Whose Silence Are You? Thomas Merton Poem and Music

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk who was well-known as a social activist, writer, and poet.  An deep student of comparative religion, Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith dialog.  He became close friends with prominent Eastern spiritual teachers, such as the Dalai Lama, D.T. Suzuki, and my own heart teacher, Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

Here is one of my favorite short poems by Merton, followed by some lovely contemplative Japanese flute music for your quiet enjoyment. May you discover the deep silence within you and know its peace!

Be still
Listen to the stones of the wall
Be silent, they try
To speak your
To the living walls.
Who are you?
Are you? Whose
Silence are you?

Thomas Merton
The Strange Islands

For your listening pleasure here is shakuhachi flute master Riley Lee performing “In the Monastery Garden” from his wonderful album Sanctuary: Music from a Zen Garden:

You can purchase the album from iTunes here:

Sanctuary: Music from a Zen Garden


About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

5 Responses to “Whose Silence Are You? Thomas Merton Poem and Music”

  1. I am deeply grateful for the Perenial Wisdom I found in T. MERTON as a Univ. Of Santa Clara student on late 50’s and beyond. His Seeds of Contemplation and New Seeds…and Seven Story Mountain
    Reframed my views of life on topics of:
    War, non violence, spirituality, the power of writing & poetry, working for justice, Education and one’s inner life/soul life,
    The Wisdom of the East and other faith expressions, etc.
    Thomas M. Hedberg, Ph.D., LMFT

  2. Lovely, Steven, thank you – I love the poem, the space it creates and the music … sharing with others –

  3. Judy Worth Friedsam Reply 2011/08/03 at 11:42 AM

    Silence…truly a great source of inner strength.

    Thank you for sharing this simple yet profound poem by Thomas Merton…who was so well regarded as a very sincere, gentle and loving man by Chogyam Trungpa as I discovered in “The Heart of The Buddha”. I recently received, but have yet to start to read, Merton’s “New Seeds of Contemplation”…..in seeing this, I am apt to dive in sooner than antipated. _/\_

    Judy Worth-Friedsam

  4. I have always been somewhat a disciple of Tom, having read his Sign Of Jonah and the slim volume Wisdom Of The Desert years ago. These evenings lately I’ve been delving in a book he penned entitled The Living Bread ~ and his poetry is always quite alive for me. He probably was a heavy influence toward my writing of DEEP DESERT BLUES a few years back. Perhaps you’d like to drop by my own campsite sometime and check this “masterpiece.” Perhaps leave a comment? Take care, brother!

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