A Deep Interior Life – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – The Seven Story Mountain

by Mark Votava

41J2GqX7WmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The highest pitch of artificial tension

“We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest.”

2. The life of the soul is love

“The life of the soul is not knowledge, it is love, since love is the act of the supreme faculty, the will, by which man is formally united to the final end of all his strivings – by which man becomes one with God.”

3. The thoughts and opinions and applause of other men

“The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men! A weird life it is, indeed to be living always in somebody else’s imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last become real!”

4. The happiness of God

“Our happiness consists in sharing the happiness of God…”

5. The most important aspect of any vocation

“By this time God had given me enough sense to realize at least obscurely that this is one of the most important aspects of any… vocation: the first and most elementary test of one’s call… is the willingness to accept life in a community in which everybody is more or less imperfect.”

6. The mysterious interior solitude

“Contemplation means rest, suspension of activity, withdrawal into the mysterious interior solitude in which the soul is absorbed in the immense and fruitful silence of God…”

7. A deep interior life

“…you are called to a deep interior life…”

8. Grab everything and see everything and investigate every experience

“If what most people take for granted were really true – if all you needed to be happy was to grab everything and see everything and investigate every experience and then talk about it, I should have been a very happy person, a spiritual millionaire, from the cradle even until now.”

9. The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer

“Indeed, the truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most: and his suffering comes to him from things so little and so trivial that one can say that it is no longer objective at all…”

10. The million different voices through which God speaks to us

“We refuse to hear the million different voices through which God speaks to us, and every refusal hardens us more and more…”

Have you embraced a deep interior life?

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