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Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh: Engaged Spirituality in an Age of Globalization Hardcover – September 1, 2001

ISBN-13: 000-0826413404 ISBN-10: 0826413404 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826413404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826413406
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #372,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh met briefly at the Gethsemani Trappist monastery in Kentucky in 1966, and though they admired each other, they had no further significant contact. King (emeritus, philosophy and religion, Millsaps Coll.) is interested in exploring the convergence of their viewpoints, which he sees as having caused a significant impact on current thinking regarding spirituality and social action. For those unfamiliar with the life histories of Merton or Thich Nhat Hanh, this book offers a reasonable and succinct outline. Similarly, those unfamiliar with the ideas these men expressed, particularly during the tumultuous era of the Vietnam War and the Cold War, will find an accessible summary here. King's somewhat thin presentation, however, suffers from a certain amount of repetition and lack of focus, and the full import of his intriguing premise is never fully realized. Both Merton's and Thich Nhat Hanh's ideas are better conveyed through their own voluminous writings. King's contribution to the current interest in interfaith dialog and spiritually centered social action makes up somewhat for these deficiencies, but only collections with a demonstrated interest in these two men will have a clear need for this title. Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"This is the story, told with enthusiasm and vision, of the deep spiritual kinship between Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk from the West, and Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk from the East. Threading its way through this story is yet another: the moving account of how Robert King, brought up in the Social Gospel tradition of American Protestantism, finds in the writings of these two monks the spiritual roots of his activist quest for the kingdom of God on earth. What makes the story so compelling is King's dawning realization that he has discovered something he had been looking for all his life without knowing it. More than that, King sees in these two monks a rich paradigm for the kind of interreligious dialogue so desperately needed in a globalized world."-William H. Shannon

"King sees in Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh 'a new kind of spirituality that I believe may be the best hope for religious renewal in our day.' With great enthusiasm the author summarizes the unique aspects of their writings. We affirm the author's salute to Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh as global heroes who have bequeathed to us the lineaments of a slowly burgeoning engaged spirituality and interfaith dialogue movement."
—Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Health, December 2001

"A timely in-depth look at how Merton and Hahn succesfully integrated their spiritual and political lives. King uses his considerable analytical and research abilities to create a work that is comprehensive and insightful as well as personal and global in its conclusions. King is a good storyteller but more importantly he deeply understands the historical significance of both Merton and Nahn."
—Springs Magazine, January 2002

"Not a dry, academic thesis, this book is something of a conversion story. This book is the fruit of King's spiritual journey."
—Ecumenism, December 2001

"King writes well and his personal approach is evident throughout the book."—Bonnie Thurston, The Merton Seasonal, Winter 2001

"King's books serves as a fine introduction to the life and thought of these well-known monks. More important, however, it should be read for its central thesis, a thesis that must be taken seriously and may be crucial for the continued relevancy of religion in today's world. Contemplation must not remain the preserve of a few marginal monastics! I liked much about this book."—Richard J. Hauser, America, May 20, 2002

"Recommended for general readers and lower- and upper-division undergraduate and graduate students."
—W C. Buchanan, Choice, June 2002

"The special merit [of the book] is that these two persons represent a new expression … that reflects our age. Each has become emblematic of the ecumenical breadth of this quest for engaged contemplation."
—Catholic Library World, December 2002

"Robert King, a retired professor of philosophy and religion, uses the meeting of these two contemplatives as a pretext to chronicle their two paths and use them as exemplars of how much contemplative insight has to offer to the world outside the monastery walls." -Barry Boyce

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Swing King on February 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
As the previous reviewer pointed out, Robert H. King really delivers in this book! He is a now retired professor of both religion and philosophy, who had always been fascinated by these two prolific and influential men of the 20th century. Most of you probably know who these two men are, but for those of you who do not I'll give a brief outline. Thomas Merton was a Christian Cistercian monk who belonged to the Abbey of Gethsemani down in Kentucky; Thich Nhat Hanh is to this day a prolific teacher of Vietnamese Zen who was a prominent peace activist during the Vietnam War era.
Merton and Nhat Hanh both had a relationship that is a shining model for everyone of us today for what it means to "come together." With a lot of love in the author's voice, we are allowed to see the deep and unique aspects of both of their spiritual practices. Merton with his contemplative prayer, and Nhat Hanh with his ongoing writings and talks on mindfulness. Both of these guys felt their spiritual relationship and practices had a real relevance to the chaos of the world of that time. And moreover, this book applies in many respects even more fervently than any other era in history. The author coins this outlook of Merton and Nhat Hanh's as being "engaged spiritually"; in other words, they intended to utilize contemplation while employing action. These two men were actually the pioneers in interreligious talks, paving the way for more discourse in the years that have since followed.
Merton once said in praise of Thich Nhat Hanh, "Thich Nhat Hanh is more my brother than many who are nearer to me in race and nationality, because he and I see things exactly the same way." This, to me of course, spells out all too clearly what he was referring to as seeing things, "exactly the same.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paula on February 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
Robert King has written a quite thoroughly researched and knowledgeable book exploring the background, biographies, and historical significance of these two giants of 20th century spiritual and political thought. If you are a student of either of these two great teachers, you will find that King has placed their written output in the context of their lives' work in a way that is completely useful and illuminating. You will be able to go back to the writings of TNH and Merton with a great deal more understanding and insight. It is also apparent that, in addition to a great deal of research and understanding, King is approaching the lives of these two men with a considerable amount of love and appreciation for what he has been able to learn from them. He passes this appreciation on to the reader. If you have not yet read the works of TNH and Merton, I would think this book would be a splendid introduction to them; if you are familiar with them, this will deepen your relationship with the teachings of these two great spiritual teachers. Highly recommended for those who are interested in the meditative/ contemplative practice of either tradition.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sherrill J. Pantle on March 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Merton said, "Nhat Hanh Is My Brother," coming to this conclusion after meeting him but once.
Robert H. King traces the paths of these two men toward their historic meeting, yet respects their differences and the differences between Christianity and Buddhism. According to King, the contemplative practice which each of them followed in his own tradition led both of them into an active role in worldly affairs and to a deep respect for each other and for one another's tradition. King sees here the start of a fruitful inter-religious dialogue and the beginning of relationship between very different traditions.
I really enjoyed hearing how these two men, from such very different backgrounds, arrived at a similar place of "engaging" the world and its problems.
Anyone interested in learning about contemplation, either Christian or Buddhist, will find much to think about in this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Harrington on November 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Excellent book by Mr. King from a view of a Christian taking a look at Meditation practices in other religions and how it enhanced his own faith. A great overview of Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh, enough to wet the appetite of any one who wanted to pursue further reading of these two monks.
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