On December 10, 1968 Thomas Merton died of an accidental electric shock from a faulty electric fan in his cottage at the Red Cross Conference Center in Samut Prakan, Thailand. Merton had presented a paper at a conference of monastics that morning.
I engaged in an imaginative pilgrimage with Thomas Merton two years ago as I marked the 40 year anniversary of his journey to India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. I followed his journey, and his journals, from day-to-day and posted reflections, historic pieces, and samples of Merton's thought and writing to "Merton in Asia". This blog continues to exist and remains a worthwhile exploration for those interested in Merton's life and thought, particularly as it emerged from the 60's context and in its continuing significance.
Some will ask... "Why Merton?" I addressed this question in the early stages of my virtual pilgrimage with Merton and summarized it in terms of his significant contributions in the areas of:
- Inter-faith Dialogue and Action
- Non-Violence and Peace
- The Ecological Consciousness
- The Prophetic Voice
- Contemplation and Spirituality
These remain areas of vital importance today as people of faith struggle to find an authentic spirituality that has relevance for the significant challenges we continue to face as a people on this increasingly threatened planet. Merton's insightful critique of contemporary culture, his passion for the earth and all its inhabitants, his willingness to embrace others of diverse religious traditions, his deeply non-violent approach, and his own rootedness in his Christian spiritual tradition continue to make him a uniquely gifted voice in the world of contemplation and action.
Merton wrote against the backdrop of the turbulent 60's. 1968, the year of his death, was considered to be a particularly significant year, Merton described it as a "beast of a year!". The issues arising in that time remain the significant issue that we face as a human community today. Merton's voice continues to challenge us to wake from our slumbers, to turn from our idols and illusions, and to love our neighbours in truth and in deed.
May it be so... Rob; in Vancouver
“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.”
Highlights from "Merton in Asia"
- Why Merton?
- Merton and Khan - Kindred Spirits
- A Passion for Peace
- Interfaith Merton
- A Life in Letters
- Merton's Three Epiphanies
- The Death of Thomas Merton