Merton And Sufism: The Untold Story – A Complete Compendium

Gray Henry, Rob Baker


Merton here explains the Sufi tradition for the spiritual seeker. This collection is comprised of essays, Merton’s Sufi poems, reviews of Sufi texts, and transcriptions of his Sufism lectures given to at the Abbey of Gethsemani. Also included is Merton’s famous correspondence with Abdul Aziz and Marco Pallis, and a photo essay depicting similarities among Sufi and Christian practices.

“I’m deeply impregnated with Sufism.”
– Thomas Merton, In ‘The Springs of Contemplation’

“I am the biggest Sufi in Kentucky though I admit there is not much competition”
– Thomas Merton, October 1966

“My prayer tends very much to what you (sufis) call fana.”
– In a letter to a Sufi master Abdul Aziz

Product Description

Merton understood the essence of the world’s great spiritual traditions and explains them in ways all spiritual seekers can understand.

This most comprehensive collection is comprised of essays by scholars such as Sidney Griffith, Merton’s own Sufi poems, books reviews of Sufi texts, edited transcriptions of his lectures on Sufism given to the Trappist novices at the Abbey of Gethsemani, and a selections of works from which he drew particular inspiration. Also included is Merton’s famous correspondence with Abdul Aziz and Marco Pallis and a photo essay depicting similarities among Sufi and Christian practices.

In addition to scholarly articles, this volume includes Merton’s own Sufi poems, insightful book reviews, transcriptions from his related lectures, and a selection of works from which he drew particular inspiration, including the work of Al-Tirmidhi (d.932), which uses fascinating metaphors to elucidate the difference between the Breast, Heart, Inner Heart, and the Intellect.


"Groundbreaking…. Now the classic on [Thomas] Merton's enthusiasm for and participation in Islamic contemplative traditions and their expression in both his writing and his life."
Jonathan Montaldo, Director, (ret) Thomas Merton Center, Louisville, Kentucky; Editor of Merton's second volume of journals and The Intimate Merton
"Actually, the ground of everything is within me and it is God, …it's within everybody, too. There's one ground for everybody, and this ground is the Divine Mercy…. The people of the "unveiling," that is to say the Sufis, ask the Mercy of God to subsist in them…. The Mercy of God is not arranged…in good and bad events for me, but it is subsisting in me all of the time."
From Thomas Merton's lectures on Sufism to the novices at Gethsemani
"Let it be said first of all that Merton's knowledge of Sufism was authentic and genuine…. He saw in Sufism a living tradition…in which techniques of meditation, concentration, contemplation, invocation had been well preserved leading ultimately to principial and unitive knowledge (al-ma'rifah) which ultimately transcends the realm of multiplicity….Any study of the relation between Merton and Sufism is therefore of much value for not only a better understanding of Merton himself but also for the creation of deeper modes of comprehension between the inward and contemplative dimensions of Islam and Christianity."
S.H. Nasr, from the Preface.
"What Merton discovered was an opening into a spiritual universe parallel to his own."
William Chittick, from "Sufism: Name and Reality"