Friday, July 29, 2011
The other surprising admonition from "The Cloud of Unknowing":
"...I tell you to cloak and hide from God, like a child playing a game, the urgency of your longing. At the same time, however, I tell you not to hide it completely. That would be the advice of a fool to tell you to do what in any case cannot be done! Yet I still tell you to do what you can to hide it! Why do I say this?"
I don't like the reasons the author gives - some silliness about needing to trample the physical in order to become more purely spiritual. There is no separation and moreover this hiding and teasing technique is shot through the physical/spiritual world, with examples of it to be seen in all desires, in all relationships and attractions. Flowers do it, birds do it, deer do it, and one of my cats does it. She shows affection for me by strutting away, tail arched high, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly - and only gradually - if ever - slowing down enough so that I can catch her.
And about this hide-and-seek with God, about the pursuit of the contemplative life, the author says:
"If you are to ask me what discretion you should exercise in this work, my answer is 'None whatever!'"
When someone speaks in contradictions and paradoxes I smell truth.