A Dialectic of Hate – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Raids on the Unspeakable

by Mark Votava

download (10)1. The nest of the Unspeakable

“Those who are at present so eager to be reconciled with the world at any price must take care not to be reconciled with it under this particular aspect: as the nest of the Unspeakable.  This is what too few are willing to see.”

2. An act and affirmation of solitude

“The discovery of this inner self is an act and affirmation of solitude.”

3. Our freedom remains abortive

“Because we live in a womb of collective illusion, our freedom remains abortive.  Our capacities for joy, peace, and truth are never liberated.  They can never be used.  We are prisoners of a process, a dialectic of false promises and real deceptions ending in futility.”

4. The gifts of peace and understanding

“It is in the desert of loneliness and emptiness that the fear of death and the need for self-affirmation are seen to be illusory.  When this is faced, then aguish is not necessarily overcome, but it can be accepted and understood.  Thus, in the heart of anguish are found the gifts of peace and understanding: not simply in personal illumination and liberation, but by commitment and empathy, for the contemplative must assume the universal anguish and the inescapable condition of mortal man.  The solitary, far from enclosing himself in himself, becomes every man.  He dwells in the solitude, the poverty, the indigence of every man.”

5. A dialectic of hate

“The love of solitude is sometimes condemned as ‘hatred of our fellow men.’  But is this true?  If we push our analysis of collective thinking a little further we will find that the dialectic of power and need, of submission and satisfaction, ends by being a dialectic of hate.  Collectivity needs not only to absorb everyone it can, but also implicitly to hate and destroy whoever cannot be absorbed.  Paradoxically, one of the needs of collectivity is to reject certain classes, or races, or groups, in order to strengthen its own self-awareness by hating them instead of absorbing them.”

6. True capacity for maturity, liberty and peace

“Thus the solitary cannot survive unless he is capable of loving everyone, without concern for the fact that he is likely to be regarded by all of them as a traitor.  Only the man who has fully attained his own spiritual identity can live without the need to kill, and without the need of a doctrine that permits him to do so with a good conscience…  Hence it is the solitary person (whether in the city or in the desert) who does mankind the inestimable favor of reminding it of its true capacity for maturity, liberty and peace.”

7. What is the meaning of a concept of sanity that excludes love?

“And so I ask myself: what is the meaning of a concept of sanity that excludes love, considers it irrelevant, and destroys our capacity to love other human beings, to respond to their needs and their sufferings, to recognize them also as persons, to apprehend their pain as one’s own? Evidently this is not necessary for ‘sanity’ at all…”

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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