The Inner Experience : Thomas Merton

At such time it would be singularly unfeeling as well as dishonest for me to suggest that peace, joy and happiness are easily found along that most arid stretch of mans spiritual pilgrimage: the life of contemplation. More often than not the way of contemplation is not even a way, and if one follows it, what he finds is nothing.
One of the strange laws of the contemplative life is that in it you do not sit down and solve problems: you bear with them until they somehow solve themselves. Or until life itself solves them for you. Usually the solution consists in the discovery that they only existed in so far that they were inseparably connected with your own illusory exterior self. The solution to most such problems comes with the dissolution of the false self. And consequently another law of the contemplative life is that if you enter into it for the set purpose of seeking contemplation, or worse still happiness, you will find neither. For neither can be found unless it is first in some sense renounced. And again this means renouncing the illusory self that seeks to be happy and to find fulfillment (whatever that might mean) in contemplation. For the contemplative and spiritual self, the dormant, mysterious and hidden self that is always effaced by the activity of the exterior self does not seek fulfillment. It is content to be, and in its being it is fulfilled, because its being is rooted in God.

Thomas Merton

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