11 months ago

In LOVE with Humanity

A tribute to some of humanity’s greatest Heroes; 153 men & women who have chosen, via their brave words &/or noble deeds, to reflect the deeper Greatness residing within us all

Hero #088: Thomas Merton

Hero #088: Thomas Merton .. Born in 1915, Thomas Merton was an American Trappist monk, writer, mystic, poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion. He wrote more than 70 books (including his bestselling autobiography Seven Story Mountain, published in 1948) over the course of his life, mostly on spirituality, social justice, and a form of pacifism that was quiet but staunch … By the 1960's, Merton had already arrived at a belief system that warmly encompassed all of humanity, and he became concerned about the world in general and its most pressing social issues, such as peace, racial tolerance, and social equality. He had by this time developed what can only be termed a ―personal radicalism‖ – a belief system which had transcended his own personal religious ideology; one that was rooted above all in a nonviolence that was as active as it was unconditional. Merton was perhaps most interested in — and, of all of the Eastern traditions, wrote the most about — the concepts and tenants of Zen. Having studied the Desert Fathers and other Christian mystics as part of his monastic past, Merton had already developed an intimate understanding of what it was those men sought and to a degree what they experienced in their seeking. As such, it was perhaps easier for him than most to uncover the many parallels between the language of these Christian mystics and the language of the Zen philosophers. Merton was also an avid champion of interfaith understanding, pioneering dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures. Walking his talk, he personally engaged in meaningful correspondence with prominent religious leaders from various other faiths, including the Dalai Lama, the Japanese writer D.T. Suzuki, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. ―I am against war, against violent revolution, for peaceful settlement of differences, for nonviolent but nevertheless radical changes … The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer, because insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt ... A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for … The beginning of Love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image ... To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell ... Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.‖ ~ Thomas Merton 104

Hero #089: A. A. Milne Alan Alexander Milne was an English author, best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh. Even before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work, Milne was a well-regarded writer (primarily as a playwright). Even more notably, after fighting in WWI in the British Army, Milne wrote a scathing denunciation of war titled Peace with Honour (1934). He retracted these views somewhat a few years later, when he reenlisted and served in WWII in the British Home Guard – a domestic station that probably made it easier for him to rationalize the horrors of warfare he already knew so well … Interestingly enough, the success of his children's books was to become a source of considerable annoyance to Milne, whose self-avowed aim was to write whatever he pleased and who had, until then, found a ready audience for each literary change of direction he had made previously … Also intriguing is the fact that his Pooh books ended up causing a rift between Milne and his son Christopher (the source of inspiration for Pooh‘s best friend, Christopher Robin), inspiring the two men to remain estranged for the better part of three decades … And yet most importantly of all, despite all these moral vacillations, familial traumas, and personal disappointments, Milne‘s children‘s books remain a profoundly instructive testament to a deeper Goodness that resides within us all – waiting to be recognized, and waiting to be set free upon others; friends and strangers alike. ―Love is taking a few steps backward — maybe even more — to give way to the happiness of the person you Love … Just because an animal is large [or mean or greedy or dishonest], it doesn‘t mean he doesn‘t want kindness … A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference … You can‘t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.‖ ~ Winnie the Pooh ―Always remember: You‘re much braver than you believe, and much stronger than you seem.‖ ~ (Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh) 105