This is the first complete publication of Merton's last book, revised by the author shortly before he died, in which Merton draws on both Eastern and Western traditions to explore the subject of contemplation/meditation in depth, and to show how...
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This is the first complete publication of Merton's last book, revised by the author shortly before he died, in which Merton draws on both Eastern and Western traditions to explore the subject of contemplation/meditation in depth, and to show how true contemplation can be practised in everyday life.
'The Inner Experience' is the first complete, authorized edition of Thomas Merton's final work. It was a manuscript he always intended to revise, but did not until 1968 when he incorporated brief but important 'corrections and additions' to the text. Drawing on his own Christian experience, as well as the Eastern writings and traditions that so significantly influenced him in the last decade of his life, Merton shows the expansive nature of contemplation; that contemplation is not simply a part of life, but the entirety of it.
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.