The true contemplative is a lover of sobriety and obscurity. He prefers all that is quiet, humble, unassuming. He has no taste for spiritual excitements. They easily weary him. His inclination is to that which seems to be nothing, which tells him little or nothing, which promises him nothing. Only one who can remain at peace in emptiness, without projects or vanities, without speeches to justify his own apparent uselessness, can be safe from the fatal appeal of those spiritual impulses that move him to assert himself and "be something" in the eyes of other men.

Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience by Thomas Merton, William H. Shannon, editor