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Chapter 7 How A Man Shall Have Him In This Work Against All Thoughts, And Specially Against All Those That Arise Of His Own Curiosity, Of Cunning, And Of Natural Wit, The CLoud Of Unknowing

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The Cloud of Unknowing, ed. by Evelyn Underhill, [1922]     How a man shall have him in this work against all thoughts, and specially against all those that arise of his own curiosity, of cunning, and of natural wit.   AND if any thought rise and will press continually above thee betwixt thee and that darkness, and ask thee saying, “What seekest thou, and what wouldest thou have?” say thou, that it is God that thou wouldest have. “Him I covet, Him I seek, and nought but Him.” And if he ask thee, “What is that God?” say thou, that it is God that made thee and bought thee, and that graciously hath called thee to thy degree. “And in Him,” say, “thou hast no skill.” And therefore say, “Go thou down again,” and tread him fast down with a stirring of love, although he seem to thee right holy, and seem to thee as he would help thee to seek Him. For peradventure he will bring to thy mind diverse full fair and wonderful points of His kindness, and say that He is full sweet, and full loving, full gracious, and full merciful. And if thou wilt hear him, he coveteth no better; for at the last he will thus jangle ever more and more till he bring thee lower, to the mind of His Passion. And there will he let thee see the wonderful kindness of God, and if thou hear him, he careth for nought better. For soon after he will let thee see thine old wretched living, and peradventure in seeing and thinking thereof he will bring to thy mind some place that thou hast dwelt in before this time. So that at the last, or ever thou wit, thou shalt be scattered thou wottest not where. The cause of this scattering is, that thou heardest him first wilfully, then answeredest him, receivedest him, and lettest him alone. And yet, nevertheless, the thing that he said was both good and holy. Yea, and so holy, that what man or woman that weeneth to come to contemplation without many such sweet meditations of their own wretchedness, the passion, the kindness, and the great goodness, and the worthiness of God coming before, surely he shall err and fail of his purpose. And yet, nevertheless, it behoveth a man or a woman that hath long time been used in these meditations, nevertheless to leave them, and put them and hold them far down under the cloud of forgetting, if ever he shall pierce the cloud of unknowing betwixt him and his God. Therefore what time that thou purposest thee to this work, and feelest by grace that thou art called of God, lift then up thine heart unto God with a meek stirring of love; and mean God that made thee, and bought thee, and that graciously hath called thee to thy degree, and receive none other thought of God. And yet not all these, but if thou list; for it sufficeth enough, a naked intent direct unto God without any other cause than Himself. And if thee list have this intent lapped and folden in one word, for thou shouldest have better hold thereupon, take thee but a little word of one syllable: for so it is better than of two, for ever the shorter it is the better it accordeth with the work of the Spirit. And such a word is this word GOD or this word LOVE. Choose thee whether thou wilt, or another; as thee list, which that thee liketh best of one syllable. And fasten this word to thine heart, so that it never go thence for thing that befalleth. This word shall be thy shield and thy spear, whether thou ridest on peace or on war. With this word, thou shalt beat on this cloud and this darkness above thee. With this word, thou shall smite down all manner of thought under the cloud of forgetting. Insomuch, that if any thought press upon thee to ask thee what thou wouldest have, answer them with no more words but with this one word. And if he proffer thee of his great clergy to expound thee that word and to tell thee the conditions of that word, say him: That thou wilt have it all whole, and not broken nor undone. And if thou wilt hold thee fast on this purpose, be thou sure, he will no while abide. And why? For that thou wilt not let him feed him on such sweet meditations of God touched before.

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How A Man Shall Have Him In This Work Against All Thoughts, And Specially Against All Those That Arise Of His Own Curiosity, Of Cunning, And Of Natural Wit

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1 Ben N = "In the work of prayer and contemplation, we must be vigilant against the many subtle and clever ways that the ego-mind can creep in."
2 Ben N = "All of our thoughts and ideas and mental concepts only serve to distract us from the mysterious cloud of unknowing we are seeking to enter. When they arise during the course of this work, we must re-focus, and clarify our purpose: we want God, and nothing less! "
3 Cary W = "We will surely find God when we seek Him just because of Who He is and the speechless love His presence inspires.  We may find some relief in seeking Him for His great benefits, but He promises if we seek Him and His kingdom (laws in action), then we shall find Him and be given all other things as well."
4 Ben N = "Acknowledge that all thoughts and ideas, and all knowledge are created things - and the creation can never encompass the Creator! Therefore we must acknowledge that no thought can ever take us to God, and put aside whatever thoughts may come."
5 Ben N = "Even "good" and "holy" thoughts are a distraction, which scatter our attention, and lead us into thinking about God and His wondrous qualities, our thinking about ourselves, our lives, our future, etc. Anything but the silent surrender to the mystery of God's Presence."
6 Ben N = "Such holy and devout contemplation on the qualities of God, and our own utter dependence upon Him, are a necessary step of preparation for this work - but they are not the work itself. They must be left behind if we are to rise above mere ideas about God, and come into His living Presence."
7 Cary W = "Contemplation and affirmation really have no place when we could have the ultimate reward of just His company and revelation, for in them are newness of vision and thought.  He always does something never seen or thought before, being the ultimate artist and architect of our souls."
8 Ben N = "To help us go beyond all ideas, and all thoughts, it an help to decide upon one simple word, a mantra, to symbolize the whole inexpressible mystery of the Unknowable Divine."
9 Cary W = "One such word of single syllable, contains no thought, belief or perception, but the very power and action of that word, which can be a most powerful sword against the onslaught of all our shrouded thinking, cutting through its images into the very light of His reality and presence."
10 Ben N = "Repeat this one word prayer over and over, both aloud and silently, until it lives in our hearts and is a part of us. With this one word, we drive out all distracting thoughts that might arise, and continually yearn and devotedly strive toward the Divine union that is the goal of this work. "