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A nice exploration of/exposition on the need for reflection, silence, seeking God in quiet spaces, and the vocation of solitude. Merton's thoughtful tract, originally written from 1953 to 1954, seems more important now than ever. We live in a world that seems textured with bytes, bits, information, noise, distractions, and trivialities. Merton reminds us to seek. He implores us to find, like the Desert Fathers did years ago, our wildernesses and our wastelands. These deserts (both literal and within) are the perfect places to read, reflect, and purify our hearts. He reminds the reader of the need for gratitude, prayer, meditation, and simplicity. Not everyone needs to become a monk, a hermit, a Christian solitary. But even those who live among, need space to swim occasionally alone.
While I'm not a Catholic and have no plans of leaving my books and my family behind, I AM drawn to writers like Merton. They blossomed during the post-WWII spiritual awakening. Some became Buddhists. Some found peace and comfort in Catholocism, etc., or among various Eastern sects. I am drawn to their messages and washed by their words. Their voices are ultimately voices for me of peace and transcendence. And that isn't a bad thing -- in the end.
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When Thomas Merton died, he was only 53 years old and yet his spiritual life had grown to a lifetime of inner work.
Having lost his parents at an early age had to be a great impact in his life and the turmoil of his adolescence forced Merton to look into his psyche earlier than most of us. In his biography, "The Seven Storey Mountain" you will find a detailed account of his life.
"Thoughts in Solitude" is Merton's contemplative journey and he has given us a road to the inner world, our own inner world. You might even come to the conclusion, that as human beings, we are all in this together and pretty much following the same path.
But it is our choice to go deeper into ourselves and it won't always be a peaceful journey but you will come out of this a more complete human being. It all depends if you are willing to take the trip. It's not easy to put aside your ego self and delve into the unknown. Paying attention to your dreams is a good source to face your shadow (false self).
This is a trip that we all will have to take sooner or later in our lives but one has to detach themselves from what and whom is standing in the way of inner growth. Detachment doesn't mean being indifferent. Detachment is what has to be done to get the right perspective in your life.
A solitary life doesn't mean you have to close yourself off to "life". Solitude brings you in touch with yourself, so that you can have a better understanding of others. What you see and find in yourself, you will see and find in the other. This brings peace, love and harmony among one another.