Famous Thomas Merton, Trappist American monk, was atraditional Christian. Born in France in 1915 and died in Asia in 1968 Mertonwas greatly influenced by the complexities of the twentieth century. Hiswritings served as a personal may in his search for God. .
He pursued theascending path towards the eternal kingdom of truth, towards heaven, whileleaving the world of shadowy existence behind. Truth would be a passion of hislife. He also took it upon himself to speak on behalf of the disenfranchised ofthe word. Thomas Merton was a dynamic, modern man who committed himself to alifelong search for a meaningful and authentic way of life. He had only onedesire and that was the desire for solitude-to disappear into God, to besubmerged in his peace, to be lost in the secret of his face.
This singularpassion and boundless energy led him to combine in one life a unique variety ofroles, prolific spiritual writer and poet, monk and hermit, social activist, allwhile living at the Trappist monastery in Gethsemani, Kentucky. Merton, a monkunder a vow of silence, found fame by not seeking it, by speaking the truth. Much can be said with the praise the truth will set your free Mertonprovided a path that is still setting people free. Freedom from silence.
Manyfeel that a monastery is a sanctuary to escape from the realities of the realworld. Merton saw it as helping rescue the world from the new dark ages. Inthe night of our technological barbarism, monks must be as trees which existsilently in the dark and by their vital presence purify the air. Some believeMertons world was the monastery grounds, the whole world was. He believedthat all men and women are to be seen and treated as Christ. Failure to do this,involves condemnation for disloyalty to the most fundamental of revealed truths.
Encounters with Christ must be followed by the encounters and both must beexperienced with the same love. Its a love that frees, not a love that wantsto possess or manipulate. The great Indian teacher, Mahatma Gandhi, philosophywas very similar. Merton loved people, but he also loved nature.
He told us tobegin by learning how to see and respect the visible creation which mirrorsthe glory and the perfection of the invisible God. Everything that surroundsus, the trees, the ocean, the waves, the sky, the sun, the birds, it is in allthis that we will find our answers. God is omnipresent; we do not see thisbecause we are not contemplative. Merton believed a Christian society is one inwhich men give their share of labor and intelligence and in return receive theirshare of the fruits of the labor, which is seen in the Kingdom of God, a societycentered upon the divine truth and the divine mercy. In such a society theprophetic role of the monk would be fulfilled, in the sense that hisrenunciation of the right of ownership was an affirmation of Gods ownershipof everything and of mans right to be a possessor only in so far as he waswilling to share with others what he did not need. Merton did not feel impelledto become involved in political deeds.
He believed the monks duty was tocultivate consciousness and awareness however, truth and God demanded he speakout loudly and often against all forms of war. He stated that the Vietnam warwas an example of Americans seeing their country as the center of the world,imposing their will, in the name of freedom, on weaker nations that might standin their way. It was a needless destruction of human life, a rape of a culturewhich could only lead to the death of the spirit of an exhausted people. He sawmen striving to negotiate for peace, and failing because their fear overbalancedtheir true good will.
The root of all war is fear. He taught that we mustfearlessly love even the men we cannot trust, for the enemy was war itself, andpeace could not be brought about by hatred. Peace does not consist in oneman, one party, one nation, crushing and dominating everyone else. Peace existswhere men who have the power to be enemies are, instead, friends by reason ofthe .