Thomas Merton and Mahatma Gandhi

Thomas Merton and Mahatma Gandhi both speak of God in a personal way. They both
speak of God as truth. Famous Thomas Merton, Trappist American monk, was a
traditional Christian. Born in France in 1915 and died in Asia in 1968 Merton
was greatly influenced by the complexities of the twentieth century. His
writings served as a personal may in his search for God.. He pursued the
ascending path towards the eternal kingdom of truth, towards heaven, while
leaving the world of shadowy existence behind. Truth would be a passion of his
life. He also took it upon himself to speak on behalf of the disenfranchised of
the word. Thomas Merton was a dynamic, modern man who committed himself to a
lifelong search for a meaningful and authentic way of life. He had only one
desire and that was the desire for solitude-to disappear into God, to be
submerged in his peace, to be lost in the secret of his face. This singular
passion and boundless energy led him to combine in one life a unique variety of
roles, prolific spiritual writer and poet, monk and hermit, social activist, all
while living at the Trappist monastery in Gethsemani, Kentucky. Merton, a monk
under a vow of silence, found fame by not seeking it, by speaking the truth.

Much can be said with the praise "the truth will set your free" Merton
provided a path that is still setting people free. Freedom from silence. Many
feel that a monastery is a sanctuary to escape from the realities of the real
world. Merton saw it as helping rescue the world from the new dark ages. "In
the night of our technological barbarism, monks must be as trees which exist
silently in the dark and by their vital presence purify the air." Some believe

Mertonís world was the monastery grounds, the whole world was. He believed
that all men and women are to be seen and treated as Christ. Failure to do this,
involves condemnation for disloyalty to the most fundamental of revealed truths.

Encounters with Christ must be followed by the encounters and both must be
experienced with the same love. Itís a love that frees, not a love that wants
to possess or manipulate. The great Indian teacher, Mahatma Gandhi, philosophy
was very similar. Merton loved people, but he also loved nature. He told us to
begin "by learning how to see and respect the visible creation which mirrors
the glory and the perfection of the invisible God". Everything that surrounds
us, the trees, the ocean, the waves, the sky, the sun, the birds, it is in all
this that we will find our answers. God is omnipresent; we do not see this
because we are not contemplative. Merton believed a Christian society is one in
which men give their share of labor and intelligence and in return receive their
share of the fruits of the labor, which is seen in the Kingdom of God, a society
centered upon the divine truth and the divine mercy. In such a society the
prophetic role of the monk would be fulfilled, in the sense that his
renunciation of the right of ownership was an affirmation of Godís ownership
of everything and of manís right to be a possessor only in so far as he was
willing to share with others what he did not need. Merton did not feel impelled
to become involved in political deeds. He believed the monkís duty was to
cultivate consciousness and awareness however, truth and God demanded he speak
out loudly and often against all forms of war. He stated that the Vietnam war
was an example of Americans seeing their country as the center of the world,
imposing their will, in the name of freedom, on weaker nations that might stand
in their way. It was a needless destruction of human life, a rape of a culture
which could only lead to the death of the spirit of an exhausted people. He saw
men striving to negotiate for peace, and failing because their fear overbalanced
their true good will. "The root of all war is fear." He taught that we must
fearlessly love even the men we cannot trust, for the enemy was war itself, and
peace could not be brought about by hatred. "Peace does not consist in one
man, one party, one nation, crushing and dominating everyone else. Peace exists
where men who have the power to be enemies are, instead, friends by reason of
the sacrifices that they have made in order to meet