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




That nowhere bodily, is everywhere ghostly; and how our outer man calleth the word of this book nought.


AND on the same manner, where another man would bid thee gather thy powers and thy wits wholly within thyself, and worship God there—although he say full well and full truly, yea! and no man trulier, an he be well conceived—yet for fear of deceit and bodily conceiving of his words, me list not bid thee do so. But thus will I bid thee. Look on nowise that thou be within thyself. And shortly, without thyself will I not that thou be, nor yet above, nor behind, nor on one side, nor on other.

“Where then,” sayest thou, “shall I p. 290 be? Nowhere, by thy tale!” Now truly thou sayest well; for there would I have thee. For why, nowhere bodily, is everywhere ghostly. Look then busily that thy ghostly work be nowhere bodily; and then wheresoever that that thing is, on the which thou wilfully workest in thy mind in substance, surely there art thou in spirit, as verily as thy body is in that place that thou art bodily. And although thy bodily wits can find there nothing to feed them on, for them think it nought that thou dost, yea! do on then this nought, and do it for God’s love. And let not therefore, but travail busily in that nought with a waking desire to will to have God that no man may know. For I tell thee truly, that I had rather be so nowhere bodily, wrestling with that blind nought, than to be so great a lord that I might when I would be everywhere bodily, merrily playing with all this ought as a lord with his own.

Let be this everywhere and this p. 291 ought, in comparison or this nowhere and this nought. Reck thee never if thy wits cannot reason of this nought; for surely, I love it much the better. It is so worthy a thing in itself, that they cannot reason thereupon. This nought may better be felt than seen: for it is full blind and full dark to them that have but little while looked thereupon. Nevertheless, if I shall soothlier say, a soul is more blinded in feeling of it for abundance of ghostly light, than for any darkness or wanting of bodily light. What is he that calleth it nought? Surely it is our outer man, and not our inner. Our inner man calleth it All; for of it he is well learned to know the reason of all things bodily or ghostly, without any special beholding to any one thing by itself. p. 292

Next: Chapter 69: How that a man's affection is marvelously changed in ghostly feeling of this nought, when it is nowhere wrought