Pearls of wisdom from Paul Tournier

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By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

Paul Tournier, Creative Suffering,1981  (Swiss physician and counselor)

--Science, however, being analytical, excels in the study of the parts, but is powerless to grasp      the whole—the person.

--A child who meets no resistance is unprepared for the struggle of life.

--The human heart does not obey the rules of logic: it is constitutionally contradictory.  I can                     truly say that I have a great grief and that I am a happy man.

--Science by (quite arbitrary) definition excludes considerations of value.

--I think that as we grow old we are called upon to open our hearts more widely, in every                          circumstance to move on from the rather self-centred(sic) love of youth to a more                          disinterested love.

--Love that is self-interest rapidly degenerates into possessiveness; and while unselfish love can                do miracles, possessive love can just as readily bring about catastrophes.

--[The goal is] transforming a loneliness suffered passively and with bitterness into a solitude                    that is welcomed and made to bear fruit.

--Who then helped me?  I told you just now: those who loved me enough to reveal to me the love                        of God.  One does not help people to accept the trials of life by preaching at them, but by                 loving them.

--All liberating growth takes time.

--The meaning of life: passing from having to being, from the avidity of youth and middle age                  through all kinds of renunciations—deprivations—to seeking one's identity in oneself             and not in what one does, acquires, or possesses.

--Many people have said to me that they could not believe in God because of the anger they felt               in face of the ravages of evil, in face of all the innocent victims of natural disasters and                     human injustice.  I have no answer for them; but they have always appeared to me to be                   unconscious believers, beginners of course, but believers nevertheless. 

--Some of my patients who claimed to be atheists took God more seriously than some believers.

--[Often] holy rebellion has been the first step towards a trusting encounter with God

--There is, then, a sort of dialectic between 'no' and 'yes.'

--At the point when he[an excellent friend] was in greatest pain, he told me, the thought came to              him that not only had he to accept his suffering, he had to 'get inside it'.

--Freud's purely psychological definitions[of mourning]: 'severing one's attachment to the object             that has been abolished' seems very passive, very pale, compared with the intensely                        creative event that is spiritual acceptance, in which 'yes' to suffering merges into 'yes' to                        God.  This is especially true of Christian acceptance; for Jesus' message is realistic and                    hard.

--We can face everything when we believe we are loved.

--And how many of the faithful there are who date their conversion from the moment when they             felt themselves broken. . .

--If anything is certain, it is that every one of life's trials, if only because it breaks the hard crust               of our physical and mental habits, creates, like the ploughing(sic) of a field, an empty                   space where seed can be sown.


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