Thomas Merton And Mahatma Gandhi

.. id, even though he had a choice, because of this Gandhi became a trusted leader. He became the international symbol of free India. He believed wholeheartedly that if he was to serve society, he had to give up his greed for money, hankering pleasures and lead a life of utter simplicity and self-control and teach others by his own example. Refusing earthly possessions, he wore a loincloth and shawl like that of the lowliest Indians and survived on vegetables, fruit juices, and goats milk. He lived a spiritual and abstemious life of prayer, fasting and mediation.

He was quite sensitive to the charms of nature. He wanted to understand nature as an expression of God and tried to see life in everything breaking down even the customary distinction between the animate and the inanimate. During the long struggle for independence, he never wavered in his unshakable belief in nonviolent protest and religious tolerance. When the Muslim and Hindu countrymen committed acts of violence, whether against the British or against each other, he would fast until the fighting ceased. Finally in 1947, India won its freedom, however to Gandhis despair the country was divided into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan.

Violence broke out and he was disheartened. The feeling that all he had done was useless because of his countrymen fighting each other over religion. Nonetheless he plunged himself into helping repair the riot razed areas and fasted for peace in those places where the fighting continued over religion until it ceased. However, Gandhi did not celebrate freedom for very long. He was shot to death by a Hindu fanatic on January 30, 1948 as he was going to evening prayer. He died with freedom, peace and love within his heart.

He lived a simple life in a world of mounting complexity and practiced nonviolence in a country that seen brutality on the part of the governing powers. Religion to Gandhi meant participating in politics, people oriented politics. Gandhi believed that in order to be truly religious you needed to take an active part in politics. Religion involves all forms of human life, while at the same time it provides a moral foundation of human nature and human society. Human progress can be assured only if the life of an individual, society or country is based on the fundamental moral principle of truth To Gandhi truth was God.

Politics dedicated to serve the needs of humanity leads inevitably to a better understanding of Truth. Gandhi believed that everyone should be free to choose his own religion. “Religion is a very personal matter. We should try by living the life according to our lights to share the best with one another, thus adding to the sum total of human effort to reach God.” The aim of fellowship should be to help man to become a better Christian. “God did not bear the cross only 1900 years ago, but he bears it today, and he dies and is resurrected from day to day.

If would be poor comfort to the world if it had to depend upon a historical God who died 2000 years ago. Do not them preach the God of history, but show him as he lives today through you. Thomas Merton had the same philosophy, “What we are asked to do people may find God by feeling how he lives within us. Gandhi was endeavoring to see God through service of humanity, for he knew that God was neither in heaven, nor down below, but in everyone and everything. In todays society, competitive economic progress is the root of most rivalries-greed for possession.

When large headlines of cruelty, corruption and greed are plastered in the news media it usually announces moral chaos, but our system chooses to overcome the sickness of it. Making excuses by rationalizing and justifying on the basis of some half-mixed theories of abnormal psychology and the progress of science and technology. Both Merton and Gandhi tried to make us realize the discipline in order to improve the quality of our own life. It was by faith and determination that Gandhi made himself so great and became the moral leader of millions, and achieved by the methods of truth and love things which looked like miracles in modern age. He surrounded himself with his brothers and sisters and lived like they did. Merton surrounded himself with his community only.

Through his prayers and writings he reached the outside world and showed that God was neither in heaven, nor down below, he is in everyone and everything. They both realized that the worlds condition made it more important than ever for the great religions to reach the level of mutual understanding and mutual enrichment. They publicly made it know that the present of war is something we have made entirely for and by ourselves. There is in reality not the slightest logical reason for war. They fought for the abolition of war and to use a nonviolent means to settle conflicts.

Religions are different roads converging to the same point. Why does it matter that we take different roads? As long as we all have the same ultimate goal-God. Without love, especially love of our opponents and enemies, Gandhi and Merton both insisted that neither profound personal nor social transformation could occur. It is when we love the other, the enemy, that we obtain from God the key to an understanding of who he is and who we are. Instead of pushing our enemy down and trying to climb out by using him as a stepping stone we help ourselves to rise by extending our hand to help him rise. They both taught us to open our eyes to the truth and to direct our actions to others that are blinded so they may see the truth. Bibliography Forest, Jim, Living With Wisdom A Life of Thomas Merton. Orbis Books, 1991 p . Altany, Alan, “Thomas Merton: The Rediscovered Geography of An American Mystic,” Vol 2, Research on Contemplative Life: An Electronic Quarterly, December 1995. .

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