A friend recently gave me an audio tape of Thomas Merton -- the celebrated monk, writer, and ecumenist -- lecturing. In 1964, near the end of his 10 years as novice master, Merton had the young monks read Faulkner's story "The Bear."
During that session, Merton probably floored his audience when he said, "To strive to become spiritual is a waste of time."
He went on to say that each monk's task would be "to become you, fully yourself."
I am struck by his words, partly because the truth of them is something I’ve rarely heard articulated from pulpits or even in classrooms.
The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, writing in 1878, said something very similar in what has come to be known as his “Kingfisher Sonnet”:
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Selves – goes itself, myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.
That is what Merton meant. And if Merton scholar Thomas Del Prete is correct, “To become a person in Merton’s Christian and contemplative view involves very much becoming aware of one’s fundamental relatedness to others... More>>
Seven principles to shape our lives
While the Unitarian Universalist religious tradition is noncreedal, that is, there is no creed in which every member is expected to believe, there are principles that frame our shared values. Our first principle speaks to an understanding that highlights a particular way of being in relationship with all people by calling our congregations "to affirm and promote: The inherent worth and dignity of every person."
Three perspectives of spirituality
In human affairs I view spirituality from three perspectives: personal development, relation- ships and social action. At heart, spirituality is one and indivisible. We are one ultimately with the source [whatever that is for us] and sustainer of all creation.
Our spirituality needs a unified approach
In human affairs I view spirituality from three perspectives: personal development, relationships, and social action. At heart, spirituality is one and indivisible. We are one ultimately with the source and sustainer of all creation. The three primary points of view reflect the need to bring consistency and integrity to culture. Peacemaking is at the core of this perspective. I offer experiences from India, where I portray Gandhi...