Monday, May 7, 2012

Fickleness and Indecision

Many of us experience episodes of fickleness; we have varying moods and opinions on any given subject, about any particular relationship or about a task. Often we feel mixed, divided or its near cousin, indecision. While not deciding, may be a decision--to sit on the fence and do nothing-- fickleness and indecision in the mind of some, like Thomas Merton, may be an indication of something else.
Merton, a man who has a lot to say about so much of the spiritual life, both east and west, is easily read and invites his reader into his world with simple clarity. He, as some may know, was a friend of the 14th Dalai Lama, who sometimes speaks of him still.

Writing in New Seeds of Contemplation, Merton says, "Fickleness and indecision are signs of self-love." The person who cannot make up their mind about what the Divine calls them to, often trailing from one opinion to the next, engaged in one practice then another, maybe then these are the indications that you shirk the will of the Divine, instead preferring and substituting it for your own, self-centered spinning. Possibly, you wish to go by your own will with a quiet conscience.
 As soon as you arrive at one spiritual center or monastery, you wish to go to another; as soon as you taste one form of prayer, you seek still others. Resolutions you do make, and resolutions you do break. Counter-resolutions abbreviate or eliminate prior thoughts; the spinning goes on. You spend much time in the religion or self help section in a bookstore, reading many things and settling on little. Soon Merton says, "you have no interior life at all. Your whole existence is a patchwork of confused desires and daydreams."

 You or your ego mean to resist the works of harmony or grace; it is an elaborate, subconscious method to play defeat in the face of the Divine, to not see what is in the way for you, to take up no method, nor any way at all.

To know all that you are, be still and allow the work to proceed!

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