How would you have us, as we are?
Or sinking ‘neath the load we bear?
Our eyes fixed forward on a star?
Or gazing empty at despair?
Rising or falling? Men or things?
With dragging pace or footsteps fleet?
Strong, willing sinews in your wings?
Or tightening chains about your feet?
Still emerging, having learned how to breathe under water…
We have to look deeply at things in order to see. When a swimmer enjoys the clear water of the river, he or she should also be able to be the river. . . .
If we want to continue to enjoy our rivers–to swim in them, walk beside them, even drink their water–we have to adopt the non-dual perspective. We have to meditate on being the river so that we can experience within ourselves the fears and hopes of the river. If we cannot feel the rivers, the mountains, the air, the animals, and other people from within their own perspective, the rivers will die and we will lose our chance for peace.
If you are a mountain climber or someone who enjoys the countryside, or the green forest, you know that the forests are our lungs outside of our bodies, just as the sun is our heart outside of our bodies. Yet we have been acting in a way that has allowed two million square miles of forest to be destroyed by acid rain, and we have destroyed parts of the ozone layer that regulate how much direct sunlight we receive. We are imprisoned in our small selves, thinking only of the comfortable conditions for this small self, while we destroy our large self. We should be able to be our true self. That means we should be able to be the river, we should be able to be the forest, the sun, and the ozone layer. We must do this to understand and to have hope for the future.
…another chance to get it right.
It is like an English summer day, cool and cloudy, with deep green grass all around the Hermitage and trees heavy with foliage. Occasional slow bursts of gentle sunlight that imperceptibly pass by. Shafts of light in great rooms of shadow and the tall tree-church beyond the cedar cross. the path of creek gravel leads into the shadows and beyond them to the monastery, out of sight, down the hill, across fields and a road and a dirty stream. All such things as roads and sewers are far from this place.
Knowing when you do not need anymore. Acting just enough. Saying enough. Stopping when there is enough. Some may be wasted, nature is prodigal. Harmony is not bought with parsimoniousness.
Yet stopping is “going on.” To cling to something and want more of it, to use it more, to squeeze enjoyment out of it. this is to “stop”and not go on. But to leave it alone at the right time, this is the right stopping, the right going on. To leave a thing alone before you have had anything to do with it, if it is for your use, to leave it without use, is not “stopping” is not even beginning. Use it to go on.
– Thomas Merton, journal entry – May 16, 1961
And yet, each time we are on the way to follow our addiction, there seems to be a second of clarity when we see what we are doing and where we are going. We feel a flash of freedom, and then, if we neglect it, the darkness of our addiction descends again, and we go onward to our “fate” like sleepwalkers.
(Grateful that I’m no longer sleepwalking)