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"non-Violence" And Opinions


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I would just like to share a couple of quotes from Thomas Merton..........writing on the subject of "non-violence".


First, a small excerpt from his book "Faith and Violence"...


Non-violence seeks to "win" not by destroying or even humiliating the adversary, but by convincing him that there is a higher and more certain common good than can be attained by bombs and blood. Non-violence, ideally speaking, does not try to overcome the adversary by winning over him, but to turn him from an adversary by winning him over. Unfortunately, non-violent resistance as practiced by those who do not understand it and have not been trained in it is often only a weak and veiled form of psychological aggression.


And this, from "New Seeds of Contemplation"....


Strong hate, the hate that takes joy in hating, is strong because it does not believe itself to be unworthy and alone. It feels the support of a justifying God, of an idol of war, an avenging and destroying spirit. From such blood-drinking gods the human race was once liberated, with great toil and terrible sorrow, by the death of a God Who delivered Himself to the Cross and suffered the pathological cruelty of His own creatures out of pity for them. In conquering death He opened their eyes to the reality of a love which asks no questions about worthiness, a love which overcomes hatred and destroys death. But men have now come to reject this divine revelation of pardons and they are consequently returning to the old war gods, the gods that insatiably drink blood and eat the flesh of humanity. It is easier to server the hate-gods because they thrive on the worship of collective fanaticism. To serve the hate-gods, one has only to be blinded by collective passion. To serve the God of Love one must be free, one must face the terrible responsibility of the decision to love in spite of all unworthiness whether in oneself or in one's neighbour.



The reason I post this is despair. I posted the same on another forum and a couple of "Biblical Literalists" posted in response.....first...


Sorry to say, but I didn't have time to waste reading the inane rubbish scribed by a wicked fool such as Thomas Merton, but anyway, Thomas Merton is lame...and foolish.


Then.....Glad I am not the only one who feels that way, lol. Reading Apostate literature is such a waste of precious time.


I'm not looking here for anyone to idolise Merton, or even agree with him. Its just that I despair.





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Hi Derek,


I'm just glad there are places like PC.org at which to fellowship. It seems that both the religious and secular alike can be prone to misconstrue the nature of the religious path, the former through sectarianism and the latter by their susceptibility to scientism. To find a middle way between the two extremes is precious indeed.


Don't despair my friend, there are a sizable number of individuals with better sensibilities. :)




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I am reminded of something Merton wrote in his Asian journal,



"I am able to approach the Buddha barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. The silence of the extraordinary faces. The great smiles. Huge and yet subtle. Filled with every possibility, questioning nothing, knowing everything, rejecting nothing, the peace not of emotional resignation but of Madhyamika, of sunyata, that has seen through every question without trying to discredit anyone or anything--without refutation--without establishing some other argument. For the doctrinaire, the mind that needs well-established positions, such peace, such silence, can be frightening. I was knocked over with a rush of relief and thankfulness at the obvious clarity of the figures..."

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"For the doctrinaire, the mind that needs well-established positions, such peace, such silence, can be frightening"



Thanks Mike. I think in a way we are all seeking "positions", yet there is the well worn words of the Buddha - not always heeded - that the dharma is "for crossing over, not for grasping". Fundamentally, at least as it seems to me, the fault is in not recognising that "truth" can never ever be a finalised definitive set of propositions that our "self" has learnt and holds in store for future reference, the springboard for our thoughts and actions."Truth" - at least, the one that sets us free - is more pure freedom and spontaneity, borne more of an emptiness of self than a fullness.


When such is not seen then there is always a sense in which our words and actions are "works", however subtle at times, "works" that are a clung to us justifications, self aggrandisement, and setting us over and above others whose "works" are inferior in our own eyes.


To a certain extent I understand much of this in relation to the latest Chapter of the Dhammapada I have posted, where the main theme appears to be that one must "work on" ones own self and get that sorted out (!) before attempting to sort out anyone else. Good advice in many ways, yet in practice one of saying we should NEVER interfere with others! :D


Cleary, in his commentary, says.......The point.......is not that we should not help others, but that we cannot help others in a real sense, even if we try, unless and until we have first developed our own understanding and capacity to a sufficient degree......lending a hand just to feel like we are doing some good is really selfish indulgence, not altruistic action.....


Not sure I'm in complete agreement. Often mouths need feeding ( and a lot more) irrespective of our motivations, but Cleary makes a point.


All the best


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As a Quaker, I follow this single guiding Testimony:


"We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever; and this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world."


Declaration of Friends to Charles II, 1660

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I feel the despair.


We are all too well conditioned to not see forms of violence other than physical as violence at all, or that there is anything really wrong with it.


But the presently rising tide of hate, hatefulness, spirit of meanness, and cold hard heartedness that casts anyone percieved as different from or less than ones own self, of complaining and blaming especially the less advantaged, poor, powerless, is a poison dagger to the heart of all society and all within it, as surely as if it were forged of steel.

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There certainly is despair about the current condition of blaming, hating and unwillingness to even discuss differing points of view, let alone differing ideas. I am troubled by the clinging to terms like socialism and only viewing the negative aspects of the concept. The ranting here by many in NW Montana at least is to do away with anything that serves the good of all especially if somehow we all must pay our fair share.

And JenellYB your point about recognizing only the physical forms of violence rings true with me. Our service men and women returning from Afghanistan and Iran along with the Vietnam vets suffer mental disorders of various degrees, lumped into post traumatic stress disease. Those who experience any trauma seem to be ignored by many. I try however meagerly to support victims of mental as well as physical abuse. Also listening to many with whom I disagree is difficult, but I learn something each time. I am more hopeful than some, and I try not to lose sight of hope even though it seems fleeting at times.

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