A New Language

The Cistercian monk, Thomas Merton, only a few days before his death, said to a gathering of Buddhist and Christian monks in Sri Lanka:

We are going to have to create a new language of prayer. And this new language of prayer has to come out of something which transcends all our traditions, and comes out of the immediacy of love. We have to part now, aware of the love that unites us, the love that unites us in spite of real differences… The things that are on the surface on nothing, what is deep is the Real. We are creatures of love.

Reading these words I recall those of Dom Bede Griffiths in his ashram in India. Holding up his hand, he pointed to each finger in turn, saying, ‘This finger represents Hinduism, this Buddhism, this Christianity, this Judaism, this Islam.’ Then, pointing towards the centre of his palm, he added, ‘And it is here at the centre, that we all meet.’ In his last days increasingly repeated the phrase, ‘Go beyond! Go beyond!’


2 thoughts on “A New Language”

  1. Thank you, James, for your regular postings.
    Dom Bede Griffiths’ analogy of the fingers of different religions and the hand of a unifying hope that roots them, is a compelling image at one level, but then towards the end of his life he recommended participants to “Go deeper….” Where did he imagine this “deeper” was?
    For me “going deeper” is to go beyond that hand image because the hand does not exist on its own but is held up by an arm and a body.
    I sincerely believe that a much stronger unifying hope will be found not in the hand but deeper down in the blood and sinews of science, and in the body – in the heart and head of integrity, nurture and care.
    I would let the fingers of this “hand” reach outward to touch and interpret the world in their own unique ways but let a bolder “body” of truth evolve with understanding and scientific knowledge to give us a richer and more exciting direction of hope.

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