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

December 7, 2008

Singapore - Bangkok

December 7, 1968
Merton has traveled from Singapore to Bangkok. His last remarks on December 6th reflect his mood and hopes at this stage of his journey. Merton writes... "My next stop will be the Bangkok meeting to which I do not especially look forward. Then Indonesia, a whole new journey begins there. And I am not sure where it will take me or what I can or should plan on. Certainly I am sick of hotels and planes. But the journey is only begun. Some of the places I really wanted to see from the beginning have not yet been touched." AJTM p.238

Excess Baggage
In Bangkok Merton confesses to being "secretly enraged and humiliated by the fact of having overweight baggage yesterday." He engages in a ruthless purging of his belongings and eliminating of everything he won't be needing in the next stage of his journey... (if only he knew!!) "Stupid books I bought can be discarded here or somewhere. I make a desperate plan to finish several books here in Bangkok." AJTM p.248

Herman Hesse - Steppenwolf
Merton appears to be reading "Steppenwolf" by Herman Hesse. It is probably one of the books he is desperately trying to finish!! He quotes from it in his journal on both the 6th and 7th of December. He was reading "Siddhartha" by Hesse at the start of his Asian journey.
He quotes from "Steppenwolf"...
  • "Most men will not swim before they are able to." Novalis, quoted with approval by Hesse's "Steppenwolf".
  • "The human merry-go-round sees many changes: the illusion that cost India the efforts of thousands of years to unmask is the same illusion that the West has laboured just as hard to maintain and strengthen." Herman Hesse: "Steppenwolf"

Bye for now... Rob

“Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.” Hermann Hesse

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