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From the Back Cover
- Francine du Plessix Gray, The New Republic
“Thomas Merton really is someone we can look up to”
- His Holiness The Dalai Lama
“I can’t remember a time when Thomas Merton wasn’t a piece of my mental furniture.”
- John Jeremiah Sullivan
- Sue Monk Kidd
“He is an artist, a Zen.”
- Thich Nhat Han --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B007PKQ2GE
- Publisher : New Directions; Reprint edition (November 27, 2007)
- Publication date : November 27, 2007
- Language : English
- File size : 2673 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 323 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #31,750 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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A great resource to accompany this book is given to us by James Finley, a former monk at Gethsemane at the time Merton was there, and from whom he received frequent Spiritual Direction. In his talks that come to us in the series, Thomas Merton's Path to the Palace of Nowhere , Finley gives first-hand knowledge of the value of Merton's instruction as well as a comprehensive plan and purpose of using such a book like this and the scope of what it entails, like a journal of thoughts: forming a meditative exercise taken from that which is derived from reading and reflecting on Merton’s words. What he's saying is: take a year to reflect on Merton's thought. Journal it as you go. Do it again the next year or so. Compare the journals and examine your new understanding derived from another reading. Keep doing this. You can spend a life-time with it! You can continue to grow with it! I believe the substance of what he offers here is found also in his book, Merton's Palace of Nowhere . I am not sure. I have bought the book, but have not spent much time with it yet.
Similarly, I mention that in the Introduction of the book Humility Of Heart by Father Cajetan Mary da Bergamo, it talks about the advantage of using any great book for two or three years as a meditation book. The human mind can be so distracted or unstable at times and can need more time than we imagine to be able to grasp great truths and ideas and integrate them practically into our everyday lives. The suggestion that two or three years spent with the works of a great Master, digesting it fully but little by little, should not seem out of the question. And so, I apply the advice given there to this work of Merton, that "We never get a proper hold of a great spiritual doctrine until we have lived in it and been saturated by it. The soul must soak in the brine until it has become wholly impregnated with its qualities." It is a good teaching from which we can all learn. Merton has provided the brine. We must soak in it.
In the Spiritual Life, the goal is always God: God possessing us and us possessing God. This means there's a lot in our lives that must undergo scrutiny. This means that there are things that should or must be eliminated. In the process, there are things that must be gained. This has to include sanctification, the path the saints travelled. Merton tells us, "for me, to be a saint is to be myself." That is a long path for most of us. Therefore, sanctity is "finding out who I am and of discovering my true self." So, to reach the point where we seek the ultimate goal of life, means to have or find and enter a complex path which Merton calls "Integrity" and explains, "In order to become myself I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be, and in order to find myself I must go out of myself, and in order to live I have to die," not much different from what Jesus tells us in the gospel, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?" (Mt 16:25-26). All of this takes time! We must give it the time it deserves. Merton will teach us, slowly! He will give us the principles we need to live this out. The most significant gem that I have found in this book is under the heading of "Mental Prayer." It's worth making a copy of the few pages and carrying around with us. It's food and instruction that we can never tire of receiving. It's something that, even when we are sure what he is saying there, it is worth going back to many times throughout the year.
Maybe two or three years are not enough! Maybe there are things that each of us can find in this great work that we must spend a life with! That's what Finley suggests!
This book does not compare to his book “The Seven Story Mountain.” I felt The Seven Story Mountain was an inspiring work that was easy to read, and I just loved that book and it inspired me to read this book.
But, I found the content of this book to be convoluted and difficult to follow at times. On many occasions, Merton would go on and on about a particular topic, he felt strongly about, and that became very tiresome, but keep in mind that Thomas Merton was a young writer, when he wrote this book, so that might explain why so much of this book was long winded. I also felt Merton was a bit angry or disappointed with the church’s understanding or perceptions of a contemplative life, and he had an axe to grind.
I think Thomas Merton is a true scholar and has a lot of work that is stellar, so I would encourage people to look at some of his other books.
by Thomas Merton
Reading Merton’s autobiography, “The Seven Story Mountain“ really took me to a new level. As a child I was very precocious and wanted to be an adult so fast. I wanted the trappings and the clothes and the cocktails and the charge cards that adults had. I was in love with secularism. And I lived the kind of early adult life where I really went as far with secularism as a person can go.
Then I explored about 20 other things, and eventually, I found myself at an impasse. I tried to figure out how to turn the impasse into a crossroads and how to decide what road to take. And I was totally stuck. I did not want to go forward.
And at some point I did figure out on my own that I wanted to go deeper. But I didn’t know what the hell that meant. That’s where Thomas Merton saved my ass. In his autobiography he gave moments of explanation about contemplation and the contemplative life. I didn’t have anything like that on my radar really. And this Book was all about what that kind of life looks like and how ones goes about it and what treasures one can find.
It is so wonderful to discover that the reason I wasn’t interested in anything anymore was not because I was jaded, or spoiled or depressed. It is because I had reached a whole new level and needed a whole new game plan but I had no vocabulary I had no road marks. I had no map. Now I get it.
Thankyou Thomas Merton from a closer Contemplative!
Top reviews from other countries
“Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure: you were created for spiritual joy. And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and spiritual joy you have not yet begun to live.”