowyng), an anonymous work of mysticism written in the latter half of the 14th century. It contains relevant thoughts on contemplative prayer. The underlying message is that the way to know the divine is to abandon consideration of 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.
No one can fully comprehend the un-created God with his knowledge, but each one, in a different way, can grasp him fully through love. Truly this is the unending miracle of love: that one loving person, through his love, can embrace God, whose being fills and transcends the entire creation. And this marvelous work of love goes on forever, for he whom we love is eternal. Whoever has the grace to appreciate the truth of what I am saying, let him take my words to heart, for to experience this love is the joy of eternal life.
God, the master of time never gives the future. He gives only the present, moment by moment, for this is the law of the created order, and God will not contradict himself in his creation.
Time is for man, not man for time.
Contemplation (meditation) is Not daydreaming, fantasizing or subtle reasoning. There is a cloud of unknowing between you and the Divine, and it is your duty to fashion a cloud of forgetting between you and every created thing.
It is best to let your mind rest in the awareness of source and in gratitude for the energy of love’s presence.
Active and contemplative life are both complementary to each other. However it is negative for a person who sits in meditation to be thinking about the things he has done it will do, regardless of how good and worthwhile they may be of themselves…
Everyday concerns and the contemplative life cannot be perfectly combined, though they can be united in an incomplete way.
Mary Magdelene choose the” best part” when she opted for gratitude and spiritual contemplation. See also p68
The four stages of spiritual growth are:
Knowledge or love?
Rational creatures such as men and angels possess two principal faculties, a knowing power and a loving power.
Distracting thoughts while contemplating:
1 look beyond the distraction, to love
2 when exhausted from fighting them, recognize your impotence, accept your reality, and wait for Divine rescue / Grace
3 there is no single method of contemplation, each person must plumb his own depths
4 cultivate reading, thinking and praying ( but not using words, for prayer is reverent, conscious openness to God full of desire to grow in goodness/love) as preparation for contemplation.
5 do not use logic during meditation. Use a mantra or word repeatedly to bring you off logic and back to the heart.
Contemplation is not the fruit of study but a gift of Grace.
You can never have an excess of contemplation. In any other aspect of life, yes. But not in meditation. Meditate in earnest and playfully, in other words, intuitively, with joyful enthusiasm. If possible, be healthy and relaxed before you start. The strange thing is that be meditating to excess, you will be more balanced in everything else you do.
Body and spirit are a single unity. Nothing in spirit or body, comfort, sound, sense is to be ignored or put down. But each of these sensory body experiences is best interpreted through a joyful longing for Divine love and it’s expression of health, joy and peace.
People are different in their spiritual strength and ways and needs. We must never take our own experiences as the norm for everyone else.
Be careful about what is explained, for example some will interpret the words “inner” and “outer” as literal, yet they are not. Similarly the concept of “up” or “down” are metaphors, used differently by different people. Heaven is an example: it is may be described as in or out, up or down, but we describe it so in a story to illustrate a point, as Jesus himself did.
Mannerisms when contemplating:
Try not to offend anyone. Eccentric actions, rude behaviors, giggling or clowning are potentially off-putting to those who can see your contemplating. Try to be modest, smiling (like Buddha) calm and at peace in the presence of others. Don’t rebuke others as if you know better. Concentrate on your own journey.
Imagination allows us to depict alternatives that may not exist. Reason is a faculty that enables is to distinguish good from bad in comparison. After reason has determined what is good, human will moves towards it with love and desire.
Feeling is the matter of our senses, interpreting what we input, but not at a rational level, rather using the liminal space between the source of life and love and our xconscious life experience. This is the “union of spirit, love, and oneness of desire known as Grace”.
Nowhere physically is everywhere spiritually. Your egoic senses may criticize you when there is nothing to concentrate on, but continue towards the nothingness of Divine love. P125
” The entire life of a good Christian is nothing less than holy desire.”
Many people confuse their activities with themselves, but this is not so.
Your faculties cannot help you reach contemplation.