A quote from Thomas Merton’s, The Silent Life, published in 1957:

“…in our desire to be `as gods’…we seek…a relative omnipotence: the power to have everything we desire, to demand that all of our wishes be satisfied and that we should never be frustrated or opposed. It is the need to have everyone else bow to our judgment and accept our declarations as law. It is the insatiable thirst for recognition of the excellence which we so desperately need to find in ourselves to avoid despair. This claim to omnipotence, our deepest secret and our inmost shame, is in fact the source of all our sorrows, all our unhappiness, all our dissatisfactions, all our mistakes and deceptions. It is a falsity which rots our mortal life in its very roots because it makes everything we do more or less a lie. Only the thoughts and actions which are free from contamination of this secret claim have any truth or nobility or value in them….

Those whom we agree, among ourselves, to call `sane’ are those who keep their personal claim to absolute perfection and omnipotence repressed and disguised under certain accepted mental symbols, and who only assert their claim in actions which are rendered acceptable by apparent outward harmlessness and social utility.

There are many acceptable and `sane’ ways of indulging one’s claims to divine power. One can be, for example, a proud and tyrannical parent — or a tearful and demanding martyr-parent. One can be a sadistic and overbearing boss, or a nagging perfectionist. One can be a clown, or a dare devil, or a libertine. One can be rigidly conventional, or blatantly unconventional; one can be a hermit or a demagogue. Some satisfy their desire for divinity by knowing everybody else’s business; others by judging their neighbor, or telling him what to do. One can even, alas, seek sanctity and religious perfection as an unconscious satisfaction of this deep, and hidden, impurity of soul which is man’s pride.”

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