Thomas Merton (Father M. Louis) was a renowned 20th-century American Roman Catholic monk, poet and writer on spiritual and social subjects.
Born in 1915 in Prades, France, to artist parents, his family relocated to the US during World War I.
Merton’s mother passed away when he was six. He spent his youth in England and France, attending boarding schools.
At Columbia University, New York, after a period of agnosticism, he embraced Catholicism and contemplated religious life. He taught English before joining the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, where he was ordained a priest in 1949.
Merton’s writings varied from spiritual reflections to social criticism, with an increasing inclination towards Eastern philosophy and interfaith dialogue.
His famous book “Seven Storey Mountain” (1948) earned him worldwide acclaim.
He tragically died in 1968 in Thailand due to electrocution. Numerous works, including his novel and essays, were posthumously published.
I have curated the top quotes by Thomas Merton in this article.
Best Thomas Merton Quotes
To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything. ~ Thomas Merton.
A man who fails well is greater than one who succeeds badly. ~ Thomas Merton.
The beginning of love is the will to let those we love to be perfectly themselves. ~ Thomas Merton.
The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves and not to twist them to fit our own image. ~ Thomas Merton.
Wheels of fire, cosmic, rich, full-bodied honest victories over desperation. ~ Thomas Merton.
The end of the world will be legal. ~ Thomas Merton.
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. ~ Thomas Merton.
The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds. ~ Thomas Merton.
Our whole life is a meditation of our last decision – the only decision that matters. ~ Thomas Merton.
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. ~ Thomas Merton.
The light of truth burns without a flicker in the depths of a house that is shaken with storms of passion and fear. ~ Thomas Merton.
The tighter you squeeze, the less you have. ~ Thomas Merton.
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. ~ Thomas Merton.
Famous Thomas Merton Quotes
For if I am to love truly and freely, I must be able to give something that is truly my own to another. ~ Thomas Merton.
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. ~ Thomas Merton.
We love the things we pretend to laugh at. ~ Thomas Merton.
Where self-interest is the bond, The friendship is dissolved When calamity comes. Where Tao is the bond, Friendship is made perfect By calamity. ~ Thomas Merton.
You are made in the image of what you desire. ~ Thomas Merton.
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. ~ Thomas Merton.
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. ~ Thomas Merton.
People have no idea what one saint can do: for sanctity is stronger than the whole of hell. ~ Thomas Merton.
Popular Thomas Merton Quotes
Reason is in fact the path to faith, and faith takes over when reason can say no more. ~ Thomas Merton.
A daydream is an evasion. ~ Thomas Merton.
The solution of the problem of life is life itself. Life is not attained by reason and analysis but first of all by living. ~ Thomas Merton.
Solitude is a way to defend the spirit against the murderous din of our materialism. ~ Thomas Merton.
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. ~ Thomas Merton.
Violence is not completely fatal until it ceases to disturb us. ~ Thomas Merton.
The religious answer is not really religious if it’s not fully real. Evasion is the answer to superstition. ~ Thomas Merton.
The whole aim of Zen is not to make foolproof statements about the experience, but to come to direct grips with reality without the mediation of logical verbalizing. ~ Thomas Merton.
A humble man is not afraid of failure. In fact, he is not afraid of anything, even himself, since perfect humility implies perfect confidence in the power of God. ~ Thomas Merton.
To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell. ~ Thomas Merton.
If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit. ~ Thomas Merton.
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. ~ Thomas Merton.
Top Thomas Merton Quotes
The first step toward finding God, Who is Truth, is to discover the truth about myself: and if I have been in error, this first step to truth is the discovery of my error. ~ Thomas Merton.
Infinite sharing is the law of God’s inner life. ~ Thomas Merton.
A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire. ~ Thomas Merton.
In Silence, God ceases to be an object and becomes an experience. ~ Thomas Merton.
The God of peace is never glorified by human violence. ~ Thomas Merton.
The very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God’s mercy to me. ~ Thomas Merton.
The Holy Spirit is the most perfect gift of the Father to men, and yet He is the one gift which the Father gives most easily. ~ Thomas Merton.
Every breath we draw is a gift of God’s love; every moment of existence is a grace. ~ Thomas Merton.
Duty does not have to be dull. Love can make it beautiful and fill it with life. ~ Thomas Merton.
There is in every intellect a natural exigency for a true concept of God: we are born with the thirst to know and to see Him, and therefore it cannot be otherwise. ~ Thomas Merton.
If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another. ~ Thomas Merton.
The peace produced by grace is a spiritual stability too deep for violence — it is unshakeable. ~ Thomas Merton.
When ambition ends, happiness begins. ~ Thomas Merton.
What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is to breathe. ~ Thomas Merton.
Thomas Merton Quotes on Prayer
But there is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question. ~ Thomas Merton.
We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us. ~ Thomas Merton.
Pride makes us artificial; humility makes us real. ~ Thomas Merton.
Nothing has ever been said about God that hasn’t already been said better by the wind in the pine trees. ~ Thomas Merton.
In the end, it’s the reality of personal relationships that save everything. ~ Thomas Merton.
Attachment to spiritual things is… just as much an attachment as inordinate love of anything else. ~ Thomas Merton.
If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world. ~ Thomas Merton.
A Christian is committed to the belief that Love and Mercy are the most powerful forces on earth. ~ Thomas Merton.
Fear narrows the little entrance of our heart. It shrinks up our capacity to love. It freezes up our power to give ourselves. ~ Thomas Merton.
Perhaps I am stronger than I think. ~ Thomas Merton.
I cannot make the universe obey me. I cannot make other people conform to my own whims and fancies. I cannot make even my own body obey me. ~ Thomas Merton.
Thomas Merton Quotes on Love
Christ is born to us today, in order that he may appear to the whole world through us. ~ Thomas Merton.
Hurry ruins saints as well as artists ~ Thomas Merton.
We do not exist for ourselves. ~ Thomas Merton.
Prayer is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in him…who loves us, who is near to us. ~ Thomas Merton.
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton.
If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for. ~ Thomas Merton.
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. ~ Thomas Merton.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. ~ Thomas Merton.
Keeping a journal has taught me that there is not so much new in your life as you sometimes think. When you re-read your journal you find out that your latest discovery is something you already found out five years ago. Still, it is true that one penetrates deeper and deeper into the same ideas and the same experiences. ~ Thomas Merton.
Religious Thomas Merton Quotes
People are in a hurry to magnify themselves by imitating what is popular- and too lazy to think of anything better. ~ Thomas Merton.
Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. ~ Thomas Merton.
Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity. ~ Thomas Merton.
We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves. ~ Thomas Merton.
If you have never had any distractions you don’t know how to pray. ~ Thomas Merton.
We are already one and we imagine we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. Whatever we have to be is what we are. ~ Thomas Merton.
A bad book about the love of God remains a bad book. ~ Thomas Merton.
When you see God in everyone, then they see God in you. ~ Thomas Merton.
I brought all the instincts of a writer with me into the monastery. ~ Thomas Merton.
The least of learning is done in the classrooms. ~ Thomas Merton.
We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God. ~ Thomas Merton.
In a world of noise, confusion, and conflict it is necessary that there be places of silence, inner discipline, and peace. ~ Thomas Merton.
The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little. ~ Thomas Merton.
A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live. ~ Thomas Merton.
Let us come alive to the splendor that is all around us and see the beauty in ordinary things. ~ Thomas Merton.
He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. ~ Thomas Merton.
Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things. ~ Thomas Merton.
Prayer and love are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone. ~ Thomas Merton.
A life that is without problems may literally be more hopeless, than one that always verges on despair. ~ Thomas Merton.
If you want to have a spiritual life you must unify your life. Life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. ~ Thomas Merton.
Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him. ~ Thomas Merton.
Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another. ~ Thomas Merton.
Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. ~ Thomas Merton.
So these were the 90 quotes by Thomas Merton.