THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING summarized in modern english
If you want to have a relationship with God's love, you have to read this book with your heart. Being smart or well educated will not help you understand this. God responds to humility and love, not pride.
Between you and God, there is a cloud of unknowing. You cannot know God with words or ideas. You can only know God with love. So humble yourself and seek God with the prayer of your heart. You were created in God's image and prayer of the heart will help heal your relationship with him.
If your prayer is not from humility and love, your relationship will be a fantasy that will exist only in your imagination. Some people can imitate humility and love, but they are deceived and may fall into strange behaviours. So be careful you don't pray only in your imagination.
When you come to this cloud of unknowing in prayer, put everything and everybody you know under a cloud of forgetting, and focus your thoughts on the Lord himself and his love and your relationship with him. When you are in love with someone, you are not thinking about what you are going to get from them. So forget about anything God is going to do for YOU. Forget about God making you rich, or happy, or healing your hurts, or healing your relationships. Put all that stuff behind a cloud of forgetting. God is a lot smarter than you are, and if you turn your life over to him and trust him, he will do a much better job of running your life than you ever can..
Only prayers of love from your heart can pierce the cloud of unknowing. If any thoughts pass through your mind ignore them! Love doesn't use words. Love just wants to enjoy the presence of his|her lover. If you have trouble keeping thoughts out of your mind, you need a word to keep your mind busy. Pray the word Love, or the word God. Every time you find that your mind is wandering, bring your prayer word back into focus.
What about good thoughts you say? Ignore them! Your own thoughts come between you and God. If you let a good thought take root in your mind, your mind will start to wander into all sorts of places. Focus on your relationship with him and his love. His love will purify your heart and heal you. Your relationship with God is everything.
There's a story in the bible where Jesus is having a meal at the home of two sisters. Martha was rushing around making sure everything was perfect, and her sister Mary was just sitting at his feet enjoying his presence. Martha started complaining that her sister was being lazy and not helping, and Jesus interrupted.. He said to Martha "don't criticize your sister.. she has chosen the better thing". Your relationship with God is everything.
If you want to have a relationship with God you have to spend time with him. And the more time you spend with him, the more His love spills over and fills your heart. And the more of God's love you have in your heart, the more it spills over and flows into the hearts of your spouses and friends and neighbors.
God's love does not criticize, but is patient with your shortcomings, and takes every opportunity to lift you up when you fall down and to make your life better. So the more of God's love you have in your heart, the more patient you will be with your spouse|friend|neighbor's shortcomings. And the more you will find opportunity to make their lives better. And then you'll find they respond to you in the same way. So every time you find yourself criticizing someone else's behavior, remember God's patience with you, and just love them. A perfect lover only remembers love.
Sometimes in this prayer, you will be visited with feelings of bliss, and by miracles, and by all sorts of wondrous things. Ignore them! Pay no attention!!
Feelings, miracles, and the thoughts and imaginations of your brain all belong to earth. They do not belong to heaven. They can only distract you from your relationship with God, and can only lead to pride and a judgmental attitude. They come between you and God and separate you from his love. They separate you from your friends and neighbors. Look past them, and seek God himself and his love and his relationship with you.
So where is God? Does he sit on his throne beyond the stars? Is this cloud of unknowing in the sky somewhere? Don't strain your imagination thinking about this. Forget time, place, and your own body. Don't look for God beyond the stars or within your heart or anywhere! When you forget what time it is, where you are, and forget your own body -- spiritually you are everywhere! For God is beyond the beyond, and if you are to find him, you are going to have to go into the nowhere. So when you pray, find God in the Nowhere and stay there as long as you are able.
The Cloud of unknowing was written around the year 1380 by an anonymous english monk. If you are curious, here's the full text. If you are really curious, here's the 14th century text.