Invocation/Offertory/Benediction Merton and Zen
Two monks, one a Christian and the other a Zen disciple were walking together, discussing spiritual ideals as they went along…. The Christian asked, ” Where is the Buddha? the Zen monk replied,” Buddha is found or remains in whatever give up or throw away. ( from yourself ) Persisting, the Christian then inquired, Who is Buddha? and the Zen monk replied, ” Who are you?” Turning the tables, we are given the Koan in Western terms… The Zen monk asked, ” Where is Christ?” The Christian monk answers, ” Christ is found in the first and in the last, in the beginning and in the ending” Persisting, the Zen monk inquires, ” Who is Christ?” and the Christian monk states, ” Who are you?”
Before I grasped Zen, mountains looked like mountains, and rivers like rivers. When I got into Zen, mountains no longer were just mountains, and rivers were no longer just rivers. But when I understood Zen, mountains were mountains, and rivers were rivers.
Before I grasped the essence of church, money was just money and community was just community. When I got into the essence of church, money was no longer just money and the community was no longer just a community. But when I understood the meaning of church and community, money was money and community was community. The offertory koan for the support of this church community will now be inscrutably understood and received.
In the words of Eckhart, Christianity and Zen merge… For this I know :The only way to live is like a rose, which can live without knowing why.
Selected Reading: Meditation by Thomas Merton
“[ Meditation is spiritual work, sometimes difficult work. But it is the work of love and of desire. It is not something that can be practiced without effort, at least in the beginning. And the sincerity, humility, and perseverance of our efforts will be proportionate to our desire. This desire, in turn, is a gift of grace. Anyone who imagines that they can progress in mediation without praying for the grace to continue, will soon give up. … Meditation is almost all contained in this one idea: the idea of awakening our interior self and attuning ourselves inwardly to the presence of the Holy Spirit… In mental prayer, in silence and in attunement, we must allow our interior perceptions to become refined or purified. Some of those perceptions will not fit our idea of the spiritual life at all, which serves to humble us. Much of the coldness and dryness in modern prayer will be an unconscious defense against the grace that threatens the ego or that unsettles and changes us…. Without realizing it, life without prayer and meditation desensitizes us so that we can no longer perceive grace, listen for our inner voice, receive intuition, or be open to emptiness and the fullness that is found in Christ.
Meditation is then always to be associated in practice with abandonment to the will and action of God…. Meditation that does not seek to bring our whole being into conformity with God’s will must remain sterile and abstract. But any sincere ,interior prayer and meditation cannot fail to be rewarded by grace. …
And as St. Theresa of Avila believed, no one who was faithful to the practice of prayer and meditation could ever lose their soul, and would gain a clear and calm sense of Paradise.]”
Pastoral Reflection: Eckhart looks at the interior life .
Thomas Merton looked for a Christian mystic that closely resembled or who intuitively understood Eastern mysticism and the philosophy of emptiness known as Zen. He found the person that even the Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Zen contemplative call one of their own: Meister Eckhart. “[ The shell must be cracked apart if what is in it is to come out, for if you want the kernel, you must break the shell. And therefore, if you want to discover God’s nakedness, you must destroy its symbols, and the farther you get into the core or kernel of spirituality, the closer and emptier you become, until you come to the essence. When you come to the One truth the One reality that gathers all things into itself, there you must stay.] … I pray God will rid me of God, and that the highest thing that one can let go of is to let go of God, for the sake of God. ” The spiritual life, for students of Zen, for disciples of mystical Western teachings, for U-U’s, is to rid oneself of all the negative images of God, all the false or harmful teachings, the judgmental beliefs, the punishing practices, the superficial use of symbols. . . and move one’s awareness past all those associations and experiences to the center or the essence of oneself, and there in the profound quiet and emptiness, God will live and become known to you.