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The beliefs of thomas merton and mahatma gandhi

His non-violence is a creed which embraces all of life in a consistent and logical network of obligations.

"Thomas Merton on Mahatma Gandhi," by Art Laffin and Rasoul Sorkhabi

One cannot be violent, for example, in interpersonal or family relations, and non-violent with regard to conscription and war. Genuine non-violence means not only non-cooperation with glaring social evils, but also the renunciation of benefits and privileges that are implicitly guaranteed by forces which conscience cannot accept.

Austere political implications of the non-violent way of life are suggested in some of these texts. So long as I lived under a system of government based on force and voluntarily partook of the many facilities and privileges it created for me, I was bound to help that government to the extent of my ability when it was engaged in a war, unless I non-cooperated with that government and renounced to the utmost of my capacity the privileges it offered me.

I—73 There is no escape for any of us save through truth and non-violence.

Excerpts: Gandhi on Non-Violence edited by Thomas Merton

I know that war is wrong, is an unmitigated evil. I know too that it has got to go. I firmly believe that freedom won through bloodshed or fraud is no freedom. I—75 Merely to refuse military service is not enough…This is [to act] after all the time for combating evil is practically gone. I—106 Non-cooperation in military service and service in non- military matters are not compatible. I—108 Non-Violence to be a creed has to be all-pervasive.

I cannot be non-violent about one activity of mine and violent about others. That would be a policy, not a life force. But then these great powers will have to give up their imperialistic ambitions and their exploitation of the so-called uncivilized or semi-civilized nations of the earth and revise the beliefs of thomas merton and mahatma gandhi mode of life.

It means a complete revolution. I—158 The states that are today nominally democratic have either to become frankly totalitarian or, if they are to be truly democratic, they must become courageously non- violent. I—159 Peace will never come until the great powers courageously decide to disarm themselves. I—199 Democratic government is a distant dream so long as non- violence is not recognized as a living force, an inviolable creed, not a mere policy.

In the coming test pacifists have to prove their faith by resolutely refusing to do anything with war, whether of defense or offense. But the duty of resistance accrues only to those who believe in non-violence as a creed— not to those who will calculate and will examine the merits of each case and decide whether to approve or oppose a particular war. It follows that such resistance is a matter for each person to decide for himself and under the guidance of an inner voice, if he recognizes its existence.

I—204 You cannot build non-violence on a factory civilization… Rural economy as I have conceived it eschews exploitation altogether, and exploitation is the essence of violence. You have therefore to be rural minded before you can be non- violent, and to be rural-minded you have to have faith in the spinning wheel.

The beliefs of thomas merton and mahatma gandhi

I—243 Morality is contraband in war. I—268 The cause of liberty becomes a mockery if the price to be paid is the wholesale destruction of those who are to enjoy liberty.

  • The feeling that all he had done was useless because of his countrymen fighting each other over religion;
  • He also learned that harmlessness or nonviolence was the highest virtue;
  • 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;
  • Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi 1948 now sixty years ago and Thomas Merton, a renowned Trappist monk and author, was killed in a tragic accident in 1968 forty years ago.

The principles of ahimsa and satyagraha as practised by Gandhi were selected for this volume by Thomas Merton, theologian, social activist, and one of the most influential religious thinkers of the twentieth century. In his comprehensive introduction, Merton describes ahimsa and satyagraha as not merely political tools, but a response to evil itself. And emphasizing the universality of ahimsa and satyagraha, Merton describes how they are linked to the traditional concept of Hindu dharma, the teachings of the Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato, and to Christian thought, especially the act of forgiveness.

Thomas Merton, poet, Catholic theologian, social activist and Trappist monk, was one of the most influential religious thinkers of the twentieth century.

  • Without love, especially love of our opponents and enemies, Gandhi and Merton both insisted that neither profound personal nor social transformation could occur;
  • Violence broke out and he was disheartened;
  • Gandhi believed that in order to be truly religious you needed to take an active part in politics;
  • There is in reality not the slightest logical reason for war.

In the 1960s he was increasingly drawn into a dialogue between Eastern and Western religions, and domestic issues of war and racism.