One of my favorite Thomas Merton reflections comes from The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton. It recounts his visit to the reclining Buddha located in what was then called Polonnaruwa, Ceylon. This is also one of my favorite images of Buddha.
Merton writes in his journal…..
“I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. Then the silence of the extraordinary faces. The great faces. The great smiles. Huge and yet subtle. Filled with every possibility, questioning nothing, knowing everything, rejecting nothing, the peace not of emotional resignation but of Madhyamike, of sumyata, that has seen through every question without trying to discredit anyone or anything…without refutation…without establishing some other argument.
Looking at these figures I was suddenly, almost forcibly, jerked clean out of the habitual, half-tied vision of things, and an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious”.
Isn’t this what we all want to experience? As we go through our lives trying to make sense of the world and our own experience of life, don’t we deeply long for the experience of being “jerked clean out of the habitual, half-tied vision of things”? Is there ever a point in life when we know the truth of things? Is there ever a point where we have an inner clearness and clarity and life makes sense?
My entire life has felt like I have been doing nothing but stumbling along whatever path I am on. In many ways I’ve had a good life and some wonderful experiences. However, I would be lying to myself and to you if I said my own life made sense to me. I have more that I need or want of many things and little of what I want or need in other things. I have tried to be content but often feel I have just settled for what is. Life at 66 doesn’t make any more sense than it did at 26. Perhaps some day before I leave the planet I will experience a “Great Awakening” that will open my eyes, my mind, and my heart and I will be “jerked clean out of the habitual, half-tied vision of things”.
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