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New Seeds of Contemplation

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  7,334 ratings  ·  333 reviews

One of the best-loved books by one of the great spiritual authors of our time, with a new introduction by best-selling author Sue Monk Kidd.

New Seeds of Contemplation is one of Thomas Merton's most widely
read and best-loved books. Christians and non-Christians alike have
joined in praising it as a notable successor in the meditative tradition
of St. John of the Cross, The Cl
Kindle Edition, 324 pages
Published November 27th 2007 by New Directions (first published 1962)
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Apr 07, 2007 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
Lesa Engelthaler
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
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
Thomas Merton has written many books about Contemplative Prayer. This beautiful edition is introduced by Sue Monk Kidd.

Kidd's introduction starts:

"With a stretch of time to myself, I settled at the desk and pulled New Seeds of Contemplation from my bag. In its pages I discovered Merton’s powerful evocations on the true self."

I knew from these words that not only would I be learning more about contemplation, but I would also be learning about and reflecting on my own self.

Contemplation is the act
Nov 07, 2011 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
Kyle Johnson
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-books-read
Well, I think this might have been the best (at least the most meaningful) book I've ever read, so I am not exactly sure what to say here. I will provide the caveat to that high assessment that I would not have loved or even liked this book at other points in my life for varied reasons, so keep that in mind should you choose to pick it up. Nevertheless, this becomes an immediate classic for me that I will return to many times in the future.

"Ultimately the only way that I can be myself is to bec
I acknowledge that Thomas Merton probably had a true connection to God, that he was a holy man who by all accounts walked the walk as well as talked the talk. I also acknowledge that "New Seeds of Contemplation" is an engaging explanation of some of Merton's core ideas, as well as a compelling argument for the spiritual value in leading what Merton terms a "contemplative" life (more exactly, a life in contemplation of God's will and your purpose within that will). However, nothing I've read in a ...more
Stormie Steele
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Greg Bae
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I appreciate Merton’s iconoclastic style given his position as an old school catholic priest. He comes across as wise but his judgements against religious zealots backfires and it casts his teachings in a self righteous light.

I read this as it was referenced several times in Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upwards. Ultimately that is a much more coherent and compelling narrative.

Elizabeth Rhea
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
Kathleen Basi
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Lisa Lewton
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glad I read this book, and would pass it along to anyone wondering about prayers and meditation. There were a couple of chapters and some parts of the book I glossed over because I am reluctant to believe it is possible to arrive at perfection as a contemplative. And this book would be a challenge to someone who gets stuck on the male gender assigned to God, but I personally did not find that inhibiting. I consider Merton to be a sage of our time, encouraging us to find God and the will of God i ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I am listening to the audiobook version.

This book is really an answer to my prayers! It brings such light.
One thing that he shows clearly, is how solitude is really much less lonely than to be lost in the crowd.
He speaks very beautifully about love, how God is love, and how we must let love shine through us, become transparent. Yet it is not such a sweet soft book that hides darkness. On the contrary, Thomas Merton shows very clearly the distinction between loving acceptance and cowardly ignor
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nancy Day
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is quintessential Merton - illuminating and vexing. He was omniscient without realizing it. In what he wrote about the militarization of the U.S. in 1961, one could replace Russian with Korea and not tell the difference. His writing on peace, criticism of our government, and the failures of men to contain their desires never ring more true than today. He bemoans the influence of automation and technology on declining values in the country and again ditto for 2018.
Jan 11, 2016 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
Over the last few years, I have found it beneficial to include reading a bit from different spiritual masters each day. I've been reading a chapter of this book each morning, and it is absolutely fantastic. The first 2/3 of the book was a wealth of thought provoking spiritual depth. This book could easily be included in my top ten books of all time. The last 1/3 started to get away from me. I'm not sure how to explain it. Merton is writing on a different level of spiritual connection with the Di ...more
Sep 07, 2016 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 Beth
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-living, own
While this isn't a difficult book to read, it is a deep book. It is rich in philosophical insights and simple in form. Towards the end of the book, Merton began to seem so foreign and exotic to my Western Christianity that I had trouble hanging with him as he entered the realm of the mystic. This book is definitely one to come back to after years of spiritual growth and development, but I am glad I read it now because it gives me something to look forward to in the future and it provided much l ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not Catholic, but I was very intrigued and often convinced by Merton's writing of the mystical. This is a theological study on what contemplation is, along with a broader conceptualization of the "cosmic dance," which seemed almost Buddhist to me. But with incarnation. Oh, don't ask me to explain.

I particularly liked Merton's view of work and his take on the early chapters of Genesis. His writing also makes me want to disappear into a monastery and get some peace and quiet. Perhaps that's pa
Ed Cyzewski
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic Christian spirituality book that has a somewhat rambling style and structure while doling out immensely valuable gems on prayer and contemplation. Merton's book isn't a step by step how to book, but it does widen and deepen the reader's understanding of prayer. It's a rich collection that, taken as it is presented, will prove helpful for one's overall mindset toward prayer and push readers to dig deeper into contemplation. New Seeds of Contemplation is definitely one of my favorite Mer ...more
Charles Lewis
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the only books I've read that coherently describes contemplation as an act of life rather than something done cross legged in a room. The great thing about Merton is he wanted prayer to be like breathing. But I also love that he didn't dodge the Catholic Church here and make it a bland book about "spirituality." His ode to Mary is one of the most beautiful things written about the Mother of God.
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
New Seeds is more abstract than the author’s other books (i.e., Seven Storey Mountain, Sign of Jonah). It is very observant of the human condition and the various states of ennui and incompleteness that we face. Its poetic prose almost speaks directly to the soul in addressing the reasons for one's lack of fulfillment or satisfaction over time. And it is interspersed with topics for deep reflection and practical tips for dealing with obstacles in one's prayer life.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"If you regard contemplation principally as a means to escape from the miseries of human life, as a withdrawal from the anguish and the suffering of this struggle for reunion with other men in the charity of Christ, you do not know what contemplation is and you will never find God in your contemplation."

This book resonated with me because I have experienced its wisdom. One of my favorite books I've read this year.
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is among the best and most useful books i have ever read concerning life, prayer, and transformation. Merton understands the dynamics of our humanity through deep reflection and understanding of his own dichotomy. He differentiates between the ego (mask) and the real person and describes how we spend so much time mistaking the ego for the person; building the ego and missing the person. He offers hope through humility and discovery.
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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

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