Thomas Merton

Discussion in 'Esoteric' started by Snoopy, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    The speech of God is silence.......everything else is fiction, half-hiding the truth it tries to reveal.......we are travellers from the half-world of language into solitude and infinity.....

    (Journals, Jan 11, 1950)
     
  2. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    I've been taking a quiet time away. Dipping into some of the writings of Merton again. His Letters and Journals, which I love. You never quite know just what is coming next.......and the reading is slow and reflective, so much suggested by Merton's own thoughts and words.

    Merton was an early riser. Here is a brief extract from his jouranl dated June 5th 1960....

    At 2:30 - no sounds except sometimes a bullfrog. Some mornings, he says Om - some days he is silent.....................The first sounds of the waking birds - "the virgin point" of the dawn, a moment of awe and inexpressible innocence, when the Father in silence opens their eyes and they speak to Him, wondering if it is time to "be"? And He tells them "Yes". Then they one by one wake and begin to sing. First the catbirds and cardinals and some others I do not recognise. Later, song sparrows, wrens.........last of all doves, crows...........With my hair almost on end and the eyes of the soul wide open I am present, without knowing it at all, in this unspeakable Paradise, and I behold this secret, this wide open secret which is there for everyone, free, and no one pays any attention............Oh paradise of simplicity, self-awareness - and self-forgetfulness - liberty, peace........
     
  3. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    I will provide a bump for this old thread..............

    Since its heyday on this particular forum I have contributed to another Merton thread, centering on contemplation, so will offer a few quotes here drawn from this.

    So to begin.....

    The purpose of a book of meditations is not to teach you how to think and not to do your thinking for you. Consequently if you pick up such a book and simply read it through, you are wasting your time. As soon as any thought stimulates your mind or your heart you can put the book down because your meditation has begun. To think that you are somehow obliged to follow the author of the book to his own particular conclusion would be a great mistake. It may happen that his conclusion does not apply to you. God may want you to end up somewhere else. He may have planned to give you quite a different grace than the one the author suggests you might be needing

    (Lines from "New Seeds of Contemplation" )
     
  4. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    What do you think is meant by 'a different grace'?
     
  5. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Now don't go all technical on me.........as I see it, Grace is fundamental. On a wide spectrum from a gift from "Him up there", to the insight that we do not attain emptiness but are empty from the very beginning (an insight drawn from a dialogue between Merton and D T Suzuki) Such a spectrum takes in all, from the most literally minded to the most "mystical", from those who live in an "I-Thou" relationship with the divine to those who can say "Not I, but Christ lives in me"

    So grace is one, yet differentiated in how it manifests.

    Again, your question has associations with true prayer, which is more a giving up of ourselves, rather than making requests. More seeking to allow God to play in us, rather than playing God ourselves!

    So we can plan and anticipate, have our techniques for "gaining" salvation/enlightenment, look for our own justifications, seek to make our "self" a suitable case for the receipt of any gift from the divine. Or actually see what is given, when given. Not recognised until given. So always new, and not what we may have expected.

    Anyway, now back to baby..........who is visiting.
     
  6. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    All technical? :eek: I think you're confusing me with someone else?! Or someone I was?! (I decided to sell my cleverness and buy bewilderment while the exchange rate was good - on the advice of Rumi).

    Yes, for me grace is that acceptance of unfolding reality, over which we may have little or no control. It reflects a balancing of both doubt so that we continue to ask questions about what happens to us and faith to remain in awe of the eternal play.
     
  7. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Nothing personal, just my own - perhaps - poor sense of humour.

    Amyway, yes, I think it is all rather easy to have a "viewpoint" into which we will always fit the latest fact/experience confronted, which we can then project back onto the world, confirming us in our "correctness." All well and good for certain disciplines, which have no necessary place for bewilderment.

    :)
     
  8. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Anyway, moving on, and away from "contemplation" as such, a few more words from Merton suggested by the last exchange. This from "Raids on the Unspeakable"......


    .....the deeper question is the nature of reality itself.

    Inexorable consistency. Is reality the same as consistency?

    The "reality" of the world of many is of consistency, but the reality of the real world is not consistent.

    The world of consistency is the world of justice, but justice is not the final word.

    There is, above the consistent and logical world of justice, an inconsistent illogical world where nothing "hangs together," where justice no longer damns each to their own darkness. This inconsistent world is the realm of mercy.

    The world can only be "consistent" without God.

    His freedom will always threaten it with inconsistency - with unexpected gifts.

    A god who is fitted into our world scheme in order to make it serious and consistent is not God.

    Such a world is not to be taken seriously, such a god is not to be taken seriously. If such a god is "absent" then doubtless the absence is a blessing.

    To take him seriously is to submit to obsession, to doubt, to magic, and then to escape these, or try to escape them, by willfulness, by the determination to stake all on an arbitrary selection of "things to be taken seriously" because they "save," because they are "his affairs."

    (Note that even atheism takes seriously this god of consistency)

    But mercy breaks into the world of magic and justice and overturns its apparent consistency. Mercy is inconsistent. It is therefore comic. It liberates us from the tragic seriousness of the obsessive world which we have "made up" for ourselves by yielding to our obsessions. Only mercy can liberate us from the madness of our determination to be consistent - from the awful pattern of lusts, greeds, angers and hatreds which mix us up altogether like a mass of dough and thrusts us all together into the oven.

    Mercy cannot be contained in the web of obsessions.

    Nor is it something one determines to think about - that one resolves to "take seriously," in the sense of becoming obsessed with it.

    You cannot become obsessed with mercy!

    This is the inner secret of mercy. It is totally incompatible with obsession, with compulsion. It liberates from all the rigid and deterministic structures which magic strives to impose on reality (or which science, the child of magic, tries to impose)

    Mercy is not to be purchased by a set way of acting, by a formal determination to be consistent.

    Law is consistent. Grace is "inconsistent."

    The Cross is the sign of contradiction - destroying the seriousness of the Law, of the Empire, of the armies, of blood sacrifice, and of obsession.

    But the magicians keep turning the Cross to their own purpose. Yes, it is for them too a sign of contradiction: the awful blasphemy of the religious magician who makes the Cross contradict mercy. This of course is the ultimate temptation of Christianity. To say that Christ has locked all doors, has given one answer, settled everything and departed, leaving all life enclosed in the frightful consistency of a system outside of which there is seriousness and damnation, inside of which there is the intolerable flippancy of the saved - while nowhere is there any place left for the mystery of the freedom of divine mercy which alone is truly serious, and worthy of being taken seriously.
     
  9. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    To continue with Merton on "contemplation"...........

    The contemplative life isn't something objective that is "there" and to which, after fumbling around, you finally gain access. The contemplative life is a dimension of our subjective existence. Discovering the contemplative life is a new self-discovery. One might say it is the flowering of a deeper identity on an entirely different plane from a mere psychological discovery, a paradoxical new identity that is found only in loss of self. To find one's self by losing one's self; that is part of "contemplation." Remember the Gospel, "They who would save their life must lose it."

    From "Contemplation in a World of Action"
     
  10. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Here are some further words from Merton, which are found in his "Asian Journal", a journal he kept during his "pilgrimage" to Asia, which included India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and meetings with various Buddhist communities.......and was to have included Japan, and the Zen monastic traditions.

    The contemplative life must provide an area, a space of liberty, of silence, in which possibilities are allowed to surface and new choices - beyond routine choice - become manifest. It should create a new experience of time, not as stoppage, stillness, but as a first flowering of something totally new.....not a blank to be filled or an untouched space to be conquered and violated, but a space which can enjoy its own potentialities and hopes - and its own presence to itself. One's own time. But not dominated by one's own ego and its demands. Hence open to others - compassionate time, rooted in the sense of common illusion and in criticism of it.
     
  11. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Check out David Steindl-Rast ...

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  12. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Thomas, thanks, I have heard the name but no more. I am a little bit restricted by eye problems, and find it easier to read on my kindle eReader, where I can alter the font sizes as required. So if any book is not available on kindle then it becomes a bit difficult.

    One that is available - I see - is "The Music of Silence", which takes a "sacred journey through the hours of the day". I do have "A book of Hours" , based upon selections from Merton's writings, which would seem to cover the same theme - always allowing for the "beauty of difference" of each of us.

    All the best
    :)
     
  13. bhaktajan

    bhaktajan Active Member

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    I have so much affection for the monk Thomas Merton and his writtings.

    I feel fortunate to know his writtings. They envisage a pristine cleanliness and ethereal mellow ---just mentioning his name brings to mind a sublime state.

    Again I am reminded of these sensibilties when I read the above citation.

    <I gonna look among my books, see if I have a volume>
     
  14. CobblersApprentice

    CobblersApprentice Active Member

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    Just looked up this old thread and would like to say that Tariki was a previous "screen name" of mine. No attempt here to deceive. Having forgotten my password I just preferred a new name rather than reset it.

    Thomas Merton still a favorite of mine and perhaps a last link with the Christian Faith as such. I love the mellow waters of Pure Land Buddhism.
     

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