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The Cloud of Unknowing (Harper Collins Spiritual Classics) [Paperback]

By Tim Farrington (Foreward By), Emilie Griffin (Editor), Carl Mitcham (Editor), Unland Rainer (Editor), Mark W. Bellomo (Introduction by), Yuki Ameda (Contributor), Glenn Barr & Kevin Nowlan
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Item Number 56240  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   148
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.28 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 8, 2009
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0060737751  
EAN  9780060737757  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Presents a modern rendering of a fourteenth-century classic work of Christian mysticism, written by an anonymous English monk, which describes a soul's spiritual reunion with God and introduces a method of contemplation designed to overcome that which separates God from humankind. Original. 30,000 first printing.

Publishers Description

Written by an anonymous English monk during the late fourteenth century, The Cloud of Unknowing is a sublime expression of what separates God from humanity and is widely regarded as a hallmark of Western literature and spirituality. A work of simplicity, courage, and lucidity, it is a contemplative classic on the deep mysteries of faith.

"Lift up your heart to God with a humble impulse of love and have himself as your aim, not any of his goods ... Set yourself to rest in this darkness, always crying out after him whom you love. For if you are to experience him or to see him at all, insofar as it is possible here, it must always be in this cloud and in this darkness." -- The Cloud of Unknowing

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Wonderful Classic of Catholic Literature!  Nov 10, 2006
Written by an anonymous Monk in the 1300s, you will find this book to be very different than many other Catholic reads. As a Catholic, I found this book to be refreshing and thought-provoking, and yet even more proof that there are so many different sides to Catholicism, Catholic thought, and Catholic practice. At times, the book has a very Eastern feel to it- almost Buddhist-like- and yet at other times, it has much more of a classic-medieval-Christian feel...

However, please be forewarned: (1) Even though this version of the book is translated into modern English, the sentences can still be rather long, and are not very concise at times (at least when compared to most modern English writing). So you may find yourself having to re-read some sentences, and/or contemplating the meaning of what you just read- which for me was worth the effort, but may not be for everyone... We are not talking brain-surgery here, but I think you get the idea. (2) This book was written a very long time ago, in a different age with different outlooks on the world- and I think there are strong indicators in certain chapters that the author assumes his readers will (for the most part) be people who are in some religious order of some sort from his time period. Consequently, some readers may find this book interesting, but not that practical for every day use in their lives. However, I also think that there is a large set of people, (especially many Catholics), who will find this book, in addition to being a fascinating read, to also (with its different approach) be very useful in their quest for deeper spirituality.

Sample (from one of the more concise paragraphs): ...Do not hang back then, but labor in it until you experience the desire. For when you first begin to undertake it, all that you will find is a darkness, a sort of cloud of the unknowing; you can not tell what it is, except that you experience in your will a simple reaching out to God. This darkness and cloud is always between you and God, no matter what you do, and it prevents you from seeing Him clearly by the light of understanding in your reason and from experiencing Him in sweetness of love in your affection. So set yourself to rest in this darkness as long as you can, always crying out for Him whom you love. For if you are to experience Him at all, insofar as it is possible here [that is, in this existence], it must always be in this cloud and in this darkness...

There are many chapters, but they are very short. Most will find reading a chapter a day a very realistic goal. I hope you enjoy this highly regarded classic as much as I did!

Caveat Emptor - Missing Text  Feb 6, 2006
The Cloud of Unknowing is an amazing book. And the Paulist translation, included in this HarperCollins edition, is par excellence.

However, I have come across many copies of this edition (HarperCollings Spiritual Classics) that are MISSING CHAPTERS. If you have a copy, check to make sure your copy has chapters 55-58 and 62-67.
May all be revealed  Oct 27, 2005
It is perhaps perfectly appropriate that the author of 'The Cloud of Unknowing' is himself or herself unknown. This is a spiritual classic, a masterpiece in the real sense of the word. The style of writing is grand, well-versed and perfectly in concert with the subject; the ideas contained are some of the most sublime and inspired pieces of writing ever written in the English language. The book does not subscribe to any particular denominational or institutional framework, making it a piece of art and wisdom available to the whole of Christendom, and even appeals to those outside the formal bounds of Christianity.

This work has been compared to the work of C.S. Lewis, Plato, and other Christian mystics and theologians, with good reason. 'The Cloud of Unknowing' is part of a chain, influenced by and in turn influencing many other mystical writers. This is not a work of philosophy or apologetics, as the author is not concerned to prove the existence of God or set up any sort of metaphysical framework which must be accepted. The world around us is a given, and God is a given, and our task is to order our attention and love toward God so that it incorporates and includes the reality that is around without distraction. One perhaps hears echoes of this in Tillich's ultimate concern?

One of the things that makes 'The Cloud of Unknowing' a popular piece on an ongoing basis is this respect for reality. The author does not require super-human feats of contemplative power; this would be to deny the reality of the creature that we are, as God's creation. Contemplative work must be done in tandem and in cooperation with the rest of our life's needs. The virtuous life is one in accordance with nature (for the most part), making creation a blessing rather than a curse - one can hear echoes of Meister Eckhart here, perhaps; like Eckhart, the author of 'The Cloud of Unknowing' also looks not for enlightenment through rational means or higher attainments but through the depths of our souls. There we will find God, for if God is all, then we can certainly not be at the centre, even of ourselves.

This edition of 'The Cloud of Unknowing' begins with a scholarly introduction. Unlike many other spiritual classics, there is no 'author' to highlight in a biography; while there is some virtue in not knowing the author, there has been a great deal of scholarship, both speculating on the identity of the author, and other work looking at the type of person the author would be and influences that might have impacted the author. The introduction gives some good information in this regard, not only with regard to the writer, but also to the one to whom this writing is addressed. Some have believed that it was intended for a communal audience.

The main point of the writing is the development of prayer and contemplation as a discipline. There are other issues, to be sure, but they always return to this. The attainment of unity with the divine will is all important to the author; one might develop the line from the Lord's Prayer - thy kingdom come, thy will be done - as a mantra for the spirit of this book. This comes through deliberate and intentional choice, and not through artificial ascetic practices (which can be as distracting as enlightening) or intellectual pursuits (which edges toward gnosticism). Part of the development of these realistic practices is the incorporation of the chief virtues of Humility and Charity - the author of the 'The Cloud' will go so far as to say that one who has these has all that is needed. Even through this, humankind cannot reach God without God's willing it to be so, and yet God has made the desire known in many ways, scripturally and traditionally, as well as in the natural world, the author of 'The Cloud' would maintain.

This is an inspiring book. 'The Cloud of Unknowing' itself is a relatively short work, but not one that can be read in short order, for the depth of its meaning and insights derived from it take a long time to be properly processed. May it be revealing to you.
Spirituality for the hungry  Sep 30, 2004
This book states in simple terms a way to love God. To offer love without expecting anything in return. In the darkness which we all encounter on our search for God it is a guiding light. It is meant for the educated and the uneducated. To be read over and over. Each reading brings forth a new understanding of the human heart and it's lifelong search for the one Truth.

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