File Name: thomas merton love and living .zip
Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. When we are leading a life based on real love or mature love , we are living life in a way that deals with fear and stress differently than a life where our love is not yet mature or genuine. Because a life of genuine love is texturally different than a way of life based on immediate stress reduction and appeasing our fears and constantly seeking security.
Our talk is not cheap, and we are not living in our head; instead we are embodying our highest values and aspirations and we are making a real change. By living in this way, love is brought to perfection among us, and we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because as He is, so too are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment and with loss and the past , and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. Love is not just something that happens to you: it is a certain special way of living and being alive.
Love is an intensification of life, a completeness, a fullness, a wholeness of life. We do not live merely in order to safely vegetate through our days until we die. Nor do we live merely in order to take part in the routines of work and amusement that go on around us. We are not just machines to be cared for and driven safely until they run down.
In other words, life is not a straight horizontal line—or the safest and shortest distance—between two points, birth and death. And it is for this communion and self-transcendence that we came into the world. We do not become fully human until we give ourselves to another in love. Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone—we find it with another. We do not discover the secret of our lives merely by study and calculation in our own safe and isolated meditations.
The meaning of life has to be revealed to us in love, by the one we love. And if this love is unreal, then the secret will not be found, the meaning will never reveal itself, the message will never be decoded. At best, we will receive a scrambled and partial message, one that will deceive and confuse us.
We will never be fully real to ourselves or another until we let ourselves fall fully in love—either with another human being or with God.
Our attitude to life invariably is also going to be, in one way or another, our attitude toward love. Our conception of ourselves is bound to be profoundly affected by our conception—and our experience—of love. And our love—or our lack of it—our willingness to risk it, or our determination to play it safe and avoid it, will be an endless expression of ourselves: of who we think we are, of what we want to be, of what we think we are here for. This will not be something that merely goes on in our head.
Our attitude toward love and toward life affects our entire life. And genuine love is a personal revolution—it transforms our entire life. Real love takes your ideas, your desires, and your actions and welds them together in one experience and one living reality which is a new you.
You may prefer to keep your thoughts and desires and acts in separate compartments, but if you do so then you will be an artificial and divided person, and such a life and way of living will not make sense, and is not likely to be happy or healthy. Most of us do not consciously reflect and contemplate on what love is and is not.
Instead, we consciously or unconsciously tailor our notions of love according to the patterns we are exposed to day after day in movies, TV, music, advertising, and in our reading. In it love is regarded as a deal. Thus we unconsciously consider ourselves and others to be objects for sale on the market. We want to be wanted, we want to be needed, we want to be desired, we want to attract potential customers, we want to look like the type of product that makes money, has curb appeal, et cetera.
Hence, we waste a great deal of time and life modeling ourselves on the images presented to us by our affluent marketing society. We size each other up and make deals with a view to our own profit, benefit, and security. We do not give ourselves in love: instead we make a deal that will enhance our own product or standing or security. The long word for all of this is narcissism. And psychologists have had some pretty rough things to say about the immaturity and narcissism of our love in our marketing society.
The trouble with this commercialized idea of love is that it diverts our attention more and more from the essentials of love to the accessories or periphery of love. And this is not love. To consider love merely as a matter of need and fulfillment, as something which works itself out in a cool and calculating deal, is to miss the whole point of love—and of life itself.
To regard love as merely a need to be fulfilled, as something to get, reflects and immature and regressive and stunted view of life and other people.
The plain truth is that love is not a matter of getting, and certainly not a matter of always getting what you want. Quite the contrary. The insistence on always having what you want, on always being happy and satisfied and secure, on always being fulfilled, makes love impossible.
Love is not a deal, it is often self-sacrifice. Love is not marketing, it is a form of worship, reverence, appreciation, and gratitude. In reality, love is a positive force, a transcendent spiritual power or motivation. It is, in fact, the deepest creative and courageous power in human nature. Love flowers spiritually in response to a deep encounter with another person.
It is a living appreciation of life as value and as a gift. Love has its own wisdom, its own science, its own art, its own way of exploring the inner depths of life in the mystery of the loved person. Love knows, understands, and meets the demands of life insofar as it responds with warmth, abandon, surrender. In—or through and because of—their relationship with each other they become different people: they become more than their everyday selves; they become more alive, more understanding, more abiding, more enduring, more patient, more courageous.
They become better people. They are made over into new beings. They are transformed by the power of their love. Love is the revelation of our deepest person potential and meaning and value and identity. But this revelation or revealing remains impossible as long as we are the prisoner to our own egoism and fears. I simply cannot find myself in myself: only in another. As we deepen in love, the package becomes less and less important until it becomes unimportant altogether. What matters is this infinitely precious message which we can discover only in our love for another person.
This mutual revelation of two persons in their deepest secret is something entirely private. And it cannot be communicated to anyone else until it is embodied in the child who becomes, as it were, a living word, a physical manifestation of their shared secret. Love is a transforming and redeeming power of almost mystical intensity which endows the lovers with qualities and capacities they never dreamed they could embody.
From the enhancement of life itself, deepened, intensified, elevated, strengthened, and spiritualized by love. Love is not only a special way of being alive, it is the perfection of life. He who loves is more alive and more real than he was when he did not love.
That is perhaps one of the reasons why love seems dangerous: the lover finds in himself too many new powers, too many new insights. Life looks completely different to him, all his values change. What seemed worthwhile before has become trivial; what seemed impossible before has become effortless and easy.
When a person is undergoing that kind of inner cataclysm, anything might happen. And thank God, it does happen! The power of genuine love is so deep and so strong that it cannot be deflected from its true aim even by the silliest of wrong ideas.
When love is alive and mature in a person, it does not matter if the person has a false idea of himself and of life: love will guide him according to its own inner truth and will correct his ideas in spite of himself. The trouble, however, is that our wrong ideas may prevent love from growing and maturing in our lives. Once we love, our love can change our thinking. But until then, wrong thinking can inhibit love. Ah, thank you, Cat — for reading, for the comment, for the warmth, for just being you!
I really like how u think, the truth u speak to n the way u express it. U express it very eloquently. I will say that I disagree with one comment : i simply cannot find myself within myself. I believe that the only place u find urself is within urself… u are not elsewhere. This suggests an external you, found outside of self.
Thkyu so much for what n how u express these challenging thoughts. I ll b back. Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes I agree with Merton that love lifts one to the very pinnacle of spirituality. I confess I love someone like that, for a year now, and am utterly changed. This love was put into me and I am powerless so far to uproot it, much though I would like to — it is an agony and an ecstasy. What is your comment? I write poetry about it. Not bad stuff, some of it.
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Thomas Merton () is the most admired of all American Catholic writers. His journals have recently been published to wide acclaim. Love and Living is.
Thomas Merton: Love and Citizenship
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