Sum, non cogito

Nothing could be more alien to the lived experience of meditation than the cogito ergo sum of Descartes.  “I think, therefore I am.”  This is the declaration of an alienated being.  In exile from his own spiritual depths, he is compelled to seek some comfort in a proof for his own existence(!) based on the observation that he “thinks”.   If his thought is necessary as a medium through which he arrives at the concept of his existence, then he is in fact only moving further away from his true being.  He is reducing himself to a concept.  He is making it impossible for himself to experience, directly and immediately, the mystery of his own being.  At the same time, 

[At the same time, by also reducing God to a concept, he makes it impossible for himself to have any intimation of the divine reality, which is inexpressible.] 

— Thomas Merton (New Seeds of Contemplation)

For the contemplative, there is no Cogito, no ergo, only SUM.  I am. Not in the sense of a futile assertion of our individuality, but in the humble realization of our mysterious being as beings in whom God dwells, with infinite sweetness and inalienable power.

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