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February 26, 2008


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When the door of happiness closes, another opens, but often times we look so long at the closed door that we don't see the one which has been opened for us.

a. f. jenkins

This is interesting. So, is the contemplative dilemma also the Mertonian dilemma? The latter phrase came up in a friend's dissertation, and, as I am helping her with that dissertation, I would like an answer to that question. Perhaps someone who visits this site can help.

I come to this discussion, personally, from a Buddhist point of view. I admire Merton and the Catholic contemplatives. From my perspective, and having spent some time in retreat (and knowing individuals who have spent many years in retreat), I can only add that we can't "be" in the world, or act efficiently on behalf of others without a period of retreat or soul cleansing and reorganizing of thought beforehand. Coming to consciousness as adults means essentially that we have to recognize our inner worth as much as our talents -- and you can't do that attached to the TV, computers and our current American lifestyles.

Yours is a very big question -- Once you empty out (the first step), what do you put in? In my case, it is study and a deep understanding of the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, from which I stem and to which I am deeply committed. They hold the key to my liberation and the liberation of humanity, I believe.

Religion and spirituality are the clarion call humans must heed. And if they cannot heed it, perhaps they can just embrace kindness as the first step to self acceptance and acceptance of the world beyond. For you can't heal self or other without acceptance.

We live in a technological madhouse, with most people driven to work like mad even as they rip apart relationships to their spirituality, families and significant others in the attempt to "do" more. A societal reorganizing and cleaning of house is in order. I hope in the process, religions find occasions to converge in meaningful dialogue even as spiritual leaders pave the way for individuals to accomplish "house-cleaning" on a mass scale.

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