True Humility – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Thoughts In Solitude

by Mark Votava

41e9ou6sQ0L1. The goodness of all things

“The further I advance into solitude the more clearly I see the goodness of all things.”

2. No longer trust entirely in language to contain reality

“Words stand between silence and silence: between the silence of things and the silence of our own being.  Between the silence of the world and the silence of God.  When we have really met and known the world in silence, words do not separate us from the world nor from other men, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.”

3. Ours is a time of anxiety

“In our age everything has to be a ‘problem.’  Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so.  Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside.  We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves.”

4. The solution of the problem of life is life itself

“The solution of the problem of life is life itself.  Life is not attained by reasoning and analysis, but first of all by living.  For until we have begun to live our prudence has no material to work on.  And until we have begun to fail we have no way of working out our success.”

5. Mercy and humility

“Interior silence is impossible without mercy and without humility.”

6. True humility

“…true humility can never inhibit any really virtuous action…”

7. Books can speak to us like God

“Books can speak to us like God, like men or like the noise of the city we live in.  They speak to us like God when they bring us light and peace and fill us with silence.  They speak to us like God when we desire never to leave them.  They speak to us like men when we desire to hear them again.  They speak to us like the noise of the city when they hold us captive by a weariness that tells us nothing, give us no peace, and no support, nothing to remember, and yet will not let us escape.”

8. A pretended humility

“It is not enough to turn away in disgust from my illusions and faults and mistakes, to separate myself from them as if they were not, and as if I were someone other than myself.  This kind of self-annihilation is only a worse illusion, it is a pretended humility, which, by saying ‘I am nothing’ I mean in effect ‘I wish I were not what I am.’”

9. To really know our own “nothingness”

“To really know our ‘nothingness’ we must also love it.  And we cannot love it unless we see that it is good.  And we cannot see that it is good unless we accept it.”

10. Laziness and cowardice

“Laziness and cowardice are two of the greatest enemies of the spiritual life.  And they are most dangerous of all when they mask as ‘discretion.’  This illusion would not be so fatal if discretion itself were not one of the most important virtues of a spiritual man.  Indeed, it is discretion itself that must teach us the difference between cowardice and discretion…”

Which quotes are your favorite?

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

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