The Wholeness and Simplicity of Nirvana – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Zen and the Birds of Appetite

by Mark Votava

51U9ehoviBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The importance of direct experience

“…we must nevertheless remember the importance of direct experience…”

2. The wholeness and simplicity of Nirvana

“When man is grounded in authentic truth and love the roots of desire themselves wither, brokenness is at an end, and truth is found in the wholeness and simplicity of Nirvana: perfect awareness and perfect compassion. Nirvana is the wisdom of perfect love grounded in itself and shining through everything, meeting with no opposition. The heart of brokenness is then seen for what it was: an illusion, but a persistent and invincible illusion of the isolated ego-self, setting itself up in opposition to love, demanding that its own desire be accepted as the law of the universe, and hence suffering from the fact that by its desire it is fractured in itself and cut off from the loving wisdom in which it should be grounded.”

3. The product of Ignorance

“Buddhist philosophy considers discrimination of any kind – moral or metaphysical – the product of Ignorance…”

4. A ground of openness

“The metaphysical intuition of Being is an intuition of a ground of openness, indeed of a kind of ontological openness and an infinite generosity which communicates itself to everything that is… Openness is not something to be acquired, but a radical gift that has been lost and must be recovered (though it is still in principle ‘there’ in the roots of our created beings)…”

5. Contemplatives are always being reproached

“In the East and West alike, contemplatives are always being reproached for idleness, escapism, quietism, misanthropy and a hundred other sins. And more often than not they are accused of despising ordinary ways of ethical and ascetic discipline and of throwing morality and politics completely out of the window…”

6. The dissipation of an illusion

“…the ‘death of the old man’ is not the destruction of personality but the dissipation of an illusion, and the discovery of the new man is the realization of what was there all along, at least as a radical possibility, by reason of the fact that man is the image of God.”

7. Opening oneself to the other

“The only salvation, as Christ said, is found in losing oneself – that is by opening oneself to the other as another self…”

8. As long as we are inauthentic

“As long as we are inauthentic, as long as we block and obscure the presence of what truly is, we are in delusion and we are in pain…”

9. The same Christ who lives in all

“Union with Christ means unity in Christ, so that each one who is in Christ can say, with Paul: ‘It is now not I that live but Christ that lives in me.’ It is the same Christ who lives in all…”

10. The new creation

“The world was created without man, but the new creation which is the true Kingdom of God is to be the work of God in and through man…”

Do you live in the wholeness and simplicity of awareness and compassion?

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