Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 6 Summary — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 6 Summary

Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 6

Summary: Sunday, August 16-Friday, August 21, 2015

“I have become convinced that the very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God’s mercy to me.” —Thomas Merton (Sunday)

Through contemplation, we are no longer focused on our individual private perfection; we become fully human and usable by opening our hearts to God. (Monday)

“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.” —Thomas Merton (Tuesday)

“Ultimately the only way I can be myself is to become identified with [God] in Whom is hidden the reason and fulfillment of my existence.” —Thomas Merton (Wednesday)

The inner life of quiet, solitude, and contemplation is the only way to find your ground and purpose now. (Thursday)

We are henceforth “a serene disciple,” living in our own unique soul as never before, yet paradoxically living within the mind and heart of God, and taking our place in the great and general dance. (Friday)


Practice: Play

Read the following passage by Thomas Merton, from his book New Seeds of Contemplation, slowly, imaginatively. Picture the scenes he describes using all your senses. Recall times when you have witnessed God at play, moments when you have joined in the “general dance.” Make space in your day or in the coming week to intentionally forget your small self and participate in the universal joy of simply being alive.

What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as “play” is perhaps what he Himself takes most seriously. At any rate, the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance. We do not have to go very far to catch echoes of that game, and of that dancing. When we are alone on a starlit night; when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet Bashō we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash—at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.

For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things; or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.

Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance. [1]

Gateway to Silence:
“We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time.”  —Thomas Merton

[1] Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (Shambhala: 2003), 302-303.

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