A 40 Year "Retrospective Journey"

“Be good, keep your feet dry,
your eyes open, your heart at peace
and your soul in the joy of Christ.”
Thomas Merton

November 4, 2008

Merton and HH Dalai Lama

November 4, 1968
Thomas Merton had his scheduled meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the afternoon of November 4, 1968. His initial written account is brief... "The Dalai Lama is most impressive as a person... A very solid, energetic, generous, and warm person, very capably trying to handle enormous problems, none of which he mentioned directly. There was not a word of politics. The whole conversation was about religion and philosophy and especially ways of meditation... One gets the impression that he is very sensitive about partial and distorted Western views of Tibetan mysticism and especially about popular myths. He himself offered to give me another audience the day after tomorrow and said he had some questions he wanted to ask me." AJTM pp.100-102
A Day of Discernment
Merton spends much time on this day in pondering his own future... "Thinking about my own life and future, it is still a very open question.. I am beginning to appreciate the hermitage at Gethsemani more than I did last summer when things seemed so noisy and crowded. Even here in the mountains there are few places where one does not run into someone. Roads and paths and trails are full of people. To have real solitude one would have to get very high up and far back!"AJTM p.103

In Search of Solitude

"For solitude, Alaska really seems the very best place. But everyone I have talked to says I must also consider others and keep open to them to some extent. The rimpoches all advise against absolute solitude and stress "compassion". They seem to agree that being in solitude much of the year and coming "out" for a while would be a good solution..."

"The way in which I have been suddenly brought here constantly surprises me. The few days in Dharamsala have all been extremely fruitful in every way: the beauty and quiet of the mountains, my own reading and meditation, encounters with lamas, everything." AJTM p.103

Getting Some Perspective on 1968
"Trying to get a better perspective on the earlier part of this year. There is a lot I cannot quite understand. And perhaps do not need to understand. The last months have been demanding and fruitful. I have needed the experience of this journey. Much as the hermitage has meant. I have been needing to get away from Gethsemani and it was long overdue." AJTM p.103(for a 1988 perspective on 1968 click "Time" cover)

Seeking a Sign
"This evening the lights in the cottage went dead for a while. I stood out in the moonlight, listening to drums down in the village and looking up at the stars. The same constellations as over the hermitage and the porch opening in about the same direction, southeast toward Aquila and the Dolphin. Aquarius out over the plain, the swan up above. Cassiopeia over the mountains..." AJTM p.104

Deep peace of the autumn stars to you... Rob

"He who knows others is clever; He who knows himself has discernment." Lao Tzu

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