Dealing with Distraction

Curriculum Focus

Infinite Addiction


The Cloud of Unknowing, Edited by William Johnson, Image Books Doubleday, New York, NY, 1973, ISBN 0-385-03097-5, excerpts from Chapters 32 - , pages 88 89. ****Original Text has been modified for contemporary clarity.

There are two relational devices helpful to beginners in contemplation. I will tell you about two techniques for handling distraction. Try them and improve on them if you can.

When distracting thoughts annoy you try to pretend that you do not even notice their presence or that they have come between you and your Infinite Object. Look beyond them over their shoulder, as it were as if you were looking for something else, which of course you are. For beyond them, the Infinite Object is hidden in the dark cloud of unknowing. Do this and I feel sure you will soon be relieved of anxiety about them. I can vouch for the orthodoxy of this technique because in reality it amounts to a yearning for the Infinite Object, a longing to see and taste this One as much as possible in this life. And desire like this is actually love, which always brings peace.

There is another strategy you are welcome to try also. When you feel utterly exhausted from fighting your thoughts, say to yourself: It is futile to contend with them any longer, and then fall down before them like a captive or coward.

For in doing this you commend yourself to Ultimate Reality in the midst of your enemies and admit the radical impotence of your nature. I advise you to remember this device particularly, for in employing it you make yourself completely supple in the guiding Flow of Reality. And surely when this attitude is authentic it is the same as self-knowledge because you have seen yourself as you really are, a miserable and defiled creature less than nothing without the Infinite Wholeness. When this Wholeness beholds you standing alone in this truth this One cannot refrain from hastening to you.


Reflection Questions

What is a distraction

In the quest to remain connected to the Infinite Object, what are sources of distractions that intrude in your life

What is the first method the author recommends for dealing with distraction What does this mean

What is the yearning or love to which the author is pointing

How have you seen or experienced this method work in your own life as a way of dealing with distraction

How would you describe or explain the 2nd method the author recommends for dealing with distraction What is it

What acknowledgement about members of our human species does this 2nd method make

How is this self-knowledge or humility of value

What is the support I receive in this circumstance from the Infinite Object

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