No Man is An Island
"Without a life of the spirit," Thomas Merton maintains, "our whole existence becomes unsubstantial and illusory. The life of the spirit, by integrating us in the real order established by God, puts us in the fullest possible contact with reality-not...
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"Without a life of the spirit," Thomas Merton maintains, "our whole existence becomes unsubstantial and illusory. The life of the spirit, by integrating us in the real order established by God, puts us in the fullest possible contact with reality-not as we imagine it, but as it really is." No Man Is an Island is a collection of sixteen essays in which Merton plumbs aspects of human spirituality. He addresses those in search of enduring values, fulfillment, and salvation in prose that is inspiring and compassionate.
A recapitulation of his earlier work Seeds of Contemplation, this collection of sixteen essays plumbs aspects of human spirituality. Merton addresses those in search of enduring values, fulfillment, and salvation in prose that is, as always, inspiring and compassionate. "A stimulating series of spiritual reflections which will prove helpful for all struggling to...live the richest, fullest and noblest life" (Chicago Tribune).
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.