"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thomas Merton: On Crisis

"Our highly activistic and one-sided culture is faced with a crisis that may end in self-destruction," Thomas Merton observed, "because it lacks the inner depth of an authentic metaphysical consciousness. Without such depth," he wrote, "our moral and political protestations are just so much verbiage. If, in the West, God can no longer be experienced as other than "dead," it is," he pointed out, "because of an inner split and self-alienation which have characterized the Western mind in its single-minded dedication to only half of life: that which is exterior, objective and quantitative."

[Thomas Merton, "Thoughts On The East," (New York: New Directions), p. 48.]

"We live in crisis, and perhaps we find it interesting to do so," he observed. "Yet we also feel guilty about it, as if we ought not to be in crisis. As if we were so wise, so able, so kind, so reasonable, that crisis ought at all times to be unthinkable. It is doubtless this “ought,” this “should” that makes our era so interesting that it cannot possibly be a time of wisdom, or even of reason. We think we know what we ought to be doing, and we see ourselves move, with the inexorable deliberation of a machine that has gone wrong, to do the opposite."

"If we really sought truth," he points out, "we would begin slowly and laboriously to divest ourselves one by one of all our coverings of fiction and delusion: or at least we would desire to do so, for mere willing cannot enable us to effect it. "

[Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander," (New York: Image) pp. 66-68.]

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