The Cloud of unknowing
Type of Spiritual Experience
The author of the Cloud of Unknowing recognised that although high levels of emotion can actually give you an experience, this was not the sort of experience you ultimately were searching for and that in order to avoid bad memories it was better to moderate emotions [NOT suppress, simply moderate]
Furthermore, it was helpful to live a life not of extremes – not repression of any activity, but on the other hand not total extreme action either.
Thoughts like these have been taken up by some in the Church to indicate that what is needed is repression. But read the sentences again. Remember what is said – we are blessed with this faculty. So repression is definitely not what is being advocated, what is being said is ‘moderation in all things’.
A description of the experience
The Cloud of Unknowing
Feeling [emotion] is the faculty of our soul which extends to the senses and is master there. We are blessed with this faculty because it enables us to know and experience every material creature and to determine whether or not it is good for us. Both exterior and interior senses are included in Feeling.
The exterior senses see to the satisfaction of our physical needs and the interior senses serve the intelligence. This is the faculty which rebels when the body lacks any necessity and that is apt to move us to excess in satisfying any need. It grumbles at the deprivation of pleasure and the infliction of pain and is heartily pleased when pain is removed and pleasure restored…..
Feeling was once the servant of the Will. But this is no longer so. Now it experiences pain when deprived of the inordinate pleasures it blindly craves and when restrained by salutary discipline, which it abhors.
Grace must strengthen the Will to accept humbly its share of the consequences so that it will restrain Feeling from overindulgence in legitimate pleasures and give it a taste for wholesome discipline. Without grace, Feeling would give itself up wantonly to the pleasures of life and of the flesh and so degrade a man as to render him more like a beast than a human being with a spiritual destiny.