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Q: Thomas Merton in Calcutta ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Thomas Merton in Calcutta
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: ryoyu-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 23 May 2005 06:21 PDT
Expires: 22 Jun 2005 06:21 PDT
Question ID: 524593
At the World Conference on Religions in Calcutta, (1966?)Thomas Merton
delivered a paper in which he referred to the "second axial period". I
believe that this paper was delivered shortly before his death that
same day.  I may be mistaken about this latter bit.

I am looking for the entire text of that paper.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 23 May 2005 12:42 PDT
Hello again.

The phrase you asked about seems to most often be attributed to Ewert Cousins:

Are you sure it originated with Merton?


Clarification of Question by ryoyu-ga on 23 May 2005 13:38 PDT
Hello again, indeed.  

I guess this answers my question about specialties of yours!

I thank you for that site - that's as clear an explanation of the 2
Axial ages as I have seen!

I am not claiming that the phrase "second axial age" was created by
Merton, only that he used it.  Of that I am certain because I have a
recording that includes a sample of Merton himself using that phrase.

The recording is called "Compassion" and is long out of print, to my knowledge.  

In googling merton, axial age, I got several hits that mentioned his
talk in Calcutta in that context, but none of them had the text.

There is, of course, no reason to think that what I heard is from is
Calcutta paper, but he's a hero and if the text can be found I'd like
to have it.  In the meantime I'll just transcribe the 30 seconds or so
on the recording.

Ryo (actually the abbreviation of my "dharma" name)

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 23 May 2005 19:53 PDT
If you haven't seen it already, you should certainly check out this site:

and perhaps even contact them regarding the transcript you are
seeking...they may be able to identify the precise source.


Clarification of Question by ryoyu-ga on 30 May 2005 13:49 PDT

This is embarassing.  I just read, closely, the paper by Ewert
Cousins.  In it, I found word for word that statement that I had
attributed to Merton.  In my defense, that original recording did the
same.  So - you had the answer on the git-go and I have muddled about
in the dark for weeks.  But you have provided a lot of additional
useful information, so thanks.  I'm off on vacation for a week but if
I find more questions in my brain-pan, I will send them along. Ryo
Subject: Re: Thomas Merton in Calcutta
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 30 May 2005 19:26 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Nothing embarassing about having muddled about.  That's just part of
the human experience (I should know, I've been muddling my way through
parenthood for the past decade).

Thanks for letting me know that my earlier comment answered the
question, and if there's anything more I can do for you on this one,
just give me a holler.


Request for Answer Clarification by ryoyu-ga on 05 Jun 2005 13:47 PDT


some time you might want to go to a site called and take a look at the page called Silver Tea.
 It's about parenting, more or less.  A daily letter to my son that
has been going on now for 18 months...


Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 09 Jun 2005 07:55 PDT
I had a look at Silver Tea.

What a beautiful idea and labor (?) of love...a very nice mix of the
spiritual and curmudgeonly (at least, for today's entry, though I
couldn't agree more about GWB).

Thanks for letting me know about this (and for your participation in
GA as's good to have you on board).


Request for Answer Clarification by ryoyu-ga on 09 Jun 2005 08:39 PDT
Glad you liked it.  Today's was far more hostile than usual but I'm
fed up.  No more questions now, but it'll deadline for
the book is July 1st and I'm aiming to have it done by next thursday.
ryoyu-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Palafala-ga is not only thorough, but patient!

Subject: Re: Thomas Merton in Calcutta
From: myoarin-ga on 24 May 2005 06:42 PDT
Very interesting!  Thanks again, Pafalafa, for an enlightening link.
It seems like we are still waiting for the catalyst to start convergence.
Subject: Re: Thomas Merton in Calcutta
From: jca-ga on 28 May 2005 09:03 PDT
There's a book that contains the papers given at a 1968 Spiritual
Summit Conference in Calcutta, including papers by Merton:
The world religions speak on the relevance of religion in the modern world. 
Finley P Dunne 
English  Book xviii, 220 p., 4 p. of photos. 25 cm. 
The Hague, Junk
Spiritual Summit Conference   (1st : 1968 : Calcutta)  
World Academy of Art and Science. [Publication]; 6; Variation: World
Academy of Art and Science.; Publication ;; 6.
Standard No: LCCN: 73-507188 

by Merton: "Monastic experience and the East-West Dialog" and
"extemporaneous remarks."
Subject: Re: Thomas Merton in Calcutta
From: ryoyu-ga on 29 May 2005 05:09 PDT

Thank you.  I will try to run that down.  In the meantime, I'm trying
to contact Geshe Lobsang Tenzin, a former Tibetan monk who produced
the recording.  He is the director of the Drepung Loesling Institute
at Emory University.  I've run into a stone wall but will chip away at


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