Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Photograph of Thomas Merton by Miguel Grinberg from The Archives of the Thomas Merton Centre at Bellarmine University. Used with kind permission.
Thomas Merton’s monastic commitment led him to develop mutually enriching relationships with spiritual traditions throughout the world. He wrote in a letter to his Pakistani Muslim friend Abdul Aziz in 1960, “The world we live in has become an awful void, a desecrated sanctuary, reflecting outwardly the emptiness and blindness of the hearts of people who have gone crazy with their love for money and power and with pride in their technology.”
From Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander (1968)
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realisation that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. Not that I question the reality of my vocation, or of my monastic life: but the conception of “separation from the world” that we have in the monastery too easily presents itself as a complete illusion.”
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