A State of Risk – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton

by Mark Votava

515hzuKaCUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Lacking a critical awareness

“As long as ‘I’ assert the ‘I’ dogmatically there is lacking a critical awareness that experiences the ‘I’ dynamically in a continuum of cause and effect – a chain of economic or other causations and coordinated interrelationships.”

2. A new experience of time

“The contemplative life must provide an area, a space of liberty, of silence, in which possibilities are allowed to surface and new choices – beyond routine choice – become manifest.  It should create a new experiences of time,… not a blank to be filled or an untouched space to be conquered and violated, but a space which can enjoy its own potentialities and hopes – and its own presence to itself.  One’s own time.  But not dominated by one’s own ego and its demands.  Hence open to others – compassionate time – rooted in the sense of common illusion and in criticism of it.”

3. Too much “looking for” something

“Too much movement.  Too much ‘looking for’ something: an answer, a vision, ‘something other.’  And this breeds illusion.  Illusion that there is something else.  Differentiation – the old splitting-up process that leads to mindlessness, instead of the mindfulness of seeing all-in-emptiness and not having to break it up against itself…”

4. Living in the grip of delusion

“When you begin each day by describing the look of the same mountain, you are living in the grip of delusion…”

5. Our real journey in life is interior

“Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts.  Never was it more necessary for us to respond to that action…”

6. The marginal person

“The marginal person, the monk, the displaced person, the prisoner, all these people live in the presence of death, which calls into question the meaning of life.  He struggles with the fact of death in himself, trying to seek something deeper than death; because there is something deeper than death, and the office of the monk or the marginal person, the meditative person or the poet is to go beyond death even in this life, to go beyond the dichotomy of life and death and to be, therefore, a witness to life.”

7. A life that is open to gift

“…the kind of life that I represent is a life that is open to gift; gift from God and gift from others.”

8. To live with our loneliness

“It is not that we go out into the world with a capacity to love others greatly.  This too we know in ourselves, that our capacity for love is limited.  And it has to be completed with the capacity to be loved, to accept love from others, to want to be loved by others, to admit our loneliness and to live with our loneliness because everybody is lonely…”

9. Free-floating existence under a state of risk

“…there are always people who dare to seek on the margin of society, who are not dependent on social acceptance, not dependent on social routine, and prefer a kind of free-floating existence under a state of risk…”

10. Beyond words, speech, and concept

“And the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion.  It is wordless.  It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept.  Not that we discover a new unity.  We discover an older unity.  My dear brothers, we are already one.  But we imagine that we are not.  And what we have to recover is our original unity.  What we have to be is what we are.”

Which quotes do you like the best?

Here are some other posts I have done on Thomas Merton and his writings.