Thursday, October 15, 2009

contemplative freedom

"The contemplative life must provide an area, a space of liberty, of silence, in which possibilities are allowed to surface and new choices - beyond routine choice - become manifest. It should create a new experience of time, not as a stopgap, stillness, but as “temps vierge” - not a blank to be filled or an untouched space to be conquered and violated, but a space which can enjoy its own potentialities and hopes - and its own presence to itself. One’s own time. But not dominated by one’s own ego and its demands. Hence open to others - compassionate time, rooted in the sense of common illusion and in criticism of it."
-Thomas Merton, The Other Side of the Mountain, p. 262

“When nothing is securely possessed one is free to accept any of the somethings. How many are there? They roll up at your feet. How many doors and windows are there in it? There is no end to the number of somethings and all of them (without exception) are acceptable. If one gets suddenly proud and says for one reason or another: I cannot accept this; then the whole freedom to accept any of the others vanishes. But if one maintains secure possession of nothing (what has been called poverty of spirit), then there is no limit to what one may freely enjoy. In this free enjoyment there is no possession of things. There is only enjoyment. What is possessed is nothing ... When in the state of nothing, one diminishes the something in one: Character. At any moment one is free to take on character again, but then it is without fear, full of life and love. For one’s been at the point of the nourishment that sustains in no matter what one of the something situations.”
- John Cage, Silence, pp. 132-133

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