At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God…
A Point of Pure Truth
Topic: Immanence & Transcendence
At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak His name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our son-ship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely… I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.
Born on 31 January 1915, Thomas Merton was a significant spiritual thinker of the 20th century. Raised in a non-religious household, his spiritual journey eventually led him to the Roman Catholic Church, and later, into the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, more commonly known as the Trappists, at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. Merton adopted a life of monastic contemplation, but his profound reflections on faith, spirituality, and society went on to have a widespread impact. As a writer, his diverse oeuvre included poetry, essays, and over 70 books, touching on a broad spectrum of spiritual traditions and social issues.
Merton's works often showcased his deep commitment to fostering understanding among different faiths. As a student of comparative religion, he sought to highlight the universal values and shared wisdom that transcended the boundaries of individual faith traditions. His exploration of Eastern religions and their intersections with Christian mysticism was particularly groundbreaking for its time. Merton's dialogues with leading Asian spiritual figures, such as the Dalai Lama, D.T. Suzuki, a prominent scholar of Zen Buddhism, and Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Vietnamese monk, further cemented his reputation as a pioneering figure in interfaith dialogue.
Unfortunately, Merton's life was tragically cut short when he died on 10 December 1968. Despite his untimely death, his influence continues to reverberate in contemporary religious and spiritual discourse. Through his writings and activism, Merton fostered a greater awareness of social justice issues within the church and inspired a more inclusive, holistic approach to spirituality. His legacy as a monastic scholar, a prolific writer, and a tireless advocate for interfaith understanding endures, solidifying his place as one of the most influential Catholic figures of the 20th century.
Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
Rohr, Richard. “A Point of Nothingness.” The Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC), 21 July 2016, cac.org/a-point-of-nothingness-2016-08-05/, p. 158 [Merton, Thomas. Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. Image Books, 1968].
Theme: Immanence and Transcendence