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. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them

Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

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More Quotes by 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

- Thomas Merton, Gandhi On Non-Violence

In the end, no one can seek God unless he has already begun to find him.

- Thomas Merton

In other words, I have tried to learn in my writing a monastic lesson I could probably not have learned otherwise: to let go of my idea of myself, to take myself with more than one grain of salt... In religious terms, this is simply a matter of accepting life, and everything in life as a gift, and clinging to none of it, as far as you are able. You give some of it to others, if you can. Yet one should be able to share things with others without bothering too much about how they like it, either, or how they accept it. Assume they will accept it, if they need it. And if they don’t need it, why should they accept it? That is their business. Let me accept what is mine and give them all their share, and go my way.

- Thomas Merton, A Thomas Merton Reader

And yet with every wound You robbed me of a crime,And as each blow was paid with Blood,You paid me also each great sin with greater graces.For even as I killed You,You made Yourself a greater thief than any in Your company,Stealing my sins into Your dying life,Robbing me even of my death.

- Thomas Merton, Selected Poems of 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

- Thomas Merton, Gandhi On Non-Violence

The fact that our being necessarily demands to be expressed in action should not lead us to believe that as soon as we stop acting we cease to exist.We do not live merely to “do something” – no matter what. We do not live more fully merely by doing something more, seeing more, tasting more and experiencing more than we ever have before.Everything depends on the quality of our acts and experiences. A multitude of badly performed actions and experiences only half-lived exhausts and depletes our being.By doing things badly we make ourselves less real. This growing unreality cannot help but make us unhappy and fill us with a sense of guilt.There are times then when in order to keep ourselves in existence at all, we simply have to sit back awhile and do nothing. And for a man who has let himself be drawn completely out of himself by his activity, nothing is more difficult than to sit still and rest, doing nothing at all.We must first recover the possession of our own being before we can act or taste or experience reality.

- Thomas Merton, Thomas Merton

If we were able to distill all human experience to its essence, it would be a question on the lips of a man named Jesus. As he asked Peter, he asks all mankind, "Who do you say that I am?" "Our idea of God," observed Thomas Merton, "tells us more about ourselves than about Him.

- Ron Brackin

All theology is a kind of birthdayEach one who is born Comes into the world as a questionFor which old answersAre not sufficient…

- Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, wrote that nothing can be expressed about solitude "that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.

- Michael Finkel, The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

For Abelard, the death of Christ on the Cross did not, strictly speaking, redeem man: it only offered him an example of supreme humility, charity, and self-sacrifice. Bernard asserts, against Abelard, that Christ became man precisely in order to redeem mankind from sin, deliver man from the power of the devil, and to become, instead of fallen Adam, the new head of a redeemed and sanctified human race. Jesus, says Saint Bernard, not only taught us justice but gave us justice. He not only showed us His love by dying for us on the Cross, but by the effects of His death He really and objectively causes His charity to exist and act in our hearts. In, doing so, He actually destroys sin in our souls and communicates to us a new life which is totally supernatural and divine. The effect of our redemption is therefore a complete and literal regeneration of those souls to whom its fruits are applied. Without this dogmatic basis the whole mystical theology of Saint Bernard would be incomprehensible. The purpose of all his mystical and ascetic teaching is to show us how to co-operate with the action of divine grace so that our redemption and regeneration may not remain a dead letter but may actually influence all our conduct and find expression in every part of our lives

- Thomas Merton, Thomas Merton on St. Bernard.

You focus on telling stories,
we do everything else.