A Lost Art – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Mystics and Zen Masters

by Mark Votava

41WXKyiIpJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. One must risk everything

“…the work of God is never effectively undertaken without daring, without risk. One must risk everything, even one’s very life…”

2. The world is not only a vale of tears

“…the earth was given us in order that we might find meaning, order, truth, and salvation in it.  The world is not only a vale of tears.  There is joy in it somewhere…”

3. The sincerity of a commitment to contemplation

“…it would seem that today a certain openness to the world and a genuine participation in its anguish would normally help to safeguard the sincerity of a commitment to contemplation.”

4. Genuine ecumenism

“…genuine ecumenism requires the communication and sharing, not only of information about doctrines which are totally and irrevocably divergent, but also of religious intuitions and truths which may turn out to have something in common, beneath surface differences.  Ecumenism seeks the inner and ultimate spiritual ‘ground’ which underlies all articulated differences…”

5. A “lost art”

“Thus, we can say that contemplation is both a ‘gift’ (a ‘grace’) and an ‘art.’ Unfortunately, we must also admit that it can almost be said to be a ‘lost art.’”

6. No absolutely solid grounds for denying the possibility

“…there can be no absolutely solid grounds for denying the possibility of supernatural (private) revelation and of supernatural mystical graces to individuals, no matter where they may be or what may be their religious tradition, provided that they sincerely seek God…”

7. The capacity for contemplative experience

“…one may find in all races and in all traditions both the capacity for contemplative experience and the fact of its realization even on a very pure level.  This capacity and this realization are therefore implicit in all the great religious traditions, whether Asian or European, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Moslem, or Christian…”

8. Absent from modern technological society

“…since this ‘sapiential’ atmosphere is so far completely absent from modern technological society, and since inevitably the contemplative centers both of the East and of the West are subject to destructive pressures from that society, one can say that there is a certain importance in a dialogue which will enlarge their respective horizons while giving them a deeper consciousness of their gift, their vocation, and their momentous responsibility.”

9. Isolates each individual subject from our immediate neighbor

“The false community of mass society is in fact more individualistic than the personalist community envisioned in the Gospels, the koinonia, of intersubjective love among persons…  Mass society is individualistic in the sense that it isolates each individual subject from his immediate neighbor, reducing him to a state of impersonal, purely formal, and abstract relationship with other objectified individuals.  In dissolving the more intimate and personal bonds of life… mass society segregates the individual from the concrete and human ‘other’ and leaves him alone and unaided in the presence of the Faceless, the collective void, the public.  Thus… mass-man finds himself related not to flesh and blood human beings with the same freedom, responsibility, and conflicts as himself, but with the idealized typological images: the Fuhrer, the president, the sports star, the teen singer, the space man.”

Which quotes do you like the best?

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