Some of the beauty and wonder of the Cloud of Unknowing... 
(chosen and translated by (Dr.) Kerrie Hide)

Of Prayer

The purpose of prayer is the noughting of oneself and the all-ing of God.


And so with his great grace 
he kindled your desire, 
and fastened it to a leash of longing…I:116 

Now you have to stand in desire, 
all your life long, 
if you are to make progress in the way of perfection. 
This desire must always be at work in your will, 
by the power of almighty God 
and by your own consent… 2:118.

I do not fully encourage you to show your desire to God, 
but I encourage you to hide it and conceal it . 
I do this because I fear that you should interpret literally 
what is meant spiritually. 67.2285-2287.


Look up joyfully and say to the Lord in words or the desire of the heart: that which I am I offer to you Lord for you are it, and think nakedly, fully and boisterously that you are who you are without any questioning. PC1:1-3.137

Call upon him then, and let us see how you get on. He is always most willing, and is only waiting for you. So what are you going to do? 2:119. 


When I say darkness I mean a lack of knowing as in everything you do not know (415-416)

Let that meek (quiet) darkness be your whole mind and like a mirror to you. For I want your thought of self to be as naked and simple as your thought of God, so that you may be with God in spirit without fragmentation and scattering of your mind. PC 1: 7-9 136

A Cloud of Unknowing

Do not imagine that when I call it a darkness or a cloud that it is a cloud amassed with vapours that float in the air, or a darkness such as you have in your house at night, when your candle is out, for such a darkness. With little imagination you could picture the summer skies breaking through the clouds or a clear light brightening the dark winter. This is false, it isn’t what I mean for when I say “darkness” I mean a lack of knowing, just as whatever you do know or have forgotten is dark to you, because you do not see it in your spiritual eyes. For this reason, that which is between you and your God is termed, not a cloud of the air, but a cloud of unknowing. 4: 410-419

The Cloud of Forgetting

And if ever you come to this cloud, and make a home there and take up the work of love as I urge you, there is something else you must do as this cloud is above you, and between you and your God, you must put a cloud of forgetting beneath you, between you and all the creatures that have ever been made. 
The cloud of unknowing will perhaps leave you with a feeling that you are far from God. But I assure you, if it is authentic, only the absence of a cloud of forgetting between you and all creatures keeps you from God. 5 421-427.

A Sharp Dart of Longing Love

No one can think of God. 

Therefore it is my wish to leave everything that I can think of  and choose for my love the thing that I cannot think. For while God may be loved but not thought. God can be taken and held by love but not by thought. Therefore though it is good at times to think of the kindness and worthiness of God in particular, and though this is a light and a part of contemplation, nevertheless, in this exercise, it must be cast down and covered over with a cloud of forgetting. You are to step above it stalwartly but lovingly, with a devout, pleasing, stirring of love and desire to pierce that darkness above you. You are to smite upon the thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love and do not cease no matter what happens. 6:130-131. 


This, “For the love of Jesus is very well said.” For in the love of Jesus there is your help. Love is so powerful  that it makes everything one (common). 

Therefore love Jesus and everything that he has is yours. By his godhead he is the maker and giver of time. By his humanity he is the very keeper of time. And by his Godhead and humanity together he is the truest guide of the choice and use of time. Knit yourself then to him by love and by faith. And by virtue of that knot you shall be a familiar partner with him and with all who are so knitted to him by love… 4:366-373.

The example of all this is shown in the life of Christ. PC23:24.170

Martha and Mary

Mary models the way of contemplative prayer.

So she hung her love and her longing desire in this cloud of unknowing, and learned to love what she could not see clearly in this life by the light of understanding in her reason, nor truly feel in the sweetness of love in her affection; so much so that she paid little attention to whether she had been a sinner or not. Yes! And so often I think that she was so deeply affected in the love of the Godhead that she scarcely noticed the beauty of his precious and blessed body as he sat so handsomely speaking and teaching before her. It seems from the gospel that she was oblivious to anything else either bodily or spiritual. XVI: 834-842

Various other quotes

Where then, you say shall I be? 
Nowhere by this tale! 
Exactly you say this well, 
for there would I have you. 
For nowhere physically is everywhere spiritually. 

Understand this clearly: your spiritual work is not in any physical place. But when your mind focuses, your are there in that place spiritually, as truly as your body is located in a place now. Your physical senses and faculties will find nothing to feed on and they will chide you for doing nothing. 

Go on with this nothing, moved only by your love of God. And let nothing interfere with this therefore but persevere in this nothingness, consciously desiring that you may always choose to possess God through love, whom no one can possess through knowledge. For myself I prefer to be lost in this nowhere, wrestling with this blind nothingness than to like some great lord travelling everywhere and enjoying the world as if he owned it. …68:2295-2305 

Keep on working in this nothingness that is nowhere.... 70:2344

Some think contemplation is so hard and so fearful that they say it may not be experienced without much hard work and then only relish it rarely in those moments of ecstasy called ravishing. I will answer these people as humbly as I can.

The truth is that God in his wisdom, determines the course and the character of each one’s spiritual journey according to the talents and gifts God has given them... 71:2380-2384

(PC is from the Book of Privy Council by the same author)