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Thoughts in Solitude

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  1,183 ratings  ·  69 reviews
In thirty-seven concise and beautifully written chapters, Thomas Merton explores the meaning of interior solitude and its necessary role in bringing every life to joyous fruition. "What is said here about solitude is not just a recipe for hermits," he writes in the preface, "it has a bearing on the whole future of man and his world."
Paperback, Abridged, 144 pages
Published May 11th 1993 by Shambhala (first published 1956)
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Thomas Merton wrote THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE in 1956, one of 60 books and numerous writings while living in Our Lady of Gethsemani. He was a Trappist Monk, who for 27 years lived and wrote in the Kentucky Abbey. A mostly solitary existence, Merton had an impact on world affairs including the Viet Nam War and the Civil Rights Movement.

"Contradictions have always existed in the soul of man. But it is only when we prefer analysis to silence that they become a constant and insoluble problem. We are not
Katie Dreyer
We live in a society that does not value solitude. Being alone is a frightening thought for most. If we cannot be with our friends, we turn on our TVs or our music stations. We text our friends or browse the internet. We quite literally cannot bear to be alone. This is a world that no longer understands silence. We have phones that are constantly buzzing and ringing. Music blares from our radios, from our computers, from our cars. We live in bustling cities filled with constant noise. Being cons ...more
Great thoughts on spiritual formation and deepening our love in Christ through prayer and meditation. Lots of highlighting involved in reading this book... there is a lot to chew on and many pages dogeared for future reference.
Incredible. Merton is able to put into words...things that I didn't know had words.
But at the same time, he is kind of confusing. Because I'm not a Catholic monk, mostly.


"Before we can surrender ourselves we must become ourselves. For no one can give up what he does not possess." p.29

"Why should I want to be rich, when You were poor? Why should I desire to be famous and powerful in the eyes of men, when the sons of those who exalted the false prophets and stones the true -
My copy of this is very coffee-stained. I enjoyed Merton's thoughts on interior life and the human need for reflection. And, I found the short chapters conducive to daily reflection and prayer. But before I'd made it to the halfway point of this book, I was already alienated by Merton's male-only pronouns. I understand he was a product of his day, and I think Merton served as novice master at the monastery for a while and was accustomed to addressing young men. Nonetheless, being beaten over the ...more
Amy Neftzger
As a fan of writers such a Augustine, Aquinas, and Thomas a Kempis, I'm very familiar with the writings of monks. I've benefited from the timeless wisdom and though provoking writings of all these authors. However, this was the first book I've read by Merton.

I really enjoyed this short book. Merton writes beautifully and from a philosophical as well as practical perspective. He defines solitude (which can be found either amid groups of people or when we're alone), the benefits of it, and explain
wow. This completely exceeded my expectations. There were a few sections that I found difficult to relate to, but the vast majority of the book blew me away. I will doubtlessly be returning to Thoughts In Solitude again and again.

A word in season. I greatly look forward to checking out some of Merton's other works!
Mary Beth
Read it every year on my birthday.
a purely mental life may be destructive if it leads us to substitute thought for life and ideas for action.
Heather Newton
“Ask me not where I live or what I like to eat . . . Ask me what I am living for and what I think is keeping me from living fully that.”

I first read "Thoughts in Solitude" when I was 20, and I have since returned to re-read it again and again. Its a book I always glean truth from in seeking God.... "and we seek Him successfully when we realize that we cannot find Him unless He shows Himself to us, and yet at the same time that He would not have inspired us to seek Him unless we had already foun
Maryam Kd
I love reading honest books like this where the author speaks directly to your heart and basically reiterates what you already know but are too afraid of bringing to life.

"To keep ourselves spiritually alive we must constantly renew our faith. We are like pilots of fogbound steamers, peering into the gloom in front of us, listening for the sounds of other ships, and we can only reach our harbor if we keep alert. The spiritual life is, then, first of all a matter of keeping awake. We must not los
Michael Laflamme

Merton’s writing is for people who want to think about life and their position in it. It is for people who want to encounter God on a deeper level, deeper being deeper than what they have encountered so far, whatever that may be for them. His work is full of God and Jesus and The Holy Spirit. Personally, I find that a good thing. I like that Merton doesn’t attempt to give us the answers to all our questions. He knows that the answers will be different for
Very thought-provoking book, revealing much of truth that I have sought over the years. This book definitely requires more than a single reading and I continue to read and digest its goodness.

One of Merton's quotes that expresses my heart:

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I
Merton again offers us much food for thought and prayer. This series of short writings, or written meditations, are helpful to anyone interested in deepening their experience of solitude and prayer in the Christian tradition. These brief chapters deal with solitude, the purpose of bells, of prayer, of meditation. This audible edition could be listened to time and time again.
Thomas Merton's words are a treasure for those of us who love solitude and find our deepest, most raw reflections occurring during time away from the distracting life around us. If read with an open heart, his words will find a home there.
Kent Robinson
Unbelievably good book. Though a short book, much it it is very thought provoking. I am still mulling over some of the passages.
Emma Refvem
Great meditations on the idea of meditation... I will come back to this over & over for sure
This is a timeless read. First read as part of a retreat exercise - Wow!
caldă şi surprinzătoare
This is a small book and in time an easy read but there is a lot of thought in it that gets you thinking. He challenges the reader to take the time in solitude and quiet to address simple things like temperament and what it means spiritually. This is something that cannot be addressed in a busy life style. And so these notes of Merton challenge one to stop and listen to one's heart and the the Spirit; Something that few of us can hear in todays nosy world.
This is my first Merton and the moment I read the first sentence, I knew it wouldn't be the last. As a recovering addict this spoke volumes to me: "There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us." I'm am now a huge Merton fan!
Dean P.
Perhaps not the strongest of Merton's works, Thoughts in Solitude serves to underscore the many aspects and truths Merton has discovered through a life of professed solitude. It is easily read and consumed in one sitting, but it is best used for short, thoughtful snippets upon which the reader can meditate and ponder the role of Merton's advice in their own life.
Paul Dubuc
Enjoyed reading this book while on retreat a the Abbey at Gethsemani and afterwards. Many of the thoughts were deeply inspiring to me, others not so much so. That is in line with the author's expectation in the introduction. I think this is the kind of book you come back to now and then and find it different each time and well worth reading.
Emily Dy
This guy goes up there with CS Lewis among my favorite Christian authors. He writes about contemplation and links it back to action, and back to life. And he clearly delineates between the authentic and the shallow or fake. He brings clarity to the matter of hipocrisy through simple explanation, sans condemnation and holier-than-thou language.
Merton was a Trappist monk deeply influenced by eastern mysticism and this collection of thoughts reflects that clearly. He is deeply insightful and eloquent in regard to spirituality and transcending the distractions of the soul.
Mar 21, 2007 Lila rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: exiles
i read a borrowed copy in switzerland and copied out whole passages, bought a copy in washington, and had to ask to have it shipped to me in saint petersburg because it had suddenly become so indispensibly connected to my thoughtlife.
Joy Matteson
A short book on what it means to slow down, appreciate solitude as the beginning of finding God's life hidden within our own hearts. Thomas Merton at his best. A great short read to add to one's devotional repertoire.
Amy Lowry
I am a huge fan of Thomas Merton....thought provoking and brilliant. Anyone interested in spirituality and God without the demands and limitations of "organized religion" will enjoy his journals, poetry, and books.
Karen Floyd
Part One made me lose my temper a lot, which is why it took me so long to read this. Liked Part Two on Solitude. Need to keep in mind while reading this that he was writing for his fellow monastics.
This is a good book to read in small doses, a chapter or two at a time. Let the words play in your mind and soul for the rest of the day. Read in this way, it is an excellent spiritual discipline.
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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
More about Thomas Merton...
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“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” 773 likes
“If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.” 188 likes
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