Monday, March 22, 2010

Reality is in Union, Thomas Merton

This article appeared here previously on March 14, 2009
 "We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord"

If you read these posts, and perhaps, think
that the blog is misnamed, think carefully, look deeply, because the raft is not the shore. The way to enlightenment may be fast as Suzuki, or it may be slow; the simple mind sees in possibility. Revelation is ongoing in Buddhist commentary, as indeed it is in the oral Torah of Judaism, or in the Christ revealed.
Thomas Merton, an important 20th century theologian, is a member of the Catholic Christian sect, or order, of the Cistercians, whose roots date back nearly a thousand years.
"Thomas Merton was French, born in Prades, France. His parents, artists, Ruth and Owen Merton died when he was young. His early years were spent in the south of France; later, he went to private school in England and then to Cambridge University. By the time Merton was a young teen, moved to his grandparents' home in the United States to finish his education at Columbia University in New York City.

But Merton's active social and political conscience was also informed by his conversion to Catholic Christianity in his early twenties. In December 1941, he resigned his teaching post at Bonaventure College, Olean, NY, and journeyed to the Trappist (Cistercian) monastery, Abbey of Gethsemani, near Louisville, Kentucky.
There, Merton undertook the life of a scholar and man of letters, in addition to his formation as a Cistercian monk. The thoroughly secular man was about to undertake a lifelong spiritual journey into faith and monasticism, and the pursuit of his own spirituality. His importance as a writer in the American literary tradition is becoming clear. His influence as a religious thinker and social critic is taking its place. His explorations of the religions of the east initiated Merton's entrance into inter-religious dialogue, placing him in worldwide ecumenical movements, in the spirit of Saint Peter (I Peter 3:15), "to give an explanation for the reason of our hope [that we may be as one]."
--Excerpt from the website, Thomas Merton Society of Canada:

Union and Division
"In order to become myself, [my original face] I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be, and in order to find myself, I must go out of myself, and in order to live, I have to die [to myself].
The reason for this is that I am born in selfishness and therefore my natural efforts to make myself more real and more myself, make me less real and less myself, because they revolve around a lie."
--Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Merton writes in his book, New Seeds of Contemplation,
that "people who know nothing of God, and whose lives are centered on themselves, imagine that they can only find themselves by asserting their own desires and ambitions and appetites in a struggle with the rest of the world. They try to become real by imposing themselves on other people, by appropriating... and thus emphasizing the difference between themselves and the other men who have less than they, or nothing at all... they conceive of only one way of becoming real: cutting themselves off... and building a barrier of contrast and distinction... they do not know that reality is to be sought not in division, but in unity, for we are members of one another.

'The man who lives in division is not a person
but only an individual. I have what you have not; I am what you are not... thus I spend my life admiring the distance between you and me... The man who lives in division, lives in death. He cannot find himself because he is lost; he ceases to be a reality...
Once he has started on this path, there is no limit to the evil his self satisfaction may drive him to..."
Finally Merton notes, the start of the Way for this man begins in emptiness; "I must look for my identity, somehow, not only in God, but in other men. I will not ever be able to find myself if I isolate myself." Co-union in support, in Sangha is the beginning of the Way.

1 comment:

勝丹 said...