Consciousness and Inner Freedom – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s writings – The Courage for Truth: Letters to Writers edited by Christine M. Bochen

by Mark Votava

4004384-M1. A need to integrate new questions

“There is no question in my mind that there is a need to integrate new questions and answers in a human universe: when I said I was fed up with answers, I meant square answers, ready-made answers, answers that ignore the question.  All clear answers tend to be of this nature today, because we are so deep in confusion and grab desperately at five thousand glimmers of seeming clarity.  It is better to start with a good acceptance of the dark.  That in itself contains many answers in a form that is not yet worked out: one has the answers, but not the full meaning.”

2. Putting nothing of any value in its place

“I think we have to have the courage to distinguish and to use a certain amount of prudence and above all not simply make a virtue out of condemning everything in sight, while putting nothing of any value in its place.”

3. Faith is not a happiness pill

“Our faith can no longer serve merely as a happiness pill…”

4. The humility of love

“For the voice of God must always come to us at every moment both from near and far and from the point that is nowhere and everywhere, from the O of admiration which is a boundless circle, and from the humility of love that breaks through limits set by national pride and the arrogance of wealth and power.  Let us then live in a communion which undermines the power and arrogance of the great of this world, which seeks to separate men in the power struggle.”

5. Conventionalism and inertia

“I fear nothing so much as conventionalism and inertia, which for me is fatal.  Yet there is that all-important stillness, and listening to God, which seems to be inertia, and yet is the highest action.  One must always be awake to tell the difference between action and inaction, when appearances are so often deceiving.”

6. To search for divine values hidden among the poor and the outcast

“No matter what happens, I feel more and more closely united with those who, everywhere, devote themselves to… God’s truth, to search for divine values hidden among the poor and the outcast, to the love of that cultural heritage without which man cannot be healthy…  We must devote ourselves with generosity and integrity to the real values: there is no time for falsity and compromise.  But on the other hand we do not have to be greatly successful or even well known.  It is enough for our integrity to be known by God…”  

7. Paralyzed by institutionalism, formalism, rigidity and regression

“I personally think that we are paralyzed by institutionalism, formalism, rigidity and regression…  I think we need a deep enlightenment and liberation from cultural and intellectual habits, from spiritualities, from pious attitudes, from social prejudices…”

8. Consciousness and inner freedom

“It is also true that all life is not accomplishing some special work but attaining to a degree of consciousness and inner freedom which is beyond all works and attainments.  That is my real goal…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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