Culture of Imagination

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Tag: Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

To Participate In Creation – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

thomasmerton1. Thank God that I am like other men

“This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. And I suppose my happiness could have taken form in the words: ‘Thank God, thank God that I am like other men, that I am only a man among others’…”

2. Finding ourselves

“If we are going to be personally free and productive human beings we need to recover some kind of interest in the possibility of attaining a relatively human and civilized condition, in which we ourselves can find ourselves and help others do the same. And that we might even be able to communicate something of what it means to attain these goals.”

3. No real access to the truth

“In the long run, no one can show another the error that is within him, unless the other is convinced that his critic first sees and loves the good that is within him. So while we are perfectly willing to tell our adversary he is wrong, we will never be able to do so effectively until we can ourselves appreciate where he is right. And we can never accept his judgment on our errors until he gives evidence that he really appreciates our own peculiar truth. Love, only love, love of our deluded fellow man as he actually is, in his delusion and in his sin: this alone can open the door to truth. As long as we do not have this love, as long as this love is not active and effective in our lives (for words and good wishes will never suffice) we have no real access to the truth…”

4. A failure of love

“Only he who loves can be sure that he is still in contact with the truth, which is in fact too absolute to be grasped by his mind. Hence, he who holds to the gospel truth is afraid that he may lose the truth by a failure of love, not by a failure of knowledge. In that case he is humble, and therefore he is wise…”

5. We are part of nature

“We are part of nature and our knowledge of nature is nothing if not knowledge of nature as known by us, who are parts of it.”

6. To participate in creation

“…to refrain from destruction is to participate in creation…”

7. Cooperation in violence

“The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence…”

Do you participate in creation with your life?

Purchase Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

The Future of Civilization – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

thomasmerton1. We do not attend

“Here is an unspeakable secret; paradise is all around us and we do not understand. It is wide open. The sword is taken away, but we do not know it: we are off ‘one to his farm and another to his merchandise.’ Lights on. Clocks ticking. Thermostats working. Stoves cooking. Electric shavers filling radios with static. ‘Wisdom,’ cries dawn deacon, but we do not attend.”

2. The whole idea is preposterous

“…though ‘out of the world’ we are in the same world as everybody else, the world of the bomb, the world of race hatred, the world of technology, the world of mass media, big business, revolution, and all the rest. We take a different attitude to all these things, for we belong to God. Yet so does everybody else belong to God. We just happen to be conscious of it… But does that entitle us to consider ourselves different, or even better, than others? The whole idea is preposterous.”

3. With insight and compassion

“Gradually, by accepting our place in the world and our tasks as they are, we come to be liberated from the limitations of the world and of a restricted, halfhearted milieu: yet one is content with one’s moment of history and one’s obscure task in it. One must be detached from systems and collective plans, without rancor toward them, but with insight and compassion…”

4. The beauty of Christ in each individual person

“You can see the beauty of Christ in each individual person, in that which is most his, most human, most personal to him…”

5. The tempting force of propaganda

“This very special and tempting force of propaganda – that it helps sustain the individual’s illusion of identity and freedom – is due to the isolation of the individual in mass society, in which he is in fact a zero in the crowd in which he is absorbed. It is this simple act of apparently thinking out what is thought out for him by propaganda that saves the individual from totally vanishing into the mass. It makes him imagine he is real. Moreover it gives him the sense of being not only real, but right. It justifies him. To think that there are many people in mass society who consider themselves Christians, and who, psychologically at least, seek their justification not from faith in Christ or from the works of Christ’s love, but from propaganda, which enables them to think out ‘for themselves’ a few simple political opinions that add up to a crusade ‘in the name of Christ’…”

6. The future of civilization

“Can the future of civilization not be somehow directed away from mechanical formalization and spiritual disruption? Or should we bravely regard ourselves as called to abandon light and renounce spirit as superfluous luxury, a remnant of feudalism?”

7. We have hated our need for compassion

“We have hated our need for compassion and have suppressed it as a ‘weakness,’ and our cruelty has far outstripped our sense of mercy. Our humanity is sinking under the waves of hatred and desperation, and we are carried away by a storm that would never have been so terrible if we were not capable of such feelings of guilt about it!…”

What do you think about the future of our civilization? Is it looking positive or negative?

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

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

5 Thomas Merton Books I Really Love A Lot

1. Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander thomasmerton

“We have got ourselves into a position where, because of our misunderstanding of theoretical distinctions between the ‘natural and the supernatural,’ we tend to think that nothing in man’s ordinary life is really supernatural except saying prayers and performing pious acts of one sort or another, pious acts which derive their value precisely from the fact that they rescue us, momentarily, from the ordinary routine of life. And therefore we imagine that Christian social action is not Christian in itself, but only because it is a kind of escalator to unworldliness and devotion. This is because we apparently cannot conceive material and worldly things seriously as having any capacity to be ‘spiritual.’ But Christian social action, on the contrary, conceives man’s work itself as a spiritual reality, or rather it envisages those conditions under which man’s work can recover a certain spiritual and holy quality, so that it becomes for man a source of spiritual renewal, as well as spiritual livelihood.”

2. New Seeds of Contemplation 727578

“As far as the accidentals of this life are concerned, humility can be quite content with whatever satisfies the general run of men. But that does not mean that the essence of humility consists in being just like everybody else. On the contrary, humility consists in being precisely the person you actually are before God, and since no two people are alike, if you have the humility to be yourself you will not be like anyone else in the whole universe. But this individuality will not necessarily assert itself on the surface of everyday life. It will not be a matter of mere appearances, or opinions, or tastes, or ways of doing things. It is something deep in the soul.”

3. The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation edited by William H. Shannon81MA-v3wVDL

“The important thing in contemplation is not enjoyment, not pleasure, not happiness, not peace, but the transcendent experience of reality and truth in the act of a supreme and liberated spiritual love. The important thing in contemplation is not gratification and rest, but awareness, life, creativity, and freedom. In fact, contemplation is man’s highest and most essential spiritual activity…”

4. Contemplation in a World of Action51Xo2PA2R+L._SL500_AA300_

“Growth in experience implies a serious self-doubt and self-questioning in which values previously held seem to be completely exploded and no other tangible values come to take their place… A Discipline that in fact blocks and prohibits development can produce nothing but tragic inertia. In such a case, crisis and upheaval are desirable reactions! They keep us in touch with reality…”

 

5. Faith and Violence: Christian Teaching and Christian Practicedownload (12)

“Can contemplation still find a place in the world of technology and conflict which is ours? Does it belong only to the past? The answer to this is that, since the direct and pure experience of reality in its ultimate root is man’s deepest need, contemplation must be possible if man is to remain human. If contemplation is no longer possible, then man’s life has lost the spiritual orientation upon which everything else – order, peace, happiness, sanity – must depend. But true contemplation is an austere and exacting vocation. Those who seek it are few and those who find it still fewer. Nevertheless, their presence witnesses to the fact that contemplation remains both necessary and possible.”

Have you read any of these books? What do you think of Thomas Merton?

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

A Refusal To Love – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

thomasmerton1. Questioning and struggle

“We too often forget that Christian faith is a principle of questioning and struggle before it becomes a principle of certitude and of peace. One has to doubt and reject everything else in order to believe firmly in Christ, and after one has begun to believe, one’s faith must be tested and purified. Christianity is not merely a set of foregone conclusions. The Christian mind is a mind that risks intolerable purifications, and sometimes indeed very often, the risk turns out to be too great to be tolerated…”

2. Observe, listen, choose, and obey

“We must recover our inner faith not only in God but in the good, in reality, and in the power of the good to take care of itself and us as well, if only we attend to it, observe, listen, choose, and obey.”

3. Alienated by society

“Man is alienated by the society he lives in. He does not yet know what he will be when he becomes himself…”

4. There is a time to listen

“There is a time to listen, in the active life as everywhere else, and the better part of action is waiting, not knowing what next, and not having a glib answer.”

5. Creative possibilities

“If our time is in fact marked with the sign of suicide, the reason is that this ordinary human mode of life is consistently forgotten – so consistently that the mentality of our world may lay upon many people a burden of despair so great that they cannot meet even the ordinary exigencies of human existence, or muster up the common courage which is an essential component of life. But I think there remain creative possibilities for those who can recognize some other source of hope and understanding than that which is offered by society speaking through the mass media. One who can exchange the refusal to live for an intelligent and creative social dissent may perhaps discover ways of his own out of the general confusion. But in any case these ways will open themselves to him only as providential gifts.”  

6. Cooperating in the work of our own alienation

“Society alienates people while at the same time summoning them to cooperate in the work of their own alienation…”

7. God is present in the world

“We must recover the New Testament awareness that our God does not need a temple… or even a cathedral. The New Testament teaches in fact that God has one indestructible temple: which is man himself… To understand that God is present in the world in man is in fact no new or radical idea. It is, on the contrary, one of the most elementary teachings of the New Testament.”

8. A refusal to love

“A basic temptation: the flatly unchristian refusal to love those whom we consider, for some reason or other, unworthy of love. And, on top of that, to consider others unworthy of love for even very trivial reasons. Not that we hate them of course: but we just refuse to accept them in our hearts, to treat them without suspicion and deal with them without inner reservations. In a word, we reject those who do not please us. We are of course ‘charitable toward them.’ An interesting use of the word ‘charity’ to cover and to justify a certain coldness, suspicion, and even disdain. But this is punished by another inexorable refusal: we are bound by the logic of this defensive rejection to reject any form of happiness that even implies acceptance of those we have decided to reject. This certainly complicates life, and if one is sufficiently intolerant, it ends by making all happiness impossible.”

Have we refused to love others in life? What kind of effect does this have on our quality of 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

Individualism, Comfort, Security – 12 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

download (16)1. We have to get money and keep spending it

“So we have to get money and keep spending it in order to be known, recognized as human. Otherwise we are excommunicated.”

2. A creative consent

“God demands of us a creative consent, in our deepest and most hidden self, the self we do not experience every day, and perhaps never experience, though it is always there. This creative consent is the obedience of my whole being to the will of God, here and now.”

3. Our attitude toward death

“…our attitude toward death is in reality a reflection of our attitude toward ourself and toward our life. He who truly loves life and lives it, is able to accept death without sorrow.”

4. Problems that should never arise

“So we create problems that should never arise, simply because we ‘believe’ with our mind, but heart and body do not follow. Or else the heart and the emotions drive on in some direction of their own, with the mind in total confusion. The damnable abstractedness of the ‘spiritual life’ in this sense is ruining people…”

5. More than the satisfaction of hunger, sex, and so on

“Are there values which man desires more than the satisfaction of hunger, sex, and so on? I certainly think so. Chief of these is the need for meaning…”

6. A little circle of abstract, petty concerns

“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!”

7. At the mercy of the people who want to sell us happiness

“If we are fools enough to remain at the mercy of the people who want to sell us happiness, it will be impossible for us ever to be content with anything. How would they profit if we become content? We would no longer need their new product.”

8. To love freely

“…the Law of Love is the deepest law of our nature, not something extraneous and alien to our nature. Our nature itself inclines us to love, and to love freely.”

9. A living and life-giving aspiration

“One believes because one is told to believe, not because of a living and life-giving aspiration to know the living God…”

10. Individualism, comfort, security

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

11. Unity within myself

“If I do not have unity in myself, how can I even think, let alone speak, of unity among Christians? Yet, of course, in seeking unity for all Christians, I also attain unity within myself.”

12. Inauthentic efforts to be real in the eyes of others

“We are all too ready to believe that the self that we have created out of our more or less inauthentic efforts to be real in the eyes of others is a ‘real self.’ We even take it for our identity. Fidelity to such a nonidentity is of course infidelity to our real person, which is hidden in mystery. Who will you find that has enough faith and self-respect to attend to this mystery and to begin by accepting himself as unknown? God help the man who thinks he knows all about himself.”

How can we escape individualism, comfort, and security?

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

Wisdom Cries – 5 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

thomasmerton1. A perverse joy in blaming everyone else

“…it is so easy to waste oneself in the futilities of that ‘anger, the daughter of despair,’ the vain recrimination that takes a perverse joy in blaming everyone else for our failure. We may certainly fail to accomplish what we believed was God’s will for us and for the Church: but simply to take revenge by resentment against those who blocked the way is not to turn the strength on one’s soul (if any) against the ‘brass face of injustice.’ It is another way of yielding to it.”

2. The refusal to love

“A basic temptation: the… refusal to love those whom we consider, for some reason or other, unworthy of love. And, on top of that, to consider others unworthy of love for even very trivial reasons. Not that we hate them of course: but we just refuse to accept them in our hearts, to treat them without suspicion and deal with them without inner reservations. In a word, we reject those who do not please us. We are of course ‘charitable toward them.’ An interesting use of the word ‘charity’ to cover and to justify a certain coldness, suspicion, and even disdain. But this is punished by another inexorable refusal: we are bound by the logic of this defensive rejection to reject any form of happiness that even implies acceptance of those we have decided to reject. This certainly complicates life, and if one is sufficiently intolerant, it ends by making all happiness impossible.”

3. The whole idea is preposterous

“…though ‘out of the world’ we are in the same world as everybody else, the world of the bomb, the world of race hatred, the world of technology, the world of mass media, big business, revolution, and all the rest. We take a different attitude to all these things, for we belong to God. Yet so does everybody else belong to God. We just happen to be conscious of it, and to make a profession out of this consciousness. But does that entitle us to consider ourselves different, or even better, than others? The whole idea is preposterous.”

4. If you deny man his essence

“But if you deny man his essence, you refuse him at the same time the respect that is due to his existence. It is of little avail to deify man if at the same time you do not allow that he is real: if at the same time he remains simply a fluid nonentity, the shadow of the situations into which he is maneuvered by history. What matter if he takes charge of history if history, after all, really determines him anyway?…”

5. Paradise is all around us

“Here is an unspeakable secret: paradise is all around us and we do not understand. It is wide open. The sword is taken away, but we do not know it: we are off ‘one to his farm and another to his merchandise.’ Lights on. Clocks ticking. Thermostats working. Stoves cooking. Electric shavers filling radios with static. ‘Wisdom,’ cries the dawn…, but we do not attend.”

Do you refuse to love others?

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

Finding Ourselves – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander  

download (16)1. Alienated by the society

“Man is alienated by the society he lives in. He does not yet know what he will be when he becomes himself. But alienated man must be wiped out, and then man as he really ought to be will come into existence.”

2. To imprison ethics in the realm of division

“To imprison ethics in the realm of division, of good and evil, right and wrong, is to condemn it to sterility, and rob it of its real reason for existing, which is love. Love cannot be reduced to one virtue among many others prescribed by ethical imperatives. When love is only ‘a virtue’ among many, man forgets that ‘God is love’ and becomes incapable of that all-embracing love by which we secretly begin to know God as our Creator and Redeemer…”

3. Keep me in this silence

“…keep me in this silence so that I may learn from it the word of your peace and the word of your mercy and the word of your gentleness to the world: and that through me perhaps your word of peace may make itself heard where it has not been possible for anyone to hear it for a long time.”

4. Love is stronger than hate

“Even though we have the power to destroy the whole world, life is stronger than the death instinct and love is stronger than hate… Because there is love in the world,… there remains always the hope that man will finally, after many mistakes and even disasters, learn to disarm and to make peace, recognizing that he must live at peace with his brother. Yet never have we been less disposed to this.” 

5. Finding ourselves

“If we are going to be personally free and productive human beings we need to recover some kind of interest in the possibility of attaining a relatively human and civilized condition, in which we ourselves can find ourselves and help others do the same. And that we might even be able to communicate something of what it means to attain these goals.”

6. Fully healthy and fruitful spirituality

“But because of our mentality we block the ‘total response’ that is needed for a fully healthy and fruitful spirituality. In fact the very idea of ‘spirituality’ tends to be unhealthy in so far as it is divisive and itself makes total response impossible. The ‘spiritual’ life thus becomes something lived ‘interiorly’ and in ‘the spirit’… The body is left out of it, because the body is ‘bad’ or at best ‘unspiritual.’ But the ‘body’ gets into the act anyway, sometimes in rather disconcerting ways, especially when it has been excluded on general principles.” 

7. Lost touch with reality

“Yet if in resisting doubt we convince ourselves that we truly ‘know God’ we have lost touch with reality…”

8. Part of nature

“We have to have the humility first of all to realize ourselves as part of nature. Denial of this results only in madness and cruelties…”

Which quotes do you like the best?

Here are some other posts I have done on Thomas Merton and his writings.

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This Sense of Liberation – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

download (16)1. Man is alienated by the society he lives in

“Man is alienated by the society he lives in.  He does not yet know what he will be when he becomes himself.  But alienated man must be wiped out, and then man as he really ought to be will come into existence.”

2. In our impatience

“It is both dangerous and easy to hate man as he is because he is not ‘what he ought to be.’  If we do not first respect what he is we will never suffer him to become what he ought to be: in our impatience we will do away with him altogether.”

3. The shadow of the situations

“But if you deny man his essence, you refuse him at the same time the respect that is due to his existence.  It is of little avail to deify man if at the same time you do not allow that he is real: if at the same time he remains simply a fluid nonentity, the shadow of the situations into which he is maneuvered by history.  What matter if he takes charge of history if history, after all, really determines him anyway?  If, in the end, he is only the reflection of his own work?”

4. In the same world as everyone else

“…though ‘out of the world’ we are in the same world as everyone else, the world of the bomb, the world of race hatred, the world of technology, the world of mass media, big business, revolution, and all the rest.  We take a different attitude to all these things, for we belong to God.  Yet so does everybody else belong to God.  We just happen to be conscious of it, and to make a profession out of this consciousness.  But does that entitle us to consider ourselves different, or even better, than others?  The whole idea is preposterous.”

5. This sense of liberation

“This sense of liberation from any illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud.  And I suppose my happiness could have taken form in the words: ‘Thank God, thank God that I am like other men, that I am only a man among others.’  To think that for sixteen or seventeen years I have been taking seriously this pure illusion that is implicit in so much of our… thinking.”

6. A violent man cannot begin to look for the truth

“But a violent man cannot begin to look for the truth.  To start with, he wants to rest assured that his enemy is violent, and that he himself is peaceful.  For then his violence is justified.  How can he face the desperate labor of coming to recognize the great evil that needs to be healed in himself?  It is much easier to set things right by seeing one’s own evil incarnate in a scapegoat, and to destroy both the goat and the evil together.”

Which quote do you like the best?

Here are some other posts I have done on Thomas Merton and his writings.

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No Imagination Left For Being – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

download (16)1. You must be willing to become a disturbing and undesired person

“People are constantly trying to use you to help them create the particular illusions by which they live.  This is particularly true of the collective illusions which sometimes are accepted as ideologies.  You must renounce and sacrifice the approval that is only a bribe enlisting your support of a collective illusion.  You must not allow yourself to be represented as someone in  whom a few of the favorite daydreams of the public have come true.  You must be willing, if necessary to become a disturbing and therefore an undesired person, one who is not wanted because he upsets the general dream.  But be careful that you do not do this in the service of some other dream that is only a little less general and therefore seems to you to be more real because it is exclusive!”

2. If we really sought truth

“If we really sought truth we would begin slowly and laboriously to divest ourselves one by one of all our coverings of fiction and delusion: or at least we would desire to do so, for mere willing cannot enable us to effect it.  On the contrary, the one who can best point out our error, and help us to see it, is the adversary whom we wish to destroy.  This is perhaps why we wish to destroy him.  So, too, we can help him to see his error, and that is why he wants to destroy us.”

3. Power has nothing to do with peace

“Power has nothing to do with peace.  The more men build up military power, the more they violate peace and destroy it.”

4. It is humility to accept our humanity

“It is humility to accept our humanity, it is pride to reject it.”                

5. The work of our own alienation

“Society alienates people while at the same time summoning them to cooperate in the work of their own alienation…”

6. Lost touch with reality

“Yet if in resisting doubt we convince ourselves that we truly ‘know God’ we have lost touch with reality…”

7. The need for meaning

“Are there values which man desires more than the satisfaction of hunger, sex, and so on?  I certainly think so.  Chief of these is the need for meaning…”

8. No imagination left for being

“Our professed ideals may still pay lip service to the dignity of the person, but without a sense of being and a respect for being, there can be no real appreciation of the person.  We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being.”

9. The affluent society of the West

“To what extent are we to accept the affluent society of the West on its own terms?…”

10. A presence of Christ to the unbeliever

“I honestly think there is a presence of Christ to the unbeliever, especially in our day, and that this presence, which is not formally ‘religious’ and escapes definition…, is perhaps the deepest most cogent mystery of our time…”

Which quotes are your favorite?

Here are some other posts I have done on Thomas Merton and his writings.

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