Separately We Are Incomplete – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – Honorable Reader: Reflections On My Work edited by Robert E. Daggy 

by Mark Votava

4156RWHXJDL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. A hidden reality

“…the contemplative life applies wherever there is life.  Wherever man and society exist; where there are hopes, ideals, aspirations for a better future; where there is love – and where there is mingled pain and happiness – there the contemplative life has a place, because life, happiness, pain, ideals, aspirations, work, art and other things have significance.  If these things have no significance, why waste our time on them?  But, if they have significance, then the independent significance of each must converge in some way into a central and universal significance which comes from a hidden reality…”

2. Without contemplation we cannot see what we do

“Contemplation cannot construct a new world by itself.  Contemplation does not feed the hungry; it does not clothe the naked…  But without contemplation we cannot see what we do…  Without contemplation we remain small, limited, divided, partial: we adhere to the insufficient, permanently united to our narrow group and its interests, losing sight of justice and charity, seized by the passions of the moment…  Without contemplation, without the intimate, silent, secret pursuit of truth through love, our action loses itself in the world and becomes much more dangerous…”

3. Separately we are incomplete

“Separately we are incomplete.  Together we are strong with the strength of God…”

4. The realities of our time

“There is no truth, no life in an existence which refuses to face the realities of our time…”

5. A life of humility and peace

“To adapt a life that is essentially non-assertive, non-violent, a life of humility and peace is in itself a statement of one’s position.  But each one in such a life can, by the personal modality of his decision, give his whole life a special orientation.  It is my intention to make my entire life a rejection of, a protest against the crimes and injustices of war and political tyranny which threaten to destroy the whole race of man and the world with him.”

6. The world of technology

“Can contemplation still find a place in the world of technology and conflict which is ours?  Does it belong only to the past?  The answer to this is that, since the direct and pure experience of reality in its ultimate root is man’s deepest need, contemplation must be possible if man is to remain human.  If contemplation is no longer possible, then man’s life has lost the spiritual orientation upon which everything else – order, peace, happiness, sanity – must depend…”

7. An intuition of the very ground of all being

“The reason for this inner confusion and conflict is that our technological society has no longer any place in it for wisdom that seeks truth for its own sake, that seek the fullness of being, that seeks to rest in an intuition of the very ground of all being.  Without wisdom, the apparent opposition of action and contemplation, of work and rest, of involvement and detachment, can never be resolved.”

8. The true way of unity and peace

“The mission of the contemplative in this world of massive conflict and collective unreason is to seek the true way of unity and peace, without succumbing to the illusion of withdrawal into a realm of abstraction from which unpleasant realities are simply excluded by the force of will…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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