Monday, 15 October 2012

Mondays with Merton - Happiness and Love

This week's musing from Merton is about love and happiness. I hope you find it as thought-provoking as I did.

"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...[you might want to read that a couple more times; i know i did!]
True happiness is found in unselfish love, a love that increases in proportion as it is shared. There is no end to the sharing of love, and, therefore, the potential happiness of such love is without limit. Infinite sharing is the law of God's inner life. He has made the sharing of ourselves the law of our own being, so that it is in loving others that we best love ourselves. In disinterested activity we best fulfill our own capacities to act and to be. Yet there can never be happiness in complusion. It is not enough for love to be shared: it myst be shared freely. That is to say it must be given, not merely taken. Unselfish love that is poured out upon a selfish object does not bring prefect happiness: not because love requires a return or reward for loving, but because it rests in the happiness of the beloved. And if the one loved receives love selfishly, the love is not satisfied. He sees that his love has failed to make the beloved happy. It has not awakened his capacity for unselfish love."*

It's quite a facinating idea to me - this balance or tension found in happiness and love, where love that is unselfishly given mandates happiness, that love must also me unselfishly received. Thomas says it much more eliquently than I, and I definitely had to read it all again (a few times over) to allow it to really start to sink in. It definitly gets me thinking, and I hope it inspires you as well!



*pg 19, No Man Is An Island, by Thomas Merton, circa 1955

Monday, 8 October 2012

Mondays with Merton - the start of something new

I've decided to try to write more regularly... and start  "Mondays with Merton", where I'll take an exceprt from Thomas Merton's book "No Man Is An Island", write about it, share my thoughts, and ask for feedback as well. I'd love this to be a bit of a discussion, so feel free to respond with your thoughts as well. Today, let's start with some words about freedom.

 The first three sentences is one of my favorite quotes:

"My free will consolidates and perfects its own autonomy by freely co-ordinating its action with the will of another. There is something in the very nature of my freedom that inclines me to love, to do good, to dedicate myself to others. I have an instinct that tells me that I am less free when I am living for myself alone. The reason for this is that I cannont be completely independent. Since I am not self-sufficiant I depend on someone else for my fulfillment. My freedom is not fully free when left to itself. It becomes so when it is brought into the right relation with the freedom of another."*

I found this so profound, especially the first time I read it. Growing up in a conservative Christian family in America, I was taught so much about freedom and independence, but mostly to the extend of patriotism. Freedom is so much more than patriotism. Some of the questions I've pondered over the years in regards to freedom include: What am I free from? And what I am free to? Freedom isn't just about exploring or excersing ones own "rights"... I think it is so true when Merton says " I have an instinct that tells me that I am less free when I am living for myself alone".
hmmm.... let's just chew on that for a bit.....

let me know what your thoughts are too, i'd love to share some dialogue about the excerpts I post.

Cheers from Oz,


*page 35, No Man Is An Island, Thomas Merton, circa 1955