Sunday, December 31, 2006

not thoughts, but hours of silence


"Emblem", 1964, brush drawing by Thomas Merton


December 10, 1960. "It is not thoughts that matter, but hours of silence and the precious dimension of existence which is otherwise completely unknown, certainly unknown when on thinks, or mentally speaks ... or even writes. It must simply be seen, and is not seen until one has been sitting still, alone, in its own utter obviousness." (Turning Toward the World, p. 73)


"The peculiar quality of Chinese and Japanese art that is influenced by Zen is that it is able to suggest what cannot be said, and by using a bare minimum of form, to awaken us to the formless. Zen painting tells us just enough to alert us to what is NOT and is nevertheless "right there." Zen calligraphy, by its peculiar suppleness, dynamism, abandon, contempt for "prettiness" and for formal "style," reveals to us something of the freedom which is not transcendent in some abstract and intellectual sense, but which employs a minimum of form without being attached to it, and is therefore free from it." (Zen and the Birds of Appetite, p. 6)

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