Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - June 18

A Need for Discipline

I am spending the afternoon reading Shantideva in the woods near the hermitage—the oak grove to the southwest. A cool, breezy spot on a hot afternoon.

Thinking deeply of Shantideva and my own need of discipline. What a fool I have been, in the literal and biblical sense of the word: thoughtless, impulsive, lazy, self-interested, yet alien to myself, untrue to myself, following the most stupid fantasies, guided by the most idiotic emotions and needs. Yes, I know, it is partly unavoidable. But I know, too, that, in spite of all contradictions, there is a center and a strength to which I always can have access if I really desire it. And the grace to desire it is surely there.

It would do no good to anyone if I just went around talking—no matter how articulately—in this condition. There is still so much to learn, so much deepening to be done, so much to surrender. My real business is something far different from simply giving out words and ideas and “doing things”—even to help others. The best thing I can give to others is to liberate myself from the common delusions and be, for myself and for others, free. Then grace can work in and through me for everyone.

June 29, 1968, VII.136

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