I dedicate this meditation to all I love and who loves me, both here and in heaven, that we may discover the will of God in us.
Merton: Contemplation is the spiritual apprehension of God
First part of Merton Meditation (above) on the personality cult, the falsel self vs the real self, pride, humility, freedom, sin, and the will of God.
“One of the most widespread errors of our time is a superficial “personalism” w/c identifies the person with the “external self”, the empirical ego… and devotes itself to the cultivation of this ego… but this is the cult of a “pure illusion”.. the illusion of what is popularly imagined to be personality, or worst still, “dynamic and successful personality.” … when this error is taken over into religion, it leads to the worst kind of nonsense…
…a cult of psychologism and self expression…our reality, our true self is hidden in what appears to us to be nothingness and void… what we are not seems to be real…while what we are seems to be unreal…
…we can rise above this unreality and recover our hidden identity…and that is why the way to reality is the way of humility…which brings to reject the “illusory self” and accept the “empty self” that is nothing in our own eyes and in the eyes of people but is our “true reality” in the eyes of God.
… For this reality is in God. And with God. And belongs entirely to that.
Yet, of course, it is ontologically distinct from that. And in no sense part of the
divine nature or absorbed in that nature.
This inmost self is beyond the kind of experience which says: “I want”, “I love”, “I know”, “I feel”.
It has its own way of knowing, loving and experiencing which is a divine way.
And not a human one.
A way of identity, of union, of espousal, in which there is no longer a separate psychological individuality. Drawing all good and all truth towards itself and as loving and knowing for itself. Lover and Beloved are one Spirit.
Therefore, as long as we experience ourselves, in prayer, as an “I”, standing on the threshold of the abyss of purity and emptiness that is God, waiting to receive something from that, we are still far from the most intimate and secret unity of knowledge that is pure contemplation.
From outside of the threshold, this darkness, this emptiness looks deep and vast and exciting. There is nothing we can do about entering in.
We cannot force our way over the edge altho there is no barrier. But the reason is perhaps that there is also no abyss.
There you remain. Somehow feeling that the next step will be a plunge. And you will find yourself flying in interstellar space.
When the next step comes, you do not take the step. You do not know the transition. You do not fall into anything.
You do not go anywhere. And so you do not know the way by which you got there. Or the way by which you come back afterward. You are certainly not lost. You do not fly. There is no space. Or, there is all space. It makes no difference.
The next step is not a step. You are not transported from one degree to another.
What happens is that a separate entity that is you, apparently disappears.
And nothing seems to be left but a pure freedom, indistinguishable from Infinite Freedom.
Love identified with love, not two loves, one waiting for the other, striving for the other, seeking for the other. But love, loving in freedom.
Would you call this, “experience”? I think you might say that this only becomes an “experience” in a person’s memory. Otherwise it seems wrong even to speak of it as something that happens. Because things that happens have to happen to some subject and experiences have to be experienced by someone.
But here, the subject of any divided, or limited or creaturely experience seems to have vanished. You are not you.
You are fruition. If you like, you do not have experience. You become experience. But that is entirely different because you no longer exist in such a way that you can reflect on yourself.
Or, see yourself as having an experience. Or judge what is going on. If, it can be said that something is going on that is not eternal or unchanging.
An activity so tremendous, that it is infinitely, still.