The author of The Cloud knew what he wanted to convey to his audience but had no clear systematic plan designed to carry it out. Without question his writing is most fluid with a fine contemplative spirit but mostly writes with whatever is coming into his mind at the moment. One possible reason being that he was in daily-session with his young neophyte and the discussion pertains to the actual growth of that adept’s mind at a given time frame. But as time progresses one can ascertain that he’s also addressing a wider audience, although one within the confines of an eremitical setting. This fact is driven home time and time again that the cloud is not meant for just anyone along the paths of spirituality, but one who was being drawn to this specific and singular way of contemplation.
By and large, the key to understanding the cloud can be found within the first three discourses, while the remaining ones is about driving the message home with comments and expansion on his themes. One is reminded here that the neophyte is being called to an advanced stage in the spiritual life. And this must be carried out with the utmost diligence and humility. Along with this is his incessant message that the created order of things must be placed beneath that cloud of forgetting, before the deeper and more lasting work of entering into the transcendent cloud of unknowing can occur. Contemplation is an arduous path and is very hard to live given the fact of one’s brokenness. While spiritual consolations come along the way, one experiences mostly dryness and utter emptiness in the hope of that dark void being filled with the Luminous Light of the Divine. Once again this is why the work is bracketed with those admonitions that this way of life is not for those who are merely inquisitive but rather for those whose spirit remains vigilant despite the ongoing spiritual attacks from the evil one. If one perseveres, then the prize of absolute Union with the Divine will occur.
As stated in the introductory blog of the series this rendition of The Cloud of Unknowing is written especially for a wider audience in mind, particularly of Buddhist sway. Certain spiritual themes are universal in nature and certainly the cloud offers the best of that apophatic mysticism. But mostly the emphasis here is on that work of Contemplation. Contemplation in the Way of the Unborn has been written about in different venues here at Unborn Mind Zen. Hopefully the regular reader will ascertain by now that this form of infused contemplation fits quite nicely in a Buddhist framework. Perhaps even more so, one would be hard pressed to find anything of similar import pertaining to “contemplation” vs. “meditation” for a Buddhist Mystic anywhere else on the internet. In this sense we take great pride in our mission here of advancing the Contemplative Spirit in Light of the Unborn.
May the Light of the Unborn remain with you always!