If we really want to pray,
we must first learn to listen,
for in silence of the heart,
— Mother Teresa of Culcutta
There is a silent self within us whose presence is disturbing precisely because it is so silent: it can’t be spoken. It has to remain silent. To articulate it, to verbalize it, is to tamper with it, and in some ways to destroy it.
Now let us frankly face the fact that our culture is one which is geared in many ways to help us evade any need to face this inner, silent self. We live in a state of constant semiattention to the sound of voices, music, traffic, or the generalized noise of what goes on around us all the time. This keeps us immersed in a flood of racket and words, a diffuse medium in which our consciousness is half diluted: we are not quite ‘thinking,’ not entirely responding, but we are more or less there. We are not fully present and not entirely absent; not fully withdrawn, yet not completely available. It cannot be said that we are really participating in anything and we may, in fact, be half conscious of our alienation and resentment. Yet we derive a certain comfort from the vague sense that we are ‘part of’ something – although we are not quite able to define what that something is – and probably wouldn’t want to define it even if we could. We just float along in the general noise. Resigned and indifferent, we share semiconsciously in the mindless mind of Muzak and radio commercials which passes for ‘reality.’
— From Thomas Merton: Essential Writings
Our real journey in life is interior:
it is a matter of growth, deepening,
and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of
love and grace in our hearts.
— Thomas Merton
We will never find peace in the midst of our worries and problems by thinking our way through them. Thought is a false labyrinth that always returns us to the same confused starting point. Prayer is the true labyrinth that takes us deeper than thought and leads us to peace that “passes all understanding”. Letting go of our anxieties is our greatest difficulty, which testifies to the negative resilience of the ego … Meditation is the work of love and it is by love, not by thought, that God ultimately is known: the knowledge that saves is the knowledge of love.
— From Letter One by Laurence Freeman OSB, WEB OF SILENCE