The Ordinary Grace of the Mystic
Photo By: Jan Erik Waider
“Rest, then, was a kind of simple nowhereness and nomindedness that had lost all preoccupation with a false or limited ‘self’. At peace in the possession of a sublime ‘Nothing’ the spirit laid hold, in secret, upon the ‘All’ – without trying to know what it possessed.”
– The Wisdom of the Desert, by Thomas Merton, pp.10-11
What is “rest”, then?
To be free of thoughts that have limited and bound us, to have the peace of nothing on our minds to distract us from the serenity of emptiness, which is scintillating with the One Substance waiting to express through us as us, either in form or as radiation. And to rest here without thought of life experience is to experience Life uninterpreted by humanity. This is Freedom, this is Rest, this is returning Home and remembering that Everything is All Right. This is the quietness of knowing, in which there is no motivation to act, for one is at one with the Source. To act implies doing something for some result. What result is there to desire when all one’s desires are fulfilled where one is?
True rest, then, is true action. It is a choice to live in the consciousness of Source, the no thing out of which all things come.
“The ‘rest’ which these men sought was simply the sanity and poise of a being that no longer has to look at itself because it is carried away by the perfection of freedom that is in it.”
(Ibid, p. 10)
This little book is close to my heart. I think it holds for us today the direction in which we are being asked to go. Uncluttered. Unadorned. Steering clear of esoteric and lofty teachings or anything difficult to understand. Of course, in order to do this and live in Truth one has to know Truth and have It as integrated into one’s being as is the breath, and then even deeper. The most ordinary is the most sublime.
It is said that the true mystic is the most ordinary person you will ever meet. This is the disguise: to look like no one in particular. And this is the way to bring Truth out into the world – in ways that look ordinary, commonsensical and practical. Truth Is, and is available to all of us.
The monastery must now be within. We must learn to live in our desert while we walk in the world. It is time for the mystic in us all to step forth and greet each other. If there is another conscious mystic behind the eyes of the one we look at, we will see her, and he will recognize us, and there will be no need for words. And if the mystic behind the eyes into which we look is not conscious, we will smile with an ordinary kindness and will leave them a bit happier because it really doesn’t matter. To live in “rest” is the true task, and after that, the work is done through us, with or without form.