Monday, December 29, 2008

Conscience, Freedom and Prayer

To consider persons, events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell. Selfishness is doomed to frustration, centered as it is upon a lie. To live exclusively for myself, I must make all things bend themselves to my will as if I were a god. But this is impossible. Is there any more cogent indication of my creaturehood than the insufficiency of my own will? For 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. When I give it pleasure, it deceives my expectation and makes me suffer pain. When I give myself what I conceive to be freedom, I deceive myself and find that I am the prisoner of my own blindness and selfishness and insufficiency.

It is true, the freedom of my will is a great thing. But this freedom is not absolute self-sufficiency. If the essence of freedom were merely the act of choice, then the mere fact of making choices would perfect our freedom. But there are two difficulties here. First of all, our choices must really be free- that is to say they must perfect us in our own being. They must perfect us in our relation to other free beings. We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves. From this flows the second difficulty: we too easily assume that we are our real selves, and that our choices are really the ones we want to make when, in fact, our acts of free choice are (though morally imputable, no doubt) largely dictated by psychological compulsions, flowing from our inordinate ideas of our own importance. Our choices are too often dictated by our false selves.

Hence I do not find in myself the power to be happy merely by doing what I like. On the contrary, if I do nothing except what pleases my own fancy I will be miserable almost all the time. This would never be so if my will had not been created to use its own freedom in the love of others.

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 cannot be completely independent. Since I am not self-sufficient 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.
---Thomas Merton "No Man Is an Island"

6 Grateful Heart's Words:

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Great excerpts from No Man Is An Island. Indeed we cannot stand in isolation and be fulfilled. We need others to give our existence meaning and value. Wonderful words by Merton. Thanks for the post. God bless you always.

The_Frustrated_Writer said...

Beautiful blog! Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wonderful blog. While reading it, the words of wisdom gave me a good shake - I was awakened and thus my lips blossomed once again out the hot 'Thank You!'
I would be the happiest man, if you would accept me into the hug of the Grateful heart bloggers. My blogs are
What should I do for joining your community?

gLoR!e said...

Happy New Year!:)

Kevin in Manila said...

Nice blog :)

rvivekshanmugam said...

Wish U a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :)