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No Man Is an Island Paperback – October 28, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A stimulating series of spiritual reflections which will prove helpful for all struggling to find the meaning of human existence and to live the richest, fullest, and noblest life." (Chicago Tribune )

"Merton wrote of ageless spiritual life and religious devotion with the knowledge of a modern." (The New York Times ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was born in France and came to live in the United States at the age of 24. He received several awards recognizing his contribution to religious study and contemplation, including the Pax Medal in 1963, and remained a devoted spiritualist and a tireless advocate for social justice until his death in 1968. The Sign of Jonas was originally published in 1953.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (October 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156027739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156027731
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has millions of copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.

After a rambunctious youth and adolescence, Merton converted to Roman Catholicism and entered the Abbey of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order.

The twenty-seven years he spent in Gethsemani brought about profound changes in his self-understanding. This ongoing conversion impelled him into the political arena, where he became, according to Daniel Berrigan, the conscience of the peace movement of the 1960's. Referring to race and peace as the two most urgent issues of our time, Merton was a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement, which he called "certainly the greatest example of Christian faith in action in the social history of the United States." For his social activism Merton endured severe criticism, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who assailed his political writings as unbecoming of a monk.

During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Merton during the American monk's trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dali Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known. It was during this trip to a conference on East-West monastic dialogue that Merton died, in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, the victim of an accidental electrocution. The date marked the twenty-seventh anniversary of his entrance to Gethsemani.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

123 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Steven Byrne on July 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
A wellspring of encouragement for those who are looking for spiritual simplicity, without dogmatism. Merton's flowing prose carries the reader so effortlessly, that I often had to stop myself, saturated, and put off going on until I had the capacity to absorb more. The greatest challenge of this book is not in comprehending his points, but in accepting them as actually possible, and internalizing their meaning for one's own life context. Merton opens a door to a place of potential joy, that many will desire to pass through.
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117 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Wesley L. Janssen VINE VOICE on January 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
The writings gathered in this volume will not be read quickly or superficially. Paragraphs will continually ask to be reread. Thomas Merton's perspicacious meditations, offered with such poetic strength, are to his reader like veins whose rich ore leads the miner deep. The effort is real and so too is the reward. Merton (1915-1968) was a contemplative monk, a Trappist, and although most of his readers may think themselves of another world, so to speak, it is the world of which Merton writes which is Real, and the clabbering, self-directed world of our common experience that is illusory.
A few thoughts, ones that are obviously directed more narrowly toward other Catholic monks, may generally be less helpful to most readers (I think of basically one chapter). I could offer other minor detraction but it would probably only amount to vanity on my part. It will be more valuable to meditate on these words of Merton:
"Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything else. They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains and the sea. They bore through silent nature in every direction with their machines, for fear that the calm world might accuse them of their own emptiness. The urgency of their swift movement seems to ignore the tranquillity of nature by pretending to have a purpose. The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality of the clouds and of the sky, by its direction, its noise, and its pretended strength. The silence of the sky remains when the plane has gone. The tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart. It is the silence of the world that is real. Our noise, our business, our purposes, and all our fatuous statements about our purposes, our business, and our noise: these are the illusion.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Jackie M. Sthilaire VINE VOICE on April 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Thomas Merton is full of wisdom as he shares his spiritual insights. Merton exemplifies a life lived in the spirit of God. There are many enemies of the spirit but the first enemy is our own self ( our ego). We love to be in control, to share our opinions, we are so afraid to let go, to go within and listen to the silence. Only when we listen with an open heart can we start living our real self with no mask. Our busyness turns to a more peaceful existence, we become more creative and less stressed, more grateful and less in need of stimulus . Less powerful but more compassionate. We are less fearful and more trusting of ourselves and others. Less depressed and more self accepting. The inner soul created in the image of God. This is our true being. "To be or not to be that is the question."
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By R. Schwartz on December 17, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"No Man Is An Island" can only be described as profound. There are many superb writings of spiritualiy, God and Christ. Thomas Merton's book is one that should not be passed up, it is absolutely profound for the interior solitude, the silence within, our silence where we find God's silence, who knows us and where we know Him. A book by a man of God for men of God, Merton goes far beyond religious organizational teachings and human thinking, to that of the spiritual life with God. I can only say, I have new found respect for the Catholic church, for Merton does not write in defense of her, but for God, men and charity, that go far beyond this life, existing now within us, and bring us to the real life we seek.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on April 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of musings on a variety of topics fundamental to spiritual development. It does not have a specific outline as some books might have. Each chapter relates to the others, yet stands alone. Merton was an expert spiritual director. This comes through in the book.

My suggestion is for you to read carefully through the list of chapter titles and if more than one of them interests you, purchase the book.

1. Love can only be kept by giving it away (I liked this one)

2. Sentences on hope.

3. Conscience, freedom, and prayer

4. Pure intention

5. The word of the cross

6. Asceticism and sacrifice (this was interesting to me)

7. Being and doing

8. Vocation (a solid chapter)

9. The measure of charity (interesting)

10. Sincerity

11. Mercy

12. Recollection (this made me think a lot)

13. "My soul remembered God"

14. The wind blows where it pleases (this also made me think a lot)

15. The inward solitude (I liked this one)

16. Silence (Merton ends with one of his best)
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Merton's understanding of our human nature and his spiritual understanding of scripture combine to make a personally challenging and thoroughly understandable realization of how to become more spiritual, not religious. This is a "centering" book. It centers you in God revealed through Christ. This book has matured me as a Christian tremendously.
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