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The Cloud of Unknowing, ed. by Evelyn Underhill, [1922], at




How these young presumptuous disciples misunderstand this word “in,” and of the deceits that follow thereon.


AND on this manner is this madness wrought that I speak of. They read and hear well said that they should leave outward working with their wits, and work inwards: and because that they know not which is inward working, therefore they work wrong. For they turn their bodily wits inwards to their body against the course of nature; and strain them, as they would see inwards with their bodily eyes and hear inwards with their ears, and so forth of all their wits, smelling, tasting, and feeling inwards. And thus they reverse them against the course of nature, and with this curiosity p. 238 they travail their imagination so indiscreetly, that at the last they turn their brain in their heads, and then as fast the devil hath power for to feign some false light or sounds, sweet smells in their noses, wonderful tastes in their mouths; and many quaint heats and burnings in their bodily breasts or in their bowels, in their backs and in their reins and in their members.

And yet in this fantasy them think that they have a restful remembrance of their God without any letting of vain thoughts; and surely so have they in manner, for they be so filled in falsehood that vanity may not provoke them. And why? Because he, that same fiend that should minister vain thoughts to them an they were in good way—he, that same, is the chief worker of this work. And wit thou right well, that him list not to let himself. The remembrance of God will he not put from them, for fear that he should be had in suspect. p. 239

Next: Chapter 53: Of divers unseemly practices that follow them that lack the work of this book