Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cloud of Unknowing

Cloud of Unknowing

I have less and less to say.

This is because of acknowledging the brutal fact about knowing. Which is to say, about NOT knowing.

Self inquiry leads to the perception of one’s identity as a moving target, sometimes here and other times there, sometimes seeming more reliable and trustworthy, other times less so or not at all.

“I” watch this in amazement and consternation, often feeling that existence itself is a pretty mean trick of the universe.

Did I ever ask to be the subject of such a cosmic joke, to be at once so ill defined and incompetent, yet also responsible for everything that happens?

Eventually one has to simply say those hardest of words:

“I don’t know.”

This immediately produces the judgment of ignorance and stupidity. Maybe the person to whom the admission is addressed is kind or courteous enough not to suggest this (though not always).

Regardless, one feels it must be true, for in falling past the conjectural mind it becomes altogether manifest that we know absolutely nothing. Not so much as how to take the next step or digest lunch, to say nothing of determining who is worthy to be elected to public office.

That ancient text, “The Cloud of Unknowing,” describes the path toward God as coming to see, with infinite pain, that no human knowledge is capable of bringing one into the presence of the divine.

“So oft, he goeth nigh mad for sorrow. Insomuch, the he weepeth and waileth, striveth, curseth, and banneth; and shortly to say, him thinketh that he beareth so heavy a burden of himself that he careth never what betides him, so that God were pleased.”

So there it is.


  1. i don't know. And i don't care that i don't know. Losing everthing feels like freedom sometimes. Truly.we feel badly about those who go to sleep hungry seeming to die slowly and painfully. Yet i witness everyday slow painful dying from stuffing and eating steaks and wine and cheeses. People tethered to mountins of things and definitions. i delight at my move to cast off all that that keeps me pinned to "normal". i follow a current, or does it follow me? I will fight no more. The light being within me, but not limited to my body, urges me into the unknown. And again i feel alive.

  2. Feels to me as though the more I let go of thinking I know anything, that by grace an experience is given that is beyond words or explanation. Not knowing of my own accord then becomes a gift beyond what I could have imagined in my dreams. It's the burdens I know and fearfully cling to that seem to cut off all learning. That's comforting kinda, and such a joke when I am weak assed.
    Really appreciate the last comment.
    Thank you CD for all you share.

  3. Thanks CD. A particularly good post today as I struggle with not knowing also. Seems I ought to know, but I don't. Good to be reminded that it's all welcome.

  4. There is a part of us that DOES know.

    Michael Brown calls this the Inner Presence. You could also call it the Higher Self, the Divine Source, God or anything else.

    It knows. The key is listening to it and no longer paying any attention to all the nonsense that drives us to distraction.

    This is tough as we are so used to the nonsense, that we take it for who we are.

    As Michael Brown says, to access the part of us which knows it is necessary to leave behind the world of sound, movement and form, and instead to enter the world of silence, stillness and invisibility.

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