What runs and ticks is, however, no longer important. What is important is that life itself should be “lucid” in me (whoever I am). I am nothing but the lucidity that is “in me.” To be opaque and dense with opinion, with passion, with need, with hate, with power, is to be not there, to be absent, to nonexist. The labor of convincing myself that this nonexisting is a real presence: this is the source of all falsity and suffering. This is hell on earth and hell in hell. This is the hell I have to keep out of. The price of keeping out of it is that the moment I give in to any of it, I feel the anguish of falsity. But to extinguish the feeling of anguish, in any way short of straight lucidity, is to favor ignorance and non existence. This is my central fear and it defines my task in life.
~ Thomas Merton, Journal entry June 22, 1966