Monday, August 22, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - August 22

Practicing Non-violence

Today I realize with urgency the absolute seriousness of my need to study and practice non-violence. Hitherto, I have “liked” non-violence as an idea. I have “approved” it, looked with benignity on it, have praised it, even earnestly.

But I have not practiced it fully. My thoughts and words retaliate. I condemn and resist adversaries when I think I am unjustly treated. I revile them; even treat them with open (but polite) contempt to their face.

It is necessary to realize that I am a monk consecrated to God and this restricting non-retaliation merely to physical non-retaliation is not enough—on the contrary, it is in some sense a greater evil.

At the same time, the energy wasted in contempt, criticism and resentment is thus diverted from its true function, insistence on truth. Hence, loss of clarity, loss of focus, confusion, and finally frustration. So that half the time “I don’t know what I am doing” (or thinking).

I need to set myself to the study of non-violence, with thoroughness. The complete, integral practice of it in community life. Eventually teaching it to others by word and example. Short of this, the monastic life will remain a mockery in my life.

August 21, 1962, IV.238-39