“there is also no abyss”


[Sometimes] we experience ourselves in prayer as an “I” standing on the threshold of the abyss of purity and emptiness that is God, waiting to “receive something” from Him . . . .

From our side of the threshold this darkness, this emptiness, looks deep and vast — and exciting. There is nothing we can do about entering it. We cannot force our way over the edge, although there is no barrier.

But the reason is perhaps that there is also no abyss.

Thomas Merton, as quoted at p. 17 in Seeds (Shambhala 2002), selected and edited by Robert Inchausti.

And why, we might ask, would Merton — one of the spiritual giants of the 20th century — assert there is no abyss holding the emptiness and purity of G-d?

Because, Merton says, the abyss is an illusion . . . a mirage seen by every human when we approach G-d as an “I”… as an individual ego-personality with wants, needs, and desires (which Merton …and the Buddhist monks in the photo above… would also call illusions).

From that perspective, as the “I,” G-d appears to be a vast void that is simultaneously exciting and terrifying but is, ultimately, unreachable and personally unknowable.

So how, then, do we come to know G-d?

By retreating within ourselves to a place deeper than our needs and wants, to the place where we find the well of eternal and infinite Love that springs up within us, the place where our souls remember that we remain part of, and inseparable from, the One Infinite and Eternal G-d.

Whatever form your weekend prayer takes… be it meditation, chant, drumming, running, or traditional liturgy… may it lead you back to the Source, so that you may emerge feeling more whole and ready again to share Light and Love with others.

Shabbat shalom to all, jen

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