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A collection of quotations by Thomas Merton on love, spirituality, truth, trust, life, fate, connection, inspiration, hope, courage, possibility, gratitude and art.

100 Inspiring Quotes By Thomas Merton On Love And Spirituality

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Thomas Merton, who later came to be known as Father Louis, was an American priest, Catholic thinker and a Trappist monk, who rose to prominence as a leading writer on Catholicism. He was born in France in 1915 but his family left for the United States in the same year and settled down in New York. Merton was not only a great Catholic thinker and writer, but also a social activist of great repute and was known to be a keen researcher on comparative religion. The priesthood was ordained on Merton in 1949 and from then on, he was known as Father Louis. However, it was as a writer of spiritual books that he became most famous and produced a rich body of work that included over 70 books. His most famous work is ‘The Seven Storey Mountain’ that was published in 1948 and was included among the 100 best books of non-fiction by ‘National Review’. The book was so influential that it inspired many American citizens especially teenagers to head for monasteries in search of spiritual upliftment. Here are some of the famous quotes from the life and works of Thomas Merton, the man who popularized spirituality. Read on the collection of thoughts, quotes and sayings by Thomas Merton those are sure to lift your spirits and guide you in the hour of tide.

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.

- The Way of Chuang Tzu, Thomas Merton

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.

- Love and Living, Thomas Merton

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves and not to twist them to fit our own image.

- Thomas Merton

If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.

- Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton

Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.

- Thomas Merton

Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.

- Thomas Merton

But there is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.

- Thomas Merton

Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.

- Thomas Merton

Solitude is a way to defend the spirit against the murderous din of our materialism.

- Thomas Merton

A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live.

- Thomas Merton

Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true.

- Thomas Merton

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.

- Thomas Merton

Souls are like athletes, that need opponents worthy of them, if they are to be tried and extended and pushed to the full use of their powers, and rewarded according to their capacity.

- The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

Reason is in fact the path to faith, and faith takes over when reason can say no more.

- Thomas Merton

To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.

- Thomas Merton

The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds

- Thomas Merton

The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.

- Thomas Merton

What we have to be is what we are.

- Thomas Merton

Pride makes us artificial; humility makes us real

- Thomas Merton

Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

The greatest temptations are not those that solicit our consent to obvious sin, but those that offer us great evils masking as the greatest goods.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

Ask me not where I live or what I like to eat . . . Ask me what I am living for and what I think is keeping me from living fully that.

- Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton

The light of truth burns without a flicker in the depths of a house that is shaken with storms of passion and fear.

- Thomas Merton

When you expect the world to end at any moment, you know there is no need to hurry. You take your time, you do your work well.

- Thomas Merton

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to... fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

- Thomas Merton

Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love. It is reached when a person deliberately turns his back on all help from anyone else in order to taste the rotten luxury of knowing himself to be lost

- Thomas Merton

I will no longer wound myself with the thoughts and questions that have surrounded me like thorns: that is a penance You do not ask of me.

- The Sign of Jonas, Thomas Merton

The least of learning is done in the classrooms.

- Thomas Merton

The deepest of level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless ... beyond speech ... beyond concept.

- Thomas Merton

Hurry ruins saints as well as artists.

- Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton

Be still: There is no longer any need of comment. It was a lucky wind That blew away his halo with his cares, A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.

- Thomas Merton

For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God's will, to be what God wants us to be.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

Violence is not completely fatal until it ceases to disturb us.

- Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton

The real reason why so few men believe in God is that they have ceased to believe that even a God can love them.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny....To work out our identity in God.

- New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton

The solution of the problem of life is life itself. Life is not attained by reason and analysis but first of all by living.

- Thomas Merton

We do not want to be beginners [at prayer]. but let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything but beginners, all our life!

- Thomas Merton

In our creation, God asked a question and in our truly living; God answers the question.

- New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton

A man who fails well is greater than one who succeeds badly.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

‎"Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.

- Thomas Merton

The end of the world will be legal.

- Thomas Merton

Whose silence are you?

- Thomas Merton

For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.

- Thomas Merton

Art enables us to find ourselves and loose ourselves at the same time.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

Prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and the heart has turned to stone.

- Thomas Merton

For the ones who are called saints by human opinion on earth may very well be devils, and their light may very well be darkness

- Thomas Merton

....it is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good, not because they have meaning, but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.

- Thomas Merton

The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.

- Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton

We live on the brink of disaster because we do not know how to let life alone. We do not respect the living and fruitful contradictions and paradoxes of which true life is full.

- Thomas Merton

The cause of liberty becomes a mockery if the price to be paid is the wholesale destruction of those who are to enjoy liberty. Ghandi, quoted in Merton, p. 68

- Gandhi On Non-Violence, Thomas Merton

This is the crucifixion of Christ: in which He dies again and again in the individuals who were made to share the joy and freedom of His grace, and who deny Him.

- The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.

- New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton

Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.

- Thomas Merton

There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us.

- Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton

The peace produced by grace is a spiritual stability too deep for violence — it is unshakeable

- Thomas Merton

True happiness is not found in any other reward than that of being united with God. If I seek some other reward besides God Himself, I may get my reward but I cannot be happy.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

I am earth, earth My heart's love Bursts with hay and flowers. I am a lake of blue air In which my own appointed place Field and valley Stand reflected

- Thomas Merton

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!

- The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

Perhaps I am stronger than I think.

- The Collected Poems, Thomas Merton

We have what we seek. We don't have to rush after it. It was there all the time, and if we give it time it will make itself known to us.

- Thomas Merton

Jesus lived and died in vain if He did not teach us to regulate the whole of life by the eternal law of love. Gandhi, quoted in Merton, p. 38

- Gandhi On Non-Violence, Thomas Merton

Conscience is the light by which we interpret the will of God in our own lives.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

In the end, it's the reality of personal realtionships that save everything.

- Thomas Merton

To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love.

- Thomas Merton

We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.

- Thomas Merton

How deluded we sometimes are by the clear notions we get out of books. They make us think that we really understand things of which we have no practical knowledge at all.

- The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul.

- Thomas Merton

Death is someone you see very clearly with eyes in the center of your heart: eyes that see not by reacting to light, but by reacting to a kind of a chill from within the marrow of your own life.

- The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals, Thomas Merton

Indeed, it is a kind of quintessence of pride to hate and fear even the kind and legitimate approval of those who love us! I mean, to resent it as a humiliating patronage.

- The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

Today the artist has inherited the combined functions of hermit, pilgrim, prophet, priest, shaman, sorcerer, soothsayer, alchemist.

- Thomas Merton

It is not possible to be intimate with more than very few, because there are only very few in the world with whom we have practically everything in common.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

The selfishness of an age that has devoted itself to the mere cult of pleasure has tainted the whole human race with an error that makes all our acts more or less lies against God.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

To be unknown to God is entirely too much privacy.

- New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton

What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe.

- Thomas Merton: A Life in Letters: The Essential Collection, Thomas Merton

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.

- Thomas Merton

If you find God with great ease, perhaps it is not God you have found.

- Thomas Merton

It is by desiring to grow in love that we receive the Holy Spirit, and the thirst for more charity is the effect of this more abundant reception.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

How do you expect to arrive at the end of your journey if you take the road to another man's city?(100)

- New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton

But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact pleases You.

- Thomas Merton

Frenzy destroys our inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

- Thomas Merton

The first step toward finding God--who is truth--is to discover the truth about myself; and if I have been in error, this first step to truth is the discovery of my error

- The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals, Thomas Merton

There is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.

- Thomas Merton

For our duties and our needs, in all the fundamental things for which we were created, come down in practice to the same thing.

- The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

People have no idea what one saint can do: for sanctity is stronger than the whole of hell.

- The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

The most awful tyranny is that of the proximate Utopia where the last sins are currently being eliminated and where, tomorrow, there will be no more sins because all the sinners will have been wiped out. p. 22

- Gandhi On Non-Violence, Thomas Merton

The peculiar grace of a shaker chair is due to the fact that it was made by someone capable of believing that an angel might come and sit on it.

- Thomas Merton

True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace. It can come to us ONLY as a gift, and not as a result of our own clever use of spiritual techniques.

- Contemplative Prayer, Thomas Merton

Our happiness consists in sharing the happiness of God, the perfection of His unlimited freedom, the perfection of His love.

- The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone in the forest at night.

- Thomas Merton

I find I serve the world best by keeping my distance and freedom.

- Thomas Merton

The Holy Spirit is the most perfect gift of the Father to men, and yet He is the one gift which the Father gives most easily.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

The true inner self must be drawn up like a jewel from the bottom of the sea, rescued from confusion, from indistinction, from immersion in the common, the nondescript, the trivial, the sordid, the evanescent.

- Thomas Merton

Where self-interest is the bond, The friendship is dissolved When calamity comes. Where Tao is the bond, Friendship is made perfect By calamity.

- The Way of Chuang Tzu, Thomas Merton

But if we love ourselves in the wrong way, we become incapable of loving anybody else. And indeed when we love ourselves wrongly we hate ourselves; if we hate ourselves we cannot help hating others.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

The religious answer is not really religious if it's not fully real. Evasion is the answer of superstition.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton

There is in every intellect a natural exigency for a true concept of God: we are born with the thirst to know and to see Him, and therefore it cannot be otherwise.

- The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

The whole aim of Zen is not to make foolproof statements about experience, but to come to direct grips with reality without the mediation of logical verbalizing.

- Thomas Merton

Show us your Christ, Lady, after this our exile, yes: but show Him to us also now, show Him to us here, while we are still wanderers.

- The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

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.

- No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton