Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


"...Thomas Merton, the influential Trappist monk, who in his last years was given permission to live in a hermitage on the grounds of Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky. About his home, he wrote this:
This is not a hermitage--it is a house...What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe...Up here in the woods is seen the New Testament: that is to say, the wind comes through the trees and you breathe it. Is it supposed to be clear:? I am not inviting anybody to try it. Or suggesting that one day the message will come saying NOW. That is none of my business.

With these last three sentences he means that the way of life he has found to be "home" for him needn't be how anyone else is called to live. Of Merton, one can say that he was both a Christian monk and a Zen man. Anyone familiar with the fascinating life can see in it a fine example of how the inner "Boy" and the "OX" merged within him, so that he became, by the time of his early death, something like the Hotei figure we will meet in the last of  our Ten Pictures. Merton's life was also one of searching for his true home. It is noteworthy that he found it in his own skin at the end. A year before he died in Bangkok, thousands of miles from his Kentucky hermitage, he wrote,

Life consists in learning to live on one's own, spontaneous, freewheeling; to do this one must recognize what is one's own--be familiar and at home with oneself. This means basically learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer to the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offering valid.
...Hence the paradox that (one's inner identity) finds best when it stops seeking; and the graduate level of learning is when one learn to sit still and be what one has become...

THE OX HERDER AND THE GOOD SHEPHERD: Finding Christ on Buddha's Path by Addison Hodges Hart, pages 89-90