Just Keeping Real – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s writings – The Courage For Truth: Letters To Writers

by Mark Votava

4004384-M1. Love has an infinite power

“…love has an infinite power, and its power, once released, can in an instant destroy and swallow up all hatred, all evil, all injustice, all that is diabolical…”

2. Integrate new questions

“There is no question in my mind that there is a need to integrate new questions and answers in a human universe: when I said I was fed up with answers, I meant square answers, ready-made answers, answers that ignore the question. All clear answers tend to be of this nature today, because we are so deep in confusion and grab desperately at five thousand glimmers of seeming clarity. It is better to start with a good acceptance of the dark. That in itself contains many answers in a form that is not yet worked out: one has the answers, but not the full meaning.”

3. Confrontation with systems and power

“Basically our first duty today is to human truth in its existential reality, and this sooner or later brings us into confrontation with systems and power which seek to overwhelm truth for the sake of particular interests, perhaps rationalized as ideals. Sooner or later this human duty presents itself in a form of crisis that cannot be evaded… One must then be truly detached and free in order not to be held and impeded by anything secondary or irrelevant. Which is another way of saying that poverty also is our strength.”

4. Lies and fake rituals

“But unfortunately all the big societies now seem to be so built on lies and fake rituals they are really unlivable. Naturally I agree that this can apply very well to the Church also…”

5. Our life’s work cut out for us just keeping real

“It seems to me that we all have an enormous amount to do just looking for what is real: and of course that has to go on all the time because you never definitely find anything that stays real in the same way the next day… We have our life’s work cut out for us just keeping real. The tragedy is to suppose that a society, an institution, a cause, or even a Church, will do the job for us. And it is rough to have to recognize that what we have been trying to build has to be taken apart and put back together in a better way – and with a lot of trouble. Yet there is always something very good about starting out all over again. I seem to be getting along toward something like that, as I suggested: finding new dimensions and directions. The best ones are those that do not appear to be anything much and cannot be explained…”

6. The part of humanity which I lack

“I am therefore not completely human until I have found myself in my African and Asian and Indonesian brother because he has the part of humanity which I lack.”

Do you think your life’s work is in just keeping real?

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