“The way to God lies through deep darkness in which all knowledge and all created wisdom and all pleasure and prudence and all human hope and human joy are defeated and annulled by the overwhelming purity of the light and presence of God.”
Thomas Merton – New Seeds of Contemplation (1962)
This passage at first sounds very contradictory. What is this about darkness and defeat and the annulling of hope and joy? It sure doesn’t sound like any way towards the realization of God.
Looking at it again, though, I see Merton touching on the duality described in Toaism and Sufism. He’s pointing out that what we see as opposites and separate are actually sides of the same coin; pieces of the same cloth.
He’s pointing out that light and shadow are one in the same, that they can not exist without the other.
As Terry Graham points out in an article about Thomas Merton, the Trappist Monk, in the Summer 2008 edition of the Sufi Journal, this is “stunning evidence of his profound understanding of the reality of the mystical life.”