The Cloud of Unknowing is a 14th century mystical prose treatise on how to approach God. The author is unknown, but most likely a priest of north-eastern Midland origin. The "cloud" of the title is the gulf between man and God and the text discusses how to bridge it and prepare mind and body for mystical experience. The propagated way to achieve this is the love of God and the obliteration of the Christian's sense of self.
The persona - often identified with Walter Hilton, the author of the Scale of Perfection, - addresses a young disciple whom he insructs in the contemplative way to God, the via negativa, which he contrasts to the active life of worldly affairs.
The Cloud of Unknowing was very popular, as is illustrated by the number of seventeen surviving manuscripts, and today is considered to be one of the finest works of the Middle English mystical tradition
The following six works are sometimes attributed to the same author of the Cloud: The Book of Privy Counselling, The Epistle of Prayer, Deonise Hid Divinite (Denis Hid Divinity), Benjamin (Minor), The Epistle of Discretion in the Stirrings of the Soul and The Treatise of the Discerning of Spirits.