In Oneness With All That Is – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Mystics and Zen Masters
by Mark Votava
1. Hold instinctively to our prejudice
“We of the West still hold instinctively to the prejudice that our world and our civilization are the ‘whole world’ and that we have a mission to lead all others to the particular cultural goals we have set for ourselves. But the world is bigger than we have imagined, and its new directions are not always those that we ourselves have envisaged…”
2. The true dark night
“The true dark night is that of the spirit, where the ‘subject’ of all higher forms of vision and intelligence is itself darkened and left in emptiness: not as a mirror, pure of all impressions, but as a void without knowledge and without any natural capacity for the supernatural…”
3. In oneness with all that is
“…my ‘identity’ is to be sought not in that separation from all that is, but in oneness (indeed, ‘convergence’?) with all that is. This identity is not the denial of my own personal reality but its highest affirmation…”
4. Contemplation is both a “gift” and an “art”
“…we can say that contemplation is both a ‘gift’ (a ‘grace’) and an ‘art.’ Unfortunately, we must also admit that it can almost be said to be a ‘lost art’…”
5. All religions aspire to a “union with God”
“To put it in grossly oversimplified language, all religions aspire to a ‘union with God’ in some way or other, and in each case this union is described in terms which have very definite analogies with the contemplative and mystical experiences…”
6. Preserving our status as spectators
“Yet we refuse healing because we insist on preserving our status as spectators. This is the only identity we understand. Once we cease to ‘stand against’ the world, we think we cease to exist. Furthermore, we manipulate the world as we contemplate it, we rearrange it to suit the whim and yearning of our vision. Always, do what we may, we are condemned to ‘retain the attitude of someone who’s departing.’ That is to say, we can never really believe ourselves fully at home in the world that is ours, since we are condemned to dwell in it as spectators, to create for ourselves the distance that establishes us as subjects fully conscious of our subjectivity.”
7. Destroying authentic human community
“…the Church must not implicitly betray man into the power of the irresponsible and anonymous ‘public.’ If it does so, it will destroy itself in destroying true freedom and authentic human community.”
8. Free and authentic response
“But maturity cannot be acquired in withdrawal and subjective isolation, in fear and in suspicion. Maturity is the capacity for free and authentic response. Once again, this demands something more than psychological adjustment. It calls for divine grace. And our openness to grace is proportionate to our sense of our need for it. This in turn depends on our awareness of the reality of the crisis we are in.”
Do we live in oneness with all that is?
Purchase Mystics and Zen Masters
My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!
“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism
My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!
“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline… without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.” Shane Claiborne, author and activist