Meditation techniques described by an anonymous monk in the book “The Cloud of Unknowing” have rattled my psyche. Not since Eve was tempted by the serpent of old has there been such delicious fruit of literature to feast upon in the banquet of this place called enlightenment.
The author of the “Cloud of Unknowing” suggests using a single word to meditate upon rather than hail marrying ourselves to tears or through cumbersome tasks of repentance. He instructs those in union to cast aside all outside thoughts—good or bad—and press onto thinking of nothing but a single, one syllable word such as ‘God’ or ‘Love’ and to place all other thoughts below by concentrating on one simple word. He refers to the place where random thoughts go as the ‘the Cloud of Forgetting’.
A most unusual apparition – delusional to the eyes of non-believers and naysayers – occurred to me after following the guidance offered in this little book.
I spent several hours on Sunday afternoon sitting like a butterfly on a flower in the warm Spring sunshine. My somewhat stiff legs were crossed into my best interpretation of the Yoga “lotus” position, but my knees would not relax enough to touch the warmed slab of stone I was perched upon in my back yard. I thought nothing of my wretched body, just the single word.
The repetition of thinking that word started innocently during my meditation session but the concept of forgetting my worries lasted throughout the day. Although the outward act of my butterfly stance had ceased, inside I was still meditating on that single word. The definition echoed as I did the dishes and vacuumed the house.
I rested quite peacefully that night and did not clench my teeth in my sleep. Slobbers ran down my chin onto a pillow—GOD GOD GOD I was dreaming.
Eventually the need to think of my one syllable word to place all other thoughts aside had subsided—only so often in the midst of my peaceful dream state did I meditate upon that word when random thoughts came to mind. As I rested that night, I thought it marvelous that I had remembered the Cloud of Unknowing—but even with my mind closed, thinking of the book, I put the thought aside, meditating on the single word, as per instructions.
An eruption of most unusual proportions filled the somewhat sedated atmosphere of Brooklyn that evening. At approximately 3 a.m. a deafening thunder-clasp rocked both the house and my bed. There were no early warning signs of a storm that sleepers most often receive when a storm is approaching. The loud thunder erased the silence of night and my constant meditation on that one word.
The moment I whispered that word in my sleep was when the heavens exploded—coincidence? It seemed not at that moment—but as if I had pierced the Cloud of Unknowing—as was described by the monk.
My lover sleeping next to me shivered at the sound of the haunting thunder. I too trembled, wondering if perhaps—no—I put the thought into the cloud of forgetting and cuddled up to B.—simply glad to be here in heaven and that I was not the only God who heard the thunder.