Friday, July 14, 2006
The Intimate Merton
From Part IV (The Pivotal Years) of The Intimate Merton – Merton’s life from his journals, by Thomas Merton. Published by Lion Publishing 2006.
March 10, 1963.
I thought today, at adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, what a blessing it was I did not go in 1956 to be analysed by Gregory Zilboorg! What a tragedy and mess that would have been - and I must give Z. the credit for having sense it himself in his own way. It would have been utterly impossible and absurd. I think in great measure his judgment was that I could not be fitted into his kind of theatre. There was no conceivable part for me to play in his life; on the contrary! And certainly it is true that the whole thing would have been unimaginably absurd. He had quite enough intelligence (more than enough, he was no fool at all!) to see that it would be a very poor production for him, for the Abbot (who was most willing), and for me. I am afraid that I was willing at the time, to go, which shows what a fool I was.
In any case, all manner of better things were reserved for me. But I have not understood them.
In a Zen koan someone said that an enlightened man is not one who seeks Buddha or finds Buddha, but just an ordinary man who has nothing left to do. Yet mere stopping is not to arrive. To stop is to stay a million miles from it, to do nothing is to miss it by the whole width of the universe. Yet how close it is, how simple it would be to have nothing more to do – if I had only done it. Meanwhile, I am more content than I have ever been here with this unripeness. I know that one day it will ripen, and one will see there had been nothing there at all except an ordinary person with nothing to do in the first place.
The evening light. Purple coves and holes of shadow in the breasts of hills and the white gable of Newton’s house smiling so peacefully amid the trees in the middle of the valley. This is the peace and luminosity William Blake loved. Today after dinner, a hawk, circling the novitiate and the church steeple, designed a free flight unutterably more pure than skating or music. How he flung himself down from on high and swooped up to touch lightly on the pinnacle of the steeple and sit there, then fell off to cut lovely curves all around the cedars, then off like an arrow into the south.