The Way of Wisdom – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – Choosing to Love the World: On Contemplation edited by Jonathan Montaldo

by Mark Votava

51xCsV9q73L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)1. The deepest ground of my being is love

“If the deepest ground of my being is love, then in that very love and nowhere else will I find myself, the world, and my brother and sister…  It is not a question of either-or but of all-in-one.  It is not a matter of exclusivity and ‘purity’ but of wholeness, wholeheartedness, unity…”

2. The complete integration of my failures and achievements

“Only when we see ourselves in our true human context, as members of a race which is intended to be one organism and ‘one body,’ will we begin to understand the positive importance not only of the successes but of the failures and accidents in our lives.  My successes are not my own.  The way to them was prepared by others.  The fruit of my labors is not my own: for I am preparing the way for the achievements of another.  Nor are my failures my own.  They may spring from the failure of another, but they are also compensated for by another’s achievement.  Therefore the meaning of my life is not to be looked for merely in the sum total of my achievements.  It is seen on only in the complete integration of my achievements and failures of my own generation, society, and time…”

3. Contradictions and paradoxes

“We live on the brink of disaster because we do not know how to let life alone.  We do not respect the living and fruitful contradictions and paradoxes of which true life is full.  We destroy them, or try to destroy them, with our obsessive and absurd systematizations.  Whether we do this in the name of matter or in the name of spirit makes little difference in the end…”

4. The way of contemplation

“The way of wisdom is not an evasion.  Simply to evade modern life would be a futile attempt to abdicate from its responsibilities while clinging to its advantages.  The way of contemplation is a way of higher and more permanent responsibilities and renunciations of advantages – and illusions.  The contemplative way requires first of all and above all the renunciation of this obsession with the triumph of the individual or collective will to power.  For this aggressive and self-assertive drive to possess and to exert power implies a totally different view of reality than that which is seen when one travels the contemplative way.”

5. This way of wisdom

“This way of wisdom is no dream, no temptation and no evasion, for it is on the contrary a return to reality in its very root.  It is not an escape from contradiction and confusion for it finds unity and clarity by plunging into the very midst of contradiction, by the acceptance of emptiness and suffering, by the renunciation of passions and obsessions…”

6. Money, power, publicity, machines, business, political advantage, military strategy

“Indeed, the author of this book [Seeds of contemplation] can say that he feels himself much closer to the Zen monks of ancient Japan than to the busy and impatient men of the West, of his own country, who think in terms of money, power, publicity, machines, business, political advantage, military strategy – who seek, in a word the triumphant affirmation of their own will, their own power, considered as the end for which they exist.  Is not this perhaps the most foolish of all dreams, the most tenacious and damaging of illusions?”

Which quote do you like the most?

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

51DJfJVBpBL (1)