New Perspectives – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Mystics and Zen Masters

by Mark Votava

41WXKyiIpJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Passing into a new era

“…man and the Church are passing into a new era, a brave new world where one must face the risks and challenges of technological society, and seize this decisive opportunity to attain the adulthood of man and of Christianity…  Hence we are on ‘the watershed between a dying civilization based on individualism, once arrogant, now abject, and a collective civilization yet to be formed in which ‘the free development of each will be the condition for the free development of all.’’  We are thus in ‘the passage from an epoch of individual despairs to one of shared hope in an ever richer material and spiritual life.’”

2. Oneness with all that is

“…my ‘identity’ is to be sought not in that separation from all that is, but in oneness (indeed, ‘convergence’?) with all that is.  This identity is not the denial of my own personal reality but its highest affirmation…”

3. Left in emptiness

“The dark night is that of the spirit, where the ‘subject’ of all higher forms of vision and intelligence is itself darkened and left in emptiness: not as a mirror, pure of all impressions, but as a void without knowledge and without any natural capacity to know the supernatural…”

4. We of the West

“We of the West still hold instinctively to the prejudice that our world and our civilization are the ‘whole world’ and that we have a mission to lead all others to the particular cultural goals we have set for ourselves.  But the world is bigger than we have imagined, and its new directions are not always those that we ourselves have envisaged…”

5. To neglect the spiritual heritage of the East

“If the West continues to underestimate and to neglect the spiritual heritage of the East, it may hasten the tragedy that threatens man and his civilizations…”

6. All civilized philosophies

“If the world is to survive and if civilization is to endure or rather perhaps whether its present crisis and recover its dimension of ‘wisdom,’ we must hope for a new world culture that takes account of all civilized philosophies.”

7. The heritage of all great traditions

“The Christian scholar is obligated by his sacred vocation to understand and even preserve the heritage of all the great traditions insofar as they contain truths that cannot be neglected and that offer precious insights into Christianity itself…”

8. Our material riches

“Yet we know, or should know, by this time, that our material riches unfortunately imply a spiritual, cultural, and moral poverty that are perhaps far greater than we see…”

9. The world is a sacred vessel

“The world is a sacred vessel which must not be tampered with or grabbed after.”

10. Gain new perspectives

“It is absolutely essential to introduce into our study of the humanities a dimension of wisdom oriented to contemplation as well as to wise action.  For this, it is no longer sufficient merely to go back over the Christian and European cultural traditions.  The horizons of the world are no longer confined to Europe and America.  We have to gain new perspectives, and on this our spiritual and even our physical survival may depend.”

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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