100 Inspiring Quotes By Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton was an American Trappist monk who is known for is vast wisdom in life and happiness. He was a religious leader who believed that all religions somehow lead to God in many different ways. In his entire life, he has dedicated to the teachings of Christianity and has become a social activist as well. It was unfortunate that he died in an accident. Nevertheless, he has proven to be very impactful with his teachings in life, love, and faith.

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

Art helps us tap into our deepest darkest secrets and into the inner selves that we begin to discover things that we never know we could do. On the other hand, it also makes us lose ourselves when we begin to immerse ourselves with the arts. It is the beauty and the ugliness of art. The duality of it makes it very interesting.

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

We can only love ourselves so much. We cannot find the true meaning of life when we have not loved another person. While we can find happiness on our selves, we need to give and receive love from another human being.

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.

Love cannot be contained or honed to fit our selfish category. If we do so, we do it for our selfish reasons and that is not loving. When we let it loose and we let it be, we accept each others’ flaws and that is how love flourishes.

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

If a man truly wants to live, he must accept who he is. He must fully understand that to be one with life is to collect the mind, soul, body, and the rest and make it into one.

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

There is that level of comfort when we opt to choose silence instead of answering a question that may harm ourselves or others. Truly, silence is the best answer to all questions.

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.

Love is to be good to one another. If you truly give love to another person, you are rewarded with the feelings of happiness and love is given back to you. And that is its reward.

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

A man truly knows that he has stopped working to make a living when he has found the joys of his occupation. As they say, work does not feel like work when you are having fun. When you begin to embrace your work and have fun with it, it is then that you also begin to live life to the fullest.

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

When we are bombarded with material wants, it is always best to keep ourselves away from the temptations so we can focus on what is best. Solitude is the key to limiting our wants and set our sights on what is needed.

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.

Life is a simple yet complex story filled with miracles along the way. While many have experienced the joys and terrors of life, it is still worthy of being celebrated for its truth.

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.

Peace can only be attained if everyone does their part to achieve it. It needs gigantic effort and works on everyone to make sure it continues to exist. The sacrifices that everyone gives for peace is truly outstanding.

The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.

The biggest mistake man can make is to settle for less when you could have done so much more. Regret can be avoided if we push through the boundaries of what can and cannot be done.

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

What we need in this troubling time is a clean conscience. What constitutes a good soul is a clear mind and heart that allows us to tell the truth and go good even in the face of adversary.

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.

Notice how music calms the mind and soul. It delivers the food that nourishes the soul and pleases the mind.

Pride makes us artificial; humility makes us real.

Those who walk in pride will never understand the glory of success. Only those who take humble steps in life will fully know the glory of victory and the madness of defeat.

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.

Knowing that everything does not last will help you understand to cherish everything and every person you hold dear. It is within this finite experience that adds more value to your life that will make everything more precious.

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

The truth will always come out no matter what. It shines through even at the darkest time when fear is rampant. The truth will never be kept hidden even in the roughest of storms.

The least of learning is done in the classrooms.

Learning is done in many ways but the best way to learn is through action and experience. It is then that learning is infinite. If you want to learn more about life, it is best to live it.

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

The best communication is when you simply look in each other’s eyes and understand what the other is saying. That is the true power of understanding and communication. It is also when we commune with ourselves that we truly understand what and who we are.

Hurry ruins saints as well as artists.

Haste means waste. Never let the urgency of time dictate the way you want to express yourself. It will only ruin the result. Make sure to take your time and spend it wisely.

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

Life is meant to be lived. It is not meant to be analyzed or understood. It should be done without any rules. People who often have problems in life are those that have not yet fully understand or experienced what it is to be living.

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

Love does not have boundaries. It does not care if you are worthy or not. It simply exists to give and receive. There is no category or requirement for you to love.

We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have – for their usefulness.

We are so busy doing different things that we begin to forget what life has to offer and what joy it is to get lost in our imagination. When we get caught up in the material life, we begin to lose the value of what it is to be truly living.

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.

Life is full of contradictions and paradoxes. We must let life continue even with the hypocrisies and contradictions that we encounter in life. It is when we embrace such fallacies that we also begin to understand that we are simply human beings who are capable of fault and forgiveness.

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

You are defined as a person by the goals you set for yourself. If you plan to be a rich person, you are defined as a hardworking person who never lets anyone bog you down from becoming rich. If you set your eyes on becoming a kind and loving person, you are seen as someone who does good and loves people. Your actions and your goals define who you are in this world.

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.

What you have been looking for all this time has always been there within you. The courage, the happiness, and the love that you have been seeking all this time are deep within you. All you need to do is to find a way to reach inside and let it all out.

Perhaps I am stronger than I think.

No one will ever know how strong you can be aside from yourself. Look within you and find that inner strength and let it all out.

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

In life, it is the relationships you build with other people that will help you in troubled times. The relationships that you have invested in will be your saving grace.

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

The choices you make in life should be all about fulfilling your soul. While there are many choices to make, always prioritize the happiness of your soul first before anything else.

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.

Death is a very complex experience. While it does come from the sudden lack of reaction to life, it is also the slow descent of the mind that soul into the abyss.

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

Always choose yourself first. Never let anyone tell you that you are their second option. Be the only person in your life that chooses to pleasure yourself.

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.

While we are all tasked to make a better world for ourselves and the future, it is more important to make ourselves better first. This way, we get to understand how we can make this a better world for everyone else to live in.

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.

It is nearly impossible for anyone to have a deep and intimate connection with everyone. This is because we are built to be different from one another and there are only a few people that we meet that can understand us in a certain way that no one else can.

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

There is a certain calming feeling when you get to be all alone by yourself at night in the forest. You get to feel nature at its purest and you get to hear your thoughts without any disturbance from other people. Nature brings a certain serenity that nothing else can bring.

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.

Working in haste destroys our capacity to do a quality job. It destroys the harmony at work and kills all the possibility of making fruitful endeavors being worthwhile experiences.

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.

Working to find your true self is like diving deep into the ocean. You have to dig deep and take a long breath to get ready for all the endeavors that are about to come. At the end, when you resurface you get to fully understand who you truly are as a person from deep within.

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 the violence of our times.

Doing too many things at the same time can be hurtful to oneself. Make sure to take the time to deal with all the issues and problems in life one at a time or else you will succumb to unhealthy stress.

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 life, you do not need to know where you are headed because it is simply not feasible. You also do not need to know everything that is happening. As long as you know where you stand and what you can do, you can do it and beat anything life throws at you.

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”

Love should not have any requirements. Human beings need to love without any conditions as we are asked not how to love but who to love.

Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.

Instead of focusing on the people that spread hate and fear, focus on the things that matter. Focus on yourself and be a better person to help spread love and positivity instead.

Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure: you were created for Joy. And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy you have not yet begun to live.

You were not created because of pleasure. You do not live to be a slave of pleasure. You were instead created because of pure joy and you should live life in joy.

What we have to be is what we are.

It is the dreams we yearn for that makes us who we are. The goals and ambitions in life are the ones that create our real selves.

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.

It is always best to ask the real thoughtful questions instead of asking superficial things in life. Let them know not of the food that you eat but the food that you bring to your soul.

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.

Turning your back on others for the sake of luxury brings nothing but despair to your life. Learn how to live with helping people reach the top as it brings new joys in life.

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.

Changing the people we love to fit our needs is not love. It is a selfish act. Never change anyone as you do not need to change to be loved.

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.

Never let your negative thoughts get the best of you. Learn how to control them or else run the risk of those thoughts controlling you.

We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real…and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists.

There are two sides to our persona. One that exists on the outside while the other exists in private. It is only when you let the inner persona out that you truly reveal yourself to the world. However, it is when you merge both that you accept the truth that there is a need for both.

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

The meaning of life is to find happiness. Love is a source of happiness and unless we want to find the true meaning of life, we need to find love in others first.

Those who are not grateful soon begin to complain of everything.

Those who are not satisfied and grateful for the blessings that have come their way always end up having to complain about everything in life. Learn the ways of contentment and you get to learn the ways to be happy with what you got.

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

You will never be able to reach your goals if you take over the dreams of other people. Learn to build your dreams and work on them. You will never succeed in life if you keep on taking away the dreams of others.

Living is not thinking. Thought is formed and guided by objective reality outside us. Living is the constant adjustment of thought to life and life to thought in such a way that we are always growing, always experiencing new things in the old and old things in the new. Thus life is always new.

The only thing that is constant in life is change. Your thoughts are always growing through experience and experience we learn things that might be true at one time and could be untrue at other times. This makes life interesting and always full of surprises.

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.

Happiness is achieved when you strike the perfect balance. When you have a routine in life and you are contented with such routine, you begin to feel a sense of happiness that comes from getting a rhythm and an order within your life.

The fruitfulness of our lives depends in large measure in our ability to doubt our own words and to question the value of our own work. The man who completely trusts his own estimate of himself is doomed to sterility.

Those who always question their work and their beliefs will always find themselves growing. Those who believe in themselves too much will find themselves always making mistakes in life. It is always best to keep on questioning yourself to learn more about life.

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

Experience is key to living on this Earth. Every moment is a chance to learn something new about ourselves and it is in these moments do we fully understand what life is all about.

One of the moral diseases we communicate to one another in society comes from huddling together in the pale light of an insufficient answer to a question we are afraid to ask.

One of man’s biggest mistake is to keep on accepting mediocre things when we can all do better. This also applies to people who always hesitate and are in constant fear of failing. Those who do not risk will never be able to find out what is the real answer.

Finally, I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am.

Realizing that there is no other person in this world that is better at being you than yourself. This is the greatest gift that you can give to yourself. The knowledge that you are here alive is the best thing that can ever happen.

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.

Learn to love ourselves the right way for it will bring good energy from others. If we end up loving ourselves the wrong way, we begin to foster hatred. This inner hatred will spread towards others like a disease.

If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world.

If you are at peace with yourself, then you are one of the few who can spread peace to the world. Make sure to be one with yourself first.

Modern man believes he is fruitful and productive when his ego is aggressively affirmed, when he is visibly active, and when his action produces obvious results.

The fault of the man in today’s world is that he needs to have his ego stroke first before he can produce outstanding results. Instead, we should be working hard and obtain great knowledge for us to produce the same result without having to put our ego at risk.

One of the strange laws of the contemplative life is that in it you do not sit down and solve problems: you bear with them until they somehow solve themselves.

There are times when life throws us a problem not to let us solve it but to prove that we can endure. Some things are meant to be endured for us to be stronger. By then, it usually resolves itself.

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.

To love someone is to accept them without having to change anything. There is no need to change anything if you truly love that person. If you do, you are only loving the image of the person who you thought is worthy of loving and not the real person.

What is the use of praying if at the very moment of prayer, we have so little confidence in God that we are busy planning our own kind of answer to our prayer?

What is the use of praying if we are only praying for an answer to life’s problems or questions? We pray not for comfort and convenience but strength and conviction.

A happiness that is sought for ourselves alone can never be found: for a happiness that is diminished by being shared is not big enough to make us happy.

Happiness can only be found within ourselves and on our own. No one can bring happiness to you except yourself. The moment you have found your happiness is the time that you should be sharing it.

What is the good of religion without personal spiritual direction?

Religion can only bring you so much but without any spiritual connection and direction, religion feels empty. Much like prayers, if you do not have any conviction to it then there is little to no weight in it.

Laziness and cowardice are two of the greatest enemies of the spiritual life.

When we do not aggressively seek out the truth in faith, we begin to lose it. Never cower in the face of adversity especially when it comes to our faith.

How free you can become if you stop worrying about things that don’t concern you!

Freedom can only be achieved if we worry less. We enjoy it even further if we begin to mind our own business.

True simplicity implies love and trust—it does not expect to be derided and rejected, any more than it expects to be admired and praised.

Trust and love is a very simple concept. Both can be achieved by anyone without even having to beg for it.

The man who is able to hate strongly and with a quiet conscience is one who is complacently blind to all unworthiness in himself and serenely capable of seeing all his own wrongs in someone else.

Those who have hatred in their hearts will always find mistakes in other people but never within them. Never let hate blind you to the point where you unconsciously begin to spread it to others.

We should not, however, judge the value of our meditation by “how we feel.” A hard and apparently fruitless meditation may in fact be much more valuable than one that is easy, happy, enlightened and apparently a big success.

Meditation is achieved not just by closing your eyes. It is achieved by contemplating on being happy from within.

It is when we insist most firmly on everyone else being reasonable that we become ourselves, unreasonable.

When we begin to push our reasonable beliefs onto others, it is that time that we also begin to feel unreasonable towards others. Let us learn to accept that people have different views and logic.

I will never be able to find myself if I isolate myself from the rest of mankind as if I were a different kind of being.

You will never learn more about yourself if you always hide from other people. If you hide because you are afraid of being criticized, then you will never learn about yourself and what you can truly do.

We discover our true selves in love.

It is only when we are truly in love that we expose our true selves. Love brings our true nature to the forefront. We start to do things that we normally would not do yet it still feels so normal for us.

How crazy it is to be “yourself” by trying to live up to an image of yourself you have unconsciously created in the minds of others.

If we are a slave to other people’s thoughts and opinions, we begin to lose ourselves. Never let any opinion get the best of you. Never compromise yourself for the sake of conforming to others.

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

As much as we do not want to be called beginners, we are all beginners in this race called life. We will always encounter new things in this life that will make us all a beginner. So calm down and live life at your own pace.

As a matter of fact, it is often harder to manifest the good that is in us than the evil.

Choosing to do things the good way is not always easy. Doing the right things is sometimes very hard to do than doing the easy way.

The truly sacred attitude toward life is in no sense an escape from the sense of nothingness that assails us when we are left alone with ourselves.

The true sense of what is life about is when you are left alone in your thoughts. Those circling thoughts when you are with yourself are the things that will let you know who you are.

Our destiny is to live out what we think, because unless we live what we know, we do not even know it. It is only by making our knowledge part of ourselves, through action, that we enter into the reality that is signified by our concepts.

What we think our lives are going to be should be our path to our destiny. Never mind what we know because life will always challenge the things that we know about. It is all about how we are going to be in life that should be a priority and not about what we think it is.

In our present attitude the natural world remains a commodity to be bought and sold, not a sacred reality to be venerated.

With our current outlook in life, we forget that nature should be preserved. Instead, we take whatever is left of it for our selfish reasons. This should not be our reality.

Life is not attained by reasoning and analysis but first of all by living.

No one will ever know the secret to life. There is no rhyme or reason for how one should live a life other than living it.

The thing that crushed me was that I had never learned to dance.

People often find the simple things that they never learned to do to be the ones that they are most regretful about. Never pass on the challenge of learning simple things like dancing.

There must be a time of day when the man who makes plans forgets his plans, and acts as if he had no plans at all.

You should allow yourself to have time to not think about things or plans. You should allow yourself to think freely and not be worry about it. This way, you get to live life without any compromise.

. Love is free; it does not depend on the desirability of its object, but loves for love’s sake.

Love should aim for another person’s love. It should not be about being an object of desire. There is a huge difference. Love should be for the sake of loving.

Any fool knows that you don’t need money to get enjoyment out of life.

For one to enjoy life, leave money out of it. It is only then that you realize that money has nothing to do with your happiness in life.

The things that we love tell us what we are.

You can tell who a person is by the things that he loves and how he expresses love. This feeling bares the true nature of human beings.

Stagnation and inactivity bring spiritual death.”

It is when you stop learning that you also stop growing spiritually. Seek out your spiritual nature and begin to mature differently.

There is only now.

There is no other time to be better than now. Now is the only time that you have so might as well do good with it.

True happiness is found in unselfish love, a love which increases in proportion as it is shared.

Happiness is all about having loved and giving it back. Spreading love and happiness is the key to living a fruitful life.

We cannot see things in perspective until we cease to hug them to our own bosom.

There are things that we cannot see until we have experienced it on our own. It is always best to have to go through it so we gain a new perspective in life.

Peace 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.

Peace cannot be achieved when you hope for it. It must be done with action in the present so the future can fulfill it. It is the constant action to making it a reality is how we can all achieve peace.

The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.

The more you try to hold on to something unhealthy, the more you will only hurt yourself. Learn to let go of the hurtful things in life. There are things in life that are not worth it so let loose and let go. Open your hands and let the blessings come in.

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.

The destination is not as fulfilling if we have not endured the journey. The best adventures in life are those with paths that lead to darkness but always come out into the light.

In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for ‘finding himself.’ If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence.

Take responsibility for your own life. Learn to discover yourself through experience. If you keep on dodging responsibilities, you will never be able to find what your life is all about.

Humility is the surest sign of strength.

It is when we humble ourselves do we find the strength to accept defeat. There is nothing shameful about being humble in the face of adversity.

Like all life, it grows sick and dies when it is uprooted from its proper element.

Life is meant to be lived. If you take away the meaning of life, you also take away the purpose of living in it.

What you fear is an indication of what you seek.

Always do the things that scare you. It is in those things that you also find what you are looking for in this life.

People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

People will spend countless hours of their lives trying to reach a level of success only to find out that there are even more roads and paths to take to find the next one. Let us all learn to be contented with life. True success will never lead you to another path.

We must slow down to a human tempo and we’ll begin to have time to listen.

Learning to slow down and listen will help keep you away from unnecessary conflicts. Take the time to listen to others and avoid rushing in for the sake of arguing to make your point.

When we are strong, we are always much greater than the things that happen to us.

It is when we can withstand the trials in life that we also discover how strong we are. Such strength will help us do great things in life.

It takes heroic charity and humility to let others sustain us when we are incapable of sustaining ourselves.

There is nothing shameful about letting others help you especially when you are down. Humility is the key to getting back up.

We do not know how to forgive until we know what it is to be forgiven.

We will never know how to truly forgive someone until we make a mistake and ask for forgiveness. It is only during that time that we find the true meaning of forgiveness and how it is very difficult to ask and receive it.

When ambition ends, happiness begins.

Happiness can only be achieved when we are contented with what we have. Ambition should be part of life, not your entire life.

All these quotes from Thomas Merton always pertain to how life should be lived. Happiness is the key to living the best life. Hope, faith, and love have always been the center of his teachings. This should always be the case for everyone.

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