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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/
Mysticism In The Church/ Contemplative Prayer

 

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 Contemplative Prayer... The Pioneers
Thomas Merton

Carol Brooks

For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob, Because they are filled with influences from the east, And they are soothsayers like the Philistines, And they strike bargains with the children of foreigners.  (Isaiah 2:6 NASB)

    Index To The Pioneers - Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and Thomas Keating HERE

    Index To All Seven Chapters on Contemplative Prayer HERE

    Bible1-Bar

    Thomas Merton (1915 –1968)

    Introduction
    Thomas Merton.. Archetypical Catholic
    Thomas Merton and Ecumenism
    Thomas Merton and Islam
    Thomas Merton and Zen Buddhism
    Thomas Merton, Aldous Huxley and the Vedanta Society
    Hindu Spiritual Philosophy Adopted By The Mystics
    Conclusion


    Introduction
    Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky was a theologian, a mystic, and a prolific writer with more 60 books and scores of essays and reviews to his name. He was, arguably, one of the most influential Catholic writers of the 20th century, writing on subjects as diverse as monastic spirituality, civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.

    His most popular and enduring work is his 1948 bestselling autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain that has not only sold over one million copies and been translated into over fifteen languages, but was also featured in National Review's list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century. As noted on Wikipedia, it "sent scores of World War II veterans, students, and even teenagers flocking to monasteries across the US."


    Thomas Merton.. Archetypical Catholic
    There is little question that Merton was as Catholic as they come - deeply committed to Rome's foundational heresies such as the papacy, the mass, baptismal regeneration, prayers to the saints, salvation through works, and transubstantiation - the belief that the bread and wine of the Eucharist are transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus; and only retain their appearance of bread and wine. (All Emphasis Added)

      "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..." [01].

      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" [02].

    See Transubstantiation

    And he was certainly passionately devoted to Mary. Consider the following quotes from his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain

    The first time Merton visited Gethsemani Abbey, he said "he realized truly whose house that was, O glorious Mother of God". He went on to ask

      How did I ever back out of there, into the world, after tasting the sweetness and the kindness of the love with which you welcome those that come to stay in your house, even only for a few days, O Holy Queen of Heaven, and Mother of my Christ? [03]

    A little further on he referred to Mary as "Mediatrix of All Grace", and the "most High Queen of Heaven, high above all the angels, and throned in glory near the throne of your Divine Son" [04]. He also wrote,

      "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" [05].

      "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" [06].

    See Mary... Queen of Heaven?

    Merton prayed to a variety of Catholic saints including Therese of Lisieux whom He also dedicated himself to, saying

      "I was immediately and strongly attracted to her" [07] and, a little later on, "If I get into the monastery, I will be your monk" [08].

    In a letter dated January 30, 1961, he wrote the following to a Muslim Sufi friend about their mutual attraction to Mary:

      "Mary is believed to have appeared at a village in Portugal called Fatima: but this name certainly derives from the time when the area was under the Moslems and the village must have been named after the daughter of the Prophet. Hence there is a mysterious joining of Christian and Moslem elements in this devotion to Our Lady of Fatima." [Hidden Ground, p. 48.]


    Thomas Merton and Ecumenism
    The Bible says

    Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. "Therefore, come out from their midst and be SEPARATE," says the Lord. "and do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NASB)

    Yet, in The Thomas Merton We Knew, author Jim Knight writes that the things "the record needs" is a the fact that the Merton they knew CPMerton 1(All Emphasis Added)

       was a different man, and monk, from the saintly person of pre-fabricated purity that has become his image these days. He was a real person, not a saint; he was a mystic searching for God, but a God that crossed the boundaries of all religions; his was not a purely Christian soul. He developed closer spiritual ties than Church authorities will ever admit to the Eastern religions, Hinduism as well as Buddhism. In fact just before his appalling accidental death in December 1968, he was saying openly that Christianity could be greatly improved by a strong dose of Buddhism and Hinduism into its faith. [09]

    He apparently believed that believers can benefit from being 'open' to other religious traditions 

      "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" [10]. He summed it up in a nutshell.

    Merton claimed that there is no reason to believe that God has not revealed himself to other religions.

      The church in no way abandons her claim to announce the definitive message of salvation to the world in Christ; dialogue, as the church conceives it, is not merely based on the assumption that all religious truths are equally and indifferently good. Nevertheless, supernatural contemplation is certainly admitted as possible in all 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". [11]

    Merton was also a keen proponent of interfaith understanding...

      The Abbey of Gethsemani was "visited by men experienced and fully qualified to represent such traditions as Raja Yoga, Zen, Hasisism, Tibetan Buddhism, Sufism, etc." Some apparently instantly recognizable as the most "distinguished" in their field.... While on the level of philosophical and doctrinal formulations there may be tremendous obstacles to meet, it is often possible to come to a very frank, simple and totally satisfying understanding in comparing notes on the contemplative life, its disciplines, its vagaries, and its rewards. [12]


    Thomas Merton and Islam
    Even a cursory glance at Merton's writings reveals the extent of his interest in Islam. In his correspondence during the 60s "Merton made "frequent references to his studies of Islam", especially the mystical tradition of Sufism and frequently lectured the monks and novices on Sufism.

       There are at least four explicitly Islamic poems in Merton's The Collected Poems, while Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, a Vow of Conversation and The Asian journal contain multiple references to Islam".

       Merton & Sufism: The Untold Story described as a comprehensive collection that includes essays by scholars, Merton's own Sufi poems, book reviews of Sufi texts, as well as edited transcriptions of his lectures on Sufism.

       In The Springs of Contemplation, Merton wrote that he was "deeply impregnated with Sufism".

        In The Road to Joy: Letters to New and Old Friends, Merton wrote "I am the biggest Sufi in Kentucky though I admit there is not much competition." [13]

       Merton's book Raids on the Unspeakable contains adaptations from medieval Arab mystic Ibn Abbad.

       Hidden Ground of Love [14] is a compilation of letters written by Merton to various people.

      It contains several written to Abdul Aziz, a Pakistani scholar of Sufism. In one of the letters  Merton said He "spoke the same language" as al-Alawi, an Algerian Sufi master. Merton added that he had "more in common" with al-Alawi than he did with the majority of his contemporaries in his country. He also asked Aziz when Ramadan would occur in 1965 because he "would like to join spiritually with the Moslem world in this act of love, faith, and obedience towards Him Whose greatness and mercy surround us at all times..." [Pg. 60]

      In another letter to Aziz, Merton intimated that the Sufi mystics and Christians worship the same God. He wrote,

      "As one spiritual man to another, if I may so speak in all humility, I speak to you from my heart of our obligation to study the truth in deep prayer and meditation, and bear witness to the light that comes from the All-Holy God into this world of darkness where He is not known and not remembered. . . . May your work on the Sufi mystics make His Name known and remembered, and open the eyes of men to the light of His truth." [Pgs. 45-46].

      This was followed by one written in 1961 in which he told Aziz that he (Merton) would "especially" keep Aziz

      "in mind on the feast of Pentecost, May 21st, in which we celebrate the descent of the Holy Ghost into the hearts and souls of men that they may be wise with the Spirit of God. It is the great feast of wisdom." [Pg.. 49]

      Merton actually believed that Pentecost is a holy day to celebrate a feast of wisdom given to all men regardless of the false gods they worshipped.

      But this should be no surprise, because in one letter to Martin Lings written in 1965, Merton said that he very much appreciated Lings '"admirable" book on al-Alawi [A Moslem Saint of the Twentieth Century, 1961]. He told Lings that the book was an "inspiration" to him, and that he often thought of this "great man (al-Alawi) with veneration". Merton then added

      He (al-Alawi) was so perfectly right in his spirituality. Certainly a great saint and a man full of the Holy Spirit.. May God be praised for having given us one such, in a time when we need many saints" [Pg. 454]

       The book Listening to Islam:Praise, Reason And Reflection by John H. Watson is said to be an attempt to present Islam through the eyes of four very different people, two Christian and two Muslim. The two Muslim contributors were Ziauddin Sardar - a writer and cultural-critic who specializes in the future of Islam, and Sayyid Qutb - a major ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood with a famous exposition of the Qur'anto his name. The two 'Christian' contributors were Thomas Merton and Anglican bishop and scholar Kenneth Cragg who was a translator, expositor and analyst of the Qur'an and modern Islam.

       A 1964 an entry in his journal reads

      "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" [15].

    Which, brings us to Thomas Merton's interest in, and connection to, Zen BuddhismCP-Merton-Buddhism


    Thomas Merton and Zen Buddhism
    "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" [16]

    Which statement leads to the inescapable conclusion that Thomas Merton had absolutely no idea what the message was that Jesus was sent to earth to proclaim and what Christianity is about. Potentiality indeed!

    See The Message of The Bible which should be followed by The Warning of The Bible

    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".

    Dr. Alexander Lipski, Professor of History and Religious Studies from 1958 to 1984 at California State University, wrote several books on some major religious figures. Among them was Thomas Merton and Asia: His Quest for Utopia, in which he wrote  that "Merton argued that Zen meditation shatters the false self and restores us to our paradisical innocence which preceded the fall of man." [16b]

    Guess Christ didn't know that or He wouldn't have wasted His time, to say nothing of enduring the most horrible death on the cross, in order to save us. He could have simply found a handy spot and taught the people how to meditate.

    In his effort to find the God that "crossed the boundaries of all religions", Merton not only authored books on Zen Buddhism and Taoism, but pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Japanese writer D.T. Suzuki, the Thai Buddhist monk Buddhadasa, the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama.

    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 were outrageous... For example, David Steindl-Rast once asked Thomas Merton whether he thought he could have come to the insights he had if he had never come across Zen. Merton's answer

      I'm not sure,” he answered pensively, but I don't think so.  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.” [17]

    John A. Coleman who not only meditated with a Buddhist group in San Francisco, but also gave them a talk on Thomas Merton and the dialogue with Buddhism, quoted Merton as saying,

      I think that we have now 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."

      Merton told Brother David Steinal-Rast, shortly before he died: "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." [18]

    Note: Brother David Steinal-Rast is a Catholic Benedictine monk, notable for his active participation in inter-faith dialogue and his work on the interaction between spirituality and science.


    The Dalai Lama
    CP-Merton-Dalai-Lama
    Merton met with the Dalai Lama more than once, the last occasion being weeks before his 1968 death. In fact, according to the Thomas Merton Center [All Emphasis Added]

      After several meetings with Merton during the American monk's trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dalai Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known. [19]

    About their third meeting, Merton said

      It was a very warm and cordial discussion and at the end I felt we had become very good friends and were somehow close to one another. I feel a great respect and fondness for him as a person and believe too, that there is a real spiritual bond between us. He remarked that I was a "Catholic geshe," which, Harold said, was the highest possible praise from a Gelugpa, like an honorary doctorate! [20]

    Note: Gelugpa is the school of Tibetan Buddhism associated with the Dalai Lama. CP-Merton-Thich


    Thich Nhat Han
    Also the back cover of Living Buddha Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh quotes Merton as saying

      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."

    This in spite of the fact that, on page 36, Thich Nhat Hanh stated

      As the child of Mary and Joseph, Jesus is the Son of Woman and Man, As someone animated by the energy of the Holy Spirit, He is Son of God. [21]

    When Luke 1:26-38 so clearly tells us that Mary was a virgin, It is a pretty sorry state of affairs when a supposed Catholic priest endorses a book that states Jesus was the Son of two human parents. Also See Thich Nhat Hanh's take on God's coming kingdom in the same book. Footnote I


    Thomas Merton and Aldous Huxley
    A very relevant question is where Merton's interest in, and embracing of, Eastern religions and their spirituality/philosophy stemmed from.

    The answer is that is all probability from the Vedanta society via Aldous Huxley.

    In 1937, prior to converting to Catholicism, Thomas Merton became interested in Eastern religions and mysticism when he read Ends and Means by author and screenwriter Aldous Huxley who is best known for his 1932 novel 'Brave New World'. Merton began to correspond with Huxley and continued doing so for the next two decades. 

      "Huxley not only aroused in Merton an interest in mysticism but also drew his attention to the resemblances in the experiences of eastern and western mystics. In particular, Huxley pointed out similarities in the views of the anonymous author of the Cloud of Unknowing and of Meister Eckhart with those of the Buddha and India’s foremost philosopher, Sankara." [22]CP Merton Huxley

    Merton stated that Huxley

      "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." [23].

    and openly admitted that Huxley whom he held in high esteem, had strongly influenced him.

      his own journal entry of November 27, 1941, Merton wrote, "I spent most of the afternoon writing a letter to Aldous Huxley and when I was finished I thought: 'Who am I to be telling this guy about mysticism?’ I reflect that until I read his book, Ends and Means, four years ago, I had never even heard of the word mysticism. The part he played in my conversion, by that book, was very great... Ends and Means taught me to respect mysticism... Anyway, what do I know to tell Huxley? I should have been asking him questions." [24].

    Note: the text is from a letter written by Merton to John C. Heidbrink (a Presbyterian minister and activist for civil rights and peace) in 1962 and published in The Hidden Ground of Love


    So Who Was Aldous Huxley?
    According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Aldous Huxley was an

      English novelist and critic gifted with an acute and far-ranging intelligence. His works are notable for their wit and pessimistic satire, though he remains best known for one novel, Brave New World (1932), a model for much dystopian science fiction that followed. [25]

    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 1936 novel Eyeless in Gaza reflects his growing interest in Hindu philosophy and mysticism as a viable alternative to what he saw as the emptiness and aimlessness of contemporary society. This interest in mysticism also led Huxley to experiment with the hallucinogen mescaline, which he wrote about in his 1954 collection of essays The Doors of Perception that inspired the name of Jim Morrison's legendary rock group, the Doors.

    Huxley, along with Aleister Crowley also appears on the sleeve of the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

    Aldous Huxley, The Vedanta Society and Hindu Philosophy...
    However, most pertinent to this article is the fact that Huxley developed a long association with the Vedanta Society that operates under the spiritual leadership of the Ramakrishna Order of India. In fact, Huxley contributed numerous articles to their journal.

    Of the various systems of Hindu thought, Vedanta is perhaps the most concerned with the atman.

    While the subject is extremely complicated, in Hinduism Brahman (the Absolute) is the concept of the immanent ultimate reality that encompasses or is manifested in the material world. Brahman is the single binding unity behind the diversity in all that exists in the universe. Atman, which in Sanskrit means 'self' or 'soul' is the immortal aspect of our mortal existence and part of the universal Brahman, with which it can commune or even fuse.

    Reading even a little of what the Vedanta Society of Southern California says about their philosophy leaves little doubt as to the original source of Thomas Merton's ideas and philosophy. The following is from their web site.. (Emphasis Added)

      According to Vedanta, God is infinite existence, infinite consciousness, and infinite bliss. The term for this impersonal, transcendent reality is Brahman, the divine ground of being. Yet Vedanta also maintains that God can be personal as well, assuming human form in every age. Most importantly, God dwells within our own hearts as the divine Self or Atman.

      Vedanta, an ancient spiritual philosophy based on the Vedas (the sacred scriptures of India) is "the philosophical foundation of Hinduism". It teaches the oneness of existence and the divinity of the soul. It asserts that "the goal of life is to realize and to manifest our own divinity. This divinity is our real nature, and the realization of it is our birthright". [26]


    Hindu Spiritual Philosophy Adopted By The Mystics
    Thomas Merton echoed these teachings: The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living used to carry an article entitled "A Brief Biographical Sketch". Although the page no longer exists on the Institute's web site, it can still be read on scribd.com. It says in part, (All Emphasis Added).

      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". [27]

    Ex Franciscan priest Brennan Manning confirmed that this was what Merton believed. In one of his books, Manning wrote ...

      "During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton, "How can we best help people to attain union with God?" His answer was very clear: We must tell them that they are already united with God. "Contemplative prayer is nothing that 'coming into consciousness' of what is already there." [28]

    In fact, in one of his other books, Merton composed a perfect description of New Age spirituality, (Emphasis Added)

      "It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities and one which makes terrible mistakes: yet, with all that, God Himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race!...

      I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate... And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no was of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun... If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time, there would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed... I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. [29]

    The word 'glory' means great honor, praise, or distinction. So when Merton says " God Himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race", he is obviously implying that the Father considered the incarnation as a privilege or an honor - something good to be desired

    Which makes me wonder how one man can so distort the Gospel message.

    The incarnation was an act of mercy, i.e. not getting what we deserve (death) and grace but instead, getting something we don't deserve (eternal life).

      He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7 NASB)

      It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NASB)

      Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3 NASB)

    It is we who were blessed beyond imagination, not God who 'gloried' in becoming one of what is largely a corrupted and evil fallen creation. The Lord of glory, the Ancient of Days, the Creator and sustainer of this universe went to incomprehensible lengths in order to redeem us. He put aside His glory and honour in order to put His hand out to a wayward, sinful world to redeem whoever would put their hand in His.

    It was the supreme sacrifice.. There was no honor or glory in becoming a member of the human race!

    It is no wonder that Ray Yungen, who has studied religious movements for the last thirty years, wrote in A Time of Departing

      "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 took it out of its monastic setting and made it available to and popular with the masses. It is interesting to me that many people still 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 recent decades.   [30]

    The truth of his statement is reflected in the fact that many other Catholic mystics followed suit and that, collectively, their teachings have influenced (read "led astray") hundreds of thousands of people. for example,

    Brennan Manning: who is very popular in the contemplative prayer movement

      If I find Christ, I will find my true self and if I find my true self, I will find Christ. [31]

      The task of contemplative prayer is to help me achieve the conscious awareness of the unconditionally loving God dwelling within me. "What this means, in very practical terms, is that I don't have to worry about 'getting anywhere' in prayer, because I am already there. I simply have to become aware of this. [32]

    Thomas Keating. (note the capitalization of the word Self in the original writing)

      1. The fundamental goodness of human nature, like the mystery of the Trinity, Grace, and the Incarnation, is an essential element of Christian faith. This basic core of goodness is capable of unlimited development; indeed, of becoming transformed into Christ and deified.

      2. Our basic core of goodness is our true Self. Its center of gravity is God. The acceptance of our basic goodness is a quantum leap in the spiritual journey.

      3. God and our true Self are not separate. Though we are not God, God and our true Self are the same thing. [33]

    That this flies in the face of the Biblical teaching that all humankind is sinful apparently matters not a whit to these men whose views are based on Hindu philosophy rather than the Bible.

    One other thing that A Brief Biographical Sketch (cited earlier) says

      Whether it is war, social and racial injustice, violence, or religious intolerance, 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. [34]

    Note that 'changing direction' involves "a transformation of consciousness". Nothing about repentance and salvation. Nothing about the transforming power of God's word and being Born Again. Nothing about obeying God's commands. Nothing about being righteous. See The Heart of The Matte

    The silence is deafening when it comes to the very cornerstone of the Bible's message - sin. That sin was man's downfall and is behind every thing that is wrong on this earth, and it is sin that God will not tolerate.

    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'. See Alpha - an Altered State of Consciousness


    Conclusion
    All I am left with is 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 life exploring Buddhism and other religions, rather than 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.

    See the list of Merton's books available on Ravi Zacharias' online "Christian" book store HERE


    Footnote I
    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 and one of the invited speakers at the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. 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.

    The Dalai Lama
     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]

    Thich Nhat Hanh
     is an expatriate Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist, but first and foremost a Buddhist Zen master who joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16, studied Buddhism as a novice, and was fully ordained as a monk in 1949. He has become an important influence in the development of Western Buddhism, and 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.

    On page 38 of his book Living Buddha Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh speaks about God's coming kingdom. In his words (All Emphasis Added)

      Matthew describes this Kingdom of God as being like a tiny mustard seed. It means that the seed of the Kingdom of God is within us. If we know how to plant that seed in the moist soil of our daily lives, it will grow and become a large bush on which many birds can take refuge. We do not have to die to arrive at the gates of Heave. If fact, we have to be truly alive.

      The practice is to touch life so deeply so that the Kingdom of God becomes a reality... The Kingdom of God is available here and now. Many passages in the Gospels support this view We read in the Lord's Prayer that we do not go to the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of God comes to us: "Thy Kingdom come... "

    Yet, once again, a passage in the Bible has been misinterpreted, added to, and generally twisted to to suit whatever doctrine the person is endeavoring to promote. Jesus' announcement was not a call to social action, nor did He ever say, or even imply, that the Kingdom was within anyone.

    Much to the contrary, according to the exact words He used, Jesus was proclaiming the dawning of God's kingly authority on earth - His kingdom of which He is the sole ruler. His words are consistent with a promise repeated over and over again by the Hebrew prophets: someday God will come to reign on earth, establishing justice and peace for his people and, indeed, for all nations. The kingdom that started out as a tiny mustard seed will be our place of rest and peace - an enormous shelter for all people that choose to be there.

    And yes, Thich Nhat Hanh was correct when he said 'the Kingdom of God comes to us'. It is right here on earth that God will establish His kingdom. The coming Kingdom of God that Jesus said He was sent to proclaim is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there', but is right here and matches, in every respect, the world most men and women would choose to live in... a place of peace and safety, where there is no crime, hunger and disease, no war and, above all, no death

    However, no unbelieving, unrighteous, evil, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, murderous, insolent, arrogant, malicious, greedy or deceitful person will ever be a part of His eternal Kingdom. Which means, He has to first 'clean house'. God's kingdom will be preceded by a devastating period of time such as man has never before seen. This will be the darkest time in human history, when even the heavens and earth will tremble at His power and fury, the moon will turn to blood, and the sun will no longer gives out its light. [PLACE IN TEXT]

     See The Message of The Bible

    The Warning of The Bible

    The End of The Age

    Heaven

     


    End Notes. Thomas Merton
    [01] Thomas Merton. The Seven Storey Mountain, 1998 edition, Pgs. 245, 246

    [02] ibid. Pgs. 310, 311

    [03] Thomas Merton. The Seven Storey Mountain. Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (October 4, 1999) Pgs. 351-352

    [04] ibid. Pgs. 351-352

    [05] ibid. Pgs 143 - 144

    [06] ibid. Pg. 251

    [07] ibid. Pg. 388

    [08] ibid. Pg. 400

    [09] William James Knight. The Thomas Merton We Knew - Part 1.. http://www.therealmerton.com/tommie.html

    [10] The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton Publisher: New Directions; Revised ed. edition (February 28, 1975)

    [11] Thomas Merton. Mystics and Zen Masters, Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reissue edition (November 29, 1999)  Pgs. 206-207

    [12] ibid. Pg.209

    [13] Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (August 10, 1989). Pg. 281

    [14] Hidden Ground of Love: The Letters of Thomas Merton on Religious Experience. Publisher: Harcourt Barace Jovanovich (March 12, 1993)

    [15] Merton & Sufism: The Untold Story: A Complete Compendium. Publisher: Fons Vitae (January 1, 1999). Paperback – January 1, 1999. Pg. 41

    [16] The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton Publisher: New Directions; Revised ed. edition (February 28, 1975).

    [16b] Alexander Lipski Thomas Merton and Asia: His Quest for Utopia. ©1983, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, MI, page 29.

    [17] David Steindl-Rast, Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West, Monastic Studies.
    http://gratefulness.org/resource/recollections-of-thomas-mertons-last-days-in-the-west/

    [18] John A. Coleman. Thomas Merton and Dialogue with Buddhism. July 13, 2012
    http://www.americamagazine.org/content/all-things/thomas-merton-and-dialogue-buddhism

    [19] The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. Thomas Merton's Life and Work. http://www.mertoncenter.org/chrono.htm

    [20] The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton Publisher: New Directions; Revised ed. edition (February 28, 1975). Pg. 125

    [21] Living Buddha, Living Christ: 20th Anniversary Edition. Publisher: Riverhead Books; Anv edition (March 6, 2007)

    [22] Thomas Merton and Asia: His Quest for Utopia, by Alexander Lipski -- ©1983, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, MI, page 5.

    [23] Thomas Merton. The Seven Storey Mountain Pg 202

    [24] The Secular Journal of Thomas Merton, ©1959, Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, New York, pp. 268-269

    [25] Aldous Huxley British author. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Aldous-Huxley

    [26] https://vedanta.org/what-is-vedanta/

    [27] Merton's Message And Its Value To Individuals And Society. https://www.mertoninstitute.org/mertonsmessage.php. Although this link is no longer valid the same article is currently available on scribd.
    See https://www.scribd.com/document/3462380/Thomas-Merton-A-Brief-Biographical-Sketch

    [28] Brennan Manning. The Signature of Jesus. Publisher Multnomah; 4 edition (July 6, 2004).Pg. 197

    [29] Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. Publisher: Image; Reissue edition (February 9, 1968). Pg. 154-155

    [30] Ray Yungen, A Tine of Departing Publisher: Lighthouse Trails Publishing; 2nd edition (April 5, 2006).
    Also See http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/merton.htm Pg 60.

    [31] Brennan Manning. Abba's Child, Publisher: NavPress; Enlarged ed. edition (June 1, 2015) Pg. 105.

    [32] Brennan Manning. The Signature of Jesus. Publisher Multnomah; 4 edition (July 6, 2004). Pg. 197.

    [33] Thomas Keating. Open Mind Open Heart -20th Anniversary Edition. Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 20th Edition edition (November 1, 2006). Chapter 12.. Guidelines for Christian Life, Growth and Transformation.

    [34] Merton's Message And Its Value To Individuals And Society. https://www.mertoninstitute.org/mertonsmessage.php. Although this link is no longer valid the same article is currently available on scribd.
    See https://www.scribd.com/document/3462380/Thomas-Merton-A-Brief-Biographical-Sketch

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