Saturday, October 25, 2008

transrational certitude: the only kind?

Contemplation is 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 beyond reason and beyond simple faith... It is a more profound depth of faith, a knowledge too deep to be grasped in images, in words, or even in clear concepts.

Contemplation is also the response to a call: a call from Him Who has no voice, and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being; for we ourselves are words of His. But we are words that are meant to respond to Him, to answer to Him, to echo Him, and even in some way to contain Him and signify Him. Contemplation is this echo. It is a deep resonance in the inmost center of our spirit in which our very life loses its separate voice and re-sounds with the majesty and the mercy of the Hidden and Living One...
Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. New York: New Directions Press, 1962: 1-3.


ms said...

i still wonder at Merton in the 7 Story Mountain that one must be extended a personal invitaiton from God in order to enjoy a close meaningful realtionship -- it seems to knock out those of use tend to be invited to nothing of any significance and if fact an invitation is necessary what about those who want that relationship but cannot, will never be recipients of an invite due to ... I figured the lack of invite would be due to "bad" life choices, that could be viewed as "sin" in some circle. And of contemplation I read Merton in the 7 story mountain to posit the invitation as a necessity to contemplation that mattered ... whatever that is (contemplation htat matters). Yours is a contemplative order with out in the world stuff so what does contemplation mean in this setting? I think i live at times a life of contemplation but stuff gets in the way, so maye I am just full of it. It seems at times there are too many rules, rules I certainly can't grasp and follow -- perhaps in my life there is no contempaltion, no god, no spirituality, no nothing. So how to get there? how do you know if you're there? I would assume many ways to contemplate but ... if we are not called by God as Mertoin says you must be are you really capabale of contemplation?

Please overlook the awkward words and poor word choices -- when last I left a comment on scatter the words I used were poor of choice and so i looked like an idiot bc what was in my head, what I pondered, came across not as all --it's a knack I have to muddle things and say things that come across as really dumb and out of touch, with an apparent total lack of understanding of your pont/post so there it is, my stupidity or lack of literacy gets in the way of any potential exchange over matters I find stimulating, important, etc. Thn again, seems this is more your persoanl space and perhaps comments and questions are not as welcome here as elsewhere where your writing seems geared more to others.

brtom said...

In later days, Merton was himself unhappy with many of the understandings he set forth in 7SM. People expected him to be THAT young monk forever ... unchanging, never growing, frozen in time. He felt that it was probably not the best book for someone who was beginning to walk a contemplative path ... because it was just his experience, very limited by his state of development at that time. (I read this somewhere, but can't remember where.)

That "invitation" is not offered to only some. It is offered to all humans. It's built into us. We are open to receive it or not depending on the circumstances of our lives & spirits. It's like we're the radio station that may not be tuned in so well or at all ... there are many ways to be inattentive to this call that is everywhere (and don't I know that).

Contemplation is not just the end result of being tuned in correctly, but it's also the method by which we get ourselves better attuned to God's presence in ourselves, others, and the world at large.

There are no rules.

There are practices that work for some but not for others. Each of our paths is unique ... which is not to say we can't learn anything from others.

just some quick reactions to yr thoughts ... which ain't so stupid

ms said...

so maybe i just don't have my radio properly tuned ... is contemplation like pornography in that -- to paraphrase the Court -- you know it when you get there? to use your radio analogy there sure is a lot of static. I had not read or heard that about the mountain but perhaps i should read something else and not be thinking so much on that particular book