Here is a letter that Ken Wilber sent to Father Thomas shortly before he passed:
Dearest Father Thomas,
I’ve been following your illness as it progresses, and, with so many others, am just distraught at the possibility of your passing on. We’re both spiritual seekers enough to realize that this won’t be an end for you, but simply a transition to yet further journeys with God. But I wanted to tell you, before you take off on that journey, what an extraordinary presence you have been in my life, and literally almost every day since we first met. I can still vividly see the time that Treya brought me to the monastery in Snowmass for the first time; I noticed copies of Up from Eden on several shelves, and knew this would be an unusually intimate relationship for me. Over the years, the enthusiasm that you displayed for my work has been a constant source of inspiration for me, and always helped me believe I was on the right track. Likewise, the work that you were doing—in everything from the Snowmass inter-spiritual dialogues to your own work in Centering Prayer and the many contemplative communities around the world that you started—have always influenced me directly in my own spiritual growth and understanding. Whenever I was asked to name a genuine Christian saint, the first words out of my mouth were always, “Why, Father Thomas Keating, of course. And by the way, he’s still on this planet.”
Which is why the thought of your passing is just devastating to me. Yes, I’m delighted for the joyous journey ahead of you, but am also heartbroken at the loss for me and for so many. There will simply be noticeably and considerably less light on this planet when you have moved on, and all of us will feel that sadly and deeply. I notice that, over the years, I came more and more to see you as embodying that figure of Jesus Christ that I had put in Up from Eden, representing the evolution of all humanity toward their own Ground and Source. You are still the holiest person that I have ever met—seriously—and I have met quite a few. I know your own humility would not allow you accept that, but do allow me this opinion, because I do mean it—and I’m a fairly bright boy.
I don’t know how much any of us will be able to go with you on the coming adventure, but I do know that a good deal of you will remain reflected in all of us. You’ve had such a profound and indelible impact on so many—certainly including me—and I thank you enormously for being here, for attending to us all, for caring for us all, and for helping to save each and every one of us. I’m sure right now that you are working to let go of the “famous teacher” ego and rest even more fully in the Divine Presence, but I just wanted you to know that it was exactly that Presence that you presented to each and every one of us, that you showed to us, that you shared with us, and that you freely gave to each and all who were fortunate enough to know you.
There are few lives I can think of that have been as truly, integrally, authentically engaged. And humanity as a whole is just that much closer to a genuine realization of God because of you. Bless you, bless you, bless you, my friend—I will carry you in my heart forever.
This letter was part of a tribute posted by Integral+Life. You may read the full post here, which includes a video segment.