- Series: New Directions Books
- Paperback: 445 pages
- Publisher: New Directions; Revised ed. edition (February 28, 1975)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811205703
- ISBN-13: 978-0811205702
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.3 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New Directions Books) Paperback – February 28, 1975
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This volume, the journal Merton kept on the journey to Asia where his life ended, also is a culmination of his long spiritual journey as a writer. "His ecumenism was total," the editors remind us, "and we find him ranging from Tantric Buddhism to Zen, and from Islam and Sufism to Vedanta." The book, however, is not dryly academic; rather, as the foreword suggests, "Merton's pilgrimage to Asia was an effort to deepen his own religious and monastic commitment." Merton himself was clear about this sense of pilgrimage; so too was he clear that this meant in no way a break with his Christian roots. "I think we have now reached a stage ... of religious maturity," he writes, "at which it may be possible for someone to remain perfectly faithful to a Christian and Western monastic commitment, and yet to learn in depth from say, a Buddhist discipline and experience." This book is the fruit of such learning. Including descriptions of his meetings with the young Dalai Lama, the book is meticulously edited and supplied with useful explanatory notes and appendices, including transcriptions of talks that Merton gave during his trip. Most movingly, however, the journal itself concludes with the narrative of his transformative experiences in Ceylon where he visited three colossal figures of Buddha carved from huge stones. "Surely," he writes, "my Asian pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself." A few days later he passed away. --Doug Thorpe
“Painstakingly edited by a team of scholarly admirers, but still tantalizingly unfinished, the journal is a collage of Asian images, sacred and profane....And the book itself is a kind of mandala, drawing the reader deep into a philosophical analysis, then abruptly forcing him out into the physical world.”
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“…my Asian pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself. I mean, I know and have seen what I was obscurely looking for. I don’t know what else remains but I have now seen and have pierced through the surface and have got beyond the shadow and the disguise. This is Asia in its purity, not covered with garbage, Asian or European or American, and it is clear, pure, complete. It says everything; it needs nothing. And because it needs nothing it can afford to be silent, unnoticed, undiscovered. It does not need to be discovered. It is we, Asians included, who need to discover it. The whole thing is very much a Zen garden, a span of bareness and openness and evidence, and the great figures, motionless, yet with the lines in full movement, waves of vesture and bodily form, a beautiful and holy vision. The rest of the ‘city’, the old palace complex, I had no time for. We just drove around the roads and saw the ruined shapes, and started on the long drive home to Kandy.”
I believe after reading this book you will come away with an experience that will transcend structured religious thought or practice. It opened my mind to all the possibilities yet framed it from a contemplative viewpoint that one would find beneficial regardless of faith or tradition. I especially liked the poetic nature of his daily log. Enjoy!