Thomas Merton found the antidote to modern materialism and hedonism, and the hollowness and emptiness that accompanies its desperate pursuit. He tried to run away from his deepest instincts by immersing himself in a self-serving lifestyle - but he could never find the happiness that path promised. However, because he was essentially an open mind, eventually he discovered the source of true peace and joy. You may not have anything in common with his cultural background, and you may not even particularly like him as a person - I didn't - but if you are a seeker for truth, you will identify with this man. He is no plaster saint. Neither are you.
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