Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Month: July, 2016

Some Mysterious Vocation – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The full discovery

“What every man looks for in life is his own salvation and the salvation of the men he lives with. By salvation I mean first of all the full discovery of who he himself really is. Then I mean something of the fulfillment of his own God-given powers, in the love of others and of God. I mean also the discovery that he cannot find himself in himself alone, but that he must find himself in and through others…”

2. No interested in the truth

“To love another is to will what is really good for him. Such love must be based on truth… To love blindly is to love selfishly, because the goal of such love is not the real advantage of the beloved but only the exercise of love in our own souls. Such love cannot seem to be love unless it pretends to seek the good of the one loved. But since it actually cares nothing for the truth, and never considers that it may go astray, it proves itself to be selfish. It does not seek the true advantage of the beloved or even our own. It is not interested in the truth, but only in itself. It proclaims itself content with an apparent good: which is the exercise of love for its own sake, without any consideration of the good or bad effects of loving.”

3. Some mysterious vocation

“There is something in the depths of our being that hungers for wholeness and finality. Because we are made for eternal life, we are made for an act that gathers up all the powers and capacities of our being and offers them simultaneously and forever to God. The blind spiritual instinct that tells us obscurely that our own lives have a particular importance and purpose, and which urges us to find out our vocation, seeks in so doing to bring us to a decision that will dedicate our lives irrevocably to their true purpose. The man who loses this sense of his own personal destiny, and who renounces all hope of having any kind of vocation in life has either lost all hope of happiness or else has entered upon some mysterious vocation that God alone can understand.”

4. The meaning of the “common good”

“If I do not love other men, I will never discover the meaning of the ‘common good.’ Love is, itself, the common good.”

5. Gain possession of ourselves

“We must, therefore, gain possession of ourselves, by asceticism, in order that we may be able to give ourselves to God. No inspiration of the Spirit of God will ever move us to cast off the body as if it were evil, or to destroy its faculties as if they were the implacable enemies of God…”

6. Turns us in upon ourselves

“When is suffering useless? When it only turns us in upon ourselves, when it only makes us sorry for ourselves, when it changes love into hatred, when it reduces all things to fear…”

Have we turned in upon ourselves when we suffer or have we been broken open to deeper compassion and love?

Purchase No Man Is An Island

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

Being What We Are Not – 5 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – The New Man

41yINHj74-L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_1. A stubborn insistence on being what we are not

“For pride is a stubborn insistence on being what we are not and never were intended to be. Pride is a deep, insatiable need for unreality, an exorbitant demand that others believe the lie we have made ourselves believe about ourselves. It infects at once man’s person and the whole society he lives in… Pride and selfishness then react upon one another in a vicious circle, each one greatly enlarging the other’s capacity to destroy our life. In a sense, pride is simply a form of supreme and absolute subjectivity. It sees all things from the viewpoint of a limited, individual self that is constituted as the center of the universe. Now everyone knows that, subjectively we see and feel as if we were at the center of things, since that is the way we are made. Pride however comes and elevates this subjective feeling into metaphysical absolute. The self must be treated as if, not merely in feeling but in actual fact, the whole universe revolves around it… If I am the center of the universe, then everything belongs to me. I can claim, as my due, all the good things of the earth. I can rob and cheat and bully other people. I can help myself to anything I like, and no one can resist me. Yet at the same time all must respect and love me as a benefactor, a sage, a leader, a king. They must let me bully them and take away all that they have and on top of it all they must bow down, kiss my feet and treat me as god.”

2. Avoid acting like a baby

“Humility, therefore, is absolutely necessary if man is to avoid acting like a baby all his life. To grow up means, in fact, to become humble, to throw away the illusion that I am at the center of everything and that other people only exist to provide me with comfort and pleasure…”

3. Recognize our own illusions

“We must at least know ourselves well enough to recognize our own illusions, our own limitations, our own weaknesses, enough to be able to tell when it is not the charity of Christ that speaks in our hearts, but only our own self pity… or ambition, or cowardice, or thirst for domination.”

4. Our own liberty

“Without the free and conscious and clearly realized exercise of our own liberty we cannot become, in the full sense, persons.”

5. The divine image in our soul

“Just as some men have to struggle to recover a natural, spontaneous realization of their own capacity for life and movement and physical enjoyment, so all men  have to struggle to regain the spontaneous and vital awareness of their spirituality, of the fact that they have a soul that is capable of coming to life and experiencing profound and hidden values… And this spirituality in man is identified with the divine image in our soul.”

How can we stop acting like a baby all our life?

Purchase The New Man

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

Start From Where We Are – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s writings – The School of Charity: Letters on Religious Renewal and Spiritual Direction

51DC5NQGMAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The Nativity of God

“The Nativity of God in the world develops in the history of man. The Christ lives in the history of the people, not of rich and powerful people, not of powerful peoples, no, but in that of the poor…”

2. A constant struggle with unreality

“…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…”

3. Stability is much more reasonable

“Stability is much more reasonable… when one has grown roots in the soil… by work and concern, and when one has been participating in the productive endeavors of the community, sharing in work and in the fruits of work…”

4. Start from where we are

“…we have to start from where we are, and respond to grace as we are, within our own communities and we have to take one step at a time. The main thing is to be ready to refuse nothing when the call really comes, and to be open to each little thing, each new opportunity to make our life more real and less of a systematic and mechanical routine. But we have to be patient and not demand instant sweeping results…”

5. We have forgotten how to be that simple

“The idea of community really needs reviving: it has got lost in the idea of institution. Community and person are correlative. No community without persons; no persons without community. Too organized an institutional life tends to stifle both community and personality. Primacy tends to be given to an organizational task. Community is an end in itself, not a means to carry out tasks. Community is ordered to life, as a good in its own right. It is life-centered, person-centered. Hence we should not be too anxious about ‘getting anywhere’ with community, except that community itself should ‘be’ and celebrate itself in love. Probably one of the things about it is that it is too simple. We have forgotten how to be that simple…”

6. America and Europe

“…you can’t judge the world by America and Europe…”

7. In rather poor shape

“…we are in rather poor shape here in this country…”

8. Open one’s heart to the Spirit

“Naturally one needs to understand what is happening and open one’s heart to the Spirit.”

9. Greater solitude and contemplation

“…every opportunity should be granted for the fulfillment of true vocations to greater solitude and contemplation…”

10. Betrayed all true revolution

“Basically, also, I am a revolutionist – in a broad, non-violent sense of the word. I believe that those who have used violence have betrayed all true revolution, they have changed nothing, they have simply enforced with greater brutality the anti-spiritual and anti-human drives that are destructive of truth and love in man. I believe that the true revolution must come slowly and painfully…”

How can we start from where we are in life?

Purchase The School of Charity

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

Growth, Life, Creativity – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

thomasmerton1. The greatest revolution in history

“We are living in the greatest revolution in history – a huge spontaneous upheaval of the entire human race: not the revolution planned and carried out by any particular party, race, or nation, but a deep elemental boiling over of all the inner contradictions that have ever been in man, a revelation of the chaotic forces inside everybody. This is not something we have chosen, nor is it something we are free to avoid.”

2. The preposterous idea of “worthiness”

“God is asking of me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of all my brothers, and dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us all in God’s likeness. And to laugh, after all, at the preposterous idea of ‘worthiness.’”

3. Courage to face risk

“In a time of drastic change one can be too preoccupied with what is ending or too obsessed with what seems to be beginning. In either case one loses touch with the present and with its obscure but dynamic possibilities. What really matters is openness, readiness, attention, courage to face risk. You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope. In such an event, courage is the authentic form taken by love.”

4. Do no honor to the truth

“I will continue to do what I can with the little faith I have, because to pretend I had more would do no honor to the truth…”

5. To reject love

“Beware of the temptation to refuse love, to reject love, for ostensibly ‘spiritual motives.’ Consider the awful sterility of those who, claiming to love God, have in reality dispensed themselves from all obligations to love anyone, and have remained inert and stunted in a little circle of abstract, petty concerns involving themselves and a few others as sterile as themselves!”

6. The dawn breath

“Without the night spirit, the dawn breath, silence, passivity, rest, man’s nature cannot be itself…”

7. The final exaltation of our culture

“This is the final exaltation of our culture: individualism, comfort, security, and to hell with everybody else…”

8. Growth, life, creativity

“My being is given me not simply as an arbitrary and inscrutable affliction, but as a source of joy, growth, life, creativity, and fulfillment. But the decision to take existence only as an affliction is left to me.”

9. An extension of our attitude toward ourselves

“Should I really experience nature as alien and heartless? Should I be prepared to imagine that this alienation from nature is real, and that an attitude of sympathy, of oneness with it, is only imaginary? On the contrary – we have a choice of projections. Our attitude toward nature is simply an extension of our attitude toward ourselves, and toward one another. We are free to be at peace with ourselves and others, and also with nature.”

Have you been pursuing growth, life, and creativity?

Purchase Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

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

Mercy Heals In Every Way – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Love and Living edited by Naomi Burton Stone and Patrick Hart

510p+r97PhL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_1. Sanity and spiritual balance

“If man is to recover his sanity and spiritual balance, there must be a renewal of communion between the traditional, contemplative disciplines and those of science, between the poet and the physicist, the priest and the depth psychologist, the monk and the politician.”

2. So addicted to war

“…man is so addicted to war that he cannot possibly deal with his addiction. And yet if he does not learn to cope with it, the addiction will ruin him altogether.”

3. Creating our own lives

“It is true that we are called to create a better world. But we are first of all called to a more immediate and exalted task: that of creating our own lives. In doing this, we act as co-workers with God. We take our place in the great work of mankind, since in effect the creation of our own destiny, in God, is impossible in pure isolation. Each of us works out his own destiny in inseparable union with all those others with whom God has willed us to live. We share with one another the creative work of living in the world. And it is through our struggle with material reality, with nature, that we help one another create at the same time our own destiny and a new world for our descendants. This work of man, which is his peculiar and inseparable vocation, is a prolongation of the creative work of God… Failure to measure up to this challenge and to meet this creative responsibility is to fail in that response to life which is required of us by the will of our… Creator.”

4. Becoming ourselves

“There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves.”

5. Confined within an iron law of selfhood

“If we love others only insofar as they love us, we are confined within an iron law of selfhood which seeks to assert our own existence and defend it (however hopelessly) against extinction. The love we thus give to others is the reward we offer them, the payment with which we buy their recognition of our own existence. With such love we only bribe them to help us persist in an illusion of a deathless and complete autonomy. As we bribe them by helping them defend the same illusion in themselves…”

6. The climate of mercy

“The climate of mercy, which is the climate of the new creation, depends on the realization that all men are acceptable before God…”

7. The only force that can truly heal

“Mercy heals in every way. It heals bodies, spirits, society, and history. It is the only force that can truly heal…”

How do you embody mercy in your everyday life?

Purchase Love and Living

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

The Subconscious Mind – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The subconscious mind

“The subconscious mind plays a very important part in the interior life, even though it remains behind the scenes. Just as a good play depends on the scene, the lighting, and all the rest, so too our interior life owes much of its character to the setting and lighting and background and atmosphere which are provided, without any deliberate action of our own, by our subconscious mind.”

2. Hope is the gateway to contemplation

“Hope is the gateway to contemplation, because contemplation is an experience of divine things and we cannot experience what we do not in some way possess…”

3. The gift of love

“The gift of love is the gift of the power and the capacity to love, and, therefore, to give love with full effect is also to receive it. So, love can only be kept by being given away, and it can only be given perfectly when it is also received.”

4. Really leading an interior life

“What is hard is not the business of putting forth physical effort, but the work of really leading an interior life… underneath all the externals.”

5. What you think of yourself

“Your idea of me is fabricated with materials you have borrowed from other people and from yourself. What you think of me depends on what you think of yourself. Perhaps you create your idea of me out of material that you would like to eliminate from your own idea of yourself. Perhaps your idea of me is a reflection of what other people think of you. Or perhaps what you think of me is simply what you think I think of you.”

6. A life without love and without mercy

“What is the value of a virtuous life, if it be a life without love and without mercy?…”

7. Practical and alive

“The truth I love in loving my brother cannot be something merely philosophical and abstract. It must be at the same time supernatural and concrete, practical and alive. And I mean these words in no metaphorical sense… I must seek the life of the Spirit of God breathing in him. And I can only discern and follow the mysterious life by the action of the same Holy Spirit living and acting in the depths of my own heart.”

8. Created in the image of God

“This respect for the deepest values hidden in another’s personality is more than an obligation of charity. It is a debt we owe in justice to every being, but especially to those who, like ourselves, are created in the image of God.”

9. Some of the charity, that is in ourselves

“Some people never reveal any of the good that is hidden in them until we give them some of the good, that is to say, some of the charity, that is in ourselves.”

10. We must be ourselves

“We must be ourselves by being Christ. For a man, to be is to live. A man only lives as a man when he knows the truth and loves what he knows and acts according to what he loves. In this way he becomes the truth that he loves. So we ‘become’ Christ by knowledge and by love.”

Are you aware of how the subconscious mind plays an important part in the interior life?

Purchase No Man Is An Island

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

The Disorganization Inside Our Souls – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – No Man Is An Island 

41tYJhDcp8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. If we love one another truly

“If we love one another truly, our love will be graced with a clear-sighted prudence which sees and respects the designs of God upon each separate soul. Our love for one another must be rooted in a deep devotion to Divine Providence, a devotion that abandons our own limited plans into the hands of God… For love must not only seek the truth in the lives of those around us; it must find it there. But when we find the truth that shapes our lives we have found more than an idea…”  

2. Action and contemplation

“Action and contemplation now grow together into one life and one unity. They become two aspects of the same thing. Action is charity looking outward to other men, and contemplation is charity drawn inward to its own divine source. Action is the stream, and contemplation is the spring. The spring remains more important than the stream, for the only thing that really matters is for love to spring up inexhaustibly from the infinite abyss of Christ and of God.”

3. We cannot suffer well

“We cannot suffer well unless we see Christ everywhere – both in suffering and in the charity of those who come to the aid of our affliction.”

4. Not limited by fear

“Love is perfect in proportion to its freedom. It is free in proportion to its purity. We act most freely when we act purely in response to the love of God. But the purest love of God is not servile, not blind, not limited by fear. Pure charity is fully aware of the power of its own freedom…”

5. No true intimacy

“But there is no true intimacy between souls who do not know how to respect one another’s solitude. I cannot be united in love with a person whose very personality my love tends to obscure, to absorb, and to destroy. Nor can I awaken true love in a person who is invited, by my love, to be drowned in the act of drowning me with love.”

6. The disorganization inside our souls

“Our wills are not true, because they refuse to accept the laws of our own being: they fail to work along the lines demanded by our own reality. Our wills are plunged in false values, and they have dragged our minds along with them, and our restless tongues bear constant witness to the disorganization inside our souls…”

7. Our capacity for sincere love

“Our ability to be sincere with ourselves, with God, and with other men is really proportionate to our capacity for sincere love. And the sincerity of our love depends in large measure upon our capacity to believe ourselves loved. Most of the moral and mental and even religious complexities of our time go back to our desperate fear that we are not and can never be really loved by anyone.”

Are you aware of the disorganization inside your soul?

Purchase No Man Is An Island

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

Attached To Our Inner Egoism – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Seeds of Destruction

41pOurJW4eL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_1. The providential character of this hour

“Is the white man really in a position to recognize the providential character of this hour?…”

2. Can no longer be contained by token concessions

“…for revolutions are always the result of situations in which the drive of an underprivileged mass of men can no longer be contained by token concessions, and in which the establishment is too confused, too inert and too frightened to participate with the underprivileged in a new and creative solution of what is realized to be their own common problem.”

3. It is not by words only that we speak

“It is not by words only that we speak. Our aims, our plans of action, our outlook, our attitudes, our habitual response to the problems and challenges of life, ‘speak’ of our inner being and reveal our fidelity or infidelity to ourselves. Our very existence, our life itself contains an implicit pretension to meaning, since all our free acts are implicit commitments, selections of ‘meanings’ which we seem to find confronting us. Our very existence is ‘speech’ interpreting reality. But the crisis of truth in the modern world comes from the bewildering complexity of the almost infinite contradictory propositions and claims to meaning uttered by millions of acts, movements, changes, decisions, attitudes, gestures, events, going on all around us. Most of all a crisis of truth is precipitated when men realize that almost all these claims are in fact without significance when they are not in great part entirely fraudulent.”

4. The universal common good

“If the person is to function rationally as a member of society, he must meet others on a common ground of reason. Common decisions and efforts which must be orientated toward the universal common good…”

5. Collaboration is manifestly impossible without mutual trust

“But rational collaboration is manifestly impossible without mutual trust and this in turn is out of the question where there is no basis for sure communication. Not only is communication lacking: it is blocked. It is fiercely resisted by groups and nations which close themselves and refuse to communicate with one another except by ultimatums and threats of destruction…”

6. Prisoners of the same illusion

“All white men together, in spite of their fantasies of innocence, are prisoners of the same illusion, seduced by their own slogans, obsessed by the voice of an inner demon. They have no better alternatives than the passivities and oral fantasies of the consumer’s dream-world and the violent barbarities with which they react, when briefly awakened, to all that threatens to contradict their infantile dream.”

7. Lamentable injustices and cruelties

“…white society has sinned in many ways. It has betrayed Christ by its injustices to races it considered ‘inferior’ and to countries which it colonized. In particular it has sinned against Christ in its lamentable injustices and cruelties…”

8. Prosperity is rooted in injustice

“…prosperity is rooted to some extent in injustice and in sin.”

9. Attached to our inner egoism

“One must know what are the real attachments in his soul before he can effectively work against them, and one must have a detached will in order to see the truth of one’s attachments. In practice, the events of life bring us face to face, in painful situations, with the places in which we are attached to our inner egoism…”

Are you attached to your inner egoism?

Purchase Seeds of Destruction

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

All Of Us Are Wrong – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s writings – Turning Toward the World: The Journals of Thomas Merton 1960-1963

download (13)1. Life is our destiny

“Life is our destiny whether we want it or not… Man is not, and cannot be, a mere ephemeral thing. But if he wills to be evanescent, to remain in what is not, he is a living contradiction.”

2. All of us are wrong in one way or another

“And doubtless the truth is that all of us are wrong in one way or another. And the ways in which we are ‘right’ are so illusory as to be non-existent…”

3. Do I want to act?

“Do I want to act? I am afraid I am only too glad to let myself be ‘held’ in a position where I am unable to move, and only complain weakly to conceal from myself the fact that I enjoy this inertia. If this is true, how can I claim to have any honesty left, or any honor?”

4. Slowly strangled

“We are being slowly strangled by our own economic system…”

5. Intensifying our despair

“What is worse in the world is the apathy, the helplessness, the despair of men, especially of the intellectuals. Others continue to fill the air with the noise of deceptive hopes – thus intensifying our despair.”

6. An escapist, a snob, a narcissist

“I have a natural tendency to become an escapist, a snob, a narcissist…”

7. A perfect spiritual humility and a total openness

“True Buddhism as I understand it is a perfect spiritual humility and a total openness…”

8. Stand on your own feet

“This is a very significant observation. It ought to be obvious, but is not, because there are so few Christians who are really able to stand on their own feet, and not propped up by reactionaries of the right on one side or those of the left on the other… But who is there who can stand in the middle and go his own way as a Christian? Probably there are some, but not as many as claim to be.”

9. Accept what vulnerability I have

“Yet I think I can dare to accept what vulnerability I have (largely my own fault perhaps) as that of an exile, an alien, and feel it also as that which is normal for all the poor. Should it not be normal for me? Then why do I resent it? Because that is part of the wound!”

10. Slowly coming to a point of maturation

“I am perhaps at a turning point in my spiritual life: perhaps slowly coming to a point of maturation and the resolution of doubts – and the forgetting of fears…”

Do you believe that you are probably wrong about everything?

Purchase Turning Toward the World: The Journals of Thomas Merton 1960-1963

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

We Have To Risk Everything – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Thoughts in Solitude

41e9ou6sQ0L1. Christ acting in us

“Actual graces move us to actualize these hidden powers and to realize what they mean: Christ acting in us.”

2. The solution of the problem of life is life itself

“The solution of the problem of life is life itself. Life is not attained by reasoning and analysis, but first of all by living. For until we have begun to live our prudence has no material to work on. And until we have begun to fail we have no way of working out our success.”

3. The silence goes dead within us

“It is necessary that we find the silence of God not only in ourselves but also in one another… For inner silence depends on a continual seeking, a continual crying in the night, a repeated bending over the abyss. If we cling to a silence we think we have found forever, we stop seeking God and the silence goes dead within us…”

4. Books can speak to us like God

“Books can speak to us like God, like men or like the noise of the city we live in. They speak to us like God when they bring us light and peace and fill us with silence. They speak to us like God when we desire never to leave them. They speak to us like men when we desire to hear them again. They speak to us like the noise of the city when they hold us captive by a weariness that tells us nothing, give us no peace, and no support, nothing to remember, and yet will not let us escape.”

5. A kind of inner upheaval

“One cannot then enter into meditation, in this sense, without a kind of inner upheaval. By upheaval I do not mean a disturbance, but a breaking out of routine, a liberation of the heart from the cares and preoccupations of one’s daily business…”

6. Constantly awakening to new wonder

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything… Every breath we draw is a gift… Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder…”

7. We have to risk everything

“And sooner or later, if we follow Christ we have to risk everything in order to gain everything. We have to gamble on the invisible and risk all that we can see and taste and feel. But we know the risk is worth it, because there is nothing more insecure than this transient world.”

8. Rules and ascetic practices

“Too many ascetics fail to become great saints precisely because their rules and ascetic practices have merely deadened their humanity instead of setting it free to develop richly, in all its capacities, under the influence of grace.”

9. Nothing to exploit

“The Desert Fathers believed that the wilderness had been created as supremely valuable in the eyes of God precisely because it had no value to men. The wasteland was the land that could never be wasted by men because it offered them nothing. There was nothing to attract them. There was nothing to exploit…”

Have we risked everything to seek God in everyday life?

Purchase Thoughts in Solitude

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