In September 2022, H.E. Master Maitreya Samyaksambuddha has performed the Spiritual Transmission In Memoriam of the GAUTAMA PEACE PRIZE to Thomas Merton, for his contribution to World Peace and Zen-Christianity Dialogue.
Thomas Merton was a monk member of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), which is the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order. During his contemplative training he became the spiritual conscience of the peace movement of the 1960’s in USA, supporting the nonviolent civil rights movement. Also, he became deeply interested in Zen and Taoism, promoting its dialogue with Christianity.
The Peace Award was received by Thomas Merton Center.
Dear Zen Master Maitreya,
Thank you for your kind words and your nomination of Thomas Merton as recipient for the Gautama Peace Prize in 2022.
In 1963 Merton was awarded the Pax Peace Prize. He was unable leave the monastery to collect it in person but in his acceptance speech, read in absentia, he referred those present to Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris, Peace on Earth, writing:
“Pacem in Terris is a reminder to the conscience of every reasonable human being on the face of the earth that each one of us has a strict obligation to work for world peace, for the peaceful arbitration of all disputes, and for the peaceful settlement of the social, international, interracial, religious, economic and political problems in which we may be directly or indirectly involved.”
And I am sure he would regard the Gautama Peace Prize in much the same light, though he would be deeply saddened and horrified by the continued proliferation of both wars and nuclear weapons in the years since his death.
So yes, the Merton Center would be honored to accept this award in recognition of Merton’s work to further peace, racial justice and dialogue.
Dr Paul M Pearson.
Director and Archivist,
Thomas Merton Center,