quoted by evangelical contemplatives such as Richard
Foster and Henri Nouwen, this 14th
century book of contemplation is described this way:
"A BOOK OF CONTEMPLATION THE WHICH IS CALLED THE CLOUD
OF UNKNOWING, IN THE WHICH A SOUL IS ONED WITH GOD"
Book - The Cloud of Unknowing
From The Cloud of Unknowing: "Take just a little word,
of one syllable rather than of two ... With this word you are
to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting."
1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master
at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. found a dusty little
book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read
it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century
book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual
process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a
direct experience of union with God." Some
History of The Cloud of Unknowing
silence is accomplished by the same methods used by New Agers
to achieve their silence--the mantra and the breath!
Contemplative prayer is the repetition of what is referred to
as a prayer word or sacred word until one reaches a state where
the soul, rather than the mind, contemplates God. Contemplative
prayer teacher and Zen master Willigis Jager brought this out
when he postulated:
not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting
must cease, as all mystical writers insist. Simply "sound"
the word silently, letting go of all feelings and thoughts.
with some theological training may recognize this teaching as
the historical stream going back centuries to such figures as
Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Julian
of Norwich. One of the most well-known writings on the subject
is the classic 14th century treatise, The Cloud of Unknowing,
written by an anonymous author. It is essentially a manual on
contemplative prayer, inviting a beginner to:
just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two ...
With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought
under the cloud of forgetting.
premise here is that in order to really know God, mysticism
must be practiced--the mind has to be shut down or turned off
so that the cloud of unknowing, where the presence of God awaits,
can be experienced. Practitioners of this method believe that
if the sacred words are Christian, you will get Christ--it is
simply a matter of intent even though the method is identical
to occult and Eastern practices.