Final Integration

In MERTON & SUFISM The Untold Story (Edited by Rob Baker and Gary Henry-FONS VITAE 2005) Thomas Merton discusses what he terms “Final Integration.” This is a state Confucius reached by age 70 and a mystical state to be strived for:

Merton teaches the “notion of rebirth” exists in most religions including Christianity, Sufism, Zen Buddhism and other religions with spiritual traditions. Here “emphasis is placed on the call to fulfill certain … potentialities in regard to one’s being, to ‘become someone’ that one already (potentially) is, the person one is truly meant to be.” Id. at 268. This is an awakening or a recognition of our universal essence. When we are “fully born” we have an “inner experience of life.” Id. at 271.

We live from an “inner ground” which is more universal than our ego which is based on how we relate to our life experiences. In this “fully born” state of “final integration” we reach a “deeper, fuller identity than that of … [our] limited ego self which is only a fragment of our being” Id. In this state we identify with everybody. We are able to experience others “joys and sufferings as our own without becoming dominated by them.” Id. 271-72.

The person who has “attained final integration is no longer limited by the culture in which [they] grew up.” This person embraces all of life including ordinary life, intellectual life, artistic creation, human love and spiritual life. They have passed through all of these “limiting forms while retaining all that is best and most universal in them, finally giving birth to a fully comprehensive self.” In final integration we accept not only our own community, society, friends, and culture, but all mankind. Id.

Here we are not bound to a limited set of values and we accept others. We have a “unified vision and experience of the one truth shining out in all its various manifestations, …  With this view of life we are able to bring perspective, liberty, and spontaneity into the lives of others. In final integration we are a peacemaker. Id. at 272.

 

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