Solitude and Silence – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – Seeds edited by Robert Inchausti

by Mark Votava

41fSYkUB3eL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_1. A certain memory of contemplation

“Thus even into the confused pattern of Western life is woven a certain memory of contemplation.  It is a memory so vague and so remote that it is hardly understood, and yet it can awaken the hope of recovering inner peace.  In this hope, modern man can perhaps entertain, for a brief time, the dream of a contemplative life and of a higher spiritual state of quiet, of rest, of untroubled joy.  But a sense of self-deception and guilt immediately awakens a reaction of despair, disgust, a rejection of the dream and a commitment to total activism.  We must face the fact that the mere thought of contemplation is one which deeply troubles the person who takes it seriously.  It is so contrary to the modern way of life, so apparently alien, so seemingly impossible, that the modern man who even considers it finds, at first, that his whole being rebels against it.”

2. At all costs avoid one thing: success

“Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success…”

3. An existence which is intrinsically intolerable

“The population of the affluent world is nourished on a steady diet of brutal mythology and hallucination, kept at a constant pitch of high tension by a life that is intrinsically violent in that it forces a large part of the population to submit to an existence which is humanly intolerable…  The problem with violence, then, is not the problem of a few rioters and rebels, but the problem of a whole structure which is outwardly ordered and respectable, and inwardly ridden by psychopathic obsessions and delusions.”

4. Alienates us from our own being and our own reality

“It is precisely this illusion, that mechanical progress means human improvement, that alienates us from our own being and our own reality.  It is precisely because we are convinced that our life, as such, is better if we have a better car, a better TV set, better toothpaste, etc., that we condemn and destroy our own reality and the reality of our natural resources.  Technology was made for man, not man for technology.  In losing touch with being and thus with God, we have fallen into a senseless idolatry of production and consumption for their own sakes.  We have renounced the act of being and plunged ourselves into process for its own sake.  We no longer know how to live, and because we cannot accept life in its reality life ceases to be a joy and becomes an affliction…”

5. Preserve the interior solitude and silence

“Someone has to try to keep his head clear of static and persevere the interior solitude and silence that are essential for independent thought.”

6. We must slow down

“We must slow down to a human tempo and we’ll begin to have time to listen.  And as soon as we listen to what’s going on, things will begin to take shape by themselves.”

Which quotes do you like the best?

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