There is a silent self within us whose presence is disturbing precisely because it is so silent: it can't be spoken. It has to remain silent. To articulate it, to verbalize it, is to tamper with it, and in some way to destroy it.
Now let us frankly face the fact that our culture is one which is geared in many ways to help us evade any need to face this inner, silent self. We live in a state of constant semi attention to the sound of voices, music, traffic, or the generalized noise of what goes on around us all the time. This keeps us immersed in a flood of racket and words, a diffuse medium in which our consciousness is half diluted: we are not quite "thinking", not entirely responding, but we are more or less there. We are not fully present and not entirely absent, not fully withdrawn, yet not completely available. It cannot be said that we are really participating in anything and we may in fact, be half conscious of our alienation and resentment. Yet we derive a certain comfort from the vague sense that we are "part of something" -- although we are not quite able to define what that something is -- and probably wouldn't want to define it even if we could. We just float along in the general noise. Resigned and indifferent, we share semiconsciously in the mindless mind of Muzak and radio commercials which pass for "reality".
- Thomas Merton, Love & Living, p. 36
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