No Imagination Left For Being – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

by Mark Votava

download (16)1. You must be willing to become a disturbing and undesired person

“People are constantly trying to use you to help them create the particular illusions by which they live.  This is particularly true of the collective illusions which sometimes are accepted as ideologies.  You must renounce and sacrifice the approval that is only a bribe enlisting your support of a collective illusion.  You must not allow yourself to be represented as someone in  whom a few of the favorite daydreams of the public have come true.  You must be willing, if necessary to become a disturbing and therefore an undesired person, one who is not wanted because he upsets the general dream.  But be careful that you do not do this in the service of some other dream that is only a little less general and therefore seems to you to be more real because it is exclusive!”

2. If we really sought truth

“If we really sought truth we would begin slowly and laboriously to divest ourselves one by one of all our coverings of fiction and delusion: or at least we would desire to do so, for mere willing cannot enable us to effect it.  On the contrary, the one who can best point out our error, and help us to see it, is the adversary whom we wish to destroy.  This is perhaps why we wish to destroy him.  So, too, we can help him to see his error, and that is why he wants to destroy us.”

3. Power has nothing to do with peace

“Power has nothing to do with peace.  The more men build up military power, the more they violate peace and destroy it.”

4. It is humility to accept our humanity

“It is humility to accept our humanity, it is pride to reject it.”                

5. The work of our own alienation

“Society alienates people while at the same time summoning them to cooperate in the work of their own alienation…”

6. Lost touch with reality

“Yet if in resisting doubt we convince ourselves that we truly ‘know God’ we have lost touch with reality…”

7. The need for meaning

“Are there values which man desires more than the satisfaction of hunger, sex, and so on?  I certainly think so.  Chief of these is the need for meaning…”

8. No imagination left for being

“Our professed ideals may still pay lip service to the dignity of the person, but without a sense of being and a respect for being, there can be no real appreciation of the person.  We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being.”

9. The affluent society of the West

“To what extent are we to accept the affluent society of the West on its own terms?…”

10. A presence of Christ to the unbeliever

“I honestly think there is a presence of Christ to the unbeliever, especially in our day, and that this presence, which is not formally ‘religious’ and escapes definition…, is perhaps the deepest most cogent mystery of our time…”

Which quotes are your favorite?

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

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