Thomas Merton Series

20% discount / Merton and Hinduism- The Yoga of the Heart

David M. Odorisio


20% discount / NOW AVAILABLE. Merton and Hinduism- The Yoga of the Heart. Edited by David M. Odorisio. 464 pp. Paperback FIND OUT MORE about the Fons Vitae ‘SWAGATAM – A Celebration of India & Book Launch (Nov 18, 2021) HERE

Merton and Hinduism is the first book to thoroughly and definitively trace the lasting influence of Yoga and Hindu traditions on the life and writings of renowned author of The Seven Storey Mountain Thomas Merton, Catholic Priest and Trappist Monk, and pioneer of inter-religious dialogue. Informative and original essays by leading scholars highlight specific points of contact between Merton and various aspects of the Hindu and Yoga traditions, such as Merton and Gandhi, Merton and the Bhagavad Gita, and Merton’s dialogue and friendship with key Indian intellectuals such as A.K. Coomaraswamy, among many others. Approximately half of the book collects Merton’s own writings on Hinduism and Yoga, and many essays are published here for the first time. These essays portray Merton as teacher and novice master, cultural commentator, and contemplative practitioner interested in the mutually enriching dialogue among Catholic Christianity, Hinduism, and Yoga traditions.

David M. Odorisio, PhD, serves as Director of The Retreat at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, and is Associate Core Faculty in Pacifica’s Mythological Studies graduate degree program. David received his PhD in East-West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies and teaches in the areas of methodology, psychology and religion, and comparative mysticism. He has published in numerous journals in the fields of Jungian and transpersonal psychology, as well as The Merton Seasonal, and is co-editor of the volume Depth Psychology and Mysticism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). He is a former Board Member of the International Thomas Merton Society.

  • “Once we live in awareness of the cosmic dance and move in time with the Dancer our life attains its true dimension. It is at once more serious and less serious than the life of one who does not sense this inner cosmic dynamism. To live without this illuminated consciousness is to live as a beast of burden, carrying one’s life with tragic seriousness as a huge, incomprehensible weight…. The weight of burden is the seriousness with which one takes one’s own individual and separate self. To live with the true consciousness of life centered in Another is to lose one’s self-important seriousness and thus to live life as ‘play’ in union with a Cosmic Player.” -Thomas Merton, “The Significance of the Bhagavad-Gita


“I will be a better Catholic, not if I can refute every shade of Protestantism, but if I can affirm the truth in it and still go further. So, too, with the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, etc. This does not mean syncretism, indifferentism, the vapid and careless friendliness that accepts everything by thinking of nothing. There is much that one cannot “affirm” and “accept,” but first one must say “yes” where one really can. If I affirm myself as a Catholic merely by denying all that is Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., in the end I will find that there is not much left for me to affirm as a Catholic: and certainly no breath of the Spirit with which to affirm it.”– Thomas Merton

WATCH: The Fons Vitae book book launch for ‘Merton & Hinduism’ and Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’ (Coleman Barks). SWAGATAM: A Celebration of India – The Wisdom of Merton & Tagore (Highlights film). A celebration of India through faith, the arts and our shared universal values. Indian music, poetry, dance, film, art, book signing, food, and the wisdom of Thomas Merton & Rabindranath Tagore.


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  • “If, in the West, God can no longer be experienced as other than ‘dead,’ it is because of an inner split and self-alienation which have characterized the Western mind in its single-minded dedication to only half of life: that which is exterior, objective, and quantitative. The ‘death of God’ and the consequent death of genuine moral sense, respect for life, for humanity, for value, has expressed the death of an inner subjective quality of life: a quality which in the traditional religions was experienced in terms of God-consciousness. Not concentration on an idea or concept of God, still less on an image of God, but a sense of presence, of an ultimate ground of reality and meaning, from which life and love could spontaneously flower.” – Thomas Merton, “The Significance of the Bhagavad-Gita”


  • “…karma means ‘action.’ It’s another title for the idea of cause and effect. The idea here is just simply that…your work is your yoga, and if you use it in the right way it can be a yoga of complete unification, and can lead you to this sense of inmost identity – of being one with God…. Your work – the work of a householder, the work of a married [person]… the work of the kitchen; or your trade…the things you have to do to live – is your yoga. But it all depends how you do it. And the thing to do is to learn how to do your work in such a way that it is a karma yoga. And it can lead you to complete enlightenment. Nothing else is necessary…”


“…The great thing is that your work is not overwhelmingly serious. It’s never to be taken with the kind of seriousness that we take it with, because really not that much depends on the results. The great thing in karma yoga is first of all that you work without desire, and you work without attaching importance to the results. The whole thing is that the work is part of a game which you do as well as you can, but without any desire to succeed and without any care about whether you get results, whether you get rewards or not, because you leave that in God’s hands. It’s the equivalent of our doing it for the love of God, really, purely doing it purely for God’s love.” – Thomas Merton, “Yoga: The Prophetic Vision” (Monastic Conference)

In spite it being over 100 years since his birth, interest in Thomas Merton continues to exponentially grow with conferences, retreat, seminars, classes, and books continuing to emerge year after year. This book offers a significant addition to this material in that it is the first to trace Merton’s interest and dialogue with yoga – a major recent trend in American spirituality – and Hinduism – a topic previously thought to be of little interest to Merton.


The Fons Vitae Thomas Merton Series

Thomas Merton’s Prayer
Introduction: “Necessary for Enlightenment”: Thomas Merton’s Lifelong Engagement with Yoga- David M. Odorisio

Part I – Hinduism and Christianity in Context:
Historical and Comparative Perspectives

Hinduism: Origins and Historical Development
Vasudha Narayanan

Yoga, The One and The Many
David Gordon White
Indian Christian Tradition
M. Thomas Thangaraj
Introduction to “Yoga and Hesychasm” by Jules Monchanin
David M. Odorisio
Yoga and Hesychasm
Jules Monchanin
Hesychasm and Raja-Yoga
Thomas Matus

Part II – Merton and Hinduism:
Dialogue and Deep Learning in the Cave of the Heart

Why Zen Buddhism and not Hinduism?
The Asias of Thomas Merton’s Voyages East
Rachel Fell McDermott
Mahanambrata Brahmachari and Thomas Merton
Richard V. Croghan
The Search for Brahmachari
William Buchanan
In Memoriam: Mahanambrata Brahmachari
(25 December 1904 – 18 October 1999)
Francis X. Clooney, SJ
Fight or Flight: Thomas Merton and the Bhagavad Gita
Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa)
Thomas Merton and the Bhagavad Gita
Christopher Key Chapple
Merton on Gandhi
Paul R. Dekar
Thomas Merton’s Deep Christian Learning across Religious Borders
Francis X. Clooney, SJ
Theoria Physike and the Brahma-sutra:
The Rediscovery of the Cosmotheandric Dimension
in the Work of Thomas Merton and Raimon Panikkar
Thomas Cattoi
“Transubstantiation is the Rule”: Merton and Coomaraswamy
Roger Lipsey
The Expansive Hindu: Thomas Merton and Amiya Chakravarty
William Apel
Overlooking America: ‘Day Six O’Hare Telephane’
and the Landscape of Lograire
Patrick O’Connell
Thomas Merton and Paramahansa Yogananda:
Two Prayerful Mergings of Cult and Culture
Emile J. Farge

Part III – Merton on Hinduism:
The Yoga of the Heart

Dr M. B. Bramachari, A Personal Tribute
Thomas Merton
Preface to Dom Denys Rutledge’s In Search of a Yogi
Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton’s Letter to Philip L. Griggs (Yogeshananda)
Thomas Merton
Review of Jules Monchanin, Écrits Spirituels
Thomas Merton
A Tribute to Gandhi
Thomas Merton
Gandhi and the One-Eyed Giant
Thomas Merton
The Significance of the Bhagavad-Gita

Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton’s Notes on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra
Thomas Merton
Yoga in Merton’s Novitiate
Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO
Exercises to Help Bring the Body Under Control of the Spirit
Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton’s Monastic Conferences on Hinduism and Yoga: 1963-1968
Transcribed by David M. Odorisio
Selected Readings on Vedanta from the Journals of Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton

Part IV – Appendix

Reading Thomas Merton Reading Hinduism and Yoga:
A Bibliography of Sources
Thomas Merton’s Photographs
All photographs were taken by Merton during his
1968 journey to India unless otherwise noted.
Reclining Bull between Draupadi Ratha and
Arjuna Ratha (Mahabalipuram, India)
Cave Temple (Mahabalipuram, India)
The Great Relief (detail), Arjuna’s Penance (Mahabalipuram, India)
Shore Temple (Mahabalipuram, India)
Jantar Mantar Observatory (Jaipur, India)
Jantar Mantar Observatory (Jaipur, India)
Thomas Merton with Amiya Chakravarty and friends
(photographer unknown; Kolkata [Calcutta], India)
Ananda K. and Doña Luisa Coomaraswamy


This final volume in the series, Merton & Hinduism, edited by David M. Odorisio, is the first book to thoroughly and definitively trace the lasting influence of Hindu and Yoga traditions on Merton’s life and writings. Original essays by leading scholars highlight specific points of contact between Merton and various aspects of the Hindu and Yoga traditions. Half of the book collects Merton’s writing on Hinduism and Yoga, many published here for the first time. These essays portray Merton as teacher and novice master, cultural commentator, and contemplative practitioner interest in the mutually enriching dialogue among Catholic Christianity, Hinduism, and Yoga.
Jonathan Montaldo, Merton Scholar & Editor, The Fons Vitae Merton Series
Editor David Odorisio introduces this publication with an overview of Merton’s interest in India’s ancient religious traditions and practices. Observing the trajectories of Merton’s interest, Odorisio identifies four phases. The first phase focuses on Merton’s undergraduate years at Columbia. It was here that he discovered the Bhagavad Gita while writing his master’s thesis on William Blake and here that he developed a friendship with Brahmarchari, fellow student and Hindu monk. While the first phase finds expression in Ascent to Truth, The Inner Experience represents the second phase. Here we see the influence of the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras on Merton’s monastic formation and understanding of contemplation. The third phase occurs during the early to mid years of the 1960’s. Merton’s writings on Mohandas Gandhi appear and he is practicing and teaching Yoga at the monastery. The year 1968 marks the final phase. During this time, Merton returns to traditional sources. It is important to note that the list of those sources indicate that his study of Hinduism and Yoga was increasing in both breadth and depth as he prepared for his pilgrimage to India.
David Belcastro maintains a yoga practice and taught yoga philosophy and practice for twenty years. He is Professor Emeritus at Capital University in Bexley, Ohio. In the past, he served ITMS as President and co-editor of The Merton Annual.