About Thomas Merton

Photograph of Thomas Merton by John Lyons. Used with Permission of the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a writer and Trappist monk at Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky, USA. His writings include such classics as The Seven Storey Mountain, New Seeds of Contemplation, and Zen and the Birds of Appetite. Merton is the author of more than seventy books that include poetry, personal journals, collections of letters, social criticism and writings on peace, justice, ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue.

Merton on Contemplation:

‘Contemplation is the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life.  It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive.  It is spiritual wonder.  It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being.  It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent, and infinitely abundant source.  Contemplation is above all, awareness of the reality of that source.  It knows the Source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes beyond reason and beyond simple faith…It is a more profound depth of faith, a knowledge too deep to be grasped in images, in words, or even in clear concepts…’

Merton on Peace:

‘We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.’
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