Pure Love – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – New Seeds of Contemplation
by Mark Votava
1. The fullness of contemplation
“But as long as there is this sense of separation, this awareness of distance and difference between ourselves and God, we have not yet entered into the fullness of contemplation.”
2. The true inner self
“As long as there is an ‘I’ that is the definite subject of a contemplative experience, an ‘I’ that is aware of itself and of its contemplation, an ‘I’ that can possess a certain ‘degree of spirituality,’ then we have not yet passed over the Red Sea, we have not yet ‘gone out of Egypt.’ We remain in the realm of multiplicity, activity, incompleteness, striving and desire. The true inner self, the true indestructible and immortal person, the true ‘I’ who answers to a new and secret name known only to himself and to God, does not ‘have’ anything, even ‘contemplation.’ This “I’ is not the kind of subject that can amass experiences, reflect on them, reflect on himself, for this ‘I’ is not the superficial and empirical self that we know in our everyday life.”
3. One spirit
“This inmost self is beyond the kind of experience which says ‘I want,’ ‘I love,’ ‘I know,’ ‘I feel.’ It has its own way of knowing, loving and experiencing which is a divine way and not a human one, a way of identity, of union, of ‘espousal,’ in which there is no longer a separate psychological individuality drawing all good and all truth toward itself, and thus loving and knowing for itself. Lover and Beloved are ‘one spirit.’”
4. Any kind of stability and peace
“The most unusual entrance to contemplation is through a desert of aridity in which, although you see nothing and feel nothing and apprehend nothing and are conscious only of a certain interior suffering and anxiety, yet you are drawn and held in this darkness and dryness because it is the only place in which you can find any kind of stability and peace…”
5. It is a great mistake to confuse the person and the ego
“It is a great mistake to confuse the person (the spiritual and hidden self, united with God) and the ego, the exterior, empirical self, the psychological individuality who forms a kind of mask for the inner and hidden self. This outer self is nothing but an evanescent shadow. Its biography and its existence both end together at death. Of the inmost self, there is neither biography nor end. The outward self can ‘have’ much, ‘enjoy’ much, ‘accomplish’ much, but in the end all its possessions, joys and accomplishments are nothing, and the outer self is, itself, nothing: a shadow, a garment that is cast off and consumed by decay.”
6. Our true self
“Our reality, our true self, is hidden in what appears to us to be nothingness and void. What we are not seems to be real, what we are seems to be unreal. We can rise above this unreality, and recover our hidden identity. And that is why the way to reality is the way of humility which brings us to reject the illusory self and accept the ‘empty’ self that is ‘nothing’ in our own eyes and in the eyes of men, but is our true reality in the eyes of God…”
Have you discovered your own reality, your true self?
My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!
“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism
My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!
“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline… without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.” Shane Claiborne, author and activist