Contemplative Garden

828 South Fourth Street, Louisville, Kentucky

The Contemplative Garden is located on the campus of Spalding University, nearly in the center point of the city of Louisville. When complete, Louisville will have an outdoor meditation garden unlike any in the world. The garden blends a limestone labyrinth based on Chartres Cathedral with a critically acclaimed urban stupa, surrounded by meditative pathways, and lush trees and flowering plants. The Contemplative Garden has gained international recognition and already has become a destination from visitors worldwide.

With your support-we will complete the building of a sacred space of meditation and stillness in the Contemplative garden. When it’s complete, Louisville will have an outdoor retreat unparalleled in any city in the world. Any financial contribution you can make, whether $10,00 or $10,000 will inch the Contemplative Garden closer to completion and help one or one million people reach, as Thomas Merton did, their own epiphanies. It’s a gesture of action, coupled with silence, where true transformation takes place. 

Our Story

The story of Thomas Merton and the 14th Dalai Lama’s friendship is brief yet powerful.

A humble Gesthemani monk travels to Asia in the late 1960’s on a quest for broadening his understanding of spirituality. Over three encounters, these two visionary individuals from different corners of the world and historically opposing spiritual backgrounds, forged a deep friendship based on openness and understanding that is honored by the Dalai Lama to this day.

It is with this spirit that the Contemplative Garden is being built as a public touch stone for what is  good and positive. Contemplative Garden invites us to pause and catch our breath from the hectic world we live in.

Upon entering from the 4th st. entrance a twenty-seven foot high monument called a stupa, containing personal artifacts belonging to renowned compassionate individuals including Thomas Merton and Mother Teresa. Also housed within will be thousands of personally crafted wishes for world peace, prayers, mantras and items that represent happiness and well-being from all major religions.

A few steps west leads to the limestone and brick 47 foot diameter labyrinth modeled after the world’s most recognized labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, France. The design for this labyrinth dates back to 1205 when monks used the labyrinth for contemplation.

The Contemplative Garden will offer an oasis of peace, beauty and nature in the midst of an urban landscape on the campus of Spalding University. As one of the first two certified compassionate universities in the United States, Spalding University has allocated space for the Garden, now dedicated specifically for this purpose.

Photograph of Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama. Copyright the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Labyrinth Renderings

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828 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40203