Seeking the Deepest Unity: 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Letters
by Mark Votava
1. Seeking the deepest unity
“I believe that this gift is hidden in all of us, and that we should be aware of it, allowing it to awaken in our hearts. To me the Buddhist discipline of meditation and asceticism are very interesting because of the very sure psychological realism they display. I believe that the wisdom of these techniques is not sufficiently appreciated. It is a pity that Christian scholars tend to approach Buddhism with many illusions, believing it to be in some sense a ‘rival religion.’ To think this is, in many ways, a complete misunderstanding. The very essence of Buddhism is that it is ‘non-competitive’ because it does not set up barriers and divisions, but rather destroys them, seeking the deepest unity, beyond all oppositions…” February 1962 The Road to Joy
2. A constant struggle
“…our life is a constant struggle with unreality, and the thing that complicates it is that the unreality in us is what seems to itself quite sincerely to be struggling for the truth….” January 2, 1964 The School of Charity
3. Your faith must grow always
“In the beginning, perhaps, this faith will not be too difficult. Later on, under trial, it may become hard at times. A faith that is not tested is not worth much. Your faith must grow always, without ceasing. This is why trial is necessary.” May 29, 1962 Witness to Freedom
4. The poor man who can be himself
“But the general lack of understanding, the incapacity to break away from obsession with technics and with results, the madness of space flights and shooting at the moon, shows that the human spirit is being overwhelmed by the riot of its own richness, which in the end is the worst kind of poverty. The poor man who can be himself is at least a man and a person and is richer than the rich man who is carried away by the force to which he has sold himself. This elementary truth no one bothers to recognize. It may ruin us…” August 1, 1963 The Courage for Truth
5. Accept gradually the idea of war
“One of our great problems is to see clearly what we have to resist… The great danger is that under the pressure of anxiety and fear, the alternation of crisis and relaxation and new crisis, the people of the world will come to accept gradually the idea of war, the idea of submission to total power, and the abdication of reason, spirit and individual conscience…” January 1962 The Hidden Ground of Love
6. A brother of other creators
“Man, image of God, should be a creator, but not only as an individual person, but as a brother of other creators. Let us continue creating and struggling for the truth and the kingdom of God. We have a tremendous and marvelous vocation, the vocation of being Americans, that is to say, of being and forming the true America that is the Christ of the Americas: the Christ that was born among the Indians already many centuries ago, who manifested himself in the Indian culture, before the coming of official Christianity: the Christ that has been crucified for centuries on this great cross of our double continent: the Christ that is agonizing on this same cross: when will the hour of the Resurrection of our Christ of the Americas come?, the Christ of the united, free America, (the America) emancipated from the ‘liturgy of the lie and of the pontificate of the infallible ignorance’ which is modern politics; many years will pass, and we will not see the true America that still has not been born. We can and should be prophets of its advent…” December 4, 1958 The Courage for Truth
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