Saturday, March 17, 2012

solitude is a basic human reality

"The solitary is one who is aware of solitude in himself as a basic and inevitable human reality, not just as something which affects him as an isolated individual.  Hence his solitude is the foundation of a deep, pure and gentle sympathy with all other men, whether or not they are capable of realizing the tragedy of their plight.  More - it is the doorway by which he enters into the mystery of God, and brings others into that mystery by the power of his love and his humility."

- Thomas Merton, Notes for a Philosophy of Solitude, in the book Disputed Questions (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1960) pp. 188-189


  1. Raining Rhinoceros' in LA today. "Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks, I am going to listen"... Merton

    What I like about today's posting is that it continues the idea of of how through the solitary condition one must also continue to face outward and not keep the gaze inward for the self. I think he's saying that one's solitude is a shared experience, not a solo gig exclusively. One finds a way to be it in a crowd. In the last sentence, where he states bringing others into the mystery, made me see solitude as a gift to or for others. I wonder though if one can only "offer the gift" by being who one is or is becoming but the choice to enter into the mystery is completely the other persons. ??? One can see all sorts of things in this stuff. It's good to look.

    Thanks again.

  2. Very well said, Robert. I think that keeping that focus outward is especially important for people who are "drawn" to solitude. (People who like to be alone or are somewhat uncomfortable in social situations - like me!) And yes, one learns to bring it to the crowd. Lately I've been thinking that part of this is learning to be honest and genuine with others. It sounds like this would be easy, but with all the pressure to be what you think others expect you to be, I find that the courage to be myself is deeply embedded in my solitude, or my alone-ness (with God?) I put that (with God) in parentheses because God-talk sometimes trips me into saying what I think others expect me to say, so I try to stay away from it.

    So, yeah, I think like you do, that you can only offer the gift by being who you are. I don't know whether others even have to make a choice to receive it. It's out there, given, and theirs.

    Enjoy that rhinoceros rain! Balmy and mostly sunny here in S. Florida today.


God speaks

God speaks, and God is to be heard, not only on Sinai, not only in my own heart, but in the voice of the stranger. — Thomas Merton, Emble...