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The Cloud of Unknowing (Harper Collins Spiritual Classics) Paperback – August 31, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Language Notes

Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harper Collins Spiritual Classics
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060737751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060737757
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
This beautiful, extraordinary and timeless book by an anonymous 14th century author is one of the greatest mystical treatises of any time in any religion. It is to be most warmly recommended to all true and sincere students of mysticism. It radiates the warmth of St. Francis de Sales, touches in a uniquely loving and gentle way on the sufferings on the soul immersed in the dark night of the spirit, offers guidance on ways of contemplation and the attainment of true humility, which, as the author asserts, is the prerequisite of self-knowledge preparing the way for the love of God which the purified soul must enter through the cloud of unknowing. This book is my steady companion along with Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Rumi and The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
A very interesting description of a contemplative discipline conveyed intimately from an unknown teacher to an unknown student. The text is a mystic exploration of the divine that rejects the use of the intellect and the imagination, preferring an inner knowing, like a numinous experience based on feeling, a gnosis of the heart. An important theme is the difference between the active and the contemplative personality; others include the awareness of self, death of the ego, and advice on leading the contemplative life. Although this writing is deeply embedded in Christian tradition and I disagree with many of these beliefs, I still admire the author's gentleness and sense of humor. All spiritually-minded people will benefit from a study of this almost poetic text. The most beautiful sentiment is this: "For it is not what you are nor what you have been that God regards with his most merciful eyes, but what you would like to be."
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