Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | October 12, 2009

Thomas a Kempis: The Imitation of Christ

Another reference to my high school days at Seton Hall prep: I used to go to daily mass in the morning in a makeshift chapel on the 2nd floor of Mooney Hall–Fr. Ed Bradley did a great, quick mass to start the day, and one day, he set out a pile of books for us to take: Thomas a Kempis’ My Imitation of Christ. It has been a pivotal book in my life and I am currently going through it again.

The catholic, contemplative, monastic way is very taoist. A stripping away of the ego in order to become wei wu wei–not acting out of the emotions of the ego, but acting naturally, as it arises(the Rambling taoist–see link on my blog roll, recently posted some good stuff on action in the taoist sense), acting and developing virtue and acting without vanity, acting in humility, developing good character.

I have wrestled with, and still do, the philosophical wranglings of what to put my faith in, A Catholic doctrine of creation, alienation, and redemption, or a taoist doctrine of nature, yin yang, harmony, the tao, the way, and the truth is, both doctrines tell you not to overly concern yourself with things you can’t possibly understand or grasp, but to just do it. So, I read Thomas a Kempis and do tai chi and sit in meditation, sometimes engaging in taoist breathing exercises, sometimes trying to push the envelope and play with things like astral projection, sometimes placing myself in the ineffable presence of the Holy Spirit.

Both doctrines teach that if you practice in a disciplined way, right action will come naturally. Both doctrines teach, along with buddhism, that is an illusion to think that you can live in this life without adversity, without people trying your patience, without bad things happening and confronting you, but all these doctrines teach that the difference is in how you approach them, how you deal with them, how you get through it. Gentleness, trust in a higher power, humility, kindness, compassion, and love are the universal tools.



  1. I’m fascinated with spiritual stuff from the Christian tradition, like Thomas Merton, for example! I want to read My Imitation of Christ. Jesus was a true Yogi! I love him.
    PS, I think the subject of my latest blog will interest you.

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