Thomas Merton

Tariki

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Thanks for that quote, Tariki--

It reminds me of some of Kakuzo Okakura's writings in The Book of Tea. :)

InPeace,
InLove

InLove,

I had never heard of Kakuzo Okakura and his "Book of Tea". Thanks! I looked it up on Amazon and saw that it was a "search inside" book, so took a quick peep. Yes, he seems to be concerned about the stereotyping that goes on between "east" and "west" - both ways! His book seems a gentle one and well worth a full read..............

:)
 

InLove

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Merton seems to be making the rounds, does he not? I know which book is at the top of my reading list now, once I get that gift card or make it to the library.

I am going to pass this link on here in the same fashion in which I received it, that is, hidden in plain sight. :) The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura Got a printer? Thanks to our very own "nomadic fish slapper" here in CR. Thanks again, SG.


InPeace,
InLove
 

InLove

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I thought I should add that the link I provided above is not the whole package. This book is also high up on my list of purchases to make, as the complete hard copy would also be a treasure. I just find the material I passed on here to be inspired and educational.

(Hope that covers any possible infringement. :eek:)

Anyway...back to Merton, anyone?

InPeace,
InLove
 

Tariki

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Anyway...back to Merton, anyone?

InPeace,
InLove

True communication on the deepest level is more than a simple sharing of ideas, conceptual knowledge, or formulated truth...............And the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless, it is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear brothers and sisters, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.
 

Tariki

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Once more I am reading through "The Hidden Ground of Love", the first volume of Thomas Merton's collected letters. This collection has really been a grace and I bless the day that I saw it, priced at a mere £4 in a secondhand bookstore.

Just a couple of quotes drawn from the first 30 odd pages or so........

But it certainly is a wonderful thing to wake up suddenly in the solitude of the woods and look up at the sky and see the utter nonsense of everything, including all the solemn stuff given out by professional asses about the spiritual life: and simply to burst out laughing, and laugh and laugh, with the sky and the trees because God is not in words, and not in systems, and not in liturgical movements, and not in "contemplation" with a big C, or in asceticism or in anything like that, not even in the apostolate. Certainly not in books. I can go on writing them, for all that, but one might as well make paper airplanes out of the whole lot.

The second comes from a letter written to E.D.Andrews, an expert on the life and beliefs of the Shakers (or the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing). Andrews had sent Merton a copy of his book, Shaker Furniture, and Merton was responding to the gift. Sadly, though written in 1961, the words "in our day" remain appropriate........

This wordless simplicity, in which the works of quiet and holy people speak humbly for themselves. How important that is in our day, when we are flooded with a tidal wave of meaningless words: and worse still when in the void of those words the sinister power of hatred and destruction is at work. The Shakers remain as witnesses to the fact that only humility keeps man in communion with truth, and first of all with his own inner truth. This one must know without knowing it, as they did. For as soon as a man becomes aware of "his truth" he lets go of it and embraces an illusion.
 

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For as soon as a man becomes aware of "his truth" he lets go of it and embraces an illusion.


You must not allow yourself to be represented as someone in whom a few of the favourite daydreams of the public have come true. You must be willing, if necessary, to become a disturbing and therefore an undesired person, one who is not wanted because he upsets the general dream.


Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.



We make ourselves real by telling the truth.


No Man is an Island.


 

Snoopy

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We do not think we can be happy with a happiness that has no price tag on it.

Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.
 

wil

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I am against war, against violence, against violent revolution, for peaceful settlement of differences, for nonviolent but nevertheless radical changes. Change is needed, and violence will not really change anything: at most it will only transfer power from one set of bull-headed authorities to another.
Thomas Merton (1915 - 1968)
 

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As promised (or was it "threatened":D ) on another thread...........here are Merton's views concerning "proselytizing/evangelising"

I hate proselytizing. This awful buisness of making others just like oneself so that one is thereby "justified" and under no obligation to change himself. What a terrible thing this can be. The source of how many sicknesses in the world. The true Christian apostolate is nothing of this sort, a fact that Christians themselves have largely forgotten. I think it was......Tauler (or maybe Eckhart) who said in a sermon that even if the church were empty he would preach the sermon to the four walls because he had to. That is the true apostolic spirit, based not on the desire to make others conform, but in the desire to proclaim and announce the good tidings of God's infinite love. In this context the preacher is not a "converter" but merely a herald, a voice, and the Spirit of the Lord is left free to act as He pleases. But this has degenerated into a doctrine and fashion of "convert-makers" in which man exerts pressure and techniques (this awful business of "modern techniques of propaganda") upon his fellow man in order to make him, force him, bring him under a kind of charm that compels him to abandon his own integrity and his own freedom and yield to another man or another institution. Little do men realize that in such a situation the Holy Spirit is silent and inactive, or perhaps active against the insolence of man. Hence the multitude of honest and sincere men who "cannot accept" a message that is preached without respect for the Spirit of God or for the spirit of man.
 

Thomas

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The Gift of Freedom

The mere ability to choose between good and evil is the lowest limit of freedom, and the only thing that is free about it is the fact that we can still choose good.

To the extent that you are free to choose evil, you are not free. An evil choice destroys freedom.

We can never choose evil as evil: only as an apparent good. But when we decide to do something that seems to us to be good when it is not really so, we are doing something that we do not really want to do, and therefore we are not really free.

Perfect spiritual freedom is a total inability to make any evil choice. When everything you desire is truly good and every choice not only aspires to that good but attains it, then you are free because you do everything that you want, every act of your will ends in perfect fulfillment.

Freedom therefore does not consist in an equal balance between good and evil choices but in the perfect love and acceptance of what is really good and the perfect hatred and rejection of what is evil, so that everything you do is good and makes you happy, and you refuse and deny and ignore every possibility that might lead to unhappiness and self-deception and grief. Only the man who has rejected all evil so completely that he is unable to desire it at all, is truly free. God, in whom there is absolutely no shadow or possibility of evil or of sin, is infinitely free. In fact, he is Freedom.

from New Seeds of Contemplation
 

Tariki

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Thomas, the quote you gave brings to mind some words of Merton that I am unable to trace. Yet I remember that they revolved around the need to submit to the will of God................and Merton spoke of this as not being submission to some enigmatic yet demanding command that would be the polar opposite of the easy yoke, because in fact the "will of God" is that we be free.

Also, it bought to mind some other words by the Zen Master Caoshan which have always seemed - at least to me - difficult to interpret and truly understand, yet seem - in the light of your own quote - to perhaps point towards the same truths.......

When studying in this way, evils are manifest as a continuum of being ever not done. Inspired by this manifestation, seeing through to the fact that evils are not done, one settles it finally. At precisely such a time, as the beginning, middle, and end manifest as evils not done, evils are not born from conditions, they are only not done; evils do not perish through conditions, they are only not done.

Anyway, another from Merton.......

I am thrown into contradiction:
to realize it is mercy,
to accept it is love,
to help others do the same is compassion.
 

Tariki

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I am thrown into contradiction:
to realize it is mercy,
to accept it is love,
to help others do the same is compassion.

Just to illuminate these words..............

I have had to accept the fact that my life is almost totally paradoxical. I have also had to learn gradually to get along without apologising for the fact, even to myself. And perhaps these words are an indication that I have not yet completely learned. No matter. It is in the paradox itself, the paradox which was and still is a source of insecurity, that I have come to find the greatest security. I have become convinced that the very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God's mercy to me: if only because someone so complicated and so prone to confusion and self-defeat could hardly survive for long without special mercy. And since this in no way depends on the approval of others, the awareness of it is a kind of liberation.


I remember myself, way back, gaining a minor form of liberation when someone spoke of having contradictions in their lives/words/beliefs pointed out to them. He said that this no longer caused him any concern, that sometimes we just have to live with "truths" that apparently contradict each other. Each seems "true" to us at any one time and need acknowledgement. Perhaps the point is, if we do not cling too tight to the exact expression, in time the "contradictions" resolve themselves at a "higher" ( or perhaps more fundamental) level.
 

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I remember myself, way back, gaining a minor form of liberation when someone spoke of having contradictions in their lives/words/beliefs pointed out to them. He said that this no longer caused him any concern, that sometimes we just have to live with "truths" that apparently contradict each other. Each seems "true" to us at any one time and need acknowledgement. Perhaps the point is, if we do not cling too tight to the exact expression, in time the "contradictions" resolve themselves at a "higher" ( or perhaps more fundamental) level.

Hi,

Maybe a computer is always consistent but a computer is fixed (at the gross level). As humans, we all grow and change so "contradictions" are inevitable. Only a person who tries to remain fixed might ever be so consistent as a computer; but at what cost to their personal growth? A judgmental person may even point and say "hypocrite" but I for one don't keep a record of every utterance I have ever made to make sure I'm staying "true" to a former "self."

s.
 

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The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.
 

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Tariki

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Just browsing through a few more journal entries of Thomas Merton, and uncovered the following. May have been of worth when - was it China Cat Sunflower? - was asking what it was to "believe", but worth a glance in any case. Merton is responding to a passage from Irenaeus..(A passage that my own understanding and experience associates with the Pure Land notion of "being made to become so (of itself) without/beyond the calculation of the devotee, where "no working is true working")

If you are the work of God wait patiently for the hand of your artist who makes all things at an opportune time........Give to Him a pure and supple heart and watch over the form which the artist shapes in you........lest, in hardness, you lose the traces of his fingers......

Merton comments......

The reification of faith. Real meaning of the phrase we are saved by faith = we are saved by Christ, whom we encounter in faith. But constant disputation about faith has made Christians become obsessed with faith almost as an object, at least as an experience, a "thing" and in concentrating upon it they lose sight of Christ. Whereas faith without the encounter with Christ and without His presence is less than nothing. It is the deadest of dead works, an act elicited in a moral and existential void. To seek to believe that one believes, and arbitrarily to decree that one believes, and then to conclude that this gymnastic has been blessed by Christ - this is pathological Christianity. And a Christianity of works. One has this mental gymnastic in which to trust. One is safe, one possesses the psychic key to salvation......
 

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Hi,

There’s a new collection of Merton’s writings out, called “Echoing Silence – Thomas Merton and the Vocation of Writing” edited by Robert Inchausti and published by New Seeds. It spans three decades and draws from 28 previously published books. I’ve just read a lengthy review of it and it seems like an interesting and well put together collection.

Merton apparently felt the tension between being a public, known writer (a role that would stroke the ego) and the requirements of the life of a contemplative, where the “intention” is to lose the Self to realise the No Self.

s.


"No writing on the solitary, meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees. These pages seek nothing more than to echo the silence and peace that is “heard” when the rain wanders freely among the hills and forests. But what can the wind say when there is no hearer? There is then a deeper silence: the silence in which the Hearer is No Hearer. That deeper silence must be heard before one can speak truly of solitude."
 

Tariki

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Snoopy,

Thanks for the info re the new book. What you have said reminds me of the title of a biography of Thomas Merton by William H Shannon, "Silent Lamp".

The title comes from a poem written in Merton's honour by his friend John C H Wu......

Silent Lamp! Silent Lamp!
I only see its radiance,
But hear not its voice!
Spring beyond the world!


:)
 

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"The true solutions are not those which we force upon life in accordance with our theories, but those which life itself provides for those who dispose themselves to receive the truth."

- Raids on the Unspeakable.
 

Tariki

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In the last analysis what I am looking for in solitude is not happiness or fulfillment but salvation. Not "my own" salvation, but the salvation of everybody........I am here for one thing: to be open, not to be "closed in" on any one choice to the exclusion of all others: to be open to God's will and freedom, to His love which comes to save me from all in myself that resists Him and says no to Him. This I must do not to justify myself, not to be right, not to be good, but because the whole world of lost people needs this opening by which salvation can get into the world through me.

(Journals, June 24, 1966)

Fidelity to grace in my life is fidelity to simplicity, rejecting ambition and analysis and elaborate thought, or even elaborate concern.

(Journals, Jan 20-21, 1963)
 
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