Thomas Merton on what may be the true usefulness of contemplative activities like yoga, the non-doing of Zen Buddhism or Christian monasticism.

“The monk is not defined by his task, his usefulness. In a certain sense he is supposed to be ‘useless’…He does not live in order to exercise a specific function: his business is life itself…The monk seeks to be free from what William Faulkner called ‘the same frantic steeplechase toward nothing’ which is the essence of ‘worldliness everywhere…Poverty and work are, it is true, essential to the monastic life: but so too is a certain authentic solitude and isolation from the world, a certain protest against the organized and dehumanizing routines of a worldly life built around gains for its own sake.”
from Contemplation in a World of Action