Friday, July 3, 2015


I recently attended a talk, and film, about the life of Thomas Merton. At one point there was a quote to the effect that one can find God in all things.

I cannot agree with this statement, although I know the concept—and perhaps even the impression—is a popular one. 

I would say, rather: one cannot find God in all things, or in any thing; but one can find all things in God.

God cannot be found within the known; and perhaps, as Ibn al Arabi maintains, I cannot ever find God at all, except in what is unknown. 

All things are known; they fall into the category of what is created. Yet when I seek God I must transcend the created; this takes place not directly, through appreciation of what is, but in the perception of how I am not

For it is what I am not, as seen through a three-centered experience of that notness—a physical, intellectual and feeling perception of my own lack—that leads me in the direction of a feeling perception (which is the finest and most intimate kind of perception) of God, which arises as I see—not God, but my own separation. 

It is within this weakness, this lack, and this separation that I can discern, ever so faintly, that greater presence which represents the threshold—and no more than that— of the Divine. 

As soon as I begin to see and understand these experiences as goals, as things unto themselves, they become things and lose their power to transcend; but in a state of objectivity, that is, if I am not interfering, they retain their power to act as a connective tissue between me and a quality of Being which lies beyond what I am. 

Directly proximate to this experience, arising just outside it as a tangible Presence, is a new understanding: an irrevocable immersion in the fact of what I am, and my own inadequacy. 

On this threshold I can sense the presence of Mercy and the presence of a real Good which is not my own good, but something much greater: a Good which is greater not only than myself, but greater than all others, and greater even than creation itself. 

Within this unknown goodness, which announces itself so clearly through my own lack, is a new impression of compassion; not my own compassion, but a much greater compassion that isn’t constrained by the material world. It is an immaterial compassion; and in its immateriality it is transparent, so that it penetrates all of the materiality it encounters.     

Wish is implicit here within this state; and it is not my own wish, which comes from coarseness. It is a higher, finer wish, what Jeanne de Salzmann called a nostalgia—the pain of wishing to return home.

All things (all of creation) are contained within this greater Good; thus all things are found in God, for it is only within God that such a discovery can take place. 

To find God in things is to shrink God down to a manageable size; and God is not meant to be manageable. 

God is unmanageable; this is the whole point of such understanding in the first place. Once I stop managing, the taste of this can begin to develop.


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