Contemplation in a World of Action
The spiritual and psychological insights of these essays were nurtured in a monastic milieu, but their issues are universally human. Thomas Merton lays a foundation for personal growth, and transformation through fidelity to "our own truth and inner being". Merton's...
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The spiritual and psychological insights of these essays were nurtured in a monastic milieu, but their issues are universally human. Thomas Merton lays a foundation for personal growth, and transformation through fidelity to "our own truth and inner being". Merton's main focus is our desire and need to attain "a fully human and personal identity".
This classic appears in a newly restored and corrected edition and is the inaugural volume of Gethsemani Studies, a series of books that explores, through the twin perspectives of psychology and religion, the dynamics and depths of being fully human.
Born in France, Thomas Merton was the son of an American artist and poet and her New Zealander husband, a painter. Merton lost both parents before he had finished high school, and his younger brother was killed in World War II. Something of the ephemeral character of human endeavor marked all his works, deepening the pathos of his writings and drawing him close to Eastern, especially Buddhist, forms of monasticism. After an initial education in the United States, France, and England, he entered Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, where he remained until a short time before his death.
His working life was spent as a Trappist monk. At Gethsemani, he wrote his famous autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948); there he labored and prayed through the days and years of a constant regimen that began with daily prayer at 2:00 a.m. As his contemplative life developed, he still maintained contact with the outside world, his many books and articles increasing steadily as the years went by. Reading them, it is hard to think of him as only a "guilty bystander," to use the title of one of his many collections of essays. He was vehement in his opposition to the Vietnam War, to the nuclear arms race, to racial oppression. Having received permission to leave his monastery, he went on a journey to confer with mystics of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. He was accidentally electrocuted in a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 10, 1968.