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  • Thomas Merton

    The great Christian mystic and writer Thomas Merton writes beautifully of his satori standing on a street in Louisville, Kentucky:
    In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. . . . This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being human, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now [that] I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. . . . Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time.

    At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. . . . It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely.

  • #2
    Merton and our invitation to join the general dance:

    What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as “play” is perhaps what he Himself takes most seriously. At any rate, the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance. We do not have to go very far to catch echoes of that game, and of that dancing. When we are alone on a starlit night; when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet Bashō we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash—at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.

    For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things; or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.

    Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.

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    • #3
      Father Thomas Merton ..bridge builder between Christianity and Hinduism , Zen Buddhism and Taoism : i read about this Trappist Monk when studying medicine in Europe in 1980s while researching into esoteric christianity and it led to Zen ( in the works of Dr DT Suzuki ) and Taoism ( The Way of Chuang Tzu ) .

      Youtube link below : Merton with Suzuki at 1:08
       
      Damian Kissey
      Shaolin Wahnam Sabah , Malaysia .
      www.shaolinwahnamsabah.com

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      • #4
        Dear Kevin Sijat and Dr Damian Siheng,

        Thanks for sharing these beautiful and inspirational words.

        With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,

        Santi

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        • #5
          Daer Kevin Si Jat and Dr. Damian Siheng,

          Thank you for sharing these, just wonderful.

          Best wishes and Shaolin Salute,

          Brendan

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Damian Kissey View Post
            Father Thomas Merton ..bridge builder between Christianity and Hinduism , Zen Buddhism and Taoism : i read about this Trappist Monk when studying medicine in Europe in 1980s while researching into esoteric christianity and it led to Zen ( in the works of Dr DT Suzuki ) and Taoism ( The Way of Chuang Tzu ) .

            Youtube link below : Merton with Suzuki at 1:08
            Thank you for the link Dr. Damian! Very interesting to see him in that video with Dr Dr DT Suzuki. Don't think I have ever seen him in formal priestly attire before.

            Thomas Merton was way ahead of his time as regards inter-religious dialogue.

            All the best,

            Kevin

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            • #7
              Merton on Contemplation:

              Contemplation is the highest expression of human intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is above all, awareness of the reality of that Source. It knows the Source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes both beyond reason and beyond simple faith.

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