Our Own Inner Ground – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – Seeds edited by Robert Inchausti

by Mark Votava

41fSYkUB3eL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_1. We think our mask is our true self

“If we take our vulnerable shell to be our true identity, if we think our mask is our true face, we will protect it with fabrications even at the cost of violating our own truth.  This seems to be the collective endeavor of society: the more busily men dedicate themselves to it, the more certainly it becomes a collective illusion, until in the end we have the enormous, obsessive, uncontrollable dynamic of fabrications designed to protect mere fictitious identities – ‘selves,’ that is to say, regarded as objects.  Selves that can stand back and see themselves having fun (an illusion which reassures them that they are real).”

2. Suppress the awareness

“In order to experience your [false] self as real, you have to suppress the awareness of your contingency, your unreality, your state of radical need. This you do by creating an awareness of yourself as one who has no needs that he cannot immediately fulfill.  Basically, this is an illusion of omnipotence: an illusion which the collectivity arrogates to itself, and consents to share with its individual members in proportion as they submit to its more central and more rigid fabrications.”

3. The man who lives in division

“The man who lives in division is not a person but only an ‘individual.’”

4. Instead of being “open to the world”

“The tragedy of a life centered on ‘things,’ on grasping and manipulation of objects, is that such a life closes the ego upon itself as though it were an end in itself, and throws it into a hopeless struggle with other perverse and hostile selves competing together for the possessions which will give them power and satisfaction.  Instead of being ‘open to the world’ such minds are in fact closed to it and their titanic efforts to build the world according to their own desires are doomed in the end by the ambiguity and destructiveness that are in them…”

5. Discover our own inner ground

“The way to find the real ‘world’ is not merely to measure and observe what is outside us, but to discover our own inner ground.  For that is where the world is, first of all: in my deepest self.  This ‘ground,’ this ‘world’ where I am mysteriously present at once to my own self and to the freedoms of all other men, is not a visible, objective and determined structure with fixed laws and demands.  It is a living and self-creating mystery of which I am myself a part, to which I am myself my own unique door.”

6. Absolutely unconscious, totally forgotten

“In our being there is a primordial yes that is not our own; it is not at our disposal; it is not accessible to our inspection and understanding; we do not even fully experience it as real (except in rare and unique circumstances).  And we have to admit that for most people this primordial ‘yes’ is something they never advert to at all.  It is in fact absolutely unconscious, totally forgotten.”

Which quote do you like the most?

Here are some other posts I have done on Thomas Merton and his writings.

51DJfJVBpBL (1)