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

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