A certified copy of one of the originals made by the hand of the Saint to his spiritual daugher Madeleine:



A translation into English (see below Ascent of Mount Carmel Book I, Chapter 13):

Mount Carmel Drawing.jpg



Wherein is described the manner and way which the soul must follow in order to enter this night of sense.

  1. To conclude these counsels and rules, it will be fitting to set down here those lines which are written in the Ascent of the Mount, which is the figure that is at the beginning of this book; the which lines are instructions for ascending to it, and thus reaching the summit of union. For, although it is true that that which is there spoken of is spiritual and interior, there is reference likewise to the spirit of imperfection according to sensual and exterior things, as may be seen by the two roads which are on either side of the path of perfection. It is in this way and according to this sense that we shall understand them here; that is to say, according to that which is sensual. Afterwards, in the second part of this night, they will be understood according to that which is spiritual.[5]

  1. The lines are these:

In order to arrive at having pleasure in everything,
Desire to have pleasure in nothing.

In order to arrive at possessing everything,
Desire to possess nothing.

In order to arrive at being everything,
Desire to be nothing.

In order to arrive at knowing everything,
Desire to know nothing.[6]

In order to arrive at that wherein thou hast no pleasure,
Thou must go by a way wherein thou hast no pleasure.

In order to arrive at that which thou knowest not,
Thou must go by a way that thou knowest not.

In order to arrive at that which thou possessest not,
Thou must go by a way that thou possessest not.

In order to arrive at that which thou art not,
Thou must go through that which thou art not.

  1. When thy mind dwells upon anything,

Thou art ceasing to cast thyself upon the All.

For, in order to pass from the all to the All,
Thou hast to deny thyself wholly[7] in all.

And, when thou comest to possess it wholly,
Thou must possess it without desiring anything.

For, if thou wilt have anything in having all,[8]
Thou hast not thy treasure purely in God.

  1. In this detachment the spiritual soul finds its quiet and repose; for, since it covets nothing, nothing wearies it when it is lifted up, and nothing oppresses it when it is cast down, because it is in the centre of its humility; but when it covets anything, at that very moment it becomes wearied.

[5] The Saint does not, however, allude to these lines again. The order followed below is that of Alc., which differs somewhat from that followed in the diagram.

[6] This line, like ll. 6, 8 of the paragraph, reads more literally: ‘Desire not to possess (be, know) anything in anything.’ It is more emphatic than l. 2.

[7] There is a repetition here which could only be indicated by translating ‘all-ly.’ So, too, in the next couplet.

[8]          [Lit. ‘anything in all.’]