- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: New Directions; Reprint edition (Dec 7 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811217248
- ISBN-13: 978-0811217248
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 340 g
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
New Seeds of Contemplation Paperback – Dec 7 2007
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Destined to go down as one of the great spiritual classics of our century.Thomas Merton really is someone we can look up toI can't remember a time when Thomas Merton wasn't a piece of my mental furniture.Merton's masterpiece.He is an artist, a Zen.
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In print for more than forty years, "New Seeds of Contemplation has served as a guide to the contemplative life for several generations of spiritual seekers. The word "contemplation is itself somewhat problematical, according to Thomas Merton: "It can become almost a magic word, or if not magic, then 'inspirational, ' which is almost as bad." In this modern Christian classic, Merton reveals contemplation to be nothing other than "life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive." The thirty-nine short "seeds" that make up this book are intended to awaken and cultivate the contemplative, mystical dimension of the spiritual path for everyone. "New Seeds of Contemplation is a revised and expanded version of Merton's earlier book "Seeds of Contemplation.See all Product description
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Among other things, "New Seeds" is a great companion piece to St. John's "Dark Night of the Soul." I struggled mightily with that book, due to the complexity of thought and of the writing itself. Merton goes through these same stages of spiritual awareness and development in language I found far easier to understand.
But "New Seeds" is not merely a reworking of "Dark Night". I can't judge the value of his insights as they would apply to a true contemplative, but I suspect he offers much. For a worldly person who seeks spiritual growth, there is no question of this book's value.
Merton's major theme is humility. Only through humility can we discover faith. Only through humility can we rid ourselves of the distractions that separate us from God. Materialism, pride, sensuality, and the like are so well accepted in our society that we seldom see on how deeply they disrupt our souls. Merton's uncompromising reflections are a cold slap in the face.
"New Seeds" is also a moving defense of mysticism. God cannot be found through reason alone. He cannot be understood by reading or thinking. In fact, He cannot be understood at all. The emptying that we must do, the shedding of our selfish skins, can only begin when we decide to relinquish our selves to His will. Again, in a materialistic society, such ideas seem absurd; Merton conveys them with a power that makes any other idea seem absurd, even to the most rational reader.
Finally...even though Merton cautions us against excessive emotion as a false measure of interior progress, he writes at times with majesty that cannot help but inspire: "As a magnifying glass concentrates the rays of the sun into a little burning ray of heat that can set fire to a dry leaf or a piece of paper, so the mystery of Christ in the Gospel concentrates the rays of God's light and fire to a point that sets fire to the spirit of man...Through the glass of His Incarntation He concentrates the rays of His Divine Truth and Love upon us so that we feel the burn, and all mystical experience is communicated to men through the Man Christ."
I am not Catholic, and I don't claim to understand everything Fr. Merton writes about in these texts. But there is certainly a common denominator here in connection to the contemplative practices of us Zen practitioners and Christian contemplatives like Merton. What I do know of this book is that it attempts to release the sleeping being within us all while waking us up from our spiritually inactive state, fostering an innate and almost numinous experience in all of our spiritual lives. In this work Merton expresses, "Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love."
Wasn't that a wonderful passage? Come take a journey with Father Merton. If you were under the impression he is dead, just read this book and you will see he is as alive as ever! That's the great marvel of writings like these. The authors cannot die, for their work has the unique gift of touching our lives in ways no fictional works could ever even attempt to do. Enjoy!
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