Aspects of Spiritual Life

“Spiritual life is not mental life. It is not thought alone. Nor is it, of course, a life of sensation, a life of feeling—“feeling” and experiencing the things of the spirit, and the things of God. Nor does the spiritual life exclude thought and feeling. It needs both. It is not just a life concentrated at the “high point” of the soul, a life from which tumblr_mkoqk6pPUJ1r5u4wzo1_500the mind and the imagination and the body are excluded. If it were so, few people could lead it. And again, if that were the spiritual life, it would not be a life at all. If man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.

Everything must be elevated and transformed by the action of God, in love and faith. Useless to try to meditate merely by “thinking”—still worse to meditate by stringing words together, reviewing an army of platitudes. A purely mental life may be destructive if it leads us to substitute thought for life and ideas for actions. The activity proper to man is not purely mental because man is not just a disembodied mind. 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.

To live as a rational animal does not mean to think as a man and to live as an animal. We must both think and live as men. Illusion to try to live as if the two abstract parts of our being (rationality and animality) existed separately in fact as two different concrete realities. We are one, body and soul, and unless we live as a unity we must die. 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.” –  Thomas Merton

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