Letting Our Cherished Convictions Go–a la Thomas Merton

I had a great blog post planned for this week—until a quote from a friend got in the way.

If you’ve read my book or other things from me, you probably know what I think about our most cherished convictions. We invest a lot of our lives in forming them. They guide us as we try to navigate through life. They may well reflect a piece of Reality and, as such, must be taken seriously.

But ultimately, we are one person among billions, with one set of convictions among billions. Our ability to know The Truth as a whole, on our own, is negligible. So when we enter into dialogue, we set aside those convictions—at least temporarily—to open ourselves fully to hearing the truth that the other has to offer. On a grander scale, holding our convictions lightly enables us to listen more open-heartedly to Reality as a whole, which in turn aligns our deepest selves toward that Reality.

I’ve said all this before, but then, today, a friend sent me a quote from Thomas Merton—Trappist monk, prodigious writer, and towering intellect on the contemplative life. In his book Thoughts in Solitude, he wrote the following. The first two sentences relate directly to holding things lightly; see what you can make out of the rest of the quote.

We cannot see things in perspective until we cease to hug them to our own bosom.  When we let go of them we begin to appreciate them as they really are.  Only then can we begin to see God in them.  Not until we find Him in them, can we start on the road of dark contemplation at whose end we shall be able to find them in Him.

What thoughts does this quote bring up for you?

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  1. Posted August 8, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Made me instantly think of my kids as “them”…not holding them so tight. I know that wasn’t the context, but it’s what I first thought of. And it’s quite beautiful in that way.

    • Posted August 8, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Wow, Randy. I hadn’t considered it in that way…but it opens up a whole new line of thinking. Nice.

  2. Posted August 3, 2015 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this. I have read and been influenced a lot by Merton. It was very ineretsting to note that his monestary teachs no techniques of meditation or contemplation. This ties into the Monks of Mt. Skete’s great book that I am now reading. Strange how we put so much emphasis on technique. Fr. Lawerence would say it is to avoid facing ourselves

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