Saturday, December 9, 2006


Kanchenjunga, Darjeeling India, 1968
Photo by Thomas Merton
The month before Merton died, he was in Darjeeling (India) struggling with a sore throat and a mountain. The 28,000 foot peak of Kanchenjunga was in view from just about everywhere, including his bungalow window.

In the dim and dawn of the morning haze it was not colored by the sun, but dovelike in its blue grey. Lovely, but difficult to photograph. Throughout his journal entries, Merton is always glancing toward the mountain, commenting on it, until finally he got tired of it and was glad for a day when it was hidden by the clouds. He was somewhat overwhelmed with all that he had seen in Asia, and grumpy with his cold.

When you begin each day by describing the look of the same mountain, you are living in the grip of illusion.” (p. 290 “The Other Side of the Mountain”)

On November 19th (1968) he dreamed about Kanchenjunga:
“I was looking at the mountain and it was pure white, absolutely pure, especially the peaks that lie to the west, And I saw the pure beauty of their shape and outline, all in white. And I heard a voice saying – or got the clear idea of: ‘There is another side to the mountain.’ I realized that it was turned around and everything was lined up differently; I was seeing it from the Tibetan side … “

From that point on, Merton was no longer irritated with the mountain. He knew that there was another side to this mountain and to everything. When he left Darjeeling on November 22nd, Kanchenjunga was hidden. Some of the lower peaks were visible, but the higher peak itself was lost in a great snowcloud.
Merton looked back as they drove toward Ghoom ...
and that was the end of it”. (p. 295)
And then, as they were passing over the hills of Ghoom he got a last sight of Kanchenjunga,
bright and clear in the morning sun … A surprise.”


  1. Wonderful!!!!
    Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

  2. Reflective in its entirety...the mountain of life. Many sides which we may contemplate, often we tire of the task, but then are brought back to the one truth, the Sunshine, the Good. The Illusion is past, the One Way, or Path returns, & the cycle begins anew, Fresh as Dew on the Grass that begins our new Day. A day of Hope, Love & Grace, reached thru the Power of Mindful Prayer. Aha, Perfection!

  3. Very Nice post. :) Kanchenjunga Mountain in Darjeeling is the third highest peak in the world. On a toy train ride around town, the breathtaking sight of Kanchenjunga will cast a spell on you. Click here to know more about Darjeeling tourism.


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