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Here begins a book of contemplation which is called THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, in which a soul is oned with God

Prologue
I charge you in love, whoever possesses this book, that you do not read it unless you intend to be a perfect follower of Christ. But as for the curious, I pray they never see this book; for it was never my intent to write for them. No matter how much education you have, or how intelligent you are, you will never understand this book unless you read it with your heart.
I pray you find your calling and with the help of his grace stand firmly against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Amen.

THE FIRST CHAPTER
Understand that there are four kinds of Christian living; the Common, Special, Singular, and Perfect. Three of these begin and end in this life; and the fourth begins here, but it lasts forever in the bliss of heaven.

THE SECOND CHAPTER
Who are you, and how have you deserved to be called by our Lord? Do not consider yourself better than others for the excellence of this calling. And as you respond with humility and love to the Almighty God, King of kings and Lord of lords will feed you with the sweetness of his love in anticipation of your inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.
Humble yourself I pray. Look forward and not backward. And see what you lack and not what you have. All your life must now stand in desire if you want to grow. This desire must be always in you, by the hand of Almighty God and by your consent. But he is a jealous lover, and he wills that you look upon him and him alone. Humble yourself and seek him with prayer, and he will soon help you. But how do you start?

THE THIRD CHAPTER
LIFT up your heart to God with a humble stirring of love; and mean himself alone and not his gifts. Look to him alone, not on any work in your mind or in your will. To do that is to forget all the creatures that God ever made and their works, so that your thought and your desire is not directed to any of them.
This is the work of the soul that most pleases  God. All the deamons are furious when you do this and try to defeat it every way they can. All men living on earth are wonderfully helped by this work, you know not how, and you yourself are cleansed and made virtuous. And yet it is the lightest work of all when a soul is helped by grace. But otherwise it is hard for you to do.
Keep your focus. For at first, you will find a darkness, and as it were a cloud of unknowing, you know not what, except that you feel in your will a naked intent unto God. This darkness and this cloud is between you and your God, and hinders you, so that you can neither see him clearly by light of understanding, nor feel him in love. Remain in this darkness as long as you can, crying after him whom you love. For if ever you will see him or feel him, it must always be in this cloud and in this darkness.

THE FOURTH CHAPTER
This work does not take a long time. It is so short that it is nearly incomprehensible. For it is neither longer nor shorter, but exactly equal to one single stirring that is within your will. And if you were reformed to the state of man's soul as it was before sin, then you would be lord of those stirrings so that none should go amiss, but all should reach to the sovereign desire and to the highest willable thing which is God.
For he is fitted to our soul by the measure of his Godhead and our soul is fitted to him by our creation in his image and likeness. Only He is sufficient to fill the desire of our soul. And our soul comprehends him only by love, which is incomprehensible to our intellect. He is incomprehensible to our knowing but not to our loving.
One loving soul may comprehend in itself him who is sufficient to fill all the souls and angels that are. This is the endless miracle of love and he shall never cease doing it. The feeling of this is endless bliss, and the lack of this is endless pain.
Whoever continues in heeding all the stirrings of love should never be without some taste of the endless bliss of heaven. By this work you will be restored, but for lack of this work a man falls deeper and deeper into darkness and further and further from God.
But how can I do this you ask?
The love of Jesus will be your help. Unite with him by love and you will share with him everthing that he has.
So pay attention to this work in your soul. If it is truly conceived, it is like a sudden spark  springing to God like a spark from the fire. In one spark, you may have suddenly forgotten all created things and yet immediately fall down again to some thought or to some deed, only to rise again as suddenly as it did before.
Pay attention! For if this work is not born from humility and love and purity of spirit, it can spring from fantasy or from a proud, curious and imaginative intelligence. Such a proud curious intelligence must always be ignored. Some who hear about this work may imitate a manner of working which is not of the spirit. Truly this man is perilously deceived. Unless God shows his mercy, he shall fall either into frenzies, or else into other great mischief or spiritual sin and deceit. Therefore for God's love beware, and do not do this work in your wits or in your imagination.
And do not think because I call it a darkness or a cloud, that it is a cloud in the air, or a darkness such as in your house at night when the lights are out. For when I say darkness, I mean a lacking of knowing, and for this reason it is called a cloud of unknowing which is between you and your God.

CHAPTER FIVE
When you come to this cloud of unknowing between you and your God, put a cloud of forgetting between yourself and all the creatures that were ever made. You think that you are far from God, because this cloud of unknowing is between you and your God; but surely you are further from him when you have no cloud of forgetting between you and all the creatures that are made. When I say "all the creatures that are made", I mean all bodily and spiritual beings and all their works and their conditions.
Alhough it may be profitable sometimes to think of created beings, in this work it profits little or nothing. Because the eye of your soul is opened on the thought and every thought you have comes between you and your God and you are further from God for it.
Even thoughts of the kindness or the holiness of God will hinder your work. For although it is good to think upon the kindness of God, and to love him and praise him for it: yet it is far better to think upon the naked being of him, and to love him and praise him for himself alone.

THE SIXTH CHAPTER
BUT now you ask "How do I think on himself alone, and what is he?"  To this I cannot answer  except to say: "I don't know".
You have brought me with your question into that same darkness, and into that same cloud of unknowing. For a man can know any other creature, but no man can think of of God himself. By love may he be got and held; but never by thought. Altough sometimes it is good to think on the kindness and the woryourss of God, nevertheless in this work it is covered with a cloud of forgetting. Try to pierce that cloud of unknowing with love.

THE SEVENTH CHAPTER
AND if any thoughts arise, ignore them. Especially holy thoughts about the goodness or the love of God. For the thought will bring to mind all sorts of things and will chatter more and more until it leads you away and you will become scattered you don't know where and you will surely fail of your purpose. If he shall ever penetrate the cloud of unknowing between him and his God, a man or woman must leave these thoughts and put them under the cloud of forgetting.
So when you feel that you are called by God, lift up your heart to Him with a humble stirring of love. And if you desire to have this intent folded into one word, take a little word of one syllable, for the shorter the word the better. Such a word is this word GOD or the word LOVE. Choose whichever you like, or any other word of one syllable and fasten this word to your heart.
If your thoughts stray, this word will be your shield. Bring this word to mind, and you can place all kinds of wandering thoughts under the cloud of forgetting.

THE EIGHTH CHAPTER
BUT now you ask "What about holy thoughts? Is it evil to think these things?"  
Surely methinks this is a good question. I say that there is a sharp and a clear natural intellegence printed in your soul. And when you ask if it be good or evil, I say that it must always be good in its nature; for it is a beam of the likeness of God. But it's use may be either good or evil. Good, when it is opened by grace and evil, when it is blown up with pride and with curiosity of much learning and knowledge, as in proud scholars and masters of vanity and of falsehood and fleshly conceits in coveting of worldly dignities and having riches and vain delights and flatterings of others.
And when you ask me, why you should put it down under the cloud of forgetting, since it is good in its nature; to this I answer that Christians are either active or contemplative.
Activity ends in this life; but contemplative life will last without end. Active life begins in works of mercy and of charity and then blends into meditation and then further into this darkness and this cloud of unknowing, with a loving blind beholding to the being of God himself alone and knit to Him in spirit. And it would surely hinder a man that would work in this darkness and in this cloud of unknowing were he to let any thought of God's wonderful gifts, kindness, and works in any of his creatures, come between him and his God. For this reason I bid you put down such thoughts, and cover them with a thick cloud of forgetting.

THE NINTH CHAPTER
Unless you ignore these thoughts, you shall find your mind occupied with something beneath God that comes between you and your God. So let God draw your love up to that cloud and strive to forget all other things.

THE TENTH CHAPTER
BUT if you let thoughts of anger or vengeance or lust fasten themselves to your heart with full consent, then it is deadly sin.

THE ELEVENTH CHAPTER
I SAY this not because you are guilty of such sins; but because I would have you weigh each thought and each stirring. Recklessness in sin should always be avoided by all true disciples of perfection.

THE TWELFTH CHAPTER
AND if you keep your focus on this cloud of unknowing that is between you and your God with humility and love. This work destroys not only the ground and the root of sin, but also it purifies your heart.

THE THIRTEENTH CHAPTER
Consider first the virtue of gentleness of spirit and humility, and how it is imperfect when it is caused by any other thing mingled with God; and how it is perfect when it is caused of God himself.
Meekness in itself is nothing else but a true knowing and feeling of the wretchedness and the frailty of a man's self as he is and the overabundant love and the woryourss of God in himself.
The love of God is perfect and will last forever. And the wretchedness and the frailty of a man is imperfect; for it shall not only fail at the end of this life, but in some, suddenly be lost and forgotten to the extent that his heart is transformed in purity.

THE FOURTEENTH CHAPTER
Do not think because I set two kinds of meekness before you, that I wish that you determine to leave the imperfect and get to the perfect. But I want to let you see the woryourss of this exercise; and how love set in cleanness of spirit upon this dark cloud of unknowing between you and your God, subtly and perfectly contains in it the perfect virtue of meekness, without any special or clear beholding of anything under God.
Peradventure, if you did not know what perfect meekness was, when you had a little knowlege and feeling of imperfect meekness, that you would imagine that you had gotten perfect meekness; and deceive yourself, and think that you were humble, when in reality all you would have is pride.

THE FIFTEENTH CHAPTER
Trust that there is a perfect meekness, and that it may be come to through grace in this life. Some of us have come from a life of willfull sin, and some of us have come from a life of sin caused by ignorance or weakness. Nonetheless, the Lord Jesus Christ calls us in the Gospel: where he bids that we should be perfect by grace as he himself is by nature.

THE SIXTEENTH CHAPTER
By virtue of this work a man or woman truly turned and called to contemplation comes sooner to perfection than by any other work.

THE SEVENTEENTH CHAPTER
It is written that when our Lord was in the house of Martha, that all the time that Martha made herself busy, Mary her sister sat at his feet ravished in contemplation and love of the Godhead and when Martha complained, Mary sat still and answered not one word. And no wonder, for she had another work to do that Martha knew not of. Jesus' response was that Mary had chosen the best part - the one thing that was necessary. This behaviour is an example for all actives and all contemplatives that they should not complain about the lifestyle of the other.

THE EIGHTEENTH CHAPTER
AND yet to this day all actives complain of contemplatives. And they quickly recall many tales of contemplatives some true and some false, but never a good tale. I grant that many contemplatives have fallen that have seemingly forsaken the world. And where they should have become God's servants, have become the devil's servants and have become hypocrites or heretics or fallen into frenzies and many other mischiefs.

THE NINETEENTH CHAPTER
SOME might think that I do little honour to Martha, because I liken her words in complaining about her sister to these worldly men's words and truly I mean no dishonour. And I think that these worldly men and women should also be held excused of their complaining words because they know no better life than that that they live and that I should always excuse other men's ignorant words and deeds.

THE TWENTIETH CHAPTER
So I think that contemplatives should not only hold active men excused of their complaining words, but also that they should be so occupied in the spirit that they should take little or no heed to what men did or said about them.

THE TWENTY-FIRST CHAPTER
WHAT is the meaning of this: Mary has chosen the best part?  As it is said before, the first part stands in works of mercy and charity. The second part of these two lives lies in spiritual  meditations of a man's own wretchedness, of the passion of Christ, and of the joy of heaven. The third part hangs in this dark cloud of unknowing, with a secret love directed to God by himself. The first part is good, the second is better, but the third is best of all.

THE TWENTY-SECOND CHAPTER
If a man will see the love that our Lord had for  Mary, he shall find that our Lord might not let any man or woman speak a word against her, but that he answered for her himself. This is great and surpassing love.

THE TWENTY-THIRD CHAPTER
AND truly if we conform our love and our living to the love and the living of Mary, no doubt he will answer in the same way for us in the hearts of those that say or think against us. I say, if we will give no more heed to their saying or to their thinking, or not leave our spiritual work for their words and their thoughts, that our Lord shall answer them in spirit that they shall within few days have shame of their words and their thoughts.
And so will he stir other men in spirit to give us the needs that belong to this life such as food and clothing. So look to the woryourss of God rather than to your own wretchedness. For to them that are perfectly humble, no thing shall be wanting for they have God in whom is all plenty.

THE TWENTY-FOURTH CHAPTER
AND as it is said that humility is perfected in this blind love set on God in this dark cloud of unknowing; so it is to be understood of all other virtues, especially charity.
In this work a man does not regard if he is in pain or in bliss, but only that the Lord's will be done. In this work a perfect worker has no special regard to any man whether he be family or stranger, friend or foe. For all men seem like family to him. He thinks to pray all men as much good as he would to his dearest friend.

THE TWENTY-FIFTH CHAPTER
Nevertheless, he does not consider who is his friend or his foe, but all are equally loved for God.

THE TWENTY-SIXTH CHAPTER
Be persistent. But know that only by the grace of God will enable you. For He is ready to work this work in every soul that desires it.
For although it is hard in the beginning, after you have devotion, it will be made light to you.
Then he will peradventure send out a beam of spiritual light, piercing the cloud of unknowing that is between you and him, and show you some of his secrets, the which a man may not and cannot speak. Then you will feel your affection inflamed with the fire of his love, far more than I can tell you.

THE TWENTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER
FIRST I will tell you that all who should work in this work should have forsaken the world and given themselves to contemplative life.

THE TWENTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER
Whoever will do this work, let him first cleanse his conscience. For this is the work of a lifetime, and he shall ever see and feel some of the creatures that God made, or some of their works, will ever press in his mind between him and his God.

THE TWENTY-NINTH CHAPTER
All men have trials in this work. See that no man should be judged in this life for the good or for the evil that they do. Deeds may be judged, but not the men.

THE THIRTIETH CHAPTER
Each man beware that he does not presume to condemn other men's faults. Judge yourself as you will, but leave other men alone.

THE THIRTY-FIRST CHAPTER
If your former deeds persist in your mind between you and your God or any new thought arises, step above them with love, and try to cover them with a cloud of forgetting, as though they never existed. And if they rise often, put them down often.


THE THIRTY-SECOND CHAPTER
NEVERTHELESS I will tell you some of this subtlety. Do better if you can.
Try to look as it were over the shoulder of the thoughts, seeking  God enclosed in a cloud of unknowing. And if you do this, I know that within short time you will be relieved from your pain.
If the thoughts persist, yield yourself to God as though you were in the hands of your enemies and feel as though you were overcome for ever.  And surely I think, God himself will descend to take vengeance on your enemies.

THE THIRTY-THIRD CHAPTER
Hold fast I pray, and humbly suffer this pain, for truly it is your purgatory. And then when your pain is all passed it shall little trouble you. But may you learn that there is no certain security, nor true rest in this life.

THE THIRTY-FOURTH CHAPTER
AND if you ask me how you will come to this work, I pray Almighty God to teach you himself, For truly I cannot tell you. And that is no wonder, because it is the work of God.  And He does this because he is merciful and almighty; and because he would work as he likes, where he likes, and when he likes.
This work is neither given for innocence, nor withheld for sin. Beware of pride: for it blasphemes God and emboldens sinners. God gives it freely as He wills without any conditions. Without this work a soul is as it were dead, and cannot desire it.
And let that thing do with you as it will and lead you wherever it wills.  Do not meddle as if you would help it. Be blind and ignore desires of knowing, for it will more hinder you more than help you. Direct your trust to God.
And do not be afraid of the devil, for he may not come near. Let nothing stir your will - not angels or devils - but only God.
Understand clearly that no man or woman may come to this work by any of their own effort yet all good works depend on it.

THE THIRTY-FIFTH CHAPTER
NEVERTHELESS there are things in which you should be occupied;  reading, meditating, and praying.
God's word is like a spiritual mirror. Without reading or hearing God's word, it is impossible for a man to understand that his soul is blinded. And thus you see that no thinking may be had without reading or hearing; nor praying without meditating.

THE THIRTY-SIXTH CHAPTER
BUT not so with them that continually work in this book. For their meditations are without any reading or hearing, and without any special beholding of anything under God. And yet, peradventure, whoever looks at you would think you were resting.

THE THIRTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER
AND so as the meditations of those that continually work in this grace rise suddenly, so do their prayers rise suddenly to God, without any premeditation.
And if they are in words, the fewer the better. Therefore it is written, that short prayer pierces heaven.

THE THIRTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER
AND why does this little short prayer of one syllable pierce heaven? Surely because it is prayed with a full spirit, in the height and in the depth, in the length and in the breadth of the spirit that prays it.
In this time a soul comprehends what is the length and the breadth, the height and the depth of Everlasting and Almighty and All-knowing God. The everlastingness of God is his length; his love is his breadth; his might is his height; and his wisdom is his depth. No wonder that a soul conformed by grace to the image and the likeness of God, should be soon heard by God!

THE THIRTY-NINTH CHAPTER  
AND therefore we must pray in our spirit. And not in many words, but in a little word of one syllable.
And what shall this word be? Prayer in itself is nothing else, but a devout intent directed unto God for the getting of good and removing of evil. And since all evil is comprehended in sin, let us therefore use no more words, but the word SIN. And if we pray for good, let us pray this word GOD. For in God is all good.
Do not wonder why I chose these two words before all others. For if I knew any shorter words, I would use them if you pray in words.
Although the shortness of prayer be greatly commended, the frequency of prayer is not restrained.

THE FORTIETH CHAPTER
The same way, fill your spirit with the spiritual meaning of the word SIN, without any regard whether it be pride, anger, or envy, covetousness, sloth, gluttony, or lust. And feel sin as a lump, you know not what, but then cry : SIN! OUT!
The same way do this with the word GOD. Fill your spirit with the spiritual meaning of it without any regard to any of his works of meekness or charity, patience or abstinence, hope, faith, or soberness, chastity or voluntary poverty. And mean only God so that nothing works in your mind or your will, but only God.

THE FORTY-FIRST CHAPTER
If you ask me what discretion you should have in this work, then I answer, "None!" For in all your other doings you should have discretion, as in eating and drinking, and in sleeping, and in keeping of your body from outrageous cold or heat, and in long praying or reading, or in conversation. In all these keep discretion. But I would that you never cease from this work while you live.
Sometimes sickness and other disorders will hinder you. And so for God's love avoid sickness as much as you can for this work wants a whole and a clean disposition, a well rested body and soul.
 
THE FORTY -SECOND CHAPTER
Peradventure you ask how you should be discreet in food, and in drink, and in sleep.  Do this work without discretion, and you will know how to begin and cease all other works with discretion. For I cannot believe that a soul continuing in this work night and day without discretion may err in any of these outward doings. May God help you!
 
THE FORTY-THIRD CHAPTER
Let nothing work in your mind or in your will but only God. And try to put down all knowing and feeling under the cloud of forgetting. And you will forget not only all other creatures and their deeds, but you will also forget yourself and your deeds. For  a perfect lover remembers only his love.
 
THE FORTY-FOURTH CHAPTER
BUT now you ask how to destroy this knowing and feeling of your own being so all other hindrances would be destroyed. To this I say, that without grace given by God, this knowing and feeling of your being may not be destroyed. This is nothing but a deep spiritual sorrow.
But in this sorrow you need to have discretion that you do not strain your body or your spirit, but be still. This sorrow cleanses the soul, and also it makes a soul able to receive the joy which overwhelms all knowing and feeling of his being.
Every soul must have this sorrow and this desire and feel in itself as God wills to teach you according to his good will until the time that you are oned with God in perfect love.

THE FORTY-FIFTH CHAPTER
BUT one thing I tell you, that in this work a man or woman that has not been well exercised in spiritual working may be deceived, and unless he seeks counsel, peradventure be destroyed in his body and fall into fantasy and pride.
A man or a woman new to the school of devotion, hears how a man shall lift up his heart unto God, and unceasingly desire to feel the love of his God. And they understand these words in their natural intellect and not in their spirit. And they strain their natural powers and because of spiritual blindness they are inflamed with an unnatural heat caused by pride and curiosity.
And yet they think that it is the fire of love lit by God. Truly, from this deceit spring many mischiefs: much hypocrisy, much heresy, and much error. For I tell you truly, that the devil has his contemplatives as God has his.
This deceit has many wonderful variations but how will it profit you to learn them all? So I tell you no more but that you may be aware of them.

THE FORTY-SIXTH CHAPTER
AND therefore for God's love beware in this work, and do not strain out of measure; for surely straining hurts the silly soul and leads to fantasies. So learn to love with a soft and a demure behavior and abide humbly in the will of our Lord.

THE FORTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER
Hide the desire of your heart from God because I think it would more clearly come to his knowledge by hiding it than by any other way and  because I think that hiding it will bring you more into the purity of spiritual feeling; and so help you to knit the spiritual knot of burning love between you and your God.
You know that God is a spirit; and to be oned to him must be in spirit and in truth, far from any intellectual thing. Since he is a spirit, that thing is more easily known to him if it is spoken in the depth of your spirit.
There is another reason to hide the desire of your heart. You and I are able to conceive a thing in our natural intellect and say it in the spirit. So if I had asked you to show the stirring of your heart to God, you may have said to him something conceived in your own will.

THE FORTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER
God would be served with body and soul and he rewards a man or woman with bliss both in body and in soul. And sometimes he will inflame the body of his servant with wonderful sweetness and comfort from within. Not once or twice, but as often as he likes. Such comfort and sweetness shall not be held suspect.
But all other comforts, sounds, and sweetness, that come suddenly from without you know not where, I pray you suspect. For they may be both good or evil; by a good angel or by an evil angel.
But this may I say to you about those sounds and those sweetnesses that come in by the windows of your wits, which may be both good or evil. Practise yourself continually in this blind and devout stirring of love that I tell you: and then I have no doubt that it shall be able to tell you of them. And if you are astonished by them at first because they are unusual: you should not give credence to them until you are made certain, either from within by the Spirit of God, or from without by counsel of someone more discreet.

THE FORTY-NINTH CHAPTER
Pay attention to the meek stirring of love in your heart, and follow wherever it leads: for it will be your guide in this life and bring you to bliss in the other. It is the substance of all good, and without it no good work may be done. It is nothing else but an agreement with the will of God.
Such a good will is the substance of all perfection. All sweetness and comforts, bodily or spiritual, are as it were accidental; they all depend on this good will.

THE FIFTIETH CHAPTER
We should direct all our focus to this meek stirring of love in our will. And in all other sweetness and comforts, bodily or spiritual; If they come, welcome them; but do not seek them. For perhaps you may be stirred to love God for the sake of them and complain when they are gone away.  And if so, your love is not yet perfect. For a love that is chaste and perfect, does not complain, but is pleased to lack them at God's will.

THE FIFTY-FIRST CHAPTER
Focus meekly to this blind stirring of love in your heart. I do not mean your bodily heart, but your spiritual heart, which is your will. And beware that you imagine bodily that which is said spiritually. For truly the bodily and fleshly conceits of them that have curious and imaginative wits are the cause of much error.
An example of this is when I ask you hide your desire from God. For if I had asked you show your desire unto God, you may have conceived it more in your own will. And I think that there is great need to have much wariness in understanding of words that are spoken with spiritual intent, so that you conceive them in your spirit and not in your natural mind.  For work conceived in your natural imagination is the quickest way to death of body and of soul, for it is not wisdom and leads a man to madness.

THE FIFTY-SECOND CHAPTER
AND this is the madness that I speak of. They read or hear that they should leave outward working with their wits, and work inwards: and because they do not know what inward working is, they work wrong. For they turn their bodily wits inwards into their body; and they strain as though they would see inwards with their bodily eyes, and hear inwards with their ears, and so forth with all their wits, smelling, tasting, and feeling inwards. And with this curiosity they labor their imagination so they turn their brain in their heads. And then as fast the devil has power to create some false light or sounds, sweet smells in their noses, wonderful tastes in their mouths, and many quaint heats and burnings in their body.
And yet in this fantasy they think that they have a restful contemplation of their God without any hindrance of vanity; and surely they are so filled with falsehood that vanity cannot disturb them. And why? Because the same fiend that would minister vain thoughts to them is the chief worker in this work. And you know that he would not hinder himself. He allows thoughts of God in them for fear that he should be held suspect.

THE FIFTY-THIRD CHAPTER
MANY wonderful gestures follow them that be deceived in this false work. For whoever sees them where they sit, he would see them stare as though they were mad, and look as if they saw the devil. Some set their eyes in their heads as though they were stupid sheep beaten in the head, and as though they should soon die. Some hang their heads to one side, as if a worm were in their ears. Some squeak when they should speak, as if there were no spirit in their bodies: and this is the proper condition of a hypocrite. This is the condition of heretics, and of them that with presumption and curiosity of wit will always maintain error.
I do not say that these unseemly gestures be great sins, nor all those that do them be great sinners. But I say that if these disordered gestures be governors of that man, so much that he cannot stop them when he wills: I say that they are tokens of pride and curiosity of wit, and desire of knowing. And in particular they are the tokens of an unstable heart and restless mind.

THE FIFTY-FOURTH CHAPTER
And therefore get this gift, for whoever has it will know how to govern himself. His manner and his words should be full of spiritual wisdom, full of fire and fruit spoken in certainty. For there are some that study rhetoric, and how they might stuff and underprop their speaking and gestures: striving to seem holy in the sight of men. Ah, Lord God! surely there is pride and hypocrisy within where words are so plentiful without.  For if they be true, then they would speak in sincerity of their spirit in a plain voice.

THE FIFTY-FIFTH CHAPTER
SOME men the fiend will deceive in this manner wonderfully. He will enflame their brains to maintain God's law, and to destroy sin in all other men. He makes them busy watching over other men's lives. They reprove the faults of others as if they had the care of their souls. And they say that they are compelled by the fire of God's love in their heart. And truly it is with the fire of hell welling up in their brain and in their imagination.
The devil is a spirit, and like an angel, he has no body. But nevertheless, he or an angel can take any body with God's permission.
When the devil takes a body, he inflames the imagination of his contemplatives with the fire of hell, that suddenly without discretion they shoot out their curious conceits, and without any advisement they will take upon themselves to blame other men's faults.

THE FIFTY-SIXTH. CHAPTER
SOME for pride and curiosity of natural wit lean to their own knowing and learning from books rather than learning from the spirit of God. And because they were never grounded in humility, they have a false feeling, worked by the spiritual enemy.  So that they are called Antichrist's disciples.
 
THE FIFTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER
Some of these presumptuous spiritual disciples misunderstand the word up. For if they read or hear how men should lift up their hearts up God, they stare in the stars as if they would be above the moon. Our work should be spiritual, not bodily.
 
THE FIFTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER
And what if our Lord, when he ascended to heaven bodily? Shall we in our spiritual work ever stare upwards with our bodily eyes, to look after him if we may see him sit bodily in heaven? Surely not. May you see that these bodily showings were done for spiritual meanings.

THE FIFTY-NINTH CHAPTER
Time, place, and body, these three, should be forgotten in all spiritual working. And do not strain your imagination in the time of your prayer upwards, as though you would climb above the moon.

THE SIXTIETH CHAPTER
Spiritually, heaven is as near to us down as up. For the closest way to heaven is accomplished by desire and we need not strain our spirit up or down, or on one side or another.

THE SIXTY-FIRST CHAPTER
SO beware that you do not understand bodily that which is meant spiritually, although it be spoken words, such as up or down, in or out, behind or before, on one side or on other.

THE SIXTY-SECOND CHAPTER
Therefore I think to declare to you the spiritual meaning of some words that pertain to spiritual working.
All manner of bodily things are outside your soul and beneath it in nature. The sun and the moon and the stars, are above your body, but they are beneath your soul. All angels and all souls, even if they are adorned with grace virtue above you, nevertheless they are equal with you in nature.
Within yourself in nature are the powers of your soul: which are Mind, Reason, Will, Imagination and Sensuality. Nothing is above you in nature, but only God.

THE SIXTY-THIRD CHAPTER
MIND is a power of the soul that comprehends itself. Mind has four powers of  reason, will, imagination, and sensuality.  The two principal working powers, reason and will, work purely by themselves in spiritual things. Imagination and sensuality work naturally in the body and with the bodily wits.

THE SIXTY-FOURTH CHAPTER
REASON is a power by which we separate evil from good, the good from the better, the worse from the worst, the better from the best. Man should have been able to do this by nature. But now he is so blinded that he cannot do this work unless he be lighted by grace.

THE SIXTY - FIFTH CHAPTER
IMAGINATION is a power by which we portray images of absent and present things. Unless it be restrained by the light of grace in the reason, it will never cease to portray disordered images or fantasy, which is nothing else but a spiritual conceit.

THE SIXTY-SIXTH CHAPTER
SENSUALITY is a power of our soul through which we have bodily knowing and feeling. Unless it is ruled by grace in the will to restrain itself from lust, it will wallow as a swine in the wealth of this world and in the flesh so much that all our living shall be more like a beast.

THE SIXTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER
When you feel your mind occupied with the subtle conditions of your soul then you are within yourself. But when you feel your mind occupied only with the very substance of God, then you are above yourself and beneath your God.
You rise above yourself by grace, where you may not come by nature. That is to say, to be oned to God in spirit and in love according to the good pleasure of His will. And only by his mercy are you made a god in grace, oned with him in spirit without separation, both here and in the bliss of heaven without any end. Although you be all one with him in grace, yet you are far beneath him in nature.

THE SIXTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER
AND where another man would ask you gather your powers and your wits within yourself and worship God there; although he is well meaning, yet for fear of deceit and of bodily conceiving of his words, I ask you not to look within yourself or without yourself, or above, or behind, or on one side, or on another.
"Where then shall I be?" you ask.
Nowhere! For nowhere bodily is everywhere spiritually. And although your natural wits can find nothing to feed on, continue in the nowhere and do it for God's love. And do not stop, but labor in the nothing with a watchful desire to will to have God, whom no man may know.
This nothing is blind and dark to them that have only looked for a little while, but a soul is blinded at first by an abundance of spiritual light.  Surely it is our outer man that calls it the nothing and not our inner. Our inner man calls it All; for by it he is taught to understand all things bodily or spiritual.

THE SIXTY-NINTH CHAPTER
WONDERFULLY is a man's affection changed in the spiritual feeling of this nothing. For the first time that a soul looks, he shall find all the deeds of sin that he ever did since he was born painted there. And he will also see that all of his sins are washed away by grace. And for evermore he shall find it a cloud of unknowing that is between him and his God.

THE SEVENTIETH CHAPTER
Remain in this nothing, and in this nowhere, and leave your outward bodily wits and all that they work in: for I tell you truly that this work may not be understood by them. But by our spiritual understanding we are able to know God himself for a man can only know spiritual things with his spiritual understanding

THE SEVENTY-FIRST CHAPTER
SOME think this grace of contemplation is so hard and so fearful that they say that it can not be conceived but seldom, and that in the time of ravishing. And there are some that are so subtle in grace and in spirit, that they may have it whenever they want.

THE SEVENTY-SECOND CHAPTER
Do not judge others if this grace of contemplation comes easily or after a long time, or comes frequently or infreqently.  For when it pleases God, those that may not have it at first but seldom, shall afterwards have it when they will, as often as they like.

THE SEVENTY-THIRD CHAPTER
Sometime we profit only by grace, and sometimes we profit in this grace by other men's teaching. So I pray you, for the love of God Almighty; look to God's grace, and teach others to do the same.

THE SEVENTY-FOURTH CHAPTER
AND if you think that contemplation is not according to your disposition, you mayest leave it without blame. Read this book two or three times; and you will understand it better. Peradventure that some concept that was hard to understand at first at the second reading will be clear.
And I pray you for God's love that you let no-one see this book, unless you think they are able. And if you let any such men see it, then I pray you that you bid them take them time to look it all over. For peradventure there is some matter therein, in the beginning or in the middle, the which is hanging and not fully declared where it stands. But if it be, not there, it is soon after, or else in the end. And thus if a man saw one part and not another, peradventure he might lightly be led into error: and therefore I pray you to do as I tell you.
But as for worldly praters, flatterers and blamers, whisperers and talebearers, and all manner of carpers, I desire not that they should see this book: for it was never mine intent to write such thing for them. And therefore I would not that they heard it, neither they nor none of those curious learned nor unlearned men: yea! although they be full good men in active living; for it accordeth not to them.

THE SEVENTY-FIFTH CHAPTER
ALL that read this book and think it a good thing, are not therefore called by God to work in this work, for perhaps this attraction may come more from a natural curiosity than from any calling of grace.     .
But if this spiritual exercise presses in their mind habitually and if they think that there is no other thing that they can do then perhaps it is a token that they are called by God to this work.
Farewell, spiritual friend, in God's blessing and mine! And I beseech Almighty God that true peace, whole counsel, and spiritual comfort in God with abundance of grace, evermore be with you and all God's lovers on earth.

Amen.


HERE ENDETH THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING