Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - July 20

Going My Own Way

In the morning I went out early and finished cutting down and trimming the young pines still bent over since last winter’s big blizzards. The bush boundary of my yard, toward the woods, is now clear. This work made my back sore again—so I have to be careful. In the afternoon I went to the farthest end of the soybean field on Linton’s farm and took off my shirt to get the sun on my neck and shoulders while I meditated (Hatha and Yoga Vasishta). A quiet and profitable afternoon and God knows I need much more of this! How much precious time and energy I have wasted in the last three years, doing things that have nothing whatever to do with my real purposes and that only frustrate and confuse me. It is a wonder I haven’t lost my vocation to solitude by trifling and evasion.

One thing is very clear: all that passes for aggiornamento is not necessarily good or healthy. One has to be pretty critical and independent about all ideas. And come to one’s own conclusions on the basis of one’s own frank experience. Both the conservatives and the progressives seem to me to be full of the same kind of intolerance, arrogance, empty-headedness, and to be dominated by different kinds of conformism: in either case the dread of being left out of their reference group. I have to go my own way in terms of needs that to me are fundamental: need to live a life of prayer, need to liberate myself from my own “care,” need for an authentic monastic solitude (not mere privacy), need for a real understanding of and use of Asian insights in religion.

July 3, 1968, VII.137

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