Maybe describing the experience of contemplation will typically appear contradictory. If that is the case this book by Merton seemed to me contradictory. He talks of the bewildering mystery of God. However he also argues that the starting point of contemplation is "intellectual assent". How do you give intellectual assent to a bewildering mystery without straining words and their meaning? What or who is God? Is he or it made sufficiently meaningful or helpful by statements from the Vatican, that is dogma infallibly issued, itself a dogma. Merton gives full blooded assent to RC dogma. Such circularity is certainly a mystery. Suzuki, Merton's friend, was once asked 'what is Zen?'. His reply was to drop in to the full lotus for 40 minutes. An attempt to explain my subjective experience of God, that is the mystery of God, objectively does not help me, nor does it make sense. I find Buber and Suzuki, or even Eckhart, more helpful in that regard. I also prefer Merton's literary essays, his struggle with Camus and the challenge of the 'absurd'. What interested me about this particular book, was separating early Merton with the later one. The problem I refer to above is I suspect a problem that Merton himself had, resulting in the reissue this book as the New Seeds . . . . I also strongly recommend his "Asian Journal".