The Cloud of Forgetting

Beverly Lanzetta Meditations, Practice

The Cloud of Unknowing; The Cloud of Forgetting
April 13, 2017

The anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing continues his contemplative advice to a young disciple on the importance of abandoning all distractions in the quest for God.

          Just as the cloud of unknowing lies above you, between you and your God, so you must fashion a cloud of forgetting beneath you, between you and every created being.
          Every time I say “all creatures,” I refer not only to every created thing but also to . . . their situation and doings whether good or ill. To put it briefly, during this work you must abandon them all beneath the cloud of forgetting.
          Yes, and with all due reverence, I go so far as to say that it is equally useless to think you can nourish your contemplative work by considering God’s attributes, his kindness or his dignity; or by thinking about our Lady, the angels, or the saints; or the joys of heaven, wonderful as these will be.
          I believe that this kind of activity is no longer of any use to you. . . . it is far better to let your mind rest in the awareness of him in his naked existence . . .
          For I tell you this, one loving blind desire for God alone is more valuable in itself, more pleasing to God than the saints, more beneficial to your own growth, and more helpful to your friends, both living and dead, than anything else you could do. Does this surprise you? This is only because you have not experienced it yourself.

*Excerpts are from The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counseling, William Johnston, ed. (New York: Image Books, 1973), Chapter 5-9.
**I have retained the gendered language used by the author of The Cloud to maintain consistency with the original text. However, I always read with an understanding of the Divine as nameless, or as both he and/or she.

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