Transcending all Knowledge

I entered into unknowing,
And there I remained unknowingly,
Transcending all knowledge.

I entered into unknowing,
Yet when I saw myself there
Without knowing where I was,
I understood great things.

I shall not say what I felt
For I remained in unknowing,
Transcending all knowledge.

That perfect knowledge
Was of peace and holiness,
Held at no remove,
In profound solitude.

It was something so secret
That I was left stammering,
Transcending all knowledge.

I was so whelmed,
So absorbed and withdrawn,
That my senses were left
Deprived of their sensing,

And my spirit was given
An understanding
While not understanding
Transcending all knowledge.

He who duly arrives there
Cuts free from himself;
All that he knew before

Now seems worthless,
And his knowledge so soars
That he is left in unknowing
Transcending all knowledge.

The higher he ascends,
The less he understands
Because the cloud is dark
Which lit up the night;

Whoever knows this
remains always in unknowing
Transcending all knowledge.

This knowledge in unknowing
Is so overwhelming
That wise men disputing
Can never overthrow it

For their knowledge does not reach
To the understanding of not understanding,
Transcending all knowledge.

And this supreme knowledge
Is so exalted
That no man of power or learning
Can grasp it;

He who masters himself will,
With knowledge in unknowing,
Always be transcending.

And if you should want to hear:
This highest knowledge lies
In the loftiest sense
Of the essence of God;

This is a work of His mercy,
To leave one without understanding,
Transcending all knowledge.

-St. John of the Cross, Spanish Catholic priest and mystic 1542 – 1591


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