4 Garcia Christopher

This was written as I observed a tree behind Wren.

Brown and white–

A tree

Half covered in snow.


A passage which really struck out at me within Zen and the Birds of Appetite was the appendix to the first part of the book, where Merton discusses whether Buddhism is life-denying or life affirming. In this section, Merton uses bits and pieces of various Buddhist texts to counteract the assumption that the Buddhist conception of nothingness and its emphasis on meditation is one which “turns away the world,” causing people to retreat into a “trancelike state.” (pg. 93) However, through a quote from the Samyutta Nikaya, Merton reveals that the purpose of meditation is to protect oneself, which then leads into protecting others by living a non-violent life. (pgs. 93-4) The interconnectedness of these two practices which help one achieve enlightenment show that even though Nirvana is “letting go” of the fetters which cause suffering in the world, Nirvana itself is an ultimate “opening” of oneself to universal love of all things, including oneself and one’s own life, for we are all connected. (pg. 79)

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