On December 10th, 1941, he joined the Abbey of Gethsemani. He was active in the life of the abbey as a writer for many years, but from 1965 to 1968, he lived as a hermit in its precincts. His writings would take up controversial issues and developing concerns. Many people thought his political attitudes were unbecoming of a monk. Before his death, he became deeply familiar with Eastern philosophy such as Zen Buddhism. He actively promoted East-West dialogue during the 1960s, and during a trip to a conference on East-West dialogue, Merton died. In Bangkok on December 10, 1968, he was accidentally electrocuted. His legacy is still felt today.
He was one of the few Christians who commended the Eastern philosophies. Many people see Thomas Merton as a spiritual leader, a great writer, and a man who exemplified the quest for God in human solidarity. In 1969 donations from his aunts, Agnes and Beatrice Merton began a special collection of his work kept by Christchurch City Libraries. Some of his work is still being published