This is one of the last lectures of Thomas Merton and was made when he was visiting Asia where he died. He was keenly interested in Buddhism and what it had to offer the West. He met with the Dali Lama and the documentary below chronicles his legacy and features a segment with the Dali Lama reminiscing about his time with Merton.
In this first clip Merton discusses Marxism and monasticism and draws parallels between Marx's insight concerning humankind's alienation and the concern that Christianity also has with alienation. He talks about how the Dali Lama tried to coexist with Communism (one manifestation of Marxism) and found that it was not possible. The reason for this, Merton argues, quoting the Dali Lama, is because any social structure cannot replace the requirement of every individual to probe the meaning of life on their own. Structure cannot replace individual engagement. At the same time, he is not advocating individualism. Merton defines monastic life according to the famous Marxist dictum, "to each according to his ability, to each according to their need".
Finally, by opening to Hinduism and Buddhism, can we explore our own psychological potentialities and deepen the Christian tradition out of which Merton arose.
The documentary below Merton reveals even more of his complex and fascinating character and summarizes the last year of his life when he became increasingly open to Eastern traditions as he became increasingly restless. The clip quotes his diary where he writes: "I have a past to breaks with; an accumulation of inertia, waste, junk. A great need of clarification, mindfulness, or rather of no mind, a need for the Spirit".