A Desert Without Trees – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – New Seeds of Contemplation

by Mark Votava

download (9)1. In order to become myself

“In order to become myself I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be, and in order to find myself I must go out of myself, and in order to live I must die…”

2. The elimination of everybody but ourselves

“Hatred tries to cure disunion by annihilating those who are not united with us.  It seeks peace by the elimination of everybody else but ourselves.”

3. No one has anything in common with anybody else

“Hell is where no one has anything in common with anybody else except the fact that they all hate one another and cannot get away from one another and from themselves.”

4. A projection of our own aspirations, desires and ideals

“Every one of us forms an idea of Christ that is limited and incomplete.  It is cut according to our own measure.  We tend to create for ourselves a Christ in our own image, a projection of our own aspirations, desires and ideals.  We find in Him what we want to find.  We make Him not only the incarnation of God but also the incarnation of the things we and our society and our part of society happen to live for.”

5. It is a tremendous grace

“It is a tremendous grace, then, and a great privilege when a person living in the world we have to live in suddenly losses his interest in the things that absorb that world, and discovers in his own soul an appetite for poverty and solitude.  And the most precious of all the gifts of nature or grace is the desire to be hidden and to vanish from the sight of men and be accounted as nothing by the world and to disappear from one’s own self-conscious consideration and vanish into nothingness in the immense poverty that is the adoration of God.”

6. The fake interior satisfaction of self-complacency

“When we are led by God into the darkness where contemplation is found, you are not able to rest in the false sweetness of your own will.  The fake interior satisfaction of self-complacency and absolute confidence in your own judgment will never be able to deceive you entirely: it will make you slightly sick and you will be forced by a vague sense of interior nausea to gash yourself open and let the poison out.”

7. The ordinary way to contemplation

“Let us never forget that the ordinary way to contemplation lies through a desert without trees and without beauty and without water.  The spirit enters a wilderness and travels blindly in directions that seem to lead away from vision, away from God, away from all fulfillment and joy.  It may become almost impossible to believe that this road goes anywhere at all except to a desolation full of dry bones – the ruin of all hopes and good intentions.”

8. How to mind your own business

“One of the first things to learn if you want to be a contemplative is how to mind your own business.”

Which quotes do you like the best?

Here are 5 more posts that I have done about Thomas Merton. He is definitely someone you will want to read in order to find a more authentic spirituality. Click on the links and read more. Please share and comment!