Look Within Ourselves – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – The Springs of Contemplation

by Mark Votava

41uoFywPbuL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Require a break with the establishment

“…sooner or later we will be faced with choices which require a break with the establishment.”

2. Getting your hands dirty

“…it’s more common for people to realize that the contemplative life doesn’t consist in being turned on all the time and in having special experiences. Or to see that contemplation doesn’t rule out getting your hands dirty.”

3. The best part of the day

“In the hermitage, I go to bed at nine and get up at four. The reason for getting up early is not to impress ourselves or other people but to enjoy those early hours. Sometimes I do stay up late at night and then sleep late in the morning. But when I do, I really miss the early morning. It’s the best part of the day.”

4. In order for the contemplative life to be serious

“You have to have some responsibilities in order for the contemplative life to be serious. Very few people can live a contemplative life without any other responsibility whatever; that’s a special thing…”

5. We look within ourselves

“Now it’s time to ask again: Where do we look for the new thing? We look within ourselves. We have potentialities…”

6. Touched the lives of most people so little

“It is amazing to me that Christianity is the most wonderful thing that has ever come to us and yet it seems to have touched the lives of most people very little.”

7. We listen to the depths of our own being

“This is where silence comes in. We listen to the depth of our own being, and out of this listening comes a rich silence, the silence of God…”

8. We have to rock the boat

“We have a prophetic task. We have to rock the boat…”

9. To love someone on a simple, non-productive sort of way

“There are so many other things we think are more important than listening to others or giving them time. We think we could be using our time much better. Well, we couldn’t. We need the conviction that we can’t do better than to love someone in a simple, non-productive sort of way. In our society you have to produce, period. Being kind to someone or sympathetic, we think is not getting anything done…”

10. Train people not to judge

“For us, it all comes down to the gospel: ‘Judge not.’ One of the important things about spiritual formation is to train people not to judge, to teach them not to box others in. It’s easy in… life just to live on the constant activity of judging and classifying others, putting people in their place, mentally keeping them down.”

Have you looked within to find 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