Friday, December 3, 2021

Ancient Sources of Monastic Vision and Experience

Painting by Brother Tobias Haller

Sometimes I find good things on Facebook. This is from Anabela Rozwadowska.

》THOMAS MERTON had a very strong attraction to Zen. 

In his lecture, 'Monastic Experience and East-West Dialogue,' delivered in Calcutta shortly before he died, Merton said:

"I come as a pilgrim who is anxious to obtain not just information, not just 'facts' about other monastic traditions but to drink from ancient sources of monastic vision and experience. 

I seek not to just learn more quantitatively about religion and monastic life but to become a better and more enlightened monk myself."

In Merton's book 'Zen and the Birds of Appetite' he states:

"Both Christianity and Buddhism show that suffering remains inexplicable, most of all for the man who attempts to explain it in order to evade it, or who thinks explanation itself is an escape.

Suffering is not a 'problem' as if it were something we could stand outside and control. Suffering, as both Christianity and Buddhism see, each in its own way, is part of our very ego-identity and empirical existence, and the only thing to do about it is to plunge right into the middle of contradiction and confusion in order to be transformed by what Zen calls 'the great death' and Christianity calls 'dying and rising with Christ."

In his talk in Calcutta he affirmed:

 "I think that now we have reached a stage of religious maturity at which it may be possible for someone to remain perfectly faithful to a Christian and Western monastic commitment and yet learn, in depth from a Hindu or Buddhist discipline or experience. Some of us need to do this in order to improve the quality of our own monastic life."

Shortly before Merton died, he told Brother David Steindl-Rast:

 "I do not believe that I could understand our Christian faith the way I understand it if it were not for the light of Buddhism."


I wholeheartedly agree. It is the same for me. 



  1. yes-yes

    Mystery is mystery wherever it is found -
    Mystery lives in darkness
    where there is no-thing to be fixed -

    so this __________

    Mystery -

    Spring -

    The fragmentation of bread -
    The unity of wine-

    The celebration -

    Life -

    blessing ____________


The Stuff of Contemplation (Joan Chittister)

Thomas Merton, Trappist, died December 10, 1968 Thomas Merton entered the Abbey of Gethsemane in Bardstown, Kentucky, at the age of twenty-s...