Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wisdom of Desert


Thanks to the WayBack Machine, this was rescued from the Netherweb. Originally appeared on the Proud Truth Electric Web Site Jamboree. Before 2005. 

Thomas Merton's The Wisdom of the Desert takes us to the hermetic wasteland of St Anthony and company and thus sets us about visiting a mess of caves of grasshopper-eating enlightenment-bent monks. Perfect reading for Sunday, on the porch, after church. If you don't visualize yourself there, maybe better pass on tome.
The text is drawn from the Verba Senorium, as found in Migne's Latin Patrology.
Monk himself Merton may never have found a better song to sing. His poesy, prose and journals of the '60s probed in enclosing spirals the monastic state, the enlightened state, and the violent state. The Nothingness hotly pursued by the early Christian mystics of North Africa, as found in early Christian texts, is a flute for Tom to play.

"The Fathers [of the Desert] were humble and silent men, and did not have much to say. They replied to questions in few words, to the point. Rather than give an abstract principle, they preferred to tell a concrete story," writes Merton by way of introduction.

Seven Story Mountain man Merton saw non-profound Nothingness in modern America - sought contemplative model, and, though he found affinity with Asian Zen Masters, the affinity he found with Christian mystics was greater. An example:

"To one of the brethren appeared a devil, transformed into an angel of light, who said to him: I am the Angel Gabriel, and I have been sent to thee. But the brother said: Think again - you must have been sent to somebody else. I haven't done anything to deserve an angel. Immediately the devil ceased to appear."

Koanlike, and Christian. It is literature, transcendent.

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