The Attitude of Openness – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Seeds of Destruction

by Mark Votava

41pOurJW4eL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_1. The attitude of openness

“It is the attitude of openness… that must form our thinking… in time of crisis, and not the closed and fanatical myths of nationalism or racial paranoia…”

2. Peace demands the most heroic labor

“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice.  It demands greater heroism than war.  It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience…”

3. A sign of the Divine Presence in the world

“…peace is in fact a fruit of the Spirit… and a sign of the Divine Presence in the world.”

4. Truth, justice, love and liberty

“The individual can be considered as an isolated human unit functioning and acting for himself and by himself.  The person can never be properly understood outside of the framework of social relationships and obligations, for the person exists not merely in order to fight for survival: not only to function efficiently, and overcome others in competition for the goods of this earth which are thought to guarantee happiness.  The person finds his reason for existence in the realm of truth, justice, love and liberty.  He fulfils himself not by closing himself within the narrow confines of his own individual interests and those of his family, but by his openness to other men, to the civil society in which he lives and to the society of nations in which he is called to collaborate with others…”

5. The ethic of the Gospel

“Gandhi certainly spoke often of Jesus, whom he had learned to know through Tolstoy.  And Gandhi knew the New Testament thoroughly.  Whether or not Gandhi ‘believed in’ Jesus in the sense that he had genuine Christian faith in the Gospel would be very difficult to demonstrate, and it is not my business to prove it or disprove it.  I think that the effort to do so would be irrelevant in any case.  What is certainly true is that Gandhi not only understood the ethic of the Gospel as well, if not in some ways better, than many Christians, but he is one of the very few men of our time who applied Gospel principles to the problems of a political and social existence…”

6. If love is not the law of our being

“Gandhi believed that the central problem of our time was the acceptance or the rejection of a basic law of love and truth which had been made known to the world in traditional religions and most clearly by Jesus Christ.  Gandhi himself expressly and very clearly declared himself as adherent of this one law.  His whole life, his political action, finally even his death, were nothing but a witness to his commitment. ‘IF LOVE IS NOT THE LAW OF OUR BEING THE WHOLE OF MY ARGUMENT FALLS TO PIECES.’”

7. Too much trust in the mass media

“We of the U.S. have unfortunately placed too much trust in our mass media and we have the most fabulously unreal image of ourselves.  We are living in illusion.  We have no concept of how we look to other people, and we do not know how to swallow their exaggerations about us, which go the other extreme.  Nor can we get them to respond to a reality in ourselves which we are passionately engaged in hiding, without realizing it.”

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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