“Thomas Merton’s remarkable and enduring popularity indicates that he touches the hearts of people searching for answers to life’s important questions. For many, he is a constant spiritual companion; for others, his writings provide guidance through life’s difficult moments. He takes people into deep places within themselves and offers insight to the paradoxes of life. He shares how to be contemplative in a world of action while offering no quick fixes, no ten easy steps to a successful spiritual life.
At the core of Thomas Merton’s spiritual writings is the search for the “true self” and our need for relationship with God, other people, and all of creation. He finds that when we are apart from God, we experience alienation and desolation. Merton believes that we must discover God as the center of our being. It is in this center that all things tend and where all of our activity must be directed.
Merton’s writings were prophetic; they highlight the major issues that confronted society in his time and still confront society today. They illustrate the growing alienation of humanity. Whether it is war, social and racial injustice, violence, or religious intolerance, the source of the problem is that man “has become alienated from his inner self which is the image of God.”
The degree of humanity’s alienation is reflected in the unrelenting violence of our time. Wars and acts of nations around the globe caused the death of more than 500 million people in the 20th century. Closer to home, schoolchildren kill their fellow students in schools, and incidences of racial and domestic violence and child abuse occur with appalling frequency. The violence surrounds us. We must change direction or perish. This requires a social conversion, a turning away from destructive behavior and a turning toward a relational way of being. The first step in this turning is a transformation of consciousness. Thomas Merton is a preeminent guide in this first step and throughout the journey.
There is in the world today a thirst for God. People are seeking a reversal of the trends toward consumerism and materialism, prejudice and violence. They are discovering that what one does must be a means of both self-fulfillment and service to others.
Throughout history, the role of spiritual master has been recognized and valued. Thomas Merton is a spiritual master whose influence crosses generations and religious affiliations. His message offers us bracing and brotherly advice on how we can be conscious and attentive to God in order to hear the answers to the difficult questions in our lives.
Thomas Merton’s message and life helps us build a new paradigm for living, one that integrates the contemplative in each of us with our external activities. His message is a source of deep change in a culture of superficial solutions, a window through which we see the possibilities for a peaceful and just world.”
-The Merton Institute
“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity, and love.”
“The ever-changing reality in the midst of which we live should awaken us to the possibility of an uninterrupted dialogue with God.”
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation