The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counsel: The Secrets of Contemplative Prayer Revealed by Anonymous Authors
The Cloud of Unknowing: And The Book of Privy Coun backlink meiner hand
If you are looking for a way to deepen your spiritual life and experience the presence of God in a more intimate and direct way, you might want to explore two classic works of Christian mysticism: The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Coun backlink meiner hand. These two books, written by anonymous authors in the 14th century, offer a rich and profound insight into the nature and practice of contemplative prayer, which is also known as the prayer of the heart or the prayer of silence.
The Cloud Of Unknowing: And The Book Of Privy Coun backlink meiner hand
In this article, we will introduce you to these two books, explain their main themes and teachings, and discuss their benefits and challenges for modern readers. We hope that by reading this article, you will be inspired to read these books yourself and discover their transformative power for your spiritual journey.
What is the Cloud of Unknowing?
The Cloud of Unknowing is a book that was written in Middle English sometime in the late 14th century by an unknown author who was probably a monk or a priest. It is one of the most influential works of Christian mysticism in the Western tradition, and it has inspired many other spiritual writers and seekers throughout history, such as St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Evelyn Underhill, and Richard Rohr.
The book is addressed to a young disciple who wishes to learn how to practice contemplative prayer, which is a form of prayer that goes beyond words, thoughts, images, and emotions, and seeks to rest in the pure awareness of God's presence. The author uses the metaphor of a cloud to describe both the hiddenness and the nearness of God, who is beyond all human understanding and comprehension, but who can be encountered in the depths of one's soul.
What is the Book of Privy Coun backlink meiner hand?
The Book of Privy Coun backlink meiner hand is another book that was written in Middle English around the same time as The Cloud of Unknowing, by another anonymous author who may have been a friend or a follower of the first author. It is sometimes considered as a companion or a sequel to The Cloud of Unknowing, as it deals with similar topics and themes, but it also has its own distinctive features and style.
The book is also addressed to a young disciple who wants to learn how to practice contemplative prayer, but it focuses more on the practical aspects and the stages of spiritual progress. The author uses the metaphor of a backlink (a link that connects one website to another) to describe how one can connect with God through prayer, meditation, recollection, and other spiritual exercises. The author also uses the term meiner hand, which means "my hand" in German, to refer to the guidance and support that he offers to his disciple.
How are they related?
Both books are part of a larger movement of Christian mysticism that emerged in the 14th century in England, which is sometimes called the English School of Contemplation. This movement was influenced by various sources, such as the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius, the Victorines, the Cistercians, and the Rhineland mystics, as well as by the social and religious context of the time, which was marked by the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War, the Great Schism, and the Lollard movement.
Both books share a common vision and goal: to teach their readers how to attain a direct and intimate union with God through contemplative prayer, which is the highest form of love and the ultimate purpose of human life. Both books also share a common method and approach: to use simple and accessible language, to employ metaphors and analogies, to address their readers in a personal and conversational tone, and to balance doctrine and experience, theory and practice, instruction and encouragement.
The main themes and teachings of the Cloud of Unknowing
The apophatic way of contemplation
One of the main themes of The Cloud of Unknowing is the apophatic way of contemplation, which is also known as the negative or via negativa way. This means that in order to approach God, who is ineffable and incomprehensible, one has to let go of all concepts, images, words, and feelings that limit or distort one's perception of God. The author says that one has to enter into a "cloud of unknowing" between oneself and God, where one can only love God with a pure and naked intention.
The author also says that one has to put a "cloud of forgetting" beneath oneself, where one can ignore all distractions and attachments that hinder or divert one's attention from God. The author advises his disciple to use a short and simple word, such as "God" or "love", as a means of focusing one's mind and heart on God. The author warns his disciple not to seek any consolations or visions or revelations from God, but only to seek God himself, who is beyond all sensations and manifestations.
The four degrees of love
Another main theme of The Cloud of Unknowing is the four degrees of love, which are based on the teachings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The author explains that there are four ways of loving God: for one's own sake, for God's sake, for one's neighbor's sake, and for no sake. The first degree is natural and selfish, the second degree is supernatural and virtuous, the third degree is charitable and compassionate, and the fourth degree is mystical and perfect.
The author says that the first degree is common to all people, but it is not enough for salvation. The second degree is necessary for salvation, but it is not enough for perfection. The third degree is commendable and praiseworthy, but it is not enough for contemplation. The fourth degree is rare and sublime, but it is possible for anyone who desires it with all their heart. The author says that this degree is attained when one loves God with all one's being, without any regard for oneself or anything else.
The role of grace and humility
A third main theme of The Cloud of Unknowing is the role of grace and humility in contemplative prayer. The author emphasizes that contemplation is not a human achievement or a natural skill, but a gift from God that can only be received by those who are humble and open to God's will. The author says that one cannot force or earn or deserve contemplation, but only prepare oneself for it by practicing virtue and renouncing sin.
The author also stresses that humility is essential for contemplation, because it makes one aware of one's nothingness and dependence on God. The author says that one has to humble oneself before God by acknowledging one's unworthiness and ignorance, by confessing one's sins and faults, by asking for God's mercy and forgiveness, by thanking God for his goodness and generosity, by praising God for his greatness and glory, and by surrendering oneself to God's love and wisdom.
The main themes and teachings of the Book of Privy Coun backlink meiner hand
The three stages of spiritual progress
The three stages of spiritual progress
One of the main themes of The Book of Privy Coun backlink meiner hand is the three stages of spiritual progress, which are based on the teachings of St. Bonaventure. The author explains that there are three ways of ascending to God: by purgation, by illumination, and by union. The first way is for beginners, the second way is for proficients, and the third way is for perfects.
The author says that the first way is to purify oneself from all sins and vices, by repenting, confessing, and doing penance. The second way is to illuminate oneself with all virtues and graces, by studying, meditating, and praying. The third way is to unite oneself with God in love and contemplation, by detaching oneself from all creatures and clinging to God alone. The author says that these three ways are not separate or sequential, but interrelated and simultaneous.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
Another main theme of The Book of Privy Coun backlink meiner hand is the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are based on the teachings of Isaiah 11:2-3. The author explains that these seven gifts are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The author says that these gifts are necessary for spiritual growth and perfection, and that they correspond to the seven virtues: faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.
The author says that wisdom is the gift that enables one to see God in all things and to love him above all things. Understanding is the gift that enables one to comprehend the mysteries of faith and the truths of Scripture. Counsel is the gift that enables one to discern God's will and to follow it in all circumstances. Fortitude is the gift that enables one to endure hardships and trials for God's sake. Knowledge is the gift that enables one to recognize one's own limitations and weaknesses. Piety is the gift that enables one to reverence God as a loving Father and to serve him as a faithful child. Fear of the Lord is the gift that enables one to avoid sin and to obey God's commandments.
The practice of recollection and meditation
A third main theme of The Book of Privy Coun backlink meiner hand is the practice of recollection and meditation, which are two forms of prayer that prepare one for contemplation. The author explains that recollection is a prayer that gathers one's thoughts and affections into one's heart, where one can converse with God in silence and solitude. Meditation is a prayer that reflects on a particular subject or passage from Scripture, where one can apply it to one's life and learn from it.
The author says that recollection and meditation are like two wings that help one fly to God. The author says that recollection helps one to withdraw from external distractions and worldly cares, and to focus on God's presence within. Meditation helps one to draw from external sources and divine inspirations, and to nourish one's mind and heart with God's word. The author says that both recollection and meditation lead one to love God more ardently and to desire him more fervently.
The benefits and challenges of reading these books today
The relevance and timeliness of their message
One of the benefits of reading these books today is their relevance and timeliness for our modern world. These books offer a timeless wisdom and a universal message that can speak to anyone who seeks God in their lives. These books address some of the most fundamental questions and needs of the human soul: Who is God? How can I know him? How can I love him? How can I be happy with him?
These books also offer a valuable guidance and a practical help for our modern challenges. These books teach us how to cope with stress, anxiety, confusion, loneliness, boredom, dissatisfaction, and emptiness that plague our society. These books show us how to find peace, joy, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction in God alone. These books inspire us to live a simple, humble, grateful, generous, compassionate, and holy life in this world.
The difficulties and dangers of misinterpretation
One of the challenges of reading these books today is their difficulties and dangers of misinterpretation. These books are not easy to read or understand, as they use a language and a style that are unfamiliar and obscure to us. These books also contain some expressions and ideas that may seem strange or shocking to us, such as the negative theology, the nothingness of the self, the darkness of the soul, the nakedness of the spirit, and the annihilation of the will.
These books also require some caution and discernment, as they may be misunderstood or misused by some readers. These books may be seen as an invitation to escape from reality or to neglect one's duties and responsibilities. These books may be used as a pretext to justify one's pride or to condemn others who do not share one's views or practices. These books may be taken as an end in themselves or as a substitute for God's grace and revelation.
The need for guidance and discernment
A third challenge of reading these books today is the need for guidance and discernment. These books are not meant to be read alone or in isolation, but in communion and in dialogue with others. These books are not meant to be followed blindly or rigidly, but with flexibility and adaptation. These books are not meant to be applied literally or universally, but with prudence and discretion.
These books need to be read with the help of a spiritual director or a mentor, who can assist one in understanding their meaning and applying their teachings. These books need to be read with the light of the Church's tradition and magisterium, who can provide one with a sound doctrine and a reliable authority. These books need to be read with the grace of the Holy Spirit, who can inspire one with a genuine discernment and a personal response.
Summary of the main points
In conclusion, we have seen that The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Coun backlink meiner hand are two classic works of Christian mysticism that teach us how to practice contemplative prayer and how to attain union with God. We have seen that these books share a common vision and goal, but also have their own distinctive features and style. We have seen that these books have many benefits and challenges for modern readers, and that they require guidance and discernment.
Call to action for the readers
We invite you to read these books yourself and to discover their beauty and depth for your own spiritual journey. We encourage you to approach these books with an open mind and heart, with a humble attitude and a sincere desire, with a prayerful spirit and a faithful commitment. We hope that these books will help you to grow in your love for God and your neighbor, and to experience the joy and peace that come from his presence.
Q: Who wrote these books?
A: The authors of these books are unknown, but they were probably monks or priests who lived in England in the 14th century.
Q: What is contemplative prayer?
A: Contemplative prayer is a form of prayer that goes beyond words, thoughts, images, and emotions, and seeks to rest in the pure awareness of God's presence.
Q: How can I practice contemplative prayer?
A: You can practice contemplative prayer by following the instructions and advice given in these books, such as using a short word, entering into a cloud of unknowing, putting a cloud of forgetting, receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, practicing recollection and meditation, etc.
Q: Where can I find these books?
A: You can find these books online or in print, in various editions and translations. Some of the most popular ones are: The Cloud of Unknowing translated by William Johnston (Image Books), The Cloud of Unknowing translated by Carmen Acevedo Butcher (Shambhala), The Book of Privy Counseling translated by William Johnston (Image Books), The Book of Privy Counseling translated by Carmen Acevedo Butcher (Shambhala).
Q: What are some other resources that can help me learn more about these books?
by Thomas Merton (New Directions), The Naked Now: Learning To See As The Mystics See by Richard Rohr (The Crossroad Publishing Company), The Cloud Of Unknowing And Other Works by A.C. Spearing (Penguin Classics).