Follow my ways and I will lead you

by Thomas Merton


Original Language English

Follow my ways and I will lead you
To golden-haired suns,
Logos and music, blameless joys,
Innocent of questions
And beyond answers.
For I, Solitude, am thine own Self:
I, Nothingness, am thy All.
I, Silence, am thy Amen.

-- from A Thomas Merton Reader, by Thomas Merton / Edited by Thomas P. McDonnell

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

It has been too long since we last shared a poem by Thomas Merton, so how about this one today?

This has always seemed to me to be a perfect poem for deep meditation.

Thomas Merton was, of course, a Catholic monk, but this beautiful poem has a flavor of the Zen Buddhist tradition, which he also studied as part of his desire to bring the sacred wisdom of East and West together.

This poem is being spoken by a living "Solitude," "Nothingness," "Silence." Or, if you prefer, Nirvana. You might generalize further and say the poem is spoken by Stillness, calling to mind the Christian contemplative tradition.

Whether a devout Christian or a determined Zen practitioner, bringing the mind to stillness -- "Innocent of questions / And beyond answers" -- is one of the most powerful techniques leading toward communion with the fundamental Reality. That Eternal Presence is always here, everywhere, but we miss it because the chattering mind keeps us distracted, disrupting direct perception of that Truth.

When we truly surrender ourselves, when we surrender the egoistic self that drives the mind to that state of constant distraction, the thoughts dissolve and then we find true "Solitude," a wholeness or completeness that requires no other. And that is one's "own Self." We finally recognize our own nature without needing to define ourselves by work or relationships or appearance or age or even our thoughts themselves...

Everything suddenly seems dream-like, but the underlying Reality is recognized as being supremely full or pregnant. That "Nothingness" is the womb that gives birth to the "All." And so, from that "Silence," that supreme Stillness, a symphony of form and word and vibration emerges, "Logos and music," in a universal praise of being -- "thy Amen."

Follow the awareness that survives the quieting of the mind, follow where it leads to "golden-haired suns!"

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To everyone who has recently purchased a copy of Dorothy Walters's Marrow of Flame -- thank you! I hope this lovely collection opens new doorways in your own spiritual journey! And your purchase helps to fund future Poetry Chaikhana publications...



Recommended Books: Thomas Merton

Selected Poems of Thomas Merton The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton A Thomas Merton Reader The Strange Islands: Poems by Thomas Merton Thomas Merton Monk & Poet: A Critical Study





Follow my ways and