Detached From Detachment – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – The Road to Joy: Letters to New and Old Friends edited by Robert E. Daggy  

by Mark Votava

512NQR36S9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Life is a real unity

“But the whole unity of the life is tremendous.  That is because the life is a real unity, because the foundation of its unity is God’s unity: the ontological basis of our life is the simplicity & the purity of God…”

2. I have my own special, particular destiny

“I can no longer see the ultimate meaning of a man’s life in terms of either ‘being a poet’ or ‘being a contemplative’ or even in a certain sense in ‘being a saint’ (although that is the only thing to be).  It must be something much more immediate than that.  I – and every other person in the world – must say: ‘I have my own special, peculiar destiny which no one else ever has had or ever will have.  There exists for me a particular goal, a fulfillment which must be all my own – nobody else’s – & it does not really identify that destiny to put it under some category – ‘poet,’ ‘monk,’ ‘hermit’…”

3. Detached from detachment

“Actually, I think the only valid step that has come out of the whole thing is that I am detached from detachment.  And from ideals, I no longer want to know, or to think, what I am or what I’ve got or where I’m going…”

4. Unless we know we are wrong we cannot be right

“The thing is to see that unless we know we are wrong we cannot be right, because the only thing we can successfully be right about is the fact that we are all wrong.  The one incontrovertible fact of human life.  When one starts from that one, however, the rest begins to make sense…”

5. The misunderstandings that come your way

“Bear with the misunderstandings that come your way…”

6. So terribly much is completely unknown

“The basic truth is our dependence on God in a realm where so terribly much is completely unknown and in a way unknowable…”

7. The true significance of my life

“People often ask why I am here in the first place, and what the contemplative life means to me. It means to me the search for truth and for God.  It means finding the true significance of my life, and my right place in creation…”

8. Solitude and silence

“I think solitude and silence are very important elements which are sadly neglected…”

9. A passive reflection of a television screen

“I think that we citizens of the United States, as a nation, ought to make more serious efforts to act our age and think in proportion to our size.  For this, a whole lot of people who never thought about anything serious in their lives are going to have to wake up and start thinking about their moral and political responsibilities.  It is no good going on emotions and prejudices and slogans and feelings of righteous indignation.  It is no good simply letting our minds become a passive reflection of a television screen.  It is no good going around shouting something that someone else has suggested that we shout, no matter what it may be.  If we want to become a seriously political nation, the people have got to do something for themselves.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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

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