Father Louis (Thomas Merton), on the virtues of Solitude, Faith + Doubt.

Via elephant journal
on Feb 15, 2010
get elephant's newsletter

thomas merton dalai lama

“Faith means Doubt.”

“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness, which is untouched by sin and by illusion—a point of pure true and point or spark that belongs entirely to God, is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of Heaven. It is in everybody. I have no program for seeing this, it is only given. But the gate of Heaven is everywhere.”

Father Louis (Thomas Merton) was a great monk, a contemplative Christian, a friend to my Buddhist teachers, and a Mystic inspiration who passed away too soon.

The audio’s a bit off, but the videos are great nevertheless:

A clip from Morgan Atkinson’s documentary “Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton.” This clip examines Merton as teacher. The Soul Searching dvd may be purchased online at: http://morganatkinson.com


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive.


9 Responses to “Father Louis (Thomas Merton), on the virtues of Solitude, Faith + Doubt.”

  1. Greg says:

    Waylon, you keep proving, over and over, that you are the premiere publisher working today.

  2. Waylon.

    I'm so glad to find we have this common fascination with Merton. (Although I'm not very surprised by these things anymore.) I saw this wonderful documentary on PBS, and it made me feel close to Merton, even though I haven't had the chance to follow up with his books yet.

    Merton accomplished the strange feat of helping me feel more comfortable with both my ultra-traditional Catholic upbringing and my sometimes uneasy understanding of Buddhism. I have a strong streak of hermit in me, too, so I could relate to that.

    But I don't admire real hermits very much. I don't see what good they're doing anybody except themselves. But a hermit like Merton who got out there a lot and shared all his deepest thoughts in his writings? Well, that's my kind of hermit–one who manages to help the world while satisfying his deepest spiritual desires.

    I found the PBS page on the documentary above, hoping the whole thing might be available online. It's only available for purchase. But the page is still really good in its own right, and there are three very interesting Merton links at the bottom:


    Thanks for reminding me of Merton by writing this article. If you've read his books, which would you recommend I read first?

    Bob Weisenberg

  3. Swati Jr Sarah
    sounds like the father is speakin my language.

    Thomas Merton is the best. Read his biography. It's wonderful.

    Greg Stone
    The memory of Merton inspired The Gethsemani Encounter a retreat of Buddhist and Christian Monastics and a book by the same name. I believe the idea was formed at Naropa in Boulder when the Dalai Lama visited.

    The idea for the Gethsemani Encounter was formed and presented during the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993 by the Dalai Lama at the suggestion of Bro. Wayne Teasdale from the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (an effort that grew directly out of the work of Merton, Thich Nhat Hanh and HH Dalai Lama's meetings and common bonds/dialogue). I believe there have been three subsequent Encounters since (maybe four).

    Our community (Contemplative Order of Compassion) is continuing the work through a group called "Contemplatives in Dialogue", which goes one step further and includes those who are not affiliated with traditional or sectarian religious institutions (including Secular Buddhists, etc.) but live a contemplative, compassion and dharma oriented life.

  4. Greg says:

    The MID met with HH Dalai Lama at Naropa and first proposed he bring monks to Christian monasteries. Was in 1981.

  5. Yes, and it was in 193 that the idea for the Gethsemani Encounter was initiated. Having been a member of MID for 27 years, it had been part of my life's work. It should also be noted, simply for the sake of clarity, that Thomas Merton should never be referred to as "Father Thomas Merton". Thomas Merton was his secular (birth) name. When referred to as a Benedictine monk and priest, is always referred to appropriately as "Fr. Louis". Namaste.

  6. Greg says:

    A few words from Merton to expand the thread:

    "To say I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love.
    Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name."

    Quote taken from New Seeds of Contemplation, p 60 as quoted in Merton's Palace of Nowhere by James Finley.

  7. […] transformation and liberation of the Truth imprisoned in man by ignorance and error.” Spontaneous prayer is an internal plea from humanity to humanity, welcoming itself home in a silent… This home—the ground of being—is pure energy, of which “you” and “I” are mere […]

  8. […] passed, and the solitude finally felt soft, warm, friendly. As the great lightbulb in the sky dimmed and the hippos began to grunt, I was content at last. And […]