Just this once will not hurt : I am simply sharing the content of somebody else…As it is, without trying to comment or add anything to it, for it would, without a doubt, ruin it all.
This is a letter written by Thomas Merton ( American Trappist Monk ) to D.T. Suzuki (Japanese Buddhist scholar and philosopher) in 1959 :
I’m simply highlighting what have been the most striking passages when I first read it.
« I will not be so foolish as to pretend to you that I understand Zen… And I think, too, that many of the Americans who are excited about Zen are perhaps, dealing with something in their own imagination, and not with a reality… All I know is that when I read your books — and I have read many of them — and above all when I read English versions of the little verses in which the Zen masters point their finger to something which flashed out at the time, I feel a profound and intimate agreement. Time after time, as I read your pages, something in me says, « That’s it! » Don’t ask me what … I have my own way to walk, and for some reason or other Zen is right in the middle of it wherever I go. So there it is, with all it’s beautiful purposelessness and it has become very familiar to me though I do not know « what it is. » Or even if it is an « it ». Not to be foolish and multiply words, I’ll say simply that it seems to me that Zen is the very atmosphere of the Gospels, and the Gospels are busting with it. It is the proper climate for any monk, no matter what kind of monk he may be. If I could not breathe Zen I would probably die of spiritual asphyxiation. But still I don’t know that it is. No matter. I don’t know that the air is either. »
Photo from Vanderbilt University website.