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February 10, 2005

Mystics and Zen Masters - Thomas Merton

Another very intelligent and well-written book by my favorite spiritual author. Here Merton discusses various religions and theologies, bringing out the similarities between Eastern and Western spirituality.
He begins by illuminating as best as can be expressed in words what Zen is, which is difficult since the essence of Zen is that which is is inexpressible. He does a magnificent job of making a difficult and wildly misunderstood subject understandable. We can then appreciate the depth of this practive and it's similarities to Christianity.
Merton introduces us to classic chinese thought such as in the Tao Te Ching. I found myself drawn to the simplicity and depth of Zen and Confuscian thought which seems to cut straight through to the heart of the matter of what is most important in life. Man's inherent goodness and will of God imprinted on his soul, constantly seeking to express itself in right action. The importance of "personal response" to life.

In the middle of the book Merton covers several areas of Christianity including the English and Russian mystics and a very interesting look at the history of pilgrimage. What originally was a spiritual quest became so distorted during the crusades and this distortion extended to the search for the promised land in America without regard for those already inhabiting this land. What also struck me were the parallels to the current world situation.

Posted by Priscilla at February 10, 2005 11:34 AM


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