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

October 22, 2008

Merton and Khan - Kindred Spirits

I share a few snippets from the Spiritual Summit Conference (Calcutta 1968) that speak of a particular affinity between Sufi Mystic Vilayat Inayat Khan and Trappist Monk Thomas Merton.

The Common Denominator of Spiritual Experience

"...we will be defeating our purpose if we present the the various dogmas of each religion... But when we seek, beyond the formal differences, the underlying human experience of the divine, then something happens which may have a snowball effect, for it is moved by the power of conviction." Vilayat Inayat Khan

"Even where there are irreconcilable differences in doctrine or formulated belief, there may still be great similarities and analogies in the realm of religious experience." Thomas Merton

On Syncretism

"We do not advocate syncretism or any new form of proselytism, for syncretism is a jumbled juxtaposition of exogenous dogmas." Vilayat Inayat Khan

"...there can be no question of a facile syncretism, a mish mash of semi-religious verbiage and pieties, a devotionalism that admits everything and therefore takes nothing with full seriousness." Thomas Merton

On Communion and Unity

"Where human thought, lifted to its apogee, meets itself in the thought of another in reverential communion, then new perspectives open up by the miracle of the interfusion of souls." Vilayat Inayat Khan

"At the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond speech and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear brothers we are already one. But we imagine we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is who we are." Thomas Merton

Jamini Roy
Merton and his freind Amiya Chakravarty had the chance to visit the home and studio of Indian artist Jamini Roy on October 22, 1968. Merton shares his impression in his journal...
"Jamini Roy himself, a warm, saintly old man, saying: "Everyone who comes into my house brings God into it."...All the faces glowing with humanity and peace. It was a great experience." AJTM 32

I would imagine that these days of the conference were very full of "great experiences" for Merton.

Peace and Blessings... Rob

Thy Light is in all forms,
Thy Love in all beings:
in a loving mother, in a kind father,
in an innocent child, in a helpful friend,
in an inspiring teacher.
Allow us to recognize Thee
in all Thy holy names and forms:
as Rama, as Krishna, as Shiva, as Buddha.
Let us know Thee as Abraham, as Solomon,
as Zarathustra,
as Moses, as Jesus, as Mohammed,
and in many other names and forms,
known and unknown to the world.
Hazrat Inyat Khan

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