Cloud of Unknowing

I am returning to this lovely spiritual classic after having a lot of difficulties with my faith. I find that in the silent, meditative prayer recommended by the author of this work, life seems much easier to deal with. I am wondering if anyone else uses the Cloud of Unknowing and the technique in there, or do you think (as the author warns) this path of silent, imageless prayer is only for a few?

The Cloud of Unknowing… is the most enigmatic method, that this humble woman knows of. Evelyn Underhill’s “Mysticism”, is also a heady read, if one is interested in the stories of the Saints, and their personal experiences.

Personally, and I know nothing, I prefer to listen to the Church, and just read a lot.


A classic work of Catholic mysticism, and no I think that its imageless form of contemplative prayer should be practised by all Catholics. We are all called to be mystics, not a select few.

I loved the Cloud.

I also believe that we are all called to be mystics, although it wasn’t probably thought possible at the time of the Cloud.

But the CCC says prayer life “should” progress beyond even meditation into true union with the mystery of Christ, (CCC 2708) and that contemplative prayer achieves this union. (CCC 2709-2724)

And the “method” the author describes is contemplative prayer, which invites “contemplation,” which is a healing process through the Holy Spirit. There are different ways people go about doing this, and after I while I learned to do it on an ad hoc basis. One way to do it is Lectio Divina, which includes a contemplative component.


Love the book the Cloud of Unknowing. It can be re-read numerous times to get a more profound spiritual insight. To me its a spiritual classic study book. Every time I contemplate the writings of this book I think of the paradoxical writings of Saint John of the Cross book Ascent to Mount Carmel.

To reach satisfaction in all
desire its possession in nothing.

To come to the knowledge of all
desire the knowledge of nothing.
To come to possess all
desire the possession of nothing.
To arrive at being all
desire to be nothing.
To come to the pleasure which you have not
you must go by a way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge which you have not
you must go by a way in which you know not.
To come to the possession you have not
you must go by a way in which you possess not.
To come to be what you are not
you must go by a way in which you are not.
When you turn toward something
you cease to cast yourself upon the all.
For to go from the all to the all
you must leave yourself in all.
And when you come to the possession of the all
you must possess it without wanting anything.
In this nakedness the spirit finds
its quietude and rest.
For in coveting nothing,
nothing raises it up
and nothing weighs it down,
because it is the center of its humility. 

Contemplation is a lofty goal for most of us - especially when our minds are busy with the tasks of the day or constantly stimulated by reading or other activities. You might read Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird. This book provides some practical steps as to how to enter into the silence of contemplation to allow the spirit to move in and through you.

It’s an absolutely beautiful book with much wisdom on contemplative prayer.

I practice the quiet prayer method as described in the Cloud. That being said, it’s not the only writing in the Church on the subject. The writings of resting in the stillness of God’s presence is the heart of contemplative prayer going back to the 4th century fathers of the desert.

I’m glad that the Lord has blessed you with this work and it’s touching your heart. People often find the Cloud difficult to understand.


I’m just finishing Into The Silent Land, by Martin Laird. It’s a very good work and easy for beginners to get into.


An important document from the Church (from before he was Pope but head of the CDF)

Such can be said not to represent what is in the Cloud of Unknowing…but we really can not discuss what has been called Centering Prayer – for Centering Prayer is not a permitted topic of discussion on Catholic Answers Forum --any questions one may direct them to the Catholic Answers Apologists --as is noted in the “sticky” up top.

The “ways of mental prayer” you mentioned is a wonderful classic text --I have one from the 1920’s or there abouts :thumbsup:

A very rich document from the Church (before he was Pope …but from his role as head of the CDF)

This has to do with meditation techniques from other religions.

We’re not talking about other religions here, but Catholicism.


And as usual, I’ll just unsubscribe to the thread.


It has a great deal to do with *Christian *Prayer.

Centering Prayer

Is not a permitted topic.

Yes it deals with such…

In doing so it has though wonderfully a great deal to do with Christian Prayer.

I thought one response was in order, because before you said it was not permitted topic, you did throw an opinion out there. Sure, the opinion was worded so you could claim it was not your own opinion, but you can’t “un-say” it. :wink:

just sayin’ … :hey_bud:

Maybe a change in careers is in order :slight_smile: such would bring home more bacon…

Lets say the thread is about* the Rosary* and the forbidden topic in question was “Yoga” and someone asserted “The Rosary is Yoga”. I think a person could say in response “it can be said that the Rosary (the topic of the thread) is not Yoga… but we really cannot discuss Yoga for that is a forbidden topic”. “So lets get back to the topic…” But I could be wrong. Certainly lets keep to the forum rules.

But perhaps I should have said “lets keep the thread topic to such and such which is a different subject and then add the part about forbidden topics.”

Though maybe I should look for a new position…and bring home that bacon…or maybe not --sounds rather stressful!