The Synthesis of Love and Will

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From Evelyn Underhill’s introduction to The Cloud of Unknowing
-“Of God Himself can no man think,” says the writer of the Cloud, “And therefore I would leave all that thing that I can think, and choose to my love that thing that I cannot think… the universes which are amenable to the intellect can never satisfy the instincts of the heart.

-“that treasure which is “never got by study but all only by grace”

-“He may not be found by any work of thy soul, but all only by love of thine heart. He may not be known by reason, He may not be gotten by thought, nor concluded by understanding; but He may be loved and chosen with the true lovely will of thine heart. . .”

-“A peculiar talent for the description and discrimination of spiritual states has enabled this writer to discern and set before us, with astonishing precision and vividness, not only the strange sensations, the confusion and bewilderment of the beginner in the early stages of contemplation–the struggle with distracting thoughts, the silence, the dark–and the unfortunate state of those theoretical mystics who, “swollen with pride and with curiosity of much clergy and letterly cunning as in clerks,” miss that treasure which is “never got by study but all only by grace”; but also the happiness of those whose “sharp dart of longing love” has not “failed of the prick, the which is God.”

-“A great simplicity characterises his doctrine of the soul’s attainment of the Absolute. For him there is but one central necessity: the perfect and passionate setting of the will upon the Divine, so that it is “thy love and thy meaning, the choice and point of thine heart.”

-“Not by deliberate ascetic practices, not by refusal of the world, not by intellectual striving, but by actively loving and choosing, by that which a modern psychologist has called “the synthesis of love and will” does the spirit of man achieve its goal.”

-“For silence is not God,” he says in the Epistle of Discretion, “nor speaking is not God; fasting is not God, nor eating is not God; loneliness is not God, nor company is not God; nor yet any of all the other two such contraries. He is hid between them, and may not be found by any work of thy soul, but all only by love of thine heart. He may not be known by reason, He may not be gotten by thought, nor concluded by understanding; but He may be loved and chosen with the true lovely will of thine heart. . .”

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