Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality:

Click here to go to the next issue

Highlights Home Page | Receive the Nonduality Highlights each day

How to submit material to the Highlights

#3580 - Wednesday, July 1, 2009 - Editor: Gloria Lee

The Nonduality Highlights - The first periodical publication on nonduality - Submissions welcome


What Is Grace?

“What is grace” I asked God.

And He said,
“All that happens.”
Then He added, when I looked perplexed,
“Could not lovers
say that every moment in their Beloved’s arms
was grace?
Existence is my arms,
though I well understand how one can turn
away from me
until the heart has

- St John of the Cross

From: Love Poems from God: by Daniel Ladinsky

posted to Wisdom-l by Tim Smith

St. John of the Cross (1542 - 1591)
extracts from:

I Came Into the Unknown

I came into the unknown
and stayed there unknowing
rising beyond all science.

I did not know the door
but when I found the way,
unknowing where I was,
I learned enormous things,
but what I felt I cannot say,
for I remained unknowing,
rising beyond all science.

It was the perfect realm
of holiness and peace.
In deepest solitude
I found the narrow way:
a secret giving such release
that I was stunned and stammering,
rising beyond all science.

I was so far inside,
so dazed and far away
my senses were released
from feelings of my own.
My mind had found a surer way:
a knowledge of unknowing,
rising beyond all science.

This knowledge is supreme
crossing a blazing height;
though formal reason tries
it crumbles in the dark,
but one who would control the night
by knowledge of unknowing
will rise beyond all science.

And if you wish to hear:
the highest science leads
to an ecstatic feeling
of the most holy Being;
and from his mercy comes his deed:
to let us stay unknowing,
rising beyond all science.

English version by Willis Barnstone

posted to Wisdom-l by Tim Smith

full version:

Allow to me to put in a vote for the recognition that mystics may come in all denominations, but they are all consumed within the same ecstatic moment.

Truth is Truth.

Do you know about the "Cloud of Unknowing"? It is evidence of the not insignificant recognition within the Church of exactly the kind of wisdom coming out of the East these past few hundred years. But it was home-grown, as all mystics seem to be (there is much to think about in this). Check out Wikipedia for a quick and loose commentary on it:

"The Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in Middle English in the latter half of the 14th century. The text is a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer and the esoteric techniques and meanings of late medieval monasticism.
The book counsels a young student not to seek God through knowledge but through what the author speaks of as a "naked intent" and a "blind love."

"Our intense need to understand will always be a powerful stumbling block to our attempts to reach God in simple love [...] and must always be overcome. For if you do not overcome this need to understand, it will undermine your quest. It will replace the darkness which you have pierced to reach God with clear images of something which, however good, however beautiful, however Godlike, is not God."

In a follow-up to The Cloud, called The Book of Privy Counseling, the author characterizes the practice of contemplative unknowing as worshiping God with one's "substance," coming to rest in a "naked blind feeling of being," and ultimately finding thereby that God is one's being.

The Cloud of Unknowing draws on the mystical tradition of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, which has reputedly inspired generations of mystical searchers from John Scotus Erigena, through Book of Taliesin, Nicholas of Cusa and St. John of the Cross to Teilhard de Chardin (the latter two of whom may have been influenced by "The Cloud" itself)."

BTW, in case it is not immediately obvious, "science" in the quote from St. John of the Cross refers to "knowing," i.e. conceptual knowledge, not the science that we are familiar with today which is a method to achieve conceptual knowledge. That didn't exist yet at the time he wrote. I only mention it because St. John's words point us to a direct experiential engagement (open awareness?) rather than an intellectual exercise. Thus he points out among the last few stanzas that this "knowledge of unknowing" is a higher knowledge, which seems contradictory... but that's the trick isn't it :)


posted to OpenAwareness by James Corrigan  


In Silence  

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
To speak your

To the living walls.
Who are you?
Are you? Whose
Silence are you?

Who (be quiet)
Are you (as these stones
Are quiet). Do not
Think of what you are
Still less of
What you may one day be.
Be what you are (but who?) be
The unthinkable one
You do not know.

O be still, while
You are still alive,
And all things live around you
Speaking (I do not hear)
To your own being,
Speaking by the Unknown
That is in you and in themselves.

“I will try, like them
To be my own silence:
And this is difficult. The whole
World is secretly on fire. The stones
Burn, even the stones
They burn me. How can a man be still or
Listen to all things burning? How can he dare
To sit with them
When all their silence
Is on fire?”


Thomas Merton ~
  (The Strange Islands: Poems by Thomas Merton)

Web version:  

top of page