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New Seeds of Contemplation

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  5,171 Ratings  ·  203 Reviews
A much-enlarged and revised version of Seeds of Contemplation--one of the late Father Merton's most widely-read and best-loved works--New Seeds of Contemplation seeks to awaken the dormant inner depths of the spirit so long neglected by Western man and to nurture a deeply contemplative and mystical dimension in our spiritual lives.
Paperback, 297 pages
Published March 1st 1972 by New Directions (first published 1962)
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Andi
Apr 07, 2007 Andi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who Needs Quiet Time


For a few years, I fostered a very robust fascination with Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk who was a prolific writer. I can’t remember how I found Merton, maybe some long ago professor of mine or a reference in someone else’s book, but since I started reading him almost a decade ago, he has, more than any other writer, influenced my way of seeing the world. He was a pacifist and a political activist, at least in the sense that he spoke out boldly against things he found immoral or unethical - lik
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Lesa Engelthaler
May 26, 2012 Lesa Engelthaler rated it it was amazing
I have a huge crush on Merton. He is the grace my Abba gave me in the silence. I weep when I read him and sigh, and say, I feel exactly the same way...over and over again. Read him, if you doubt, if you wonder, if you wander, if you think about your faith.
Michael VanZandt
May 09, 2009 Michael VanZandt rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
Ok,so, let me say to begin that I think Thomas Merton is a brilliant mind. If there were a dozen more Mertons in the world, I'm convinced there would be peace on earth.

That being said, Brother Tom plunges into a book in which he attempts to lay the groundwork, or to set the vibe for one's odyssey into contemplation. Tricky thing is that you cannot really describe contemplation. Merton says so himself. The best we can do is to label it "the darkness" and say, well, it's not that, and it's not and
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Amanda
Nov 07, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have some mixed feelings about this book.

It reads like one long prayer, which is lovely. Thomas Merton clearly has a very intimate, very passionate relationship with God. And of course, there were some things that were relevant to me, and some that were not. However, sometimes when I was reading, I just felt lost. Like I was missing something. Maybe some of it was just over my head, because I don't have that kind of relationship with God. I partly wish that Merton would have used simpler lang
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Stormie Steele
Jan 05, 2014 Stormie Steele rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-author
I began reading this book in 1996, completing it perhaps a year later. I was completely captivated! At a time in my life when my soul yearned for some sense of reason beyond my daily encounters - Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation struck a timely cord. The soul that seeks truth, no doubt will find it. To engage truth becomes one's life time endeavor. New Seeds of Contemplation is not a book that can be read without times of ardent reflection. When the soul is in a place of transitioning ...more
Ben
Jan 05, 2011 Ben rated it it was amazing
If I could rate this as higher than 5 stars, I would. This is probably the most impacting and thoughtful book I have read (aside from the Bible), and I keep coming back to it over and over again for fresh insight.

Thomas Merton was both a contemplative monastic as well as a radical activist. His life of solitude and contemplation did not cause him to turn inward, but called him to look out into the world. He was an advocate of civil rights, a critic of Vietnam and nuclear proliferation, and an au
...more
Kathleen Basi
Jun 05, 2013 Kathleen Basi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious
This is a book to put on your nightstand and read slowly, a few pages at a time. And then take a break to process it, and read again. So much of what Thomas Merton talks about in this book made my heart race, because I recognized it. I hope someday I am able to experience the parts I have not--yes, even the "deserts" and "darkness" he references routinely. His grasp of the human person and resistance to God makes so much clear about the world today, especially attitudes among both self-righteous ...more
Margaret
I just can't seem to get enough of Thomas Merton, this is a book not to be rushed but savored slowly. Often I found I had to re-read a passage to get the meaning and once I "got it" the lightbulb shone brightly! I wouldn't recommend this book for the new believer because it delves heavily into the inner spiritual life. The concepts and spirituality he discusses might discourage or confuse a new believer in Christ. I am a forever fan of his and I have been slowly building my personal library of h ...more
Elizabeth Rhea
Aug 17, 2014 Elizabeth Rhea rated it it was amazing
In this seminal work, the semimodern sage explores the theme of contemplation while embracing the paradox that nothing definite can be said about contemplation. Sometimes essay, sometimes vignette, sometimes proverb, this deep collection of wisdom provides multiple jumping-off points for personal meditation and explorative understanding of the Divine.

I think I was a Merton fan before I ever read him. All throughout this first reading, I found myself asking, "Thomas, have you been reading my diar
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Khenpo Gurudas
Quite often, St. John of the Cross is cited as one of the greatest mystics in the Christian tradition, and I was inclined to agree for many years, until I began reading Seeds of Contemplation, when I was in my first year of spiritual formation in the seminary.

Merton transcends the limitations of the medieval mystics' ability to make contemplative spirituality something grittier, more real and raw, especially for those new to the practice. Written when he was still relatively young, it should no
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Tamara
Jun 12, 2012 Tamara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A 20th Century Christian mystic, Thomas Merton is far and away one of my favorite authors. Although I haven't read all his books yet, New Seeds of Contemplation is in my mind his greatest work. Without a doubt a modern spiritual classic.

The depth of Merton's spiritual understanding is difficult to grasp. His words are soothing as a pool of cool water. I want to swim in them for hours.
"Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind car
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Nancy Day
Dec 23, 2012 Nancy Day rated it it was amazing
I've been reading this book as part of my morning prayer through Advent and most of Epiphany. It's truly changed my spiritual life. I'm Episcopalian, not Roman Catholic, as Merton was, so a couple of the chapters didn't ring 100% on target for me, but even those I gained a greater appreciation for aspects of my prayer life. Merton is an amazingly precise and lyrical writer in dealing with this topic so difficult to articulate. His writing is very simple, but at the same time very dense. I'd extr ...more
Galicius
Jan 11, 2016 Galicius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just the way Merton explains what “contemplation” is and is not and the concept of our outer self and a new self which we need to awaken—notions he hinted at enough in "Seven Storey Mountain"--is enticing enough to make this spiritual manual hard to put down. The chapters are usually less than ten pages and short enough for a concerted uninterrupted focus.

I am willing to give it five stars if it wasn’t such hard going through some chapters. He is maybe easier than Chesterton but difficult in ot
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Lydia
Sep 07, 2016 Lydia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Merton wrote this book in 1939 at age 24, the year he was planning to become a Franciscan monk. There is a lot of wandering in the desert: this is not this and that is not this and that is not that. I wanted to count all the "not"s in the book. The book and the search is frankly above/beyond me, but it answered some questions. I found it interesting since the book went through many printings, and created a whole movement of men and women flocking to monasteries in the mid-twentieth century. I di ...more
Sarah
Apr 21, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, churching
Parts of it were insufferable. Parts of it were like the best thing I ever read. I think that's just how Catholicism works.

It borrows a lot from Cruz's Dark Night of the Soul, but it's not nearly as abnormal.

1.If you write only for yourself you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you will wish that you were dead.

2.Place no hope in assurance, in spiritual comfort. You may well have to get along without this. Place no hope in the inspirational pre
...more
Mike
Nov 04, 2014 Mike rated it it was amazing
I believe Thomas Merton to be one of the top spiritual writers of the twentieth century. Much of his writing is a difficult read and over my head, but it's also full of easily understood gems that hit at the core of an intimate relationship with God. I especially enjoyed the second half of the book, highlighting a great deal of it for future meditation. Although not canonized, I consider Merton a saint.
Justin McRoberts
May 25, 2011 Justin McRoberts rated it it was amazing
Merton is the perfect remedy for folks who live in their heads (like me). He meets us there but doesn't let us stay. All the conceptual wrestling that can (and sometimes should) take place in the journey of faith finds a context in the mystery and silence that makes up much of one's knowledge of God.
Elise
Mar 13, 2016 Elise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How beautiful and rich. How deeply I desire to accept everything as God's love for me in his will, and join the dance he is ever inviting us into. To see him in everything and everyone and live in the wonder.

The middle half of the book was a bit tedious, but the beginning and end chapters make it well worth the read. I'll be contemplating these beautiful ideas for a while.

Awaken us, O Lord.
h.
Aug 11, 2011 h. rated it it was amazing
Recommended to h. by: Book karma
Love all these essays. The ones about solitude especially. Such a great companion book to Walden. For a real trip, read one Thoreau and then one Merton particularly on a day when you have nothing at all to do and no one to see. You'll go places!
Victoria
May 29, 2009 Victoria rated it liked it
Catholic theology meets eastern thought. Think about it...
Jason Pike
Aug 23, 2012 Jason Pike rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book! Insightful and thought provoking.
Kate
Nov 10, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it
"Hence contemplation is a sudden gift of awareness, an awakening to the Real within all that is real. A vivid awareness of the infinite Being at the roots of our own limited being. An awareness of our contingent reality as received, as a present from God, as a free gift of love" (3).

"[Contemplation:] is the gift of God Whom in His mercy, completes the hidden and mysterious work of creation in us by enlightening our minds and hearts . . . and that Creating Spirit (Creator Spiritus) dwells in us,
...more
Shawn
Sep 16, 2016 Shawn rated it it was amazing
Introduction - What is Contemplation?

In this life-changing work, Thomas Merton presents the Christian experience as a “state of mind”, which he refers to as contemplation. The reader shouldn’t misunderstand the term “contemplation” as the same sort of modern term which might refer to a lingering glance at a work of art or simply deep thought.

Merton sees contemplation as the life of one who has become constantly awake, fully active, replete with spiritual wonder, and amazed with an extraordinary
...more
Lon
Dec 26, 2016 Lon rated it it was amazing
I wore out two highlighters marking passages in this amazing book. The contemplative tradition owes much to Merton, and perhaps especially to these short meditations on awakening to an authentic spiritual life. This is a book I'll be coming back to again and again. Fans may be interested in reading Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who founded the Center for Action and Contemplation and whose short daily newsletter would appeal to contemplatives rooted in any tradition or none.
Mark
Taken by John Lewis on a march in Selma on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965 as something he might want in jail [actually, Seeds of Contemplation, the original] as seen in March, Book Three, p. 187.

Ana Campos
Feb 15, 2017 Ana Campos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent!
John
Oct 18, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Spiritual seekers
This spiritual classic of Christian writing (Pearl's favorite) is divided into 39 brief chapters (seeds), each written in a meditative style modeled after similar works by Pascal, St. John of the Cross, and Thomas à Kempis. It is the most widely read of Merton's works. It contains many wonderful entries on the true and false self and the metaphor of the seed as gifts and grace. The book covers a diverse range of subjects, "Faith," "The Night of the Senses," "Renunciation," and it moves the reade ...more
Cate
Mar 15, 2017 Cate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heart-and-soul
Lots of hidden gems and things to...well...contemplate! There's enough good stuff for me to purchase this one instead of just borrowing it!
Emi
Feb 14, 2013 Emi rated it liked it
I had initially abandoned this halfway when I developed a brewing suspicion that his coherence was about to deteriorate. Half a year past before I picked it up again to finish it. I can now say affirmatively that the first half was packed with articulate and penetrating insights I appreciated, but that he lost me in the latter half attempting to put into words what cannot be articulated (not his fault).

Here, some passages I liked:

"Let no one hope to find in contemplation an escape from conflict
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Kayla
Aug 18, 2015 Kayla rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kayla by: KC
This is the second of a list of six books (to be read in order) my friend recommended to me. The first was No Man is an Island, by Merton also. Both books are so rich I hardly know how to absorb them or where to begin.

Some thoughts I took away:

God is not a what, He's a Who. We meet Him in silence and solitude for the purpose of knowing Him and transformation.

We must become detached from our false selves, the masks we wear that are not our true selves but transitory (the ego.) All this will fal
...more
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  • The Spiritual Exercises
  • The Cloud of Unknowing
  • Intimacy with God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer
  • Interior Castle
  • Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
  • Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
  • Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening
  • The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection (Cistercian studies 59)
  • The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages
  • Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation
  • The Rule of Saint Benedict
  • Revelations of Divine Love
  • Abandonment to Divine Providence
  • Dark Night of the Soul
  • The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality
  • The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church
  • Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
  • The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
1711
Thomas Merton was one of the most influential Catholic authors of the 20th century. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, in the American state of Kentucky, Merton was an acclaimed Catholic spiritual writer, poet, author and social activist. Merton wrote over 60 books, scores of essays and reviews, and is the ongoing subject of many biographies. Merton was also a proponent of int ...more
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“Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed - but hate these things in yourself, not in another.” 250 likes
“We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real...and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists. (295)” 40 likes
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