Being and Doing

Since arriving at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp on August 26, 2015, I’ve read over 20 books. I promised to report on some, so here’s another Book Report. While this report would earn only a C in most colleges, as I’m just quoting from the book, sometimes the doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur applies. This doctrine is one of the few things I remember from law school and means (for those too lazy to look it up) “the thing speaks for itself.” Sadly I only remember this important doctrine because we used to make crude jokes about it, but I digress.

Thomas Merton’s No Man Is an Island speaks for itself and it also kicked my ass. It’s mere 264 pages took me over a week to complete as I read most of it multiple times–not just because it was good, but because it was way over my head spiritually. Here are some quotes for his chapter on Being and Doing.

* In order to find God in ourselves, we must stop looking at ourselves, stop checking and verifying ourselves in the mirror of our own futility.

* It is useless to try to make peace with ourselves by being pleased with everything we have done.

* Our Christian destiny is, in fact, a great one: but we cannot achieve greatness unless we lose all interest in being great. For our own greatness is illusory, and if we pay too much attention to it we will be lured out of the peace and stability of the being God gave us, and seek to live in a myth we have created for ourselves.

* The man who completely trusts his own estimate of himself is doomed to sterility.

* My idea of what I am is falsified by my admiration for what I do. And my illusions about myself are bred by contagion from the illusions of other men. We all seek to imitate one another’s imagined greatness.

* Why do we waste our time doing things which, if we only stopped to think about them, are just the opposite of what we were made for?

* The man who fails well is greater than one who succeeds badly.

* …we must learn our own weakness in order to awaken to the new order of action and of being–and experience God Himself accomplishing in us the things we find impossible.

* 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.

* We cannot avoid missing the point of almost everything we do. But what of it? Life is not a matter of getting something out of everything. Life itself is imperfect.

* Happiness consists in finding out precisely what the “one thing necessary” may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.

Go read some Thomas Merton. Anything he wrote.