Merton’s Annihilation of Self in God
Merton’s words here bring me to tears.
For pride, which is the inordinate attribution of goods and values and glories to one’s own contingent and exterior self, a cannot exist where one is incapable of reflecting on a separate ‘self’ living apart from God. How can a man be proud of anything when he is no longer able to reflect upon himself or realize himself or know himself? Morally speaking he is annihilated, because the source and agent and term of all his acts is God. And the essence of this contemplation is the pure and eternal joy that is in God because God is God: the serene and interminable exultation in the truth that He Who is Perfect is infinitely Perfect, is Perfection. To think that a man could be proud of this joy, once it had discovered him and delivered him, would be like saying: ‘This man is proud because the air is free.’ ‘This other man is proud because the sea is wet.’ ‘And here is one who is proud because the mountains are high and the snow on their summits is clean and the wind blows on the snow and makes a plume of cloud trail away from the high peaks.’ Here is a man who is dead and buried and gone and his memory has vanished from the world of men and he no longer exists among the living who wander about in time: and will you call him proud because the sunlight fills the huge arc of the sky over the county where he lived and died and was buried, back in the days when he existed? So it is with the one who has vanished into God by pure contemplation. –Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 286.