I have a picture of Thomas Merton on my wall that says:
‘‘We are already one, but we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”
I could spend the next month daily meditating for twenty minutes on this illuminating description of what it means to be human. To be human is to be of this humus, of this dirt, this soil, this earth. We all come from the same place. We are all made of the clay. Our origin is one, our being is one. If we are ALREADY ONE, as Merton says, why do we imagine that we are NOT ONE? Why do we have an Ego which centers around our Self? Why, from age two when we learn to say ”No!”, de we need to say “I am me” and ” You are You.” We learn we are not part of our mother or our mother is not part of me. I am alone. We imagine, as Merton says, that we are NOT one. That imagination, that fiction, that mental concept that we are individuals separate from each other grows through every bit of parenting, culture, education, and society, until we are capable of killing each other without any thought or imagination that we are killing ourselves.
Enough for today. But we need to meditate more on what to do with our Ego/false self as described later by Merton. We need this Ego/false self to survive in this dog eat dog world into which we were born. But it is not our true self, where we experience ourselves as One with God.
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James Finley from the Center for Action and Contemplation has written a book entitled ” Thomas Merton’s Palace of Nowhere.” It is an excellent presentation of Merton’s teaching on True Self/False self through the practice of meditation/contemplation. It is very clear to me that Merton was the greatest writer on Contemplation of the twentieth century.