Thomas Merton quotes

Born
January 31, 1915 Prades, Pyrénées-Orientales, France.

Died
December 10, 1968.

Occupation
Monk, author.

Thomas Merton was a Catalan Trappist monk of American nationality. He was a successful writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion.

The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.
– Thomas Merton
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.
– Thomas Merton
Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.
– Thomas Merton
We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.
– Thomas Merton
The least of the work of learning is done in the classroom.
– Thomas Merton
Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity.
– Thomas Merton
I cannot make the universe obey me. I cannot make other people conform to my own whims and fancies. I cannot make even my own body obey me.
– Thomas Merton
Be good, keep your feet dry, your eyes open, your heart at peace and your soul in the joy of Christ.
– Thomas Merton
We stumble and fall constantly even when we are most enlightened. But when we are in true spiritual darkness, we do not even know that we have fallen.
– Thomas Merton
A daydream is an evasion.
– Thomas Merton
Attachment to spiritual things is… just as much an attachment as inordinate love of anything else.
– Thomas Merton
Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how.
– Thomas Merton
When ambition ends, happiness begins.
– Thomas Merton
Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.
– Thomas Merton
The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.
– Thomas Merton
On the last day of January 1915, in the second year of the Great War, down in the shadow of some French mountains on the borders of Spain, I came into this world.
– Thomas Merton
We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.
– Thomas Merton
Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.
– 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
To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.
– Thomas Merton
I brought all the instincts of a writer with me into the monastery.
– Thomas Merton
We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others.
– 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
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
– Thomas Merton
If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.
– 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.
– Thomas Merton
Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.
– Thomas Merton
The very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God’s mercy to me.
– Thomas Merton
Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.
– Thomas Merton
The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.
– Thomas Merton
We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us.
– Thomas Merton
A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.
– Thomas Merton