(c. 1300 - 1366)


 After this the disciple [Henry] turned again in all seriousness to eternal Truth and asked for the power to discern from outward appearance persons who were truly detached. He asked thus:  ‘Eternal Truth, how do such persons act in their relationships with various things?’
            Answer: They withdraw from themselves and all things withdraw along with them.
            Question: How do they conduct themselves with respect to time?
            Answer: They exist in an ever-present Now, free of selfish intentions, and perceive their perfection in the smallest thing as in the greatest.
            Question: Paul says that no law is made for the just person.
            Answer: The just, by becoming so, conduct themselves more submissively than other people because they understand from within – in their ground – what is proper outwardly for everyone, and they view all things accordingly.  The reason that they are unfettered is that they do (freely) out of (an attitude of) detachment what ordinary people do under compulsion.
            Question: Is not the person who has been transported to interior detachment freed from external exercises?
            Answer: One sees few people reach the condition you describe without their strength being used up. The efforts of those who really achieve it affect them to the marrow.  And so, when they realise what is to be done and left undone, they continue to practice the usual exercises, performing them more or less frequently as their strength and the occasion permit.
            Question: Where do the pangs of conscience and other anxieties of seemingly good people come from, as well as the unrestrained latitude (of conscience) in other people?
            Answer: Both types are focusing their attention on their own image but in different ways; the one group spiritually, the other bodily.
            Question: Do people who are spiritually detached remain unoccupied all the time, or what do they do?
            Answer: The activity of really detached people is their very becoming detached, and their achievement is to remain unoccupied because they remain calm in action and unconcerned about their achievements
            Question: What is their conduct toward their fellow human beings?
            Answer: They enjoy the companionship of people, but without being swayed by them.   They love them without attachment, and show them sympathy without anxious concern – all in true freedom….
            Question: What is such people’s prayer like?  Are they supposed to pray, too?
            Answer: Their prayer is effective because they forestall the influence of the senses. God is a spirit and knows whether this person has put an obstacle in the way or whether he or she has acted from selfish impulses. And then a light is enkindled in their highest power which makes clear that God is the being, life and activity within them and that they are merely God’s  instruments….
            Question: What is their external behaviour like?
            Answer: They have few mannerisms, and they do not talk a lot; their words are simple and direct. They live modestly so that things pass through him without their involvement. They are composed in their use of the senses.
            Question: Are all detached people like this?
            Answer: More so or less so depending on accidental circumstances.  Essentially, however, they are the same.
            Question: Do such people come to a full knowledge of the truth, or do they remain in the realm of opinion and imagining?
            Answer: Since they remain human, they continue to have opinions and imaginings. But because they have withdrawn from themselves into that which is, they have a knowledge of all truth; for this is truth itself and the person is unaware of him or herself.  But let this be enough for you.  One does not arrive at the goal by asking questions.  It is rather through detachment that one comes to this hidden truth.  Amen.  left quotation



In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.