Our Real Journey in Life is Interior – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s writings – The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton

by Mark Votava

515hzuKaCUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Compassion is proportionate to detachment

“Compassion is proportionate to detachment; otherwise we use others for our own ends under the pretext of ‘love.’ Actually, we are dominated by illusion. Love that perpetuates the illusion does no good to others or to ourselves…”

2. Our real journey in life is interior

“Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts. Never was it more necessary for us to respond to that action…”

3. A witness to life

“The marginal person, the monk, the displaced person, the prisoner, all these people live in the presence of death, which calls into question the meaning of life. He struggles with the fact of death in himself, trying to seek something deeper than death; because there is something deeper than death, and the office of the monk or the marginal person, the meditative person or the poet is to go beyond death even in this life, to go beyond the dichotomy of life and death and to be, therefore, a witness to life.”

4. To admit our loneliness

“It is not that we go out into the world with a capacity to love others greatly. This too we know in ourselves, that our capacity for love is limited. And it has to be completed with the capacity to be loved, to accept love from others, to want to be loved by others, to admit our loneliness and to live with our loneliness because everybody is lonely…”

5. Let us be bound together with love

“Oh God, we are one with You. You have made us one with You. You have taught us that if we are open to one another, You dwell in us. Help us to preserve this openness and to fight for it with all our hearts. Help us to realize that there can be no understanding where there is mutual rejection. Oh God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely, we accept You, and we thank You, and we adore You, and we love You with our whole being, because our being is in Your being, our spirit is rooted in Your spirit. Fill us then with love, and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes You present in the world, and which makes You witness to the ultimate reality that is love. Love has overcome. Love is victorious…” 

6. Entangled in our own mind

“What is important is not liberation from the body but liberation from the mind. We are not entangled in our own body but entangled in our own mind.”

7. The old splitting-up process that leads to mindlessness

“Too much movement. Too much ‘looking for’ something: an answer, a vision, ‘something other.’ And this breeds illusion. Illusion that there is something else. Differentiation – the old splitting-up process that leads to mindlessness, instead of the mindfulness of seeing all-in- emptiness and not having to break it all up against itself…”

Do you agree that our real journey in life is interior?

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