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Mystics and Zen Masters Paperback – November 29, 1999
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About the Author
Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, is perhaps the foremost spiritual thinker of the twentiethcentury. His diaries, social commentary, and spiritual writings continue to be widely read after his untimely death in 1968.
Top Customer Reviews
So, although this book may not be for everyone, it is still a very fine work and will be very beneficial for many readers.
It was also salutary to see a Catholic actually take Vatican II's directions on other religious traditions seriously, instead of rationalizing this away in favor of one's own arrogant sense of religious superiority (which bears a family resemblance to the pride of Satan). Even more salutary to see a Catholic able to do so with a firm, solid, secure sense of his own religious identity and spiritual tradition (there is no mishmash of "all religions are the same" here).
Since the essays were originaly written in the 1960's, some of the characterizations of Zen Buddhism are a bit dated, which isn't Merton's fault but the reader should still be alert to this fact. His discussions on this subject also owe much to D.T. Suzuki's eccentric, unorthodox formulations of Zen and so end up a bit skewed in spots, and Suzuki may also be a baneful influence in Merton's uncharacteristic use of cliched stereotypes of "the Eastern Mind" and "the Western Mind"--as seen especially in the essay "The Zen Koan". Still, overall Merton's presentation of Zen is reliable and "sympathetically objective" (as he puts it) and his own monastic experience doubtlessly gives him a realistic grounding when approaching the subject.
He wrote in the Preface to this 1966 book, "if anyone should be open to these Oriental traditions and interested in them, it should be the contemplative monks of the Western monastic orders... The author has attempted not merely to look at these other traditions from the outside, but, in some measure at least, to try to share in the values and the experience which they embody."
He notes early on, "for Zen there is absolutely no evidence of a personal center of convergence in the New Testament sense. (Though the concept of the Buddha-nature as central to all being might be considered in some way analogous to this...") (Pg. 7) Later, he suggests that "the Zen of Hui Neng comes rather close to the Gospels and St. Paul, though on the ontological rather than on a specifically religious level." (Pg. 34) He identifies the 67th chapter of the ...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
THIS is IT. what is this? this is a computer, it is a computer, this is a body, it is a body, it is walls, floor, ceiling, doors, sky, sun. Read morePublished 8 months ago by TOM CORBETT
Thomas Merton is a favorite writer and thinker since I read his bestselling memoir Seven Story Mountain years ago. Read morePublished 9 months ago by SUMMER
Transaction was as scheduled and the book is amazing and I might add anything dealing with Thomas Merton is a must read.Published on August 6, 2014 by mdamon