Thomas Merton (1915 –1968)
Speaking of human nature, Merton said…
"This basic core of goodness is capable of unlimited development; indeed, of becoming transformed into Christ and deified." 
Wikipedia tells us that [All Emphasis Added]
“Thomas Merton was one of the most influential Catholic writers of the 20th century. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, in the state of Kentucky, Merton was the author of numerous acclaimed works of spirituality, a prolific poet, social activist and student of comparative religion. He wrote more than 60 books, scores of essays and reviews, and is the subject of several biographies. Merton was a keen proponent of inter-religious understanding, engaging in spiritual dialogues with the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and D. T. Suzuki. His life and career were suddenly cut short at the age of 53, when he was electrocuted stepping out of his bath”.
Merton once said in praise of Thich Nhat Hanh, a quote that appears on the back cover of several books by Thich Nhat Hanh including Being Peace and Living Buddha Living Christ.
"Thich Nhat Hanh is more my brother than many who are nearer to me in race and nationality, because he and I see things exactly the same way."
And who are these people that Merton engaged in a “spiritual dialogue with?
See Thomas Merton and The Dalai Lama (below).
Thich Nhat Hanh who has become an important influence in the development of Western Buddhism, is an expatriate Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16, studied Buddhism as a novice, and was fully ordained as a monk in 1949. He is founder of Plum Village (a Buddhist community in exile in France, which functions as a monastery for monks and nuns and a mindfulness practice center for lay people). Nhat Hanh did much humanitarian good in his home country of Vietnam, however he is first and last a Buddhist Zen master, whose influential approach has been to combine a variety of traditional Zen teachings with methods from Theravada Buddhism, insights from Mahayana Buddhism, and ideas from Western psychology - to offer a modern light on meditation practice. The US Congress led by the ring through their collective noses was addressed by Thich Nhat Hanh in September of 2003, who also d through a two-day retreat. 
D. T. Suzuki, (Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki. 1870 – 1966) who was involved in the worldwide Buddhist revival that had begun slowly in the 1880s, was a famous Japanese author of books and essays on Buddhism, Zen and Shin that were instrumental in spreading interest in both Zen and Shin (and Far Eastern philosophy in general) to the West. The Buddhist name Daisetz, meaning "Great Simplicity", was given to him by his Zen master Soyen Shaku, who was one of the invited speakers at the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. D.T. Suzuki's book An Introduction to Zen Buddhism, includes a thirty page commentary by analytical psychologist Carl Jung. Suzuki took an interest in Christian mysticism and studied some sermons of Meister Eckhart, coming up with the book Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist pointing out what he felt were the close connections between the Meister's ideas and those of Zen Buddhism.
While the Thomas Merton Center provides the additional information that … [All Emphasis Added]
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race…. During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Merton during the American monk's trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dali Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known. It was during this trip to a conference on East-West monastic dialogue that Merton died, in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, the victim of an accidental electrocution. The date marked the twenty-seventh anniversary of his entrance to Gethsemani. 
The above paragraph brings one thought .. What a pity it was that Thomas Merton did not have a more “profound understanding” of the very simple message of the Bible.. What a tragedy it was that he wasted his eternal life on a deep interest in Buddhism, and not in the word of God… And it is a tragedy multiplied many times over that so many thousands have seen fit to suspend all common sense, to ignore the many many warnings in Scripture, and blindly follow this man as a spiritual leader.
The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, which has 30 chapters in the United States and 12 others throughout the world, says that Merton’s message is .. [All Emphasis Added]
“…that he speaks to the minds and hearts of people searching for answers to life's important questions. For many he is a spiritual guide, for others a place to retreat to in difficult times. He takes people into deep places within themselves and offers insight to the paradoxes of life. He wrestles with how to be contemplative in a world of action, yet offers no quick fix, no ten easy steps to a successful spiritual life.
At the core of Thomas Merton's spiritual writings is the search for the " true self " and our need for relationship with God, other people and all of creation. He finds that when we are apart from God we experience alienation and desolation. He concludes that we must discover God as the center of our being to which all things tend and to whom all of our activity must be directed”. 
The overwhelming reaction to the above paragraph is Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! One is forced to wonder why none of these heretics ever got very creative, but repeated the same old nonsense, in the same old way. ALL of them, seemingly, are seeking God.. ALL of them claim to be Christians, ALL of them, presumably believe in the Bible as the word of God, Yet NONE of them ever seem to bother taking THE ONLY true path to God.. The only one He has Himself outlined in HIS word. NONE of them take His warnings seriously, NONE of them seem to think God has given us all we need to know in order to draw nearer to Him. In short NONE of them seem to believe that the God of the universe actually knows what He is talking about. and will carry out His judgment on those who have strayed off the straight and narrow and taken thousands with them..
As pastor Bob DeWaay says
“Mystics latch onto the idea of the kingdom within because the idea gives a compelling reason for a “journey inward.” It dovetails nicely with the thinking of people in a culture influenced by New Age ideas and post-modern thought. Go deep inside of your self through an Eastern technique, and there you will meet God, or so they think. But does the Bible teach that the Kingdom of God is within human beings? The passage they are referencing is Luke 17:20, 21:
“Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.’”
The phrase “the kingdom of God is within you” is found in the King James and the NIV. I believe that the context favors the NASB translation. Jesus was not telling His enemies, the Pharisees, that the kingdom was within them, but that it was among them in the person of Jesus Christ. If they were going to enter the kingdom, they would have to repent and turn to Christ for salvation (see Mark 1:14, 15). There is nothing in this passage that would suggest that if the Pharisees took an inward journey using meditative techniques they would find God’s kingdom!” [Also See The Kingdom ... When? And What and Where is Heaven]
The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living goes on to say that according to Merton
“the source of the problem is that man "has become alienated from his inner self which is the image of God."
“We must change direction or perish. This requires a social conversion, a turning away from destructive behavior. The first step in this turning is a transformation of consciousness and Thomas Merton is a preeminent guide us in this first step. 
Note that ‘changing direction’ involves “a transformation of consciousness”. Nothing about being Born Again.. nothing about being righteous… nothing about salvation and the transforming power of God’s word. The silence is deafening when it comes to the very cornerstone of the Bibles message.. man and this planet’s basic problem.. sin. And even more amazingly.. How are we to take our first steps? Read Scripture? Pray? Of course not! How mundane and archaic that would be. Instead we have a luminary such as Thomas Merton to guide us in this first step to ‘transforming our consciousness’.
Thomas Merton and The Desert Fathers
There is little question that Thomas Merton was influenced by the Desert Fathers (not forgetting Aldous Huxley, Zen Buddhism and Hindu yoga). Merton & Hesychasm: The Prayer of the Heart & the Eastern Church: introduces the West to Eastern Christian spirituality as practiced from the time of the Desert Fathers. It is the second in a multi-volume series that exposes Thomas Merton's dialogues with traditions other than his own. The first was Merton and Sufism: The Untold Story. His writing on Hesychasm, the practices surrounding the "Prayer of Jesus" have as their aim preparing the spiritual seeker for union with the Godhead. , are of particular contemporary importance. Merton treasured the sayings and stories of the Desert Fathers and was familiar with the Philokalia.
Another book by Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert, is a selection of excerpts from the writings of the Desert Fathers that had proved useful for him in his contemplative life. A review on the back cover by Father Daniel Berrigan, says it was one of Merton’s … [Emphasis Added]
“favorites among his own books—surely because he had hoped to spend his last years as a hermit. The personal tones of the translations, the blend of reverence and humor so characteristic of him, show how deeply Merton identified with the legendary authors of these sayings and parables, the fourth-century Christian Fathers who sought solitude and contemplation in the deserts of the Near East… In fact, Thomas Merton does not so much introduce the Fathers of the desert; he stands in their midst, one of them”.
Certainly much of the ‘credit’ for popularizing the practices of the Desert Fathers can be laid at Thomas Merton’s door. In the words of Ray Yungen [Emphasis Added]
“What Martin Luther King was to the civil rights movement, and what Henry Ford was to the automobile, Thomas Merton is to contemplative prayer. Although this prayer movement existed centuries before he came along, Merton too it out of it’s monastic setting and made it available to and popular with the masses. It is interesting to me that many people think celebrity star Shirley MacLaine was the greatest influence in the New Age. But for me, hands down, Thomas Merton has influenced New Age thinking more than any person of resent decades. Merton penned one of the most classic spiritual descriptions of New Age spirituality I have ever come across. He explained:
“It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, .. now I realize what we all are…. If only they [people] could see themselves as they really are … I suppose the big problem would be that we would all fall down and worship each other … At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth … This little point .. is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody.” .
For more on the Desert Fathers See
Roots of Evil.. History and Origins of Contemplative Prayer. Part I
Thomas Merton.. Archetypical Catholic?
And of course this teacher of mysticism was, in certain aspects, as Catholic as they come .. The following excerpts are from Thomas Merton: The Catholic Buddhist Mystic by Way of Life Literature..
He bought into Rome’s foundational heresies such as the papacy, the Mass, baptismal regeneration, prayers to the saints, and salvation through works .
Merton considered the host, the consecrated wafer of the Mass, to be Christ. He venerated it as Christ and prayed to it as Christ. Consider the following quotes from his autobiography
“And I saw the raised Host--the silence and simplicity with which Christ once again triumphed, raised up, drawing all things to Himself ... Christ, hidden in the small Host, was giving Himself for me, and to me, and, with Himself, the entire Godhead and Trinity...” .
I was in the Church of St. Francis at Havana. ... I had come here to hear another Mass. ... Then ... there formed in my mind an awareness, an understanding, a realization of what had just taken place on the altar, at the Consecration: a realization of God made present by the words of Consecration in a way that made Him belong to me. ... a sudden and immediate contact had been established between my intellect and the Truth Who was now physically really and substantially before me on the altar” [pp. 310, 311].
Merton was a great venerator of Mary. The first time he visited the Gethsemani Abbey he described it as “the Court of the Queen of Heaven” (John Talbot, The Way of the Mystic, p. 221). Morton’s autobiography is filled with passionate statements about Mary. He calls her Our Lady, Glorious Mother of God, Queen of Angels, Holy Queen of Heaven, Most High Queen of Heaven, Mediatrix of All Grace, Our Lady of Solitude, Immaculate Virgin, Blessed Virgin, and Holy Queen of souls and refuge of sinners. He dedicated himself to her and prayed to her continually. Consider the following samples:
“Glorious Mother of God, shall I ever again distrust you, or your God, before Whose throne you are irresistible in your intercession? ... As you have dealt with me, Lady, deal also with my millions of brothers who live in the same misery that I knew then: lead them in spite of themselves and guide them by your tremendous influence, O Holy Queen of souls and refuge of sinners, and bring them to your Christ the way you brought me” [pp. 143, 144].
“One of the big defects of my spiritual life in that first year was a lack of devotion to the Mother of God. I believed in the truths which the Church teaches about Our Lady, and I said the ‘Hail Mary’ when I prayed, but that is not enough. People do not realize the tremendous power of the Blessed Virgin. They do not know who she is: that IT IS THROUGH HER HANDS ALL GRACES COME BECAUSE GOD HAS WILLED THAT SHE THUS PARTICIPATE IN HIS WORK FOR THE SALVATION OF MEN. ... She is the Mother of the supernatural life in us. Sanctity comes to us through her intercession. God has willed that there be no other way” [p. 251].
Merton also prayed to a variety of Catholic saints, including Therese of Lisieux. He says, “I was immediately and strongly attracted to her” [p. 388]. He not only prayed to her but he also dedicated himself to her, “If I get into the monastery, I will be your monk” [p. 400].
Well Maybe Not So Typical
In spite of his Catholicism, Merton was heavily involved in contemplative mysticism and promoted the integration of pagan practices such as Zen Buddhism and Hindu yoga with Christianity. Excerpts are from Thomas Merton: The Catholic Buddhist Mystic by Way of Life Literature..
It was a Hindu monk named Bramachari who encouraged Merton to pursue the “Christian mystical tradition.” This was before Merton converted to Catholicism. Ray Yungen observes, “Bramachari understood that Merton didn’t need to switch to Hinduism to get the same enlightenment that he himself experienced through the Hindu mystical tradition” (A Time of Departing, p. 199). Bramachari said: “There are many beautiful mystical books written by the Christians. You should read St. Augustine’s Confessions, and The Imitation of Christ. ... you must read those books” .
Thomas Merton and Islam
One other book in which Merton was a contributor is entitled.. Listening to Islam: With Thomas Merton, Sayyid Qutb, Kenneth Cragg And Ziauddin Sardar: Praise, Reason And Reflection. [Ziauddin Sardar is a writer and cultural-critic who specializes in the future of Islam, Sayyid Qutb .. a major ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood whose exposition of the Qur'an is justifiably famous… Bishop Kenneth Cragg is a careful translator, expositor and analyst of the Qur'an and modern Islam.]
The Product Description of the book on Amazon says
“Through "Praise, Reason and Reflection", these four dialogists provide compelling evidence of the complexities, differences and rewards of exchanging ideas and opinions on the development and necessity of Islamic-Christian interfaith understanding”.
Thomas Merton and Aldous Huxley
Merton was influenced by Aldous Huxley, who found enlightenment through hallucinogenic drugs. Although by the end of his life Huxley was, in some academic circles, considered a leader of modern thought and an intellectual of the highest rank, he was even better known for advocating and taking hallucinogens, and is considered by many to be the "spiritual father" of the hippie movement. His book The Doors of Perception (1954) inspired the name of the rock band "The Doors". Huxley, along with Aleister Crowley appears on the sleeve of the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Henri Nouwen said that Huxley brought Merton “to a deeper level of knowledge” and was his first contact with mysticism .
“He had read widely and deeply and intelligently in all kinds of Christian and Oriental mystical literature, and had come out with the astonishing truth that all this, far from being a mixture of dreams and magic and charlatanism, was very real and very serious” 
Thomas Merton and The Dalai Lama
Merton actually met with the Dalai Lama three times, the last occasion being weeks before Merton's 1968 death. He said of the Dalai Lama… “there is a real spiritual bond between us” .
In an article on AmericanCatholic.org, entitled The Dalai Lama Visits Gethsemani, we are told that the Dalai Lama said "Now our spirits are one," after praying at Merton's grave along with Abbot Timothy Kelly. The article included the photograph on the right of the Dalai Lama praying at Merton's grave along with Abbot Timothy Kelly. .
In a 1996 Tribute to Thomas Merton, the Dalai Lama gave a talk at Gethsemani Abbey in Gethsemani, Kentucky, which said in part..
“…his [Merton’s] perspective was very, very broad. Thus, it seems to me that in this memorial or recollection of him we should seek to be following his example that he gave us. In this way even though the chapter of his life is over, what he was hoping to do and seeking to do can remain forever. Not only is his wonderful model being followed in this monastery, but it seems to me that if all of us followed this model it would become very widespread and would be of very great benefit to the world.
For myself, I always consider myself as one of his Buddhist brothers. So as a close friend or as his brother, I always remember him and I always admire his activities and his lifestyle. So since my meeting with him and so often as I examine myself, or better really follow some of his example and occasionally just as at this meeting, I really have deep satisfaction now, knowing that I have really made some contribution regarding his wish. And so for the rest of my life, of course, the impact of meeting him will remain till my last breath. So I really want to state that I make this commitment and this will remain till my last breath. Thank you very much! .
So who is the Dalai Lama and what does he teach? One thing is certain.. he is not exactly what he says he is and certainly not what he is popularly made out to be. There is something very sinister behind this smiling ‘Man of Peace”. He believes in and teaches on the coming of the Maitreya.. and has initiated thousands of people into the Kalachakra initiation, part of which is the Shambhala myth which prophecies and promotes, on an ideological basis, a “holy war” (Shambhala war) by Buddhists against non-Buddhists, in which “supremely ferocious warriors will throw down the barbarian hordes” and “eliminate” them. The Kalachakra texts say that the 25th Kalki king will emerge from Shambhala with a huge army to vanquish "Dark Forces" and usher in a worldwide thousand-year Golden Age. And who are these ‘Dark Forces’? Shri Kalachakra I. 154 says “Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mani, Mohammed and the Mahdi” are characterised as the “family of the demonic snakes”. [See The Dalai Lama]
Thomas Merton and The Buddhist Shrine
Excerpt from Thomas Merton: The Catholic Buddhist Mystic by Way of Life Literature..
In Sri Lanka Merton visited a Buddhist shrine by the ocean at Polonnaruwa, the ancient capitol.
“The path dips down to Gal Vihara: a wide, quiet, hollow, surrounded with trees. A low outcrop of rock, with a cave cut into it, and beside the cave a big seated Buddha on the left, a reclining Buddha on the right, and Ananda, I guess, standing by the head of the reclining Buddha. In the cave, another seated Buddha. The vicar general, shying away from ‘paganism,’ hangs back and sits under a tree reading the guidebook. I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. Then the silence of the extraordinary faces. The great smiles. Huge and yet subtle. Filled with every possibility, questioning nothing, knowing everything, rejecting nothing ... without trying to discredit anyone or anything--without refutation--without establishing some other argument” (The Asian Journal, p. 233).
This alleged wisdom is a complete denial of the Bible, which teaches us that there is truth and there is error, light and darkness, God and Satan, and they are not one. The apostle John said, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). True wisdom lies in testing all things by God’s infallible Revelation and rejecting that which is false. Proverbs says, “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going” (Prov. 14:15).
Merton described his visit to the Buddhas as an experience of great illumination, a vision of “inner clearness.” His complete capitulation to Buddhism was evident in the final words that he wrote about his experience with the idols:
“The thing about all this is that there is no puzzle, no problem, and really no ‘mystery.’ All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya ... Everything is emptiness and everything is compassion. I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination” (The Asian Journal, p. 235).
Thomas Merton and Zen Buddhism.
The Amazon Product Description of Merton’s book Merton and Buddhism (pictured on the left) says [Emphasis Added]
“Divided into three sections, this insightful volume of essays by numerous scholars focuses on Thomas Merton’s interest in and transformation through Buddhism”.
The January/February 1999 issue of Yoga Journal magazine carried an article by Michael Torris;
“(Thomas) Merton had encountered Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism and Vedanta many years prior to his Asian journey. Merton was able to uncover the stream where the wisdom of East and West merge and flow together, beyond dogma, in the depths of inner experience…. Merton embraced the spiritual philosophies of the East and integrated this wisdom into (his) own life through direct practice.”
In fact Merton claimed to be both a Buddhist, and a Christian. The titles of some of the books he wrote include Zen and the Birds of the Appetite, The Way of Chuang Tzu, and Mystics and the Zen Masters. Some of the statements he made are outrageous... For example
“I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. The future of Zen is in the West. I INTEND TO BECOME AS GOOD A BUDDHIST AS I CAN” 
“You have to see your will and God’s will dualistically for a long time. You have to experience duality for a long time until you see it’s not there. IN THIS RESPECT I AM A HINDU [here he was saying that he believed in Hindu monism rather than Christian dualism; that God is all and all is God]. Ramakrishna has the solution. ... Openness is all” .
“Asia, Zen, Islam, etc., all these things come together in my life. It would be madness for me to attempt to create a monastic life for myself by excluding all these” .
“I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own Christian traditions” .
“I think I couldn’t understand Christian teaching the way I do if it were not in the light of Buddhism” .
Thomas Merton and Ecumenism
And last, but far from least.. Merton claimed that there is no reason to believe that God has not revealed himself to other religions.
“Since in practice we must admit that God is in no way limited in His gifts, and since there is no reason to think that He cannot impart His light to other men without first consulting us, there can be no absolutely solid grounds for denying the possibility of supernatural (private) revelation and of supernatural mystical graces to individuals, no matter where they may be or what may be their religious tradition, provided that they sincerely seek God and His truth. Nor is there any a priori basis for denying that the great prophetic and religious figures of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., could have been mystics, in the true, that is, supernatural, sense of the word”  .
In a conference with Thomas Merton, one person asked him "How can we help people attain union with God?" Merton responded,
"We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than the coming into consciousness of what is already there." 
Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)
Henri Nouwen’s reach extends far and wide. Just as an example, Mike Yaconelli co-founder of Youth Specialties, an international organization which trains and equips youth workers around the globe, not only called Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus, the “most pivotal book in my life”, but went out and bought all the books Henri Nouwen referred to, including works by Saint John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and Thomas Merton.
Henri Nouwen’s website describes him as an …
“… internationally renowned priest and author, respected professor and beloved pastor Henri Nouwen wrote over 40 books on the spiritual life. He corresponded regularly in English, Dutch, German, French and Spanish with hundreds of friends and reached out to thousands through his Eucharistic celebrations, lectures and retreats. Since his death in 1996, ever-increasing numbers of readers, writers, teachers and seekers have been guided by his literary legacy. Nouwen’s books have sold over 2 million copies and been published in over 22 languages”.
And goes on to say
“In 1985 he was called to join L’Arche in Trosly, France, the first of over 100 communities founded by Jean Vanier where people with developmental disabilities live with assistants. A year later Nouwen came to make his home at L’Arche Daybreak near Toronto, Canada. …..
…Nouwen believed that what is most personal is most universal; he wrote, “By giving words to these intimate experiences I can make my life available to others.” His spirit lives on in the work of the Henri Nouwen Society, Henri Nouwen Stichting, the Henri Nouwen Trust, the Henri J. M. Nouwen Archives and Research Collection, and in all who live the spiritual values of communion, community and ministry, to which he dedicated his life”. 
His site also says…
“Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker, a synthesist and one of the first in our time, along with Thomas Merton, to consciously develop a "theology of the heart" and to lay this down as a template for both clergy and lay persons”.
He certainly was and continues to be popular.. as this excerpt from A Time of Departing [2nd edition]. by Ray Yungen states [Emphasis Added].
“An individual who has gained popularity and respect in Christian circles, akin to that of Thomas Merton, is the now deceased Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen. Like Merton, Nouwen combines a strong devotion to God with a poetic, comforting, yet distinctly intellectual style that strikes a strong and sympathetic chord with what could be called Christian intelligentsia. Many pastors and professors are greatly attracted to his deep thinking. In fact, one of his biographers revealed that in a 1994 survey of 3,400 U.S. Protestant church leaders, Nouwen ranked second only to Billy Graham in influence among them. Nouwen also attracts many lay people who regard him as very inspirational. One person told me that Nouwen's appeal could be compared to that of motherhood—a warm comforting embrace that leaves you feeling good”.
Sadly even the Christian “intelligentsia” seem not to be able to distinguish the Biblical Gospel from the knock-off version of Christianity preached by Nouwen and others like him.. versions that completely contradict Scripture and will destroy those foolish enough to not compare Nouwen’s gospel with that of Scripture and realize that he comes up very very short..
In an article entitled The Dangers of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Disciplines, Pastor Bob DeWaay tells of his friend and co-worker, who in the summer of 2005 went back to seminary (Bethel Theological Seminary in Arden Hills, MN) to finish his masters degree. In the words of his friend
“I recently took a seminary course on the book of Luke. It was a summer intensive and was one of only two classes being offered at the time. About midway through the week, while the class was steeped in trying to discern the intent and significance of the book of Luke, we began to hear the echoes of mystic chanting coming through the walls. As it turned out, the other class being offered was parked right next to ours. The paper thin walls were carrying the choruses of a class exploring the life and teachings of Catholic mystic Henry Nouwen. We proceeded, trying to concentrate on studying the Scriptures while tuning out the chants that were carrying on next door. Perhaps what was more unsettling though is the class studying Nouwen was chock full, while there were plenty of empty seats next door for anyone wanting to learn about the inspired book of Luke.1
At which Pastor DeWaay asks how a Baptist seminary could favorably study the teachings of a Catholic mystic whose own biographers describe as having had emotional problems and homosexual inclinations.
How indeed? Not only was Nouwen Catholic, even one writing a book about the life and legacy of Thomas he called Encounters with Merton, but his ideas derived, at least in part, from other religions and the mysticism of the east.
Nouwen and Fr. Thomas Ryan
The book Disciplines for Christian Living: Interfaith Perspectives was written by another Catholic priest.. Fr. Thomas Ryan, CSP (Community of St. Paul). In the book he often refers to Meister Eckhart, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila etc (No surprises here) .. According to Library Journal of the Reed Business Information, Inc, Ryan [All Emphasis Added]
“spent a year in India studying Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic spiritual practice”.
“has written a splendid book of practical spirituality, the result of genuine, faithful, and receptive interfaith dialog. Beautifully blending what he learned from those traditions with Christianity, Ryan provides a guide to holistic living, emphasizing the importance of intimate friendship, sabbath time, play and exercise, contemplation, fasting, and service.
Of this book Henri Nouwen said (on the back cover)
“I am convinced that this book will be of great help and support to the many people who have a deep faith in Jesus but are at a loss when they look for ways to practice it in their busy and always changing lives.
He also wrote the foreword to the book which says in part…[Emphasis Added]
“When Thomas Ryan took a sabbatical and went to India to study the religions of the Hindus, the Buddhists and the Moslems, he was most struck by their practices. In India he came to realize that there was nothing wrong with the How to do it?” question and that all the great Hindu, Buddhist and Moslem teachers taught their disciples very practical disciplines to transform their lives. He became deeply convinced that unless Christians offer similar disciplines, the Christian faith will never become a truly transforming faith, with concrete and specific implications for daily life….
…What makes these disciplines so appealing is their universal appeal as well as their personal quality. While deeply anchored in his own Christian tradition, the author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Moslem religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian…
Fr. Ryan went to India to learn from spiritual traditions other than his own. He brought home many treasures and offers them to us in the book. Living in Toronto and seeing new Hindu and Buddhist temples and new mosques and synagogues being built all over the place, I realize that the east and the west are no longer so far away from each other as before. Even without a far journey we can become aware of the many treasures that different religions have to offer us”.
So Henri Nouwen thinks so little of Jesus that he considers Jesus’ instructions to be “born again” insufficient for a “truly transforming faith”. I guess Henri Nouwen did not hold the God of the Bible high enough in his estimation to consider that this God actually knows what He is talking about.
Nor did Henri Nouwen take the God of the universe very seriously when He issued dozens of warnings about not having anything to do with idols.. Here are two from the New Testament. [Emphasis Added]
And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [2 Corinthians 6:16]
My little children, guard yourselves from idols. [1John 5:21]
Isaiah 2 also says [Emphasis Added]
For thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they are filled with customs from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners.
God warns man to turn himself from idols and all abominations or his body will be cast down in front of those very idols, yet these men have done worse than “striking hands with the children of foreigners’. They have violated one of the most basic tenets of the Bible and run after those who have nothing to give us.. those that worship the very idols that God said He hates and will destroy…
These very men are being treated by much of the church as great teachers. Why are we not insisting that our teachers be at least Christian..
All of which makes Henri Nouwen’s statement that he saw it as his calling “to help every person claim his or her own way to God” so much hogwash, as he never found his way there himself, unless of course he is not talking about the God of the Bible.
Here is one little gem from the book Disciplines for Christian Living..
Jesus is the personal place where humanity came to know it’s vocation to divinization. The love that the Trinity of persons offers in the Christian perspective has parallels in the eastern religions but certain dimensions of it, like it intimate and incarnational aspects, remain distinctly Christian. In Judaism we find the same divine offer but Judaism has shied away from claiming divinization. Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, along with Judaism, do not speak of divinity actually assuming flesh in the historical existence of a particular person. But they have other gifts to offer which are important for us to receive. [Page 254]
Divinization means "making divine" of an earthly entity or participating in, and partaking of, God's Divinity, which is little or no different from the New Age teaching that man is god, and only falls short inasmuch as he fails to recognize that fact.
Here is one example… Matthew Fox is an Episcopal priest known for his many works on Christian mysticism. The final section of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, is titled A Vision of the Second Coming, which considers the coming of the Kingdom of God to be the work of the God's children acting in their divinization, restoring the Earth and rebuilding all human institutions to eliminate hunger, hopelessness, and violence.
Nouwen and Andrew Harvey
In his autobiographical book, Sabbatical Journey. Nouwen speaks glowingly of his April 1996 encounter with author and lecturer Andrew Harvey, saying
So who is Andrew Harvey? According to Living Spiritual Teachers Project Andrew has spent the last 30 years studying, teaching, and writing about the world's spiritual and mystical traditions. The main goal of Living Spiritual Teachers Project is to promote mysticism as a bridge to interspirituality. Members include Catholic and Buddhist nuns and monks as well as Zen masters and the bestselling New Age author, Marianne Williamson...
Andrew Harvey was born in South India and lived there until at age nine he was sent to England for his education. …In 1977, however, he became disillusioned with life at Oxford and the patriarchal, rationalist Western tradition and returned to India.
… His spiritual search initially led him to the ashram of the Bengali mystic Sri Aurobindo. Later, he studied with the Tibetan Buddhist master Thuksey Rinpoche, an experience he recounted in his first spiritual autobiography, Journey to Ladakh. This was followed by a ten-year exploration of the mystical works of the thirteenth century Persian poet Rumi and the Sufi tradition.
[IPS Note: Rinpoche is an honorific title (meaning "precious one" or "precious jewel") which is frequently used to address or describe reincarnated Tibetan lamas].
In 1986, Harvey became a disciple of an Indian woman, Mother Meera, thought by her followers to be an avatar of the Divine Mother. He brought international attention to her with his book Hidden Journey: A Spiritual Awakening. During the same period he collaborated with Sogyal Rinpoche on the bestselling book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. The next year, this well-traveled seeker met the great Christian mystic Bede Griffiths who re-intoduced Harvey to the deepest truths of his Christian childhood. In 1993, Harvey was the subject of a BBC documentary, The Making of a Mystic. In 1994, he broke his ties to Mother Meera and repudiated the guru establishment, a decision he writes about in another spiritual autobiography, Sun at Midnight.
… Harvey is a versatile and enthusiastic tour guide through this territory, and many of his books are filled with wonderful quotations from those who have dwelt in this realm. Harvey is the series editor of Skylight Illuminations, which includes new translations with commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, Dhammapada, The Gospel of Thomas, Selections from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, and Hasidic Tales. In A Walk With Four Spiritual Guides: Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Ramakrishna, Harvey demonstrates the multifaith hospitality that is a hallmark of his other works, including books on the Divine Mother, Rumi, and Jesus.
…This teacher's hospitality toward all religions and his emphasis on spiritual practices are laudable. 
Harvey has written around thirty books on interspirituality through mysticism. In The Direct Path, he sums up the meaning of this term: [Emphasis Added]
“When you look past the different terminologies employed by the different mystical systems, you see clearly that they are each talking about the same overwhelming truth--that we are all essentially children of the Divine and can realize that identity with our Source here on earth and in a body. Although each of the mystical systems expresses it in subtly different ways, this realization that we can all have of our essential identity with the Divine is always described as a non-dual one, that is, as a relationship in which we wake up to the overwhelming and glorious fact that our fundamental consciousness is "one" with the Divine Consciousness” 
Another book by Andrew Harvey is entitled A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism, which has a glowing review on the back cover by the New Age Journal which calls it “one of the best books available on the Western experience of Tibetan spiritual life”
“A skeptic might respond with the comeback that Nouwen liked Harvey as a person, but didn't necessarily agree with his views. Nouwen himself put this possibility to rest when he said:
Before driving home, Michael, Tom and I had a cup of tea at a nearby deli. We discussed at some length the way Andrew's mysticism had touched us. 
Nouwen and Eknath Easwaran
On the back cover of Meditation: A Simple Eight-Point Program for Translating Spiritual Ideals into Daily Life by Eknath Easwaran, Henri Nouwen writes..
So lets take a look at this book that ‘greatly helped’ Nouwen… In Chapter Two Easwaran, talking about the Mantram (mantra) says.. [All Emphasis Added]
“A mantram is a spiritual formula of enormous power that has been transmitted from age to age in a religious tradition…. Those who have tried it - saints, sages, and ordinary people too - know from their own experience it’s marvelous potency”. (Page 59)
He goes on to say
“The scriptures of all religions proclaim it to be a radiant symbol of ultimate existence, the supreme reality which, depending on our background, we call e various expressive names; God, Nature, the Divine Mother, the Clear Light, universal consciousness. What we call it matters little. What matters greatly is that we discover, experientially, not intellectually, that this supreme reality rests at the inmost center of our being. This discovery constitutes the goal of life, and the mantram stands as a perpetual reminder that such perfection is within all of us, waiting to flow through our thoughts, words and deeds” (Page 60)
Gradually is we repeat it often, the mantram permeates and utterly transforms our consciousness” (Page 61)
He then quotes Mahatma Gandhi
The mantram becomes one’s staff of life and carries one through every ordeal. It is not repeated for the sake of repetition, but for the sake of purification, as an aid to effort. It is no empty repetition. For each repetition has a new meaning, carrying you nearer to God. (Page 62)
On page 163 Easwaran takes a Bible verse completely out of context.. saying
“.. to realize God we must quiet the mind. As the Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God”
[While Easwaran was not a Christian, he is simply echoing the words of many thousands of Christians around the world that regularly twist the plain meaning of Scripture to conform to their philosophical outlook. A philosophical outlook that certainly conformed to Nouwen’s own.
This verse from Psalm 46 has absolutely nothing to do with quieting the mind to realize God. The Bible is a book that has one message from cover to cover. One CAN NOT take one line completely out of context, then use it to back an outrageous theory. Psalm 46 is a song of confidence in God's protection of Zion. This meaning becomes very clear if one were to read the entire psalm, instead of cherry picking...
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
Therefore will we not fear, though the earth do change, And though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas;
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, Though the mountains tremble with the swelling thereof. Selah
There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God will help her, and that right early.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered his voice, the earth melted.
Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Come, behold the works of Jehovah, What desolations he hath made in the earth.
He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariots in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
In the words of Barnes
It is not possible now to ascertain the occasion on which the psalm was written. It was evidently in view of trouble, or of some impending calamity; apparently some national calamity, or some time when the nation was in danger, and when it was felt that their only refuge - their last hope - was in God… The main thought of the psalm - the central idea in it - is, that, amidst these general and far-spreading agitations and convulsions among the nations of the earth, the people of God were safe. … even though they should be carried so far that the very foundations of the earth should be shaken, and the mountains removed and carried into the midst of the sea.
The words “Be Still” comes from râphâh - means properly to cast down; to let fall; to let hang down; then, to be relaxed, slackened, especially the hands: It is also employed in the sense of not making an effort; not putting forth exertion; and then would express the idea of leaving matters with God, or of being without anxiety about the issue. Compare Exodus 14:13, “Stand still, and see the salvation of God.” In this place the word seems to be used as meaning that there was to be no anxiety; that there was to be a calm, confiding, trustful state of mind in view of the displays of the divine presence and power. The mind was to be calm, in view of the fact that God had interposed, and had shown that he was able to defend his people when surrounded by dangers.
The verse in Exodus reads..
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will work for you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. Jehovah will fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. [Exodus 14:13-14]
Also See Context is CRUCIAL
The numbers in front of what we call “verses” can give us the idea that these verses stand alone in their meaning. However, it is well to remember that these number were not in the original documents, but added hundred of years later. No Biblical author simply strung together a number of lofty sounding phrases disconnected from one another. Since each verse is an integral part of a particular point the author was trying to make, no one should read, much less base their beliefs on, stand alone verses. The reader can only be accurately informed by God's Word the way it is written.
Henri Nouwen and Eastern Religious Meditation And Techniques
In The Way of the Heart Henri Nouwen writes..
John Climacus.. one of the Desert Fathers, was a 6th century Christian monk, who is said to have lived in isolation for some 20 years, possibly at a monastery on Mount Sinai. He is known not only for his book Ladder of Divine Ascent, which describes how to raise one's soul and body to God, but as they originator of divine quietness that leads one to God… the prayer which has come to be known as the “Jesus Prayer.” [See Part I of this article for more on the Desert Fathers]
Nouwen cites Climacus saying… [All Emphasis Added]
"When you pray do not try to express yourself in fancy words, for often it is the simple repetitious phrases of a little child that our Father in heaven finds most irresistible. Do not strive for verbosity lest your mind be distracted from devotion by a search for words. One phrase on the lips of the tax collector was enough to win God's mercy; one humble request made with faith was enough to save the good thief. Wordiness in prayer often subjects the mind to fantasy and dissipation; single words of their very nature tend to concentrate the mind. When you find satisfaction or compunction in a certain word of your prayer, stop at that point."
“This is a very helpful suggestion for us, people who depend so much on verbal ability. The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart. This repetition has nothing to do with magic. It is not meant to throw a spell on God or to force him into hearing us. On the contrary, a word or sentence repeated frequently can help us to concentrate, to move to the center, to create an inner stillness and thus to listen to the voice of God. When we simply try to sit silently and wait for God to speak to us, we find ourselves bombarded with endless conflicting thoughts and ideas. But when we use a very simple sentence such as "O God, come to my assistance," or "Jesus, master, have mercy on me," or a word such as "Lord" or "Jesus," it is easier to let the many distractions pass by without being misled by them. Such a simple, easily repeated prayer can slowly empty out our crowded interior life and create the quiet space where we can dwell with God. It can be like a ladder along which we can descend into the heart and ascend to God. Our choice of words depends on our needs and the circumstances of the moment, but it is best to use words from Scripture.
This way of simple prayer, when we are faithful to it and practice it at regular times, slowly leads us to an experience of rest and opens us to God's active presence”. .
“The quiet repetition of a single word”… wow! Why is it so few can see that this is EXACTLY what the Lord told us NOT to do.. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do” (Matthew 6:7). And that this is EXACTLY what eastern meditator do.. it is their method for achieving an altered state of consciousness. Besides which as pastor Bob DeWaay says
“Mystics latch onto the idea of the kingdom within because the idea gives a compelling reason for a “journey inward.” It dovetails nicely with the thinking of people in a culture influenced by New Age ideas and post-modern thought. Go deep inside of your self through an Eastern technique, and there you will meet God, or so they think. But does the Bible teach that the Kingdom of God is within human beings? The passage they are referencing is Luke 17:20, 21:
“Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.’”
The phrase “the kingdom of God is within you” is found in the King James and the NIV. I believe that the context favors the NASB translation. Jesus was not telling His enemies, the Pharisees, that the kingdom was within them, but that it was among them in the person of Jesus Christ. If they were going to enter the kingdom, they would have to repent and turn to Christ for salvation (see Mark 1:14, 15). There is nothing in this passage that would suggest that if the Pharisees took an inward journey using meditative techniques they would find God’s kingdom!” [Read Article]
Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries made this comment...
“He’s describing what he called “short prayers,” but it is actually the repetitive mantra that one finds in transcendental meditation as practiced in Hinduism and that of Zen Buddhism. Citing John Climacus while he instructs us Nouwen inadvertently reveals just how influenced by Eastern religions those apostate “Desert Fathers” actually were…
And if there’s still any doubt that Nouwen is talking about a repetitive mantra derived from the Eastern religions, which fatally warped the theology of these heretical hermits he then says, “The quiet repetition of a single word can help us descend with the mind into the heart” (ibid., emphasis added). Now we ask: Who would have the most to gain if he could convince people, and especially born again Christians, to shut down critical reasoning skills and “find satisfaction…in a certain word…[and] stop at that point”? For those who can still reason in the Lord the answer to this apparent mystery is obviously Satan himself. But nowhere in Scripture are we taught to pray in such a fashion.
The Devil knows that the prayers of the saints have a power about which he can do nothing and the enemy of men’s souls trembles before the child of God who is faithful in prayer. And while there is no power whatsoever in the act of prayer itself, there is infinite power available to the regenerated believers in Christ through our LORD God Almighty Who is the One Who answers our prayers. No wonder these seducing spirits with their Contemplative/Centering Prayer want to get us to stop praying and simply sit around in altered states of consciousness in mind-numbing silence”.
Nouwen and Homosexuality
In God's Beloved: A Spiritual Biography of Henri Nouwen by Michael O'Laughlin, he says
In addition to being sensitive and prone to self-doubt, Henri slowly came to an uneasy awareness that he was homosexual, and this can hardly have added to his sense of well-being. … In the thirties, orties and fifties, homesexuality was a feared, even loathsome aberration, part sin, part mental illness. No one talked about it except as a joke of an insult..He knewhe was not like other people and that he did not dare reveal this truth about himself. [Page 81]
While there is absolutely no evidence that Nouwen was anything but celibate.. the Biography Of Henri Nouwen by Michael Ford says
Before he died in 1996, Nouwen was becoming more vocal in his support of gay men and women, saying they had a "unique vocation in the Christian community." 
Henri Nouwen and In the Name of Jesus
In a review of In the Name of Jesus, Dan Clendenin states
“The book centers around the three temptations of Jesus, which Nouwen construes as the temptations to be relevant ("Turn these stones to bread."), to be spectacular ("Throw yourself from the temple."), and to be powerful ("I will give you the kingdoms of the world.")… the three chapters move us from relevance to prayer, from popularity to ministry, and from leading to being led.”
None of which can possibly be argued with.. However Nouwen then recommends a discipline for each temptation… [Emphasis Added]
To each temptation there corresponds a spiritual discipline as a sort of antidote— contemplative prayer, confession and forgiveness, and then theological reflection. 
Which is the proverbial snake in the woodpile..
Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love ... For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required" (Henri Nouwen. In the Name of Jesus, p. 6,31-32).
Yet Rick Warren says this about In the Name of Jesus…
My wife, Kay, recommends this book: "It's a short book, but it hits at the heart of the minister. It mentions the struggles common to those of us in ministry: the temptation to be relevant, spectacular and powerful. I highlighted almost every word!"
And Christianity Today said [on the book’s back cover]...
“In The Name of Jesus draws provocative and stimulating conclusions about the meaning and significance of Christian ministry”
Nouwen and Ecumenism
[All Emphasis Added]
Nouwen wrote that his solitude and the solitude of his Buddhist friends, would “greet each other and support each other.” 
"Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God." 
Prayer is soul work because our souls are those sacred centers where all is one, ... It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is. 
"a place for everyone in heaven" 
"Still, when we remain faith to our discipline, even if it is only ten minutes a day, we gradually come to see — by the candlelight of our prayers — that there is a space within us where God dwells and where we are invited to dwell with God… The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being." 
Henry Nouwen and Vincent Van Gogh
Interestingly the Henry Nouwen web site features different paintings by Vincent Van Gogh at the top of individual pages. A link entitled Why did we use van Gogh as a motif? leads to one short paragraph which says.
“Why Vincent van Gogh? Henri Nouwen was deeply moved and inspired by the life and work of van Gogh. Of van Gogh he said, “That was [van Gogh’s] vocation: to touch people by tenderly expressing his solidarity with the human condition - not motivated by anger but by love.” Nouwen wrote and taught a course at Yale Divinity School in 1977 entitled “The Ministry of Vincent van Gogh”.”
While I do think that some of Van Gogh’s art was interesting, I cannot see how a so called spiritual leader can could ever be ‘inspired’ by his life... Van Gogh is almost as famous for his mental instability as for his vivid paintings. At one stage of his life he moved in with a pregnant prostitute called Sien Hoornik and even considered marrying her. He suffered from various types of epilepsy, psychotic attacks, and delusions, once committing himself to an asylum. His mental state deteriorated through much of his life with him once cutting off his own ear and taking it to a brothel, where he asked for a prostitute named Rachel and handed the ear to her, asking her to keep it carefully. At the age of 37, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest and died two days later.
Debate has raged over the years as to the source of Van Gogh's mental illness and its effect on his work. Some of the theories which have been suggested include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, syphilis, poisoning from swallowed paints, and temporal lobe epilepsy. Any of these could have been the culprit and been aggravated by malnutrition, overwork, a fondness for the alcoholic beverage absinthe, and insomnia.
What exactly in this sordid tale is there to find inspiration in? He had a ministry? What ministry. The man was a loon and a possible drunk who killed himself..
Thomas Keating... Heresy Unlimited
“Fr. Thomas Keating has written many books on contemplative prayer, especially Centering Prayer, which he is credited with popularizing in the United States. Among these are Open Mind, Open Heart, The Mystery of Christ, and Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit. He lives at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, and serves as an advisor to the Board of Directors of MID”. 
In the introduction to an interview with Fr. Thomas Keating, Anne A. Simpson wrote…
“The contemporary form of centering prayer was discovered, initially taught, and developed during Keating's tenure as abbot at St. Joseph's. He had been involved in reforms resulting from the Second Vatican Council's call for spiritual renewal in the Catholic Church, and he had also observed that young Catholics were leaving the Church in droves to join Hindu ashrams and Buddhist sanghas. In 1971 he attended a meeting of Trappist superiors in Rome, where, addressing the monks, the late Pope Paul VI invoked the spirit of Vatican II. The Pontiff declared that unless the Church rediscovered the contemplative tradition, renewal couldn't take place. He specifically called upon the monastics, because they lived the contemplative life, to help the laity and those in other religious orders bring that dimension into their lives as well.
Keating came away from the meeting determined to make a contribution. He asked the monks at St. Joseph's to search for a method rooted in Christian tradition that would make contemplative prayer more accessible to those outside the monastery. The novice master at St. Joseph's, William Meninger, found a simple technique in the 14th-century Anglican classic The Cloud of Unknowing. Meninger called the method "The Prayer of the Cloud" and began teaching it to retreatants at the abbey guesthouse. Another St. Joseph's monk, Basil Pennington, began teaching it to religious men and women. At the first workshop given to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Pennington frequently quoted his friend and correspondent Thomas Merton, who often when writing abut this type of prayer, would use the term "center." For example, in Contemplative Prayer Merton says, "We rarely pray with the 'mind' alone, Monastic meditation . . . involve[s] the whole man, and proceed[s] from the center of man's being." By the end of the workshop, participants were referring to the technique as "centering prayer."” 
While contemplativeprayer.net tells us a little more about Father William Meninger and The Cloud of Unknowing
In 1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God. This form of meditation, recently known as 'Centering Prayer' (from a text of Thomas Merton) can be traced from and through the earliest centuries of Christianity. The Centering Prayer centers one on God”. 
Other sources state
“Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina, (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.. It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970’s by three Trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger [a retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey], Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. 
“Centering prayer originated in St. Joseph’s Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts. During the twenty years (1961–1981) when [Thomas] Keating was abbot, St. Joseph’s held dialogues with Buddhist and Hindu representatives, and a Zen master gave a week-long retreat to the monks. A former Trappist monk who had become a Transcendental Meditation teacher also gave a session to the monks”. 
Keating and Eastern Religions
In his book, Open Mind, Open Heart [p. 37] Fr. Keating recommends yoga and jogging for relaxation while a book co-authored by Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington says [Emphasis Added]
“We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible… Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices, especially where they have been initiated by reliable teachers and have a solidly developed Christian faith to find inner form and meaning to the resulting experiences”. 
Keating has met and spoken with the Dalai Lama on at least six or seven occasions. He has grasped the subtleties of Buddhist spirituality, and has entered into long and fruitful dialogues with Buddhist teachers at the Naropa Institute, a Tibetan Buddhist graduate school in Boulder, Colorado.
Thomas Keating and The Golden Sufi Center
On May 2 – 3 of this year (2008) Fr. Thomas Keating was one of two speakers at a one-day seminar at The Golden Sufi Center in Inverness, CA.
The very purpose of The Golden Sufi Center is “to make available the teachings of this branch of Sufism. These Sufis
“… are known as the "silent Sufis" because they practice the silent meditation of the heart -- God is the silent emptiness and is therefore most easily reached in silence. They also attach great importance to dreams, which they consider to be a form of guidance along the Path. The central focus of The Golden Sufi Center is the meditation groups. At meetings, silent meditation is followed by dreamwork”. 
The other speaker was Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, who is “A Sufi Teacher in the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufi Order” specializing “in the area of dreamwork, integrating the ancient Sufi approach to dreams with the insights of modern psychology”. One of the recent focus’ of Vaughan-Lee’s writings has been “the emerging global consciousness of oneness ”. The Seminar was called Oneness & the Heart of the World. 
Thomas Keating, Hindu Traditions, TM and Zen Masters
In In chapter 1 of Thomas Keating’s book… Intimacy With God [Pgs. 11-12], he says [Emphasis Added]
The historical roots of Centering Prayer reach back to St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, where I was abbot from 1961 to 1981. This was during the time of the first wave of the renewal of religious life after the Second Vatican Council, where many questions were raised for the first time and inter religious dialogue was encouraged by the Holy See. Several of us at Spencer became acquainted with groups from other spiritual traditions who resided in our area. We invited several spiritual teachers from the Eastern religions as well as some ecumenically skilled Catholic theologians to visit and speak with us. Fr. Thomas Merton was still alive at this time and writing extensively about his researches and exchanges in inter religious dialogue. He was one of the most articulate pioneers from the Christian side in the dialogue among world religions.
In a similar spirit we entertained a Zen master who wished to visit our monastery. We invited him to speak to the community and later to give a sesshin (a week long intensive retreat). For nine years after that, he held sesshins once or twice a year at a nearby retreat house. During those years I had the privilege of making several sesshins with him. On the occasion of his first sesshin held in our monastery, he put on the Cistercian habit and ate with us in the refectory. We have a picture of him on his seventieth birthday eating a piece of cake while sitting in the half lotus position. [Spelling of sesshin in original]
We were also exposed to the Hindu tradition through Transcendental Meditation. Paul Marechal, a former monk of Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia, A daughter monastery had become a TM teacher and offered to instruct us in the practice. Many in the community wanted to experience it.
Exposure to these traditions, as well as conversations with visitors to our monastery who had benefited from them, naturally raised many questions in my mind as I tried to harmonize the wisdom of the East with the contemplative tradition on Christianity that I had been studying and trying to practice for thirty years.
Keating and Ken Wilber
Fr. Thomas Keating has had more than a few dialogues on Centering Prayer and integral spirituality with Ken Wilber, who by his own admission is “longtime practicing Buddhist” and who has derived many of his key ideas from Buddhism. He further states that “Nagarjuna and Madhyamika philosophy: pure Emptiness and primordial purity is the central philosophy” of his approach.
The Integral Institute records the dialogue between Father Thomas Keating and Ken Wilber that took place on April 24th, 2006… [Emphasis Added]
“… Ken Wilbur and Father Thomas Keating dialogued for almost 4 hours in front of a packed house at the Westin Tabor Center in Denver. About 240 people attended the event. The discussion took place around the topic of the relevance of religion in the modern/postmodern era. …
… Above all else, the dialogue had the character of two old friends sharing some sacred time and space together. The crowd was alternately in stiches [stitches] at numerous, hilarious exchanges, and silent in the face of the depth and profundity of the sharing. Reflecting on his own journey, Keating, 83, said that he honestly felt very much like a beginner to the spiritual life, before the majestic love that God Is, and commented "I can’t understand why anyone would want to get married before 50 or 60, at the earliest!" 
Wilber is also founder of the Integral institute. Integral theory being the all-inclusive framework that draws on the key insights of the world’s greatest knowledge traditions. [See more about Ken Wilber]
The Snowmass Conferences
For twenty years, a group of spiritual seekers from many religious traditions met in various places around the United States under the rubric of the Snowmass Conferences to engage in the deepest form of interreligious dialogue about the differences and similarities between their paths of wisdom. To encourage openness and honesty, no audio or visual recording was made of, and no articles were written about, the encounters. Participants include Fr. Thomas Keating, Roshi Bernie Glassman, Swami Atmarupananda, Dr. Ibrahim Gamard, Imam Bilal Hyde, Pema Chödrön, Rabbi Henoch Dov Hoffman, and many others. [From Product Description]
Writing about Interreligious Dialogue Since Vatican II, Wayne Teasdale has this to say about Keating and the Snowmass Conferences..
“Abbot Thomas Keating and his organization, the Snowmass Conference, which is composed of fifteen religions represented by one person, offers the most promising vision of how the religious traditions can and should relate to one another in a more universal way. The Snowmass Conference has been meeting for nearly ten years, and the fifteen spiritual leaders have arrived at a consensus on what the principles of interreligious dialogue are. They call these principles the "Guidelines for Interreligious Understanding." 
And what are these guidelines? They are outlined by Thomas Keating in Speaking of Silence, as quoted in Interreligious Dialogue Since Vatican II, by Wayne Teasdale. [All Emphasis Added]
- The world religions bear witness to the experience of the Ultimate Reality to which they give various names: Brahman, the Absolute, God, Allah, (the) Great Spirit, the Transcendent.
- The Ultimate Reality surpasses any name or concept that can be given to It.
- The Ultimate Reality is the source (ground of being) of all existence.
- Faith is opening, surrendering, and responding to the Ultimate Reality. This relationship precedes every belief system.
- The potential for human wholeness -- or in other frames of reference, liberation, self-transcendence, enlightenment, salvation, transforming union, moksha, nirvana, fana -- is present in every human person.
- The Ultimate Reality may be experienced not only through religious practices but also through nature, art, human relationships and service to others.
- The differences among belief systems should be presented as facts that distinguish them, not as points of superiority.
- In the light of the globalization of life and culture now in process, the personal and social ethical principles proposed by the world religions in the past need to be re-thought and re-expressed. (127-128) 
When these encounters came to an end, it was agreed that what had happened should be written down. The result was the book The Common Heart An Experience of Inter-Religious Dialogue, edited by Netanel Miles-Yepez, cofounder of The Sufi-Hasidic Fellowship and a Murshid of the Chishti-Maimuniyya Order of Dervishes. The foreword to the book was written by Ken Wilber, and says in part.. [Emphasis Added]
“In 1984, Father Thomas Keating invited a broad range of spiritual teachers from virtually all of the world’s great wisdom traditions—Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Indigenous, Islamic—to gather together at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. They kept no records, published no reports, filmed none of the proceedings. In fact, the results of that extraordinary gathering have been largely secret, until now.
The Common Heart is the first report of that meeting and several subsequent ones with the same group. It is in almost every respect a rather amazing document. First, and especially, in that it could and did happen; second, and as much, in the results, both startling and reassuring simultaneously.
A student once asked me, “Why study the tangled web of the world’s traditional religions?” The implication was that the lot of them were old, outdated, and more or less worthless; and further, they all disagreed with each other anyway, so why bother?
I replied that yes, they were “old,” and yes, they mostly disagreed with each other. “But every now and then, you find profound points of agreement between all of them. And anytime you find something that all of the world’s religions agree on, you might want to pay very, very close attention, yes?” 
But of course.. both student and teacher, never once thought of the alternative. If all religions disagree with each other on major issues, then it certainly discounts the possibility that all of them are right. However it does NOT discount the possibility that ONE OF THEM is right... that one of them contains absolute truth... [Also See All Paths..One Destination? ]
Keating and Kundalini
Kundalini, conceptualized as a coiled up serpent, is a concentrated form of prana or life force, lying dormant in our bodies. The ‘awakening’ of the Kundalini brings about an expanded states of consciousness and can be achieved through three main practices, the most effective of which are meditation and yogic postures such as those taught in Hatha Yoga or a guru or spiritual teacher conferring the spiritual "power" or awakening, often by means of a touch to the forehead.
Keating believes that the awakening of kundalini energy is possible in “a purely Christian context”. He states
“In order to guide persons having this experience, Christian spiritual directors may need to dialogue with Eastern teachers in order to get a fuller understanding. [Read More]
Keating and Living Teachers Spiritual Project
Additionally Thomas Keating is a member of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project  along with, among others Marianne Williamson (See critique of her book A Return To Love), Marcus J. Borg (Jesus scholar and fellow of The Jesus Seminar), Brother David Steindl-Rast: (Benedictine monk and hospitable pioneer in Christian-Buddhist dialogue), Sharon Salzberg (Buddhist cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society), Andrew Harvey ( persuasive presenter of the nurturing presence of the Sacred Feminine)and Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese monk, poet, scholar, and retreat leader). Lawrence Kushner (Jewish rabbi, scholar, and commentator and wise and witty teacher of the spiritual practice of mystery. Thomas Keating was described on this site as a “Catholic abbot and participant in multifaith dialogues and co-founder of the Centering Prayer movement”.
Please Note: Changes have been made to the Spiritual Teachers page. Most of the above teachers, including Keating, are no longer featured...
Keating Quotes and Misquotes
Fr. Keating misquotes Mark 8:34, "Unless you deny your inmost self and take up the cross, you cannot be my disciple." (The word Inmost is not in the original Scripture).
On p.15 of Open Mind, Open Heart, Keating says
"Denial of our inmost self includes detachment from the habitual functioning of our intellect and will, which are our inmost faculties."
The meaning of this scripture is to carry our crosses and deny ourselves. It has absolutely nothing to do with emptying ones mind in contemplative or centering prayer.
In Invitation to Love, p. 129. Fr. Keating quotes Jesus as saying,
"Do not get excited about that kind of success. Anybody can work miracles with a little psychic energy and the divine assistance. What you should rejoice over is that your names are written in heaven."
These first two sentences are not to be found anywhere in the New Testament. In any case one can hardly imagine Jesus using the term ‘psychic energy”.
Thomas Keating.. A Matter of Technique
In the aforementioned interview with Anne A. Simpson called Resting In God... Thomas Keating elaborated on the differences of approach..
“I should point out that as in Buddhism, Christianity has several contemplative methods. The methods of contemplative prayer are expressed in two traditions: centering prayer, which we represent, and Christian Meditation, designed by John Main, which is now spreading rapidly throughout the world under the charismatic leadership of Father Lawrence Freeman. The John Main approach is a little different than ours, but both go in the same direction: moving beyond dependence on concepts and words to a direct encounter with God on the level of faith and interior silence”.
CB: How do the methods differ?
TK: I don't know that I represent the John Main method fully because I haven't done it myself, but it is rooted in the experience John Main had in India. He learned a mantra from a Hindu source and translated that into a Christian context, finding sources in the early Christian tradition that reinforced his understanding. He offered his practitioners the discipline of saying the mantra "maranatha" nonstop for 20 minutes or half an hour. You can also say some other word - there is some flexibility there - but the point is that one never stops saying the word unless it stops saying itself. In that way it resembles the Jesus Prayer of the Eastern Orthodox tradition, in which "Lord Jesus God have mercy on me" is said over and over again both during and outside of prayer periods until it says itself almost independently or arises spontaneously.
CB: Both the John Main method and centering prayer use sacred words, but they each take a different tack with regard to use of this word, don't they?
TK: Centering prayer involves attention, but a general loving attention without particular content. The sacred word is not the object of the attention but rather the expression of the intention of the will.
CB: How do you make a word a symbol of intention?
TK: In the introductory workshop people take a minute or two to think of a word that expresses their intention to consent to God's presence and action. It could be a sacred word, or it could be some other. The sacredness of the word is not in the content of the word but in the intention to be in God's presence that you invest in it.
CB: In my experience, setting an intention has always been extremely powerful, but I usually do that by stating clearly what I intend. How can the repetition of a single word set an intention?
TK: It's very easy when you think of it. When you get married, you say, "I do." That is an expression of intention that has all kinds of consequences in your life. But it's only two words. In centering prayer, we intend to consent, not to do something. It is a receptive attitude that doesn't require any effort. So centering prayer differs from John Main's method, at least as I understand it, in this way: Instead of doing something constantly, you keep saying the sacred word only until you feel that your intention is established in your will. With time you begin to sense when this is the case. 
Centering Prayer and The New Age
Excerpt from (A Closer Look at Centering Prayer by Mrs. Margaret A. Feaster. 
“Can Centering Prayer Lead to a Hindu View of God?
...Yes, it can. For example, Fr. Keating studied the eastern religions, and wanted to "devise an approach to Christian spirituality that would be comparable to the methods of the East."  However, somewhere in his studies, he appears to have succumbed to the Hindu view of God. Throughout his book, Open Mind, Open Heart, he refers to God as the Ultimate Mystery, the Ultimate Presence, and the Source. (This is the way God is addressed by New Agers) Shirley MacLaine calls God the Source and the Divine Energy in her book, Going Within. In Keating's new book, Invitation to Love, he says "the divine energy in itself is infinite potentiality and actuality."  Fr. Pennington makes similar statements in his book, True Self, False Self speaking of God as the Divine Love Energy in many places. As Catholics, we believe in a personal God whom we call our Heavenly Father. Keating also says, "When you sit down for prayer, your whole psyche gathers itself and melts into God."  (Melting into god is a Hindu /Buddhist/New Age belief.) ...”
“What Other Statements do Keating and Pennington Make that Reflect New Age Beliefs?
“In his book, Open Mind, Open Heart, p. 37, Fr. Keating recommends yoga and jogging for relaxation. The truth is that yoga (the type that includes meditations) is a form of Hinduism, and is the most common way that New Agers enter into ALC's. In fact, Webster's Dictionary Library gives this definition: "Yoga is a system of Hindu philosophy, strict spiritual discipline, practiced to gain control over the forces of one's own being to gain OCCULT POWERS, but chiefly to attain union with the Deity or the Universal Spirit."
In Keating's book, Invitation to Love, p 125 he speaks of "Energy Centers," common New Age language. New Agers believe that the body has seven energy centers called Chakras. Fr. Pennington refers to energies flowing up and down the spinal system in his book, Awake in the Spirit, p.97. Actress Shirley MacLaine makes a similar statement in her book, Going Within, p.64. She also describes the energy in the spinal column when she sits with her back straight. Benkovic says, "Hinduism teaches at the base of the spine is a triangle which lies in the "Kundalini Shakti" (Serpent Power). It is usually dormant, but when it is awakened, it travels up the spine to the top of the head, passing through six psychic centers called "chakras. "As it passes through a chakra, one receives psychic experiences and powers. When it reaches the top chakra, supposedly, the power to perform miracles and liberation is realized."  [Read more about Chakras]
Ralph Rath says in his book, Mantras, "In a forward to the book, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality by Philip St. Romain, Keating calls kundalini "an enormous energy for good" and does not point out that uncontrolled kundalini can kill or drive a person mad or that some cults use kundalini in a extremely debased way."  He does not show discernment here, since all spiritual power comes from the Holy Spirit or the Evil One. [Read more of Keating’s foreword]
Keating and Pennington have also enthusiastically endorsed the book, Meditations on the Tarot, a Journey into Christian Hermeticism, on the jacket cover. (The tarot is a form of divination, which is forbidden in Deut. 18.) According to Fr. Finbarr Flanagan,
"Meditations on the Tarot is a mix of occult, theosophical, alchemical, esoteric, astrological and reincarnational ideas stirred together with Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sufism in a manner reminiscent of the works of C.G. Jung." 
Is the Goal of CP to Find the True Self?
Yes. All through their books, Keating and Pennington talk about finding the True Self, finding out who we really are. What exactly is the True Self? Fr. Keating states, "God and our true Self are not separate. Though we are not God, God and our true Self are the same thing."  Since the True Self is described by them as the human soul, how can it be the same as God Almighty? The soul is created by God. Fr. Pennington presents the same idea in his book, Awake in the Spirit, where he speaks of our "process of deification" on p. 81. The concept of the True Self originates in Hinduism. According to Benkovic, the Hindus believe the following: "The self is none other than Braham or god . . . The true self is God. The "I" which I consider myself to be is in reality the not-self. This "not-self" is caught in a world of illusion, ignorance and bondage. You must lose your personal ego-consciousness into god. You must say I am Braham.' 
MacLaine presents the same idea in her book Going Within, p.83, calling it the Higher Self. She also claims that the soul is God. Therefore, the Hindus, MacLaine and Keating all claim that the True Self (human soul) is god. As Catholics and Christians, we know that there is no truth in this statement. We know that the soul is created by God, is inferior to God and is tainted with sin. We know it will come before God on Judgment Day”.
 Open Mind, Open Heart. Page 127
 Plum Village Practice Center. http://www.plumvillage.org/HTML/ourteacher.html
 Thomas Merton's Life and Work. http://www.mertoncenter.org/chrono.htm
 Merton's Message And Its Value To Individuals And Society. https://www.mertoninstitute.org/mertonsmessage.php
 A Time of Departing, p. 58. as quoted in Lighthouse Trails Research
 Merton, Spiritual Direction and Meditation, pp. 62, 71, 72, 74, 108
 The Seven Storey Mountain, 1998 edition, pp. 245, 246
 The Seven Storey Mountain, pp. 216, 217
 Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic, 1991, pp. 19, 20
 Nouwen, Thomas Merton, p. 20).
 The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, 1975 edition, p. 125
 David Steindl-Rast, Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West, Monastic Studies.
 “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West,” Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969,
 quoted by Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Merton and Sufism, p. 41
 quoted by William Shannon, Silent Lamp, 1992, p. 276
 Frank Tuoti, The Dawn of the Mystical Age, 1997, p. 127
 Mystics and Zen Masters, p. 207
 William Shannon. Silence On Fire. page 22
 From "The Direct Path" by Andrew Harvey. http://www.dailyom.com/library/000/000/000000508.html
 Excerpt from A Time of Departing, 2nd ed. (pp. 61-64) as quoted in http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/nouwenbuddhism.htm
 Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (New York: Ballantine Books, 1981), pgs. 64-5
 Henri Nouwen. Sabbatical Journey, 1998 p. 20
 Henri Nouwen. Sabbatical Journey. page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition
 Henri Nouwen. Bread for the Journey
 Henri Nouwen. Life of the Beloved - p. 53
 Henri Nouwen. Here and Now. page 22
 The Danger Of Centering Prayer By John D. Dreher. Emphasis Added
 Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington, Finding Grace at the Center. pgs. 5-6
Centering Prayer and The New Age
- Chris Noble, "Christian Contemplation and Centering Prayer", Homiletic and Pastoral Review, March 1994, p. 25, quoting, "Contemplative Prayer", U. S. Catholic, March, 1989, p.10.
- Thomas Keating, Invitation to Love, (NewYork, NY: The Continuum Publishing Co., 2002) p.102.
- Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart, p.49.
- Johnnette Benkovic, The New Age Counterfeit, p.11.
- Ralph Rath, Mantras, (South Bend, IN: Peter Publications, 1993) p. 25.
- Finbarr Flanagan, "Centering Prayer: Transcendental Meditation for the Christian Market", p. 5.
- Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart, p. 127.
- Johnnette Benkovic, The New Age Counterfeit, p. 10-11.