The Cloud of Unknowing

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Part of "The English Mystics"

Conference 4: The Cloud of Unknowing

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#set-the-english-mystics

#preached-retreat

 

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you know
so we end this weekend with the what is for me at least the culminating moment of the english mystics of the fourteenth century and simply the english mistakes period and that is wonderful classic the cloud of unknowing the same author wrote several other treatises and they're also
so wonderful so as you get into his literature you can not range around and out the image edition has the or other little essay the book a private counseling marvelous and there's a wonderful collection of the other treatises put out by this a wonderful anglais
can order of nuns characters called a study of wisdom three ten three tracks by the author of the cloud and that they're also very very rewarding one about how to discern anything suppose you think your call too fast more how do you know that that's right or more mitchell
war community or how do you discern these things but he has a wonderful essay here on the discerning of spirits but it's all tied in with his basic theology it's all have one piece and so you see the real strength and solidity of your submission but will be looking today
at the classic the cloud of unknowing some of the young praises that the scholars and the contemplative seen this book clifton walters who added that the penguin edition he says one of the devotional classics of the english church and perhaps the greatest of them all no one who
reads it can fail became something of its splendor and charm and then this wonderful anglican mystic evil and underhill who pioneered in our own century the rediscovery of all this literature she writes it springs from an age when english mysticism was in full flower this is the pure doctrine mr to
awesome and again she knows the whole range and that's i think what we want we want the pure doctrine of mysticism
ah the great a benedictine scholar the medieval mystics down david knows who as we've heard was very hard on richard grow he writes perhaps the most subtle and incisive as well as the most original spiritual writer in the english language so that's credit yeah i praise you can
put that up near a cover of your books etc
merton says him but he's a true master who knows what he's talking about and that merton goes on in his essay on the english mistakes
but with a lovely section in their own not a cloud
the thing that is most striking perhaps about the cloud of annoying is the serene and practical assurance with which the author speaks of the work that he proposes this is not merely a way of prayer a manner of devotion it is a way of life
obviously he speaks from his own experience that's why it's with this assurance
oh father took well a dominican scholar who edited the very fine polished addition he writes one of the masterpieces of western literature and spirituality etc we could go on and on it's amazing how many of you here have read it and how many now have read it just a basic
point of reference for anyone who wants to journey deeper into christian prayer and i think we all should that might be the heart of the christian vocation if we mean by prayer not so much what i'm doing but we mean simply opening our heart to god and love to fulfill
that first commandment of our lord
the cloud from the beginning had a wide range of influence and perhaps in a particular way in our own century maybe the cloud had some it would sign a of cross certainly on father augustus baker the benedictine to recovered the contemplative tradition of in the up stormy
sixteenth century up certainly for people like burton evil and underhill ts eliot father pennington and father keating again say that the centering prayer which has been so influential is simply the cloud repackaged simply taking the basic image of the cloud and shifting into center
but the basic proposal the basic technique if you like is just the very same so i think it's wonderful to read father painting turn in father kidding but it's even more wonderful to go back to the source to see where this is all coming from the of course as see it's notice notice if the all
author makes us all up but he's in very solid continuity with this tradition mysticism in christianity sometimes called the apathetic tradition with the tradition that is goes into the
oh god as ineffable the up be odd words beyond concepts because god is so totally other so totally train since of anything we can come up with in terms of ideas so the amplified and really moves into the heart of god as god as in
affable history we need the cat of fabric we need the whole area of images and symbols that's what we'll be doing it eleven o'clock as we celebrate as eucharistic community that's what we'll be doing at lunch as we celebrate as christian community at the at the table of the lord also and it's we enjoy flowers
and music and all the rest but as were drawn into god as god were drawn simply into silence well how do we i how do we permit ourselves to be drawn does not put up all kinds of obstacles well this book is about that
who is the author but he didn't want us to know and
he's succeeded we still don't know who he is and up so to at the great classics of apathetic mr begin to use a fancy word
sudo dionysius his mystical theology way back and probably the beginning of the sixth century and then this in the fourteenth century or by authors we just don't know who wrote them and it's marks this are seeking of humanness because again we can get into ego trips in spirituality also brats more inspiration
reality can the goats because we need compensation because spirituality requires such as surrender ourselves so it's wonderful to to publish an article or book can see our name on it know kind of big he didn't want that he wanted the teaching to predominate you wanted people to focus on what's there not on who voted
so i think it's a wonderful challenge to us to move beyond ego individual or collective as we move into the godhead because that's what basically this prayer requires his final dying to ego to out herself to a journey with our true deepest
inner self where we are wounded and fragile and are uncertain and a guilt ridden etc but we open that inner naked yearning meaningful self to god and then god can be this into silence and into the fullness of the of the ineffable god
i'd heard the batmobile we don't want
book review soon a rave notices that central that's precisely what we don't need
so he said no the scholars however can adapt to rest there so they've done all this very careful sifting of all the clues and we have the cloud in the wonderful original middle english text and so they're able to have discovered again what dialect flair and
top one little tiny clue as he's writing for this young hermit and he says i bestow on you god's blessing and mine so it's very likely he was a priest for instance other very subtle clues suggest hang now many scholars think he was a cartoon shouldn't monk of a purty
pewter how sector we've been able to vocalize but not all are in agreement with that and there's a wide range of hypotheses whom he might be but again i think it's wonderful challenge to us he doesn't want us to know
and again the basic challenges that as we open to our life of prayer that is to are being we've got it that most intimate level to leave you go behind and it's extremely difficult and extremely rewarding
when did he write well somewhere in the later half of the fourteenth century he criticizes richard role and also praises and uses yeah and richard roll guide and thirteen forty nine and he's criticized by walter hilton who died around through to ninety five so somewhere we wouldn't have middle period of the cloud of unknowing was written
i give more recent scholars think he wrote this the moultrie who can through some critics added that he wrote some of these later essay is to do on his all writing to say well you've got some points their rough water but up my my position basically stand solid and in this sense
what are his sources it's again very useful always to ask this question really coming from well scriptures all the way through this is an apathetic text but that doesn't mean he just has nothing to do with words with especially the word of god there's so hundred and ninety nine sites
patients were allusions to scripture in this brief work really sixteen references to the song that suggests someone who served praying the office but sixteen references also to the song of songs to the canticle that's wonderful twenty three references to of matthew his favorite gospel two thousand and to john twenty two luke poor mom
arca really fails he only gets to but that first corinthians is very important early christian writing fifteen references so he draws a lot from the corinthian community that very charismatic community and to therapy if you're a scholar if you'd like to go into that see what exhortations would ask
effects of the letter to the corinthians is a the author plugging into you can do anything with for double-sided like first corinthians you could argue from a disposition or in this contrary position well it's interesting to see what he does with how do you do a mystical contemplative reading of scripture not a polemical are not a self
those others are were greater than you or something like that but how as a contemplative once only deeper union with god how do you read first corinthians how do you read matthew how do you read the songs it's a real lesson there
anything close contact again with our great father's augustan grey green of bernard a special way with sudo dionysius this classic by another of that author was rather naughty he wanted to pretend he was someone he wasn't that is dionysius mentioned in the book of acts but this the
author doesn't pull anything like that just a wants to be unknown but pseudo dionysius the key mystical theology this author translates into middle english to make it available to england where of the get writers just a little after that said that pseudo dionysius gallup to crossing
and like a wild stay it just caught caught on the english about this kind of funnel cloud mysticism that you can understand but their whether maybe maybe death certificate the temperament or something so again he is also a very
solid theologian and we always seek this is not into the bizarre is not often right fyodor left field is very down the center solid theology and thus he's able to go solidly beyond theology
all kinds of additions to the cloud of all kinds now of studies of the resort again if you read the introduction to the polish edition or the introduction by william johnson a wonderful scholar also it comparative spirituality in the image addition the delightful our introduction in the penguin edition
by this anglican scholar
introduction in this a fair interest edition by the published by the convent of the condition conditioner good by clifton waters
so all kinds of resources available
if we read the the book is basically wants to be a practical treatise for anyone who wants to learn how to pray it's not anyway a theoretical theological treatise it's not the kind of thing and father joseph your would run through get sick but it presupposes that kind of work that father joseph would do that is there
a whole theological anthropology presupposed here
you don't just set aside theology and irrelevant you've got to go through it and do it either implicitly were all called to the theologians to spire baptist that is explore what does my faith mean how do i put it together how do i understand myself i don't understand christ the father etc so he's a theologian but up in order to
to move to the final consummation of theology which is prayer
well he's got a theological anthropology or an understanding of the human person something like are diagram on the board and for our listener audience is basically a mountain with three stages when the lowest level body and in the middle stage mind and that peak
spirit body mind spirit this is the great of triadic model of the human person that we find already in st paul certainly in the greek tradition and then in the richer contemplative we're not just body mind this is a later kind of reduction just understanding of the you know
person some have argued that's what dominates in our secular society body mind that's all you mind is understood kinda abandonment model of the computer which is kind of up
analytical information of go into how much of stuff i pump into it i get answers out of it and body is understood kind of on the model of the ape you know so we've got a model of the human person is a computer in the ape and that's all yards it's wildly am schizophrenia it's wildly discuss joined
and so the guy rushes off to his office and just a plays computer all day and then rushes home and plays wild playboy of the west kind of thing bounces back and forth between these two dimensions neither of which are truly satisfy the person but if you add this mysterious third towards the top of the mountain the spirit
get if you say the spirit is as unlike the body as the body is unlike the mind that is they're they're all quite mysterious different dimensions but with all kinds of overlap being the interpenetration cetera then we have a fuller anthropology if we say that the body wants to
be rather illumined by the mind and the mind wants to be in card incarnated and rendered concrete a real in the body and it's the spirit that wants to embrace both obese and to illumine from within a body to transfigured the body and to the illumined from within the mind during
mind analytic report is fine but turning it into the deeper levels of intuition and wisdom
a study of wisdom of then we've got a much fuller and a much more mysterious anthropology but that's his basic gut intuition that each one of these levels as its characteristic of organs for faculties and the body functions in contact with other bodies through the senses the five so
sensors basically other mysterious once we don't know like but these we showed all the animals but my body relates to this
these silver here with these flowers through sensing the colors the shape of smelling of the wonderful aroma touching of i can taste them etc
so the body through the senses goes beyond the body
but then we have the bind i can just stay within my mind can reflect what is the relation between justice and truth or beauty and just the realm of pure ideas and i can remain within myself and then there's all kinds of interim levels their of imaginations
fantasy memory projection and center that whole realm that's normally where were caught up in with all those cassettes all those voices playing inside and all the a swirl of images beyond and outside of us that's where ricardian but again there said highest level of the
spirit and it's faculty is the will that it is highest level carries us in the purest love upward above the self so the bodies of fact piece of the senses curious outside ourselves below is a little judgment when you can contest that the certainly outside of are so the my
mind them can move within itself in the realm of thoughts and ideas imaginings projections et cetera but the spirit through the will at its highest level effective and spiritual losers above purely into godhead now he's going to be able to do a lot with that model so ponder it it's not
perfect the human person is so mysterious you can come up with all kinds of other models but up and as st thomas aquinas every model limps but i've found a basically pretty pretty helpful and up the mountain archetype will see is just very basic to all the world religions certainly to the
a judeo christian and there's something about these basic images so mountain is what the christian journey is all about it's about an ascent up a mountain it's about who we are it's about how long to understand that different things are happening within us but in different levels of it it freezes up
to understand a great deal
so this is the map of the human person the map of the journey and he insists don't take this in a literalist stick way he says if we talk about that pure intention going above the intention could also be called up a movement into the depths of the spirit or to the center or
to the hunt in these matters it is all of a c he writes in chapter thirty seven so he's quite aware that this is metaphor talking about something because you were at the level of spirit that that can only use these models and metaphors and olympian kind of way they help but we don't want to take them
in a kind of a literalist stick fundamentalist stick way and the cloud isn't this fluffy white thing so we're in our head and if he speaks about darkness is he definitely will or silence that isn't that we turn the lights out inside or something like that were quite a different level as he insists a very expert
lucidly
do not think it because i call it a darkness or a cloud is sort of cloud you see in the sky or the kind of darkness you know at home and the light is out that kind of darkness or cloud you can picture in your mind's eye the height of summer just as in the depth of the winter's night you can picture a clear and shining light
right i do not mean this at all
so here is the apathetic we use this language but then we have to absolutely go beyond it
by darkness i mean a lack of knowing just as anything that you do not know or may have forgotten they be said to be dark to you for you cannot see it with your inward eye for this reason is called a cloud not of the sky of course but of and knowing a
between you and your god so we want to take this treatise very subtly we don't want to have some kind of simplistic way and he says the whole area of meditation of reflection of five pious devotion of visions and prophecies very interesting stuff
but that's it the first two levels
that's not the way we get into god was by inviting us into his her depths that's good preparatory interesting things but it's not in the area of sensing or hearing or seeing or knowing that we move into god as god but all
only by the way of loving so he's very emphatically a love mistake if you were of again see those two currents he's not at all rhapsodic impatient in his prose like up richard role but in his extremely reserved quiet wait it's the very
three a very same thing
therefore i will leave on one side everything i can think and choose from i love that which i cannot think
why because god may will be loved but not fought by love god can be caught and held but by thinking never
it's extremely simple and penetrating but it's based on the most profound the fiala chiefs that somehow our ideas are always linked with concrete specific creature lee limited things and god is totally other but there's something about love the brings me right into the heart of guy
god
and so that's the way we want to go he says it's also in another beautiful way in one of his treatises on the discernment of stirrings that's what he's saying he's trying to advise us young guy was wondering whether you should fast war of eat more be more silent or speak more rituals or sleep more but he says that one of his preparatory exhortation
jones is
oh
greece is prepared to an exhortation
for there we go he's got his to eyes the eyes of the soul are to reason and love
recent enables us to see how writing a wise now good god is in his creation but not in himself
but whatever whenever recent fails that bob is eager to live and learn to play it's full part for by love we may find him feel him and catch him just as he is it is a wonderful i love that love which is blind to everything else but the one
thing it is seeking this is why it finds and fields and hits and wombs the target it is shooting at so valve doesn't pretend to understand love can be blind it can just go right into the heart of the cloud whereas knowledge camp that's what the cloud is all about rendering knowledge
age just useless just rendered up
dead in its tracks are blocked so we think we're blocked but we're not just our knowing we're not just are feeling or imagining or that's how we learned so much more about ourselves as we journey up the mountain we learn that we are many levels so many people don't have the foggiest
idea that there's also a spiritual dimension in them you might have some little glimmering when they're looking at the ocean send me rendered up dumped struck or or a sunrise or the little baby crying or the moment of dying these deep moments that called to deep then they realized suddenly it's some
thing much more than a mind body
a who i am and there's a reality much beyond whatever i can feel or think or see your but it's only in those moments but the mystics are those who challenges to rediscover who god is but also rediscover who we are at this up most profound level
so his basic exhortation is hey give yourself over to this work what is the word simply loving god simply cleaving to god without seeking to have all kinds of feelings imaginings experiences jersey ideas
just love god that said an open yourself to the mystery of and to the ineffable
cloud quality of it and persevering that and that's a more use to you than were you to have visions and talk with the archangels and all kinds of other stuff
i tell you this it is more profitable to your souls health more worthwhile more pleasing to god and dogs to heavens yes more helpful to your friends natural and spiritual dead or alive to the whole communion of saints that you should have this blind outreaching of love
to god himself this secret love pressing upon the cloud of annoying the that you should have that you should have this is your spiritual perfection that you should contemplate and gaze on the angels and saints in heaven here the happy music of the blessed with et cetera here are some scholars say he's getting a little dig their attitude
roll with all his music and to you saying that you don't need the music all you need is this blind or cleaving to god in love
oh and again he says this is of more value to you and the whole church contemplative need this strong encouragement because you can have the impression you're not doing nothing and you don't have all the constellations of the feedback if you preach to a huge congregation and you preach well least a few will say afterwards what a way
from sermon or if you convert the masses review of god knows a miracle submissions etc you get some wonderful applause but if you're just there in solitude loving god in a cloud without great feelings and music can heat said what have you got the only thing you've got is gone
and he says stick to it this is the same message on the cross during the his there's more good in this for you and for the whole church they were you to convert so to speak hundreds and hundreds of people so this is the kind of encourage what we need not to up
not to wander but to a stay faithful in this most difficult and also most easy of all vocations
oh how can we presume to consider ourselves contempt is most people just think i'm not worthy and then stops them and they're not worthy we're not worthy ah he's got here also a wonderful words of consolation it is not what you are nor what you have been that god sees
with is all merciful eyes but what you desire to be
so don't worry about the imperfections don't worry about the sins of the past just desire to be desire to be what want with god that's the subtitle in this wonderful one middle english edition and do yup translators don't quite know what to do with that because it's not a verb form plumbed in powder
english but he gets so it's so wonderful in which a solar is wanted with god however it's pronounced so that's what it's all it that's all we want and will leave aside all the rest
or what are the remote preparations will certainly the church compare with she very much respects meditation on christ meditation on the patch he's not saying these are bad he's not a or quietest but he's saying up were called higher up the mountain the immediate preparation we go then into our
inner chamber this is the kind of prayer that jesus is exhorting when he says when you pray go into your inner chamber close the door and pray to your heavenly father in secret this is this moment
the author acknowledges he's not talking about when he's out of counseling someone was troubled or when he's out of chopping is good
though his prayer can tend to become more and more habitual and it can come to the point where it's mysteriously there at least as the wider kind of horizon of things also when you're talking with the other person also in you're chopping your would
but or he's talking especially when you go to inner chamber close the door sit down and want to enter into this deeper silent prayer it's like against to be going home to beloved and moving into the deepest relation of silence with them
so the first step is simply forget everything forget the bill should have to be paid and what aunt lucy said to you and your concern about tomorrow's and all that forget it all but here's he's amazingly readers for can even the the spiritual stuff again forget dishes
some prophecies and healings forget wonderful meditations about mary in the saints forget wonderful meditations about jesus forget it
why can you become not religious or pious heard about now because you've been drawn to the higher level that fulfills and gives all these other things her validity if in fact they're valid if they are valid they don't mind being forgotten their in function to this deepest union
so forget the whole thing
and so we're we've got below is this cloud of forgetting it wants now to encompass the whole area of our psyche of our consciousness of body senses imaginations also mind and thoughts also fantasies also great creativity also any of that
forget
a great mistake of our time a sister elizabeth of the trinity river favorite words was the chevy i have decided not to know just to put it on the side
i'm having said that and twenty privilege
quite possibly the devil will bring into your mind many lovely and wonderful thoughts about god about god's kindness in this moment of prayer the devil wants to sub didn't distract you from this this is the worst possible thing that can happen from the devils perspective
that is union with god so the devil suggest all these wonderful thoughts about god god's kindness you mind you've got sweetness of love and grace and mercy if you will but listen to him he asked no more you will go on chattering increasingly and bring you steadily down to think of christ's patient
you're the devil is urging us to think of christ's patient there he will show you the wonderful kindness of god and he wants nothing so much that you should listen to him for he will then go on to let you see your past manner of life and he's you think of it's wretchedness your mind will be well away back in its old haunts
before before you know where you are you are disintegrated beyond belief and the reason simply the you've freely consented to listen to that first thought and responded to it accepted it gave it its head so this is a very rigorous way of the narrow
way said john the cross talks about nada nada nada nothing nothing nothing not even the most sublime thoughts
why would i sit down for this kind of prayer i suddenly have all these create intuitions for a next week's sermon
and i've got to write them down it will be lost know if they're valid to combating
and this is more important this is more important than anything else also them not see mary in the saints again indeed if we may say so reverently when we are engaged on this word in profits little or nothing to think even of god's kindness or worth of our a our lady or a bus
saints are angels or the joys of heaven if you think thereby by such meditation to strengthen your purpose in this particular matter it will not help at all
so this is this is the rigor of it
for though it is good to think about the kindness of god into one pm and praise him for it and all the scenes it's far better to think about him as he is that is to say to love and praise him for himself
so there's a real stripping away here even of all our religiosity and piety and on this is the final stripping this is the final night since the joined across the night of the spirit
and this takes some some courage and detachment served me forget scions my god into this in the past i've done that in the past he has a lovely passage he says if of st mary magdalen one of the greatest of saints and contemplative so she just thought about her since she never end of all she thinks about his her love
love relevant the sense of jesus the bridegroom not innocence of her loving would experience she's getting out of this just christ that's her only concern and that is why on much has been forgiven her because she is loved much of the author uses its loving image of just take all your sins without thinking much
you about them just of
well of them into this huge lump and then just present the whole grotesque thing to god god can handle it and then just go on to more important things god is more important than our sins god is more important than our thoughts about god our thoughts about mary i thought about st joseph and see reader
and
prophecies visions nor the rest god that's what it's all about
so we've got this of image of the cloud at the summit of the mountain to go back to our image of the mountain which again is such an archetypical image all the great religions and their sacred mountain and the pilgrim it needs to ascend to the top
and so often at the top there is the cloud
think of a mount sinai and moses was sense to talk to your way has to enter into the cloud if you'll remember that he returns with the people who got after the exodus out of egypt and he ascends again to receive the covenant
then jesus at the transfiguration is shining cloud came over them and a voice from the cloud said this is my beloved son
and then and amount of the essential jesus is taken up into a cloud so it's a wonderful basic biblical image i personally so prefer mountain and cloud to center and exeter is so arid mathematical but that's me maybe you love center and maybe just gets to a picture
jewelry year to i was born in the rockies in colorado i had spoke this is just a basic nourishment so if it is also for you rejoice in it because it's one of the basic up as the unions would say basic religious archetypes and then up i think week
contemporaries have a wonderful resource in our experience of flying i assume all of you have had the experience of flying your there but would you take off and ascend and then go into one of those white fluffy clouds is astonishing the sense of being above elevated a whole new level of existence fly
dying but then sony to join that with into the cloud you have no idea where you are you can't see you have to just let go control and just hope that the instruments are working and dutch the pilot knows what he's doing so the cloud is where you don't have the clear and distinct ideas id
does help us control i know that definition of a table i know the definition of this bad i have no idea who god is so just let go i have beautiful meditations about mary and crib and jesus on the cross let go i've read about this prophecy that so and so is saying out in arizona
know that explains this bad and let go god is be good all of that infinitely bigger and to dare to ascend even into the cloud
so that is the level of union of hearts and dump that is it all happens
so then what happens well hadn't gone into the cloud accept this annoying that's where you find yourself and then inevitably all of these distractions will come up also a can print pious distractions also maybe very groggy to scrap distractions you know discuss with an emergency or all this stuff
you do gently pushed them down then into the cloud of forgetting and the base of the mountain that is most of the mountain encompassing body and mind so there's this double work of gently abiding in the cloud of forgetting and gently pushing down i'm sorry in the cloud of
annoying and gently pushing down into the cloud of forgetting all the stuff that inevitably comes up that sit there ain't no more
if ever you were to come into this cloud and live and work in it as i suggest the just as this cloud of unknowing is as it were above you between you and god so you must also put a cloud of forgetting beneath you and all of creation
whenever i say the whole created world i always been not only the individual creatures therein but everything connected with him there is to be no exception whatever whether you think of them is filling physical or spiritual beings are there states where actions or their goodness or badness in a word everything else
everything must be hidden under this cloud of forgetting so that's the amazing thing not a strict distractions will inevitably bubble up and what do you do well the book is so helpful in terms of just offering various stratagems on how to deal with distractions you
remember their alter hilton it is
useful suggestions basically the clouds as you gonna learn yourself each person is different you've got to work up your own series of tactics
and if it is really hard work you can use every dodge scheme and spiritual stratagem you can find to put these distractions down these arts are better learn from god by experience than from any human teacher and think this is wonderful this is something or water children smarter
you've got to discover what works best for you he doesn't give some of his own charming suggestions he says when this distraction comes charging at you maybe it's a wonderful thought about my mother when i was younger something try to look as it were over their shoulders seeking something else which is god
odd shrouded in the cloud of annoying if you do so i believe that you will soon find your hard work much easier just kind of look above
i once read a book about the english nobility and they are at this way of looking just slightly above your eyes into your forehead above your head and it's a kind of a wonderful thing well this is what you'd do with your temptations just don't give them full acknowledgement because you're more than they are and goddess more than
they are
then he tries just the contrary as a tactic if they'd just overwhelmingly you like a huge wave is another spiritual dodge to try if you wish when you feel that you were completely powerless to put these thoughts away cower down before them like some cringey captive overcome in battle and reckon eh
it is ridiculous to fight against them any longer in this way you surrender yourself to god while you were in the hands of your enemies so at this also brings went into the level of humility not to battlefront on
oh i came from colorado to the beach with my brother moved here and my high school years and the first day i just rushed into the water without knowing anything about waves this was the and this huge wave came just not be over but then slowly you learn how to be a wave wise and when a huge ones coming you can't turn around him roy
right it well what you can do is is sweep right underneath a right at its depths and then you it's delightful kind of bug being flipped by but not shipped flat on and actually knocked over this is something i've always thought of something of that debt distraction
but up a key method he uses his are famous jesus prayer a short word said over and over again so here again he's taking up a theme we found in richard role and we found in walter walter and again it's often the eastern church short short prayer he
he wants it just one word repeated over and over again this helps cut through the distractions it helps keep the lower fact that he's kind of busy there is something happened they they want dois they want action where there is action is quiet slow repeating of the word jesus or
he says it might be the word god or the word love
so what is required is a naked intention directed to god and himself alone if you want this intentions summed up in a word to retain it more easily take a short word preferably of one syllable to do so the shorter the word the better being more like the working of the spirit a work a word like god or law
don't choose what you like reprap some other so long as it is a one syllable and fix this work fast to your heart so that it is always there come what may so this is prayer of the heart i have found in him know where he suggests the name jesus i think this is sad because richard role and water health an explicit
lee recommend jesus but here he says whatever were quietly to use this is what their father john maine called the bunch of prayer or the yeah what personal word prayer rug and it's the same method that's what the centering prayer method involves
and then to know that god is profoundly with us more than we could have imagined more than we could hope so this word being called out got immediately here is it and is they're embracing us as any loving father would when the child or mother when the child is so intent on wanting to be unite
good
so this is the work basically this naked intent of love without all the trappings of feelings and bots and imaginings and information and skills and gifts and graces lobbyist know just i can borrow at all
it's extremely difficult work and so he invites us to perseverance work hard it is therefore and with all speed hammer away at this high cloud of annoying and take your rest later it is a hard work and no mistake for the would be contemplative
very hard work indeed unless it is made easier by a special grace of god or by the fact that what has got used to it over a long period so we should be prepared to sweat a bit but there are those exceptions particularly when god surprises us when we are surprised by joy as
cs lewis says so the author goes on for sometimes god will do it all himself but not always and never for any length of time but when he likes and as he likes the at that time you will be happy to let him have his own way so we can never kind of
schedule what precisely will happen it always comes as surprise as new experience and that's wonderful
the authors are very cautious spiritual director and he says be careful with all these means whether they be solitude or community silence were speaking fasting or feasting all these are only means but one think is not a means it's the end and that god himself and there are we can give arsene
elves totally and without condition so he says of in chapter forty one
if you were to ask me what discretion you should exercise in this work of contemplative prayer my answer is none whatever in everything else you do you have to use your own discretion
as for example in a matter of food drink and sleep and keeping warm or cool the time you spend in praying or reading your conversations with your fellow christians it all these you have to use your discretion so they are not too much or too little but in this work cast disk
question to the wind i want you never to give this work up all the time you live
so finally were was liberated we can just go wild in this particular area and duck this is the freeing up of unconditional love
this does not mean though he goes out to a subtle distinction kind of to abandoning ourselves to what is classically called spiritual gluttony to go into a kind of a religiosity high as seeking after the feeling rather than the giver who might offer the feeling we're not as the gipper wishes
so yes give ourselves without limit but not to having again a feeling or the experts but to opening our heart to god in love so the the goes on to recommend a real sense of reserve of some of
polite and sinha relation with god almost of up kind of playing hard to get just so we don't lapse into this spiritual gluttony uses some delightful or a stump humorous phrases in chapter forty six so beware of behaving wildly like some animal and learned
love god with quiet eager joy and rest in body as in seoul
remember your manners and weight humbly upon the lord's will do not snatch the feeling like some famished dog however much you hunger for it
if i may use a funny example i would suggest you do all you can to cloak your great and ungoverned spiritual urge as though you were altogether unwilling that he should know how very glad you would be to see him to have him to feel him
so up this is the paradox to be there with all our heart are so all our mind all our strength but with good manners
he says perhaps you think i'm speaking childishly or playfully yet i believe that whoever had the grace to put what would i say into practice would have a lovely game spiritually with him just as an earthly father does with his child hugging and kissing him and would be glad to have it so
it's a lovely analogy of the end and quite surprising he changes the young the cards for to speak he ships that we would have expected that god is the father playing with us but as he puts it there we will have a lovely game with god as a father with the father's child
it is if we have the divine child in our heart we have to be careful not to crush the child with this up over exuberance and embraces et cetera but a delightful playful reserved of game they're of of love and so
we have to exercise here are paternal or maternal love towards his fragile divine child in our heart the we of course also always remain a child in god's armor suits them both and
times in this moment of contemplative prayer but if we keep at it he says it can become habitual and can become our life it can become available just with the moment of returning again to the lord of faith of opening our heart again
so he writes in chapter seventy one there are some by grace are so sensitive spiritually so at home with god in this grace of contemplation that they may have it when they like and under normal spiritual working conditions whether they are sitting or walking standing or kneeling and at these
times they are in full control of their faculties both physical and spiritual and can use them if they wish admittedly not without some difficulty yet without great difficulty
so here this work this practice in the moment of prayer can extend throughout our day can become are very life it's like love that we express to a significant other to the beloved in certain moments but if it's all pervasive that so that's what lamp one
it's to be without limit
so we have to get used to abiding in this cloud because our mind really can't contain define god or mind has to be in this cloud of unknowing but our heart can cleave to god what is this cloud ultimately well it is the
place them in faith we encounter god and so it becomes heaven for us sometimes it becomes for us in mysterious moments of insight god himself
so we can conclude with this final quote of chapter sixty nine
at times the contemplative believes this cloud to be paradise or heaven because of the buried and wonderful delights comforts joys and blessing virtues he finds there
at times he believes it to be god himself such as the peace and rest you find