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Merton’s Wisdom: The Common Ground of Buddhist-Christian Interfaith Dialogue (2)

Merton. From


After recognizing the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh as his spiritual brother, Thomas Merton wrote in an essay:

“I have said Nhat Hanh is my brother, and it is true… We are both poets, both existentialists. I have far more in common with Nhat Hanh than I have with many Americans, and I do not hesitate to say it. It is vitally important that such bonds be admitted. They are the bonds of a new solidarity and a new brotherhood… which cuts across all political, religious and cultural lines to unite young men and women in every country in something that is more concrete than an ideal and more alive than a program. This unity of the young is the only hope of the world (Nhat Hanh is my Brother).”

What had been expressed by Thomas Merton touch the bottom of my heart. His discovery of the communal Truth of wisdom among religions is the common ground for the unity of religion. His thoughts inspire my hope of writing and diffusing interfaith articles through Deer Park through the information super-highways. The objective of my interfaith literature is communal: A new bond of solidarity, and brotherhood transcending all political, religious and cultural lines. The underlying religion of all worlds’ religions is the perennial Wisdom of Mindfulness of the present moment supported by clear awareness of the communal Reality of Non-dualism of Interbeing. Perennial Wisdom is the awareness of the Interbeing between all human beings in this cosmic village. The Interbeing is innate Order of holism of a borderless cosmic village lived by all beings in which the face of Reality is in every step of our daily life and nature.

Interfaith Wisdom

Christ says, “ Everyone who is of the Truth hears my Voice (John 18:37). Whoever is of the Truth knows his True Self. A saved Christian of True Self does not sin. Whoever sees the Dharma (Truth) sees the Buddha. Whoever sees the Buddha embodies the Truth Body (Dharmakaya).

The Holy Spirit or the Truth Body of Reality wills a saved believer into all truths. All truths are underpinned by virtuous Wisdom. All truths encompass Buddhist concepts of right understanding, right thought and right conduct ordered by the Reality. God or Buddha is the Reality. Virtuous Wisdom is Zen Wisdom. Sinlessness is Christian wisdom of God. Zen or God Wisdom is spiritual illumination. Illumination gives light to all people coming into this dark world of imagination of the unreal. The human imagination creates the dramas of life. The dramas of life are deviation from the Dharma. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and Thomas Merton recognize the light of Dharma. The light of a Tathagata and that of a Prophet are the same. The light dispels darkness of ignorance that conditions false imagination of imagination of the unreal. False imagination of imagination is perpetual idolatry of idolatry. Idolatry of idolatry is the vicious circle of object reification of object reification. The mind is unceasingly obsessed and defiled. The Reality is continually veiled. Thus freedom is imprisoned by karmic bondage.


Zen is a soteriological tablet that can treat this perpetual process of idolatry of idolatry (repeated reactive process of object reification). Only with spiritual wisdom can one comprehend the profound saying of William Shakespeare who says, “The world is a stage on which we are all actors and actresses.” Zen wisdom of Mindfulness teaches us to become non-reactive audience who watch the stage shows of human dramas non-judgmentally. Zen awareness is none other than the four establishments of mindfulness of the present moment of here and now. It is heedfulness of warding off self-centric ego through the skill of mindfulness of body, feelings, mind objects and phenomena. Mindfulness is Dharma; heedlessness is drama.

The modern neuroscientists have been very involved in research and development of the Neuroscience of Buddhist Mindfulness meditation for the past two decades. Brilliant Neuroscientific findings have been emerging to corroborate the Unity of Science and Buddhism. They make me smile widely and sweetly. The Mind and Life Institute (MLI), Boulder, Co, USA has been making impacting contributions in the research and development of Neuroscience in correlation of to Buddhist Mindfulness meditation. The MLI is dedicated to creating an intimate collaboration in research and development between modern science and Buddhism. That explains the celebrity of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in Asia and in the West today. Buddhism has become a celebrated religion of science in the field of clinical psychology and psychophysiology among the Neuroscientists, Neurophysiologists, Buddhist Scholars, Christian Contemplatives, Psychologists, and spiritual or religious scholars.

 It really warms my heart deeply to witness that finally the scientists and the spiritualistscan collaborate harmoniously for the good of humanity. They inspire me to write interfaith literature to reveal the soteriological communalities of all worlds’ major religions. A more active Christian-Buddhist dialogue in the West will be an added bonus to promote and foster the alliance of civilizations between the West and the East. Thomas Merton’s love and respect for Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh should serve as a further catalyst for more interfaith dialogues between Christianity, Buddhism, other world’s major religions and modern science. 


When I read Internet information, I do not simply browse through only data and information, I make an effort to apply the three-fold wisdom of the Buddha invigorated by daily mindfulness. For me, the Internet is the most powerful unifying device. It is an unlimited bridge builder for those who are sincere to learn from the perennial Wisdom of the Ancient and the Modern. The aforementioned three-wisdom promulgated by Sakyamuni Buddha are the wisdom of learning, the wisdom of investigation/contemplation and the wisdom of mental development to zoom on the face of the Reality.

Many spiritualists, religious savants, intelligentsia and scholars have been contributing interfaith thoughts to diffuse unity of religion so that we return esoterically to the unity of the inner Heart. We are all originally brothers and sisters of a cosmic family. If we have discerned intuitively that everything is the Reality (Sufism: Unity of Existence; Buddhism: Kalachakra Tantra) or Emptiness (Heart Sutra; Avatamsaka Sutra), we have arrived and return to the real home. When you have returned home, you would discover that among the mountains, one remains to be a mountain; among the waters, one remains to water (Diamond Sutra/ Mahaprajnaparamita-sutras: One mind in three contemplations).

 Worldly participation and supramundane mysticism reinforce one another as a bipolar Reality of the Oneness of Interbeing of necessary interconnectedness of all things without exception. The two pillars of the world are the phenomena of the multiplicity and the Principle of Unity (Avatamsaka Sutra; Platform Sutra of Sixth Patriarch). The two-pillar concept of the world is the universal teaching or the common ground of all worlds’ major religions.

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