The Clound of Unknowingby Walter Hilton OSA
This work known as “The Cloud of Unknowing is comprised of 75 chapters. The
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In the late 13th Century,when this text was written. The young novice is no different in his quest to turn his back on the world and seek the very face of God. In response to this request, the author guides this young apprentice via numerous letters over a period of time.
This work known as “The Cloud of Unknowing is comprised of 75 chapters. The author's object is to explain the transformation of a fellow contemplative's ascent into union with God. The transformation and changes which take place within their mind and heart as they approach God. The ascent is based on Dionysian techniques which appears to be offerered in a disorderly presentation. The novice is perhaps uneducated in Latin and therefore be unable to appreciate the literature directly himself.
This work is comprised of numerous letters over a period of time, therefore this work does not appear to have a tight sequential approach, but tends to vacillate from section to sections as the need to clarify arises within the novice.
The Cloud of Unknowing is where God has historically revealed Himself. In Gen 3, in which the entire chapter is devoted to this encounter. In 1 Kings 19:11-14, Elijah once again, on a mountain encounters God in the same manner. Man has not encountered God face to face since the day when God last walked in the Garden Gen 3:8. Thus, ever since man attempts to seek Him veiled behind 'a cloud of unknowing'. In the Exodus, the Israelites were lead by a cloud during the day. In the Jewish temple, the inner sanctum was no different.
First and foremost, the writer relies on Augustin and Pseudo-Dionysius, two very potent writers; the first, whose works are the basic fundamentals of Christian dogma and the other mysticism. Right from the start he uses a dichotomy. Yet, these two titans, each formidable within their own right, balance each other out and give excellent stability as the author ascends. The ascent is based on Dionysian techniques which appears to be a disorderly condition. The novice is perhaps uneducated in Latin and therefore be unable to appreciate the literature directly himself.
However, the one constant is Love, Charity in the text. This constant permeates throughout this text, which is quite prominent in the fourteenth chapter. This is a basic need on the part of the apprentice with a singleness of mind and heart. Over and over the author contends in unison as David cries out in his 51st psalm to this apprentice, “My sacrifice, Oh God, is a contrite spirit and humbled, Oh God you will not spurn” This the author also contends is essential in conceiving and experiencing God.
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