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Friday, March 21, 2014

A Week with Thomas Merton

If you are an atheist, you may not want to read this. I promised at least one person a few quotes to live by from Thomas Merton. Merton was born the same year as my mother. As a child, Merton lost his mother to cancer at age 6. She had been an interior decorator. He moved to France with his father, who was a water color artist. So his early childhood and early adolescence were spent with artists. His father died of a brain tumor when Merton was 15, and he was sent to private schools by his grandfather. He was kicked out for poor behavior, and started his writing career at Cambridge. He blew his chance at Cambridge with drinking and loose women.  Out of this failure, he chose to convert to Catholicism at the age of 23. After a retreat at Gethsemane (in Kentucky) he chose to join the monastery three years later. Although he entered the monastery to leave the world behind, he grew to believe he was in the monastery for the world. He spoke French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Latin, Greek, Russian, Chinese and Gaelic. Okay, so, here are the quotes:
1. The only real answer to anything is love.
2. Art is the ability to see the inner radiance of things.
3. Viet Nam was an age characterized by destructiveness.
4. When studying Zen, everything is emptiness, everything is compassion.
5. When studying the Spanish mystics, the inner radiance of being.
6. When studying the Shakers, ordinary objects reflect inner beauty.
7. The miracle of mindfulness is that we see what is in front of us.
8. Stop looking, start seeing.
9. Natural contemplation is the intuition of the divine through nature.
10. We find the divine exactly where we are.
11. He saw the camera as a contemplative instrument, to see things as they are, not as he wanted them to be.
12. The way to get a life of prayer is to pray.
13. Agape love is knowing another person without judgement.
14. We are here to be.
15. Be awake to the present moment inside and outside of ourselves.
16. Self exists in the ground of being.
17. Listen to your body.
18. Learn a unified life.
19. Experience what we already possess.
20. The grateful man knows God from experience, not hearsay.
21. To determine your vocation, look for a place where you feel at home.
22. Everything that is authentic and done with integrity is a form of prayer.
23. Spiritual growth is a waking from the dream of separateness. The whole illusion is a dream.
24. Tragic insufficiency of human faith.
25. I intend to become the best Buddhist I can.
26. Truth binds people together.
27. Love is the thread that sews our hearts together.
28. There is love at the heart of things.

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