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Cloud of Unknowing
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HERE BEGINNETH THE ONE AND SIXTIETH CHAPTER

 

That all bodily thing is subject unto ghostly thing, and is ruled thereafter by the course of nature and not contrariwise.

 

NEVERTHELESS it is needful to lift up our eyes and our hands bodily, as it were unto yon bodily heaven, in the which the elements be fastened. I mean if we be stirred of the work of our spirit, and else not. For all bodily thing is subject unto ghostly thing, and is ruled thereafter, and not contrariwise.

Ensample hereof may be seen by the ascension of our Lord: for when the time appointed was come, that Him liked to wend to His Father bodily in His manhood, the which was never nor never may be absent in His Godhead, then mightily by the virtue of the Spirit God, the manhood with the body followed in onehead of person. The visibility of this was most seemly, and most according, to be upward.

This same subjection of the body to the spirit may be in manner verily conceived in the proof of this ghostly work of this book, by them that work therein. For what time that a soul disposeth him effectually to this work, then as fast suddenly, unwitting himself that worketh, the body that peradventure before ere he began was somewhat bent downwards, on one side or on other for ease of the flesh, by virtue of the spirit shall set it upright: following in manner and in likeness bodily the work of the spirit that is made ghostly. And thus it is most seemly to be.

And for this seemliness it is, that a man—the which is the seemliest creature in body that ever God made—is not made crooked to the earthwards, as be an other beasts, but upright to heavenwards. For why? That it should figure in likeness bodily the work of the soul ghostly; the which falleth to be upright ghostly, and not crooked ghostly. Take heed that I say upright ghostly, and not bodily. For how should a soul, the which in his nature hath no manner thing of bodilyness, be strained upright bodily? Nay, it may not be.

And therefore be wary that thou conceive not bodily that which is meant ghostly, although it be spoken in bodily words, as be these, up or down, in or out, behind or before, on one side or on other. For although that a thing be never so ghostly in itself, nevertheless yet if it shall be spoken of, since it so is that speech is a bodily work wrought with the tongue, the which is an instrument of the body, it behoveth always be spoken in bodily words. But what thereof? Shall it therefore be taken and conceived bodily? Nay, but ghostly, as it be meant.

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