“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to the violence of our times,” wrote the Trappist monk Thomas Merton. For weeks now, I’ve been away from this blog and from my own writing, working on the upcoming issue and a couple of other projects–all of them ultimately aimed at helping people find the still place within– “where spiritual traditions meet.” I was working on pulling together a collage of articles that will hopefully take people from the shallows of sound bites to the depths of the crucial topic of “Water.” You might have any number of reactions to “Water” positive or negative but linking it to violence? It’s not waterboarding.
But if I get so busy I lose contact with the sense of really being here, living my life, with the quality of inquiry that comes with it, well then I am taking part in a mechanical process that is ultimately destructive…if the passage of the days and years keep rolling along as they have been, it will certainly end in my death. I don’t want to die haunted the way I often feel haunted at the end of a day where everything just happens and I am just more or less with it. It’s almost a cliche these days, to talk of being mindful, of being present. There’s a yearning in it like the yearning to be closer to nature, to come to our senses, to be still and know. It’s hard to put into words, but it seems like something else is needed, at least in my case. I need to shine the light of inquiry on the moment. I need to ease into a sincere encounter with the big, echoing question “Who I am?” …or “What is this?” …or no matter what you’re involved with it can start to feel false and bad.
I’m really interested in those moments that bring a sense of scale and a sense of connection with everything else.