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robertogreco : thomasmerton   5

Quote by Thomas Merton: “There is a pervasive form of contemporary viole...”
"There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. 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 violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful." ― Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
thomasmerton  via:carwaiseto  activism  overwork  burnout  violence  peace 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Inspired By Monks, A Writer Embraces His Life Of Solitude : NPR
"GROSS: So when you were young and were exposed to all these monks from the abbey, did you have any understanding of why they chose a life of communal solitude?

JOHNSON: You know, that's an interesting question. I, of course - as a child, I just accepted it as a given, the donnee, in a way that... You know, of course what you did on Corpus Christi in the high heat of June is that you all dressed up. And you went over and had these elaborate processions with gold monstrances and men decked out in gorgeous (laughter) clothing and singing in Latin. And, I mean, all of that was just part of the landscape. And I suppose in some sense, of course, it drew me because I inherited from my - both of my parents - a deep love of beauty. And here were these people who had - I think this may be the best way to describe a monastic life - people who had made a conscious choice to dedicate their lives to the pursuit and - the creation and the pursuit of beauty. And what I ask in the course of this essay in Harper's is whether we can take that noble motivation and transfer it into the - into the secular world, whether we can have a kind of, for solitaries, people I call solitaries - I borrowed the word from Merton - can have a kind of dedication to beauty that operates outside of a cloistered wall in the same way that it did for these men within the cloistered wall."



"GROSS: In some ways, you are so outside the culture now because as somebody choosing a more solitary life, you are also, I am sure, choosing to not really engage with things like social media or, you know, lots of cable television or, you know, all the new, electronic device, digital kind of stuff that we have access to. And so, you know, in some respects, you're probably really losing touch with what's happening in our culture. And I wonder how you feel about that.

JOHNSON: I feel really, really good about it. (Laughter). I - my students say to me - my students are 21, 22, whatever - come into the classroom and they say, we can't keep up with the software. We can't keep up with what's happening. And I say, you can't keep up with what's happening? I have a terrible sense that this is a chatter that we are creating as a mask for the issues of serious, great consequence that we should be facing head-on and engaging."



"JOHNSON: You know, things might change tomorrow. That's tomorrow. But the enterprise of solitude is to sit down and embrace what you have in the here and now. And we've turned that observation into a kind of cliche, as we often turn beautiful, true words in our society into cliches, I think because we're afraid of them. But it really is - we're afraid of their power or we don't want to inhabit their power. But if we really - if we really lived with what we have in the here and now, it would radically change how we live in the world. Thomas Merton again, what we have to be is what we are - what we are right here, right now. And solitude can be a way of fully inhabiting that way of being in the world.

GROSS: So we've been talking about the life of solitude, of having a certain amount of solitude in your life and living alone. You were very sick last week. You had a procedure that led to a systemic infection and had to go to the hospital. And it was a rough week. How did your conscious solitude work out when you were alone in the hospital? Did you feel like you had enough connection with people who were friends or colleagues or students or whatever, who were there for you and came and visited you when you maybe really wanted company and wanted support and reassurance?

JOHNSON: That is a very good question because it addresses the challenge of living alone, if you're living alone, which is the establishment of those kinds of networks. To experience the support and outpouring of love and affection was so moving that it almost made the illness worth the price of the ticket. Those people did come together for me. They did support me in a way that was extraordinary to witness. And during this week of illness - and I was very, very ill - I have to say that I got through some of the most difficult times, the 3 a.m., 4 a.m. times in the hospital, drawing upon the reservoir of strength that I had assembled over my time of living alone, of accepting being alone, of accepting that this is happening to me and it's OK. It is what it is. It's a different version of the autumn light falling across the room. And I don't think I could have - I don't think I could have gotten - I couldn't have gotten through those - the past week - without two ways of being in the world, one of which was the great love of my friends who came together to support me and family. And the other was that reservoir that I had built up in solitude of accepting illness, even death - especially death - as a necessary and beautiful part of what is, in its way. But at 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning, what I went back to a lot was sitting alone in silence, for day after day, with a Zen Buddhist community. And I went back to those times of sitting alone. And I drew a lot of strength from them. And I thought, I'm lying in this hospital bed, and it's just a different way of sitting alone and being alone with the world."
fentonjohnson  interviews  thomasmerton  solitude  aloneness  2015  beauty  monasteries  being  hereandnow  now  presence 
march 2015 by robertogreco
what what. (There is a pervasive form of modern violence to...)
"There is a pervasive form of modern violence to which the idealist…most easily succumbs: activism and over-work. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.

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 violence.

The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his (or her) work… It destroys the fruitfulness of his (or her)…work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful."

—Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
thomasmerton  activism  burnout  rush  pressure  anxiety  urgency  slow  violence  work  labor  overwork 
february 2015 by robertogreco
miscellany - "The more we persist in misunderstanding the...
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The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life…the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds, and join in the general dance.


—Thomas Merton, from New Seeds of Contemplation

Dear Self: so yeah, today’s a birthday. You’re doing the smart thing, paying down on the sleep debt you’ve accrued for the past week or so (20 hours of shut-eye over six nights? Seriously?), reflecting on the time that’s passed since the last time you were here, thinking on how you might invest the next 365 days. Time to remember all the steps you take towards your better self. Today’s theme is rededication. But don’t spend all afternoon. The sun’s shining, and the skies are blue— invitation to get outside and soak it all in. Or, as Merton says, join the general dance."
thomasmerton  contemplation  life  living  purpose  focus  mindfulness  presence  sadness  absurdity  despair 
june 2014 by robertogreco

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