Friday, February 29, 2008

choosing to love the world - 5

The way to find the real “world” is not merely to measure and observe what is outside us, but to discover our own inner ground. For that is where the world is, first of all: in my deepest self. … This “ground,” this “world” where I am mysteriously present at once to my own self and to the freedoms of all other men, is not a visible, objective and determined structure with fixed laws and demands. It is a living and self-creating mystery of which I am myself a part, to which I am myself my own unique door. When I find the world in my own ground, it is impossible for me to be alienated by it.

[CWA, 170]


  1. Beth, what do you think here - is it limitless consciousness he is describing?

  2. It sounds to me very existential: "condemned to freedom", like Sartre said. Unlike Sartre though, finding our existential ground is not to place one's self concept into jeopardy from the other. But we are always in the process of recreating our freedom? In that way perhaps it is unlimited?

    It also made me think of the "lion's roar" in tibetan buddhism - which is "basic sanity" arrived at by sitting in meditation.


  3. I think that it is much simpler, Gabrielle. Merton emphasizes that the world and "I" interpenetrate. One cannot be separated from the other - so I think that he is saying that our "inner world" and what appears to be the "world out there" is a delusion, at least the separateness of them is a delusion. Merton seems to bridge this seeming divide with a kind of constant inner surrender.

    I hope to have a post up tomorrow or the next day with more of my thoughts on this. I'm actually not at home now, and only checking mail from a coffee shop every day or so.

    And, yes, Marc, I think that Merton is pointing toward co-creation, and a more dynamic (non-static, changing) way of knowing.

    Interesting connection with the lion's roar. Perhaps like that rhinoceros that Merton spoke of, who breathes on one's neck? (I'll look up the full context later).

  4. I know I read too much but I can't help it: looking over it again that business about having my own unique door is very Kafkaesque, yes? You know, that one about the door and the door keeper. The inner and outer worlds comingling sounds very zen.

  5. Sounds Eckhartian to me, but Eckhart is kinda zen. ;)

  6. Yes, indeed Barbara. Don't know that much about Eckhart, but he was popular with some of the buddhists I used to know.

    Beth: thanks for pointing out the "constant inner surrender" - I don't do it constantly, but after reading your comment, I realize I've been doing it more and more recently.

    I was looking at some of your old posts: I have the record "America is Hard to Find" too - now if I could just find a record player.

  7. We must have the only 2 copies around, Marc - I have a record player back in the closet. Actually, my husband rigged up something so that we could copy from records onto CDs once. I have never even opened my record album, though, so I don't know if it is worth copying and listening to. Some of the liturgical music during that time was pretty far out.

  8. I am thinking that our own inner ground as Merton puts it. Is the discovery of the awareness that our thoughts, and our thinking mind, is not who we actually are. When we can see ourselves and the world that we are a part of, (inter-being), from this perspective, we are inseperable from that "Infinitely abundant Source" (new seeds)
    Just my thought tonight.
    It is great to get caught up on your last few posts Beth. I've missed your presence here.

  9. Nice to see you again, too, Sean.

    I think that you have put your finger on the pulse of Merton's awareness. He consistently goes back to the "Ground of Being" - love. In a way, it's what holds everything forever for him, and gives him the freedom to be who he is.


From Dorothy Day’s editorial in the Catholic Worker on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.