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New Seeds of Contemplation

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This description may be from another edition of this product. New Seeds of Contemplation is one of Thomas Merton's most widely read and best-loved books. Christians and non-Christians alike have joined in praising it as a notable successor in the meditative...

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Christian Mysticism At It's Finest

I have a weakness for books pertaining to monastic life, regardless of whether or not that's a Christian or Buddhist source. I have always been drawn to this lifestyle. This book is a revised version of his initial text titled, "Seeds of Contemplation," which might be one of his most read out of everything he has written. Some of the best literature on the nature of self is to be found in the opening chapters of this work. In here we find stunning passages on contemplative spirituality unlike any we have ever seen in the wide variety of Christian bodies of work. There are actually 5 versions of "Seeds", but "New Seeds of Contemplation" is the only one I have read. 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!

Inspiration for anyone and everyone

Thomas Merton wrote "Seeds of Contemplation" when he was a young, relatively inexperienced contemplative. "New Seeds" is his reworking of that text, written after twelve years of intense spiritual effort. 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."

A quiet book for these troubled times.

For me, Thomas Merton is the Thoreau of the interior world. I return to this spiritual classic whenever the outer world is too much with me, and I feel the need for sanity and solitude. First published in 1961, his book "was written in a kind of isolation," in which Merton was close to his own experience with the contemplative life (p. ix). Like WALDEN, such books can be written best only in solitude. In this book, you will experience the quiet writings of a Trappist monk, trying to work out his own salvation through contemplative prayer, desiring to find God, to see Him and to love Him as if it is the only thing that matters. He writes, "contemplative prayer is a deep and simplified spiritual activity in which the mind and will rest in a unified and simple concentration upon God, turned to Him, intent upon Him and absorbed in His own light, with a simple gaze which is perfect adoration because it silently tells God that we have left everything else and desire even to leave our own selves for His sake, and that He alone is important to us, He alone is our desire and our life, and nothing else can give us any joy" (p. 243). "Contemplation is the highest expression of man's intellectual and spiritual life," he writes. "It is that life itself, fully awake, fully alive, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder" (p. 1).Father Merton tells us that "every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul" (p. 14). Pale dogwood flowers, for instance, and little yellow flowers that nobody notices by the side of the road "are saints looking up into the face of God." "The leaf has its own texture and its own pattern of veins and its own holy shape" (p. 30). Working out our own salvation "demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God as He reveals Himself, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation" (p. 32). "Our vocation is not simply to be," Merton writes, "but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny" (p. 32).This book offers us words to live by. "Do everything you can," he advises us, "to avoid the noise and the business of men. Keep as far away as you can from the places they gather to cheat and insult one another, to exploit one another, to laugh at one another, or to mock one another with their false gestures of friendship. Be glad if you can keep beyond the reach of their radios. Do not bother with their unearthly songs. Do not read their advertisements" (p. 84). "If you have to live in a city and work among machines and ride in subways and eat in a place where the radio makes you deaf with spurious news and where the food destroys your life and the sentiments of those around you poison your heart with boredom, do not be impatient, but accept it as the love of God and as a seed of solitude planted in your soul" (pp. 86-7).Merton knows God's mysterious ways like Thoreau knows Walden Pond. For those who want to experience

Merton at His Best

I came to Thomas Merton's writings through reading Richard Foster's "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home"(which I HIGHLY recommend). Since I am interested in contemplation and centering prayer, this is my choice of Merton's best book. Each "Mertonite" will have his or her own personal favorite, but this is mine. I especially liked the chapter titled: "Pray for Your Own Discovery", which I have higlighted extensively. Merton is very quotable; almost any sentence is worthy of admiration. I like what he says about our "mindfulness" of God: "What good does it do to say a few formal prayers to Him and then turn away and give all my mind and all my will to created things, desiring only ends that fall far short of Him?" If your new to Merton, this book is a wonderful place to begin your lifetime appreciation for the writngs of a true contemplative and a genuine human being. His books will be with you for the rest of your journey - to be read and reread as you continue along life's paths.

Freedom

"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." (Chapter 7)As the world moves into a new century, these earnest, seeking, searching, truthful words of Thomas Merton still have the power to make folks examine themselves."New Seeds of Contemplation" is one heck of a book. I have yet to encounter a better book on the subject of confronting our false selves--our impostors. Each chapter is absolutely loaded with food for thought; and more than thought...contemplative prayer:"I wonder if the are twenty men alive in the world now who see things as they really are. That would mean that there were twenty men who were free, who were not dominated or even influenced by any attachment to any created thing or to their own selves or to any gift of God, even to the highest, the most supernaturally pure of His graces. I don't believe there are twenty such men alive in the world. But there must be one or two. They are the ones who are holding everything together and keeping the universe from falling apart." (Chapter 28)The world (and eternity for that matter) will only be changed as people like those described in the passage above increasingly take their focus off the visible and seek instead the invisible, yet more real, kingdom."So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)"New Seeds of Contemplation" Is humbling to read. I've spent some time with it now (books like this demand more time than others). It will change those who are willing to interact with the author's Creator while prayerfully reading it. I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone.
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