Picture of author.

Thomas Merton (1915–1968)

Author of The Seven Storey Mountain

371+ Works 33,081 Members 324 Reviews 87 Favorited

About the Author

Born in France, Thomas Merton was the son of an American artist and poet and her New Zealander husband, a painter. Merton lost both parents before he had finished high school, and his younger brother was killed in World War II. Something of the ephemeral character of human endeavor marked all his show more works, deepening the pathos of his writings and drawing him close to Eastern, especially Buddhist, forms of monasticism. After an initial education in the United States, France, and England, he completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia University. His parents, nominally friends, had given him little religious guidance, and in 1938, he converted to Roman Catholicism. The following year he received an M.A. from Columbia University and in 1941, he entered Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, where he remained until a short time before his death. His working life was spent as a Trappist monk. At Gethsemani, he wrote his famous autobiography, "The Seven Storey Mountain" (1948); there he labored and prayed through the days and years of a constant regimen that began with daily prayer at 2:00 a.m. As his contemplative life developed, he still maintained contact with the outside world, his many books and articles increasing steadily as the years went by. Reading them, it is hard to think of him as only a "guilty bystander," to use the title of one of his many collections of essays. He was vehement in his opposition to the Vietnam War, to the nuclear arms race, to racial oppression. Having received permission to leave his monastery, he went on a journey to confer with mystics of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. He was accidentally electrocuted in a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 10, 1968. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Thomas Merton in Pictures From the archives of the Thomas Merton Center. Used with permission of the Merton Legacy Trust.

Series

Works by Thomas Merton

The Seven Storey Mountain (1948) 4,726 copies, 56 reviews
New Seeds of Contemplation (1961) 2,257 copies, 17 reviews
No Man Is an Island (1955) 2,226 copies, 20 reviews
Contemplative Prayer (1969) 1,446 copies, 9 reviews
Thoughts In Solitude (1958) 1,198 copies, 12 reviews
The Way of Chuang Tzu (1969) — Author — 1,119 copies, 14 reviews
The Wisdom of the Desert (New Directions) (1960) — Author — 1,080 copies, 12 reviews
Zen and the Birds of Appetite (1968) 759 copies, 12 reviews
The Sign of Jonas (1953) 701 copies, 10 reviews
Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1968) 672 copies, 8 reviews
Life and Holiness (1969) 644 copies, 5 reviews
Mystics and Zen Masters (1987) 564 copies, 4 reviews
The Ascent to Truth (1951) 509 copies, 2 reviews
The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (1973) 490 copies, 7 reviews
Spiritual Direction and Meditation (1960) 477 copies, 6 reviews
Seeds of Contemplation (1949) 457 copies, 4 reviews
The Waters Of Siloe (1949) 426 copies, 4 reviews
Bread in the Wilderness (1953) 425 copies, 5 reviews
Praying the Psalms (1956) 405 copies, 4 reviews
The New Man (1961) — Author — 401 copies, 5 reviews
A Book of Hours (2007) 385 copies, 5 reviews
The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation (2003) 377 copies, 4 reviews
Love and Living (1979) 353 copies, 2 reviews
Contemplation in a World of Action (1971) 338 copies, 2 reviews
The Silent Life (1957) 322 copies, 3 reviews
Opening the Bible (1970) — Author — 309 copies, 3 reviews
Disputed Questions (1960) 303 copies, 2 reviews
The Living Bread (1956) 302 copies, 2 reviews
Dialogues with Silence: Prayers & Drawings (2004) 277 copies, 3 reviews
Raids on the Unspeakable (1966) 252 copies, 4 reviews
The Monastic Journey (1977) 239 copies, 1 review
The Secular Journal of Thomas Merton (1977) 212 copies, 2 reviews
Seasons of celebration (1965) 167 copies, 3 reviews
What Is Contemplation? (1978) 148 copies, 4 reviews
Seeds (2002) 137 copies
Seeds of Destruction (1980) 131 copies, 2 reviews
The Nonviolent Alternative (1980) 119 copies, 1 review
He Is Risen (1975) 106 copies, 1 review
A vow of conversation : journals, 1964-1965 (1988) — Author — 99 copies
Peace In The Post-christian Era (2004) 76 copies, 1 review
Passion For Peace: The Social Essays (1995) 75 copies, 1 review
Seeking Paradise: The Spirit of the Shakers (2003) 66 copies, 2 reviews
Geography of Lograire (1969) 52 copies
Honorable Reader: Reflections on My Work (1989) 50 copies, 1 review
Thomas Merton on peace (1971) 46 copies
Emblems of a Season of Fury (1963) 39 copies
A Catch of Anti-Letters (1978) 38 copies, 1 review
Day of a stranger (1981) 33 copies
Ishi Means Man: Essays on Native Americans (1976) 30 copies, 1 review
Geography of holiness : the photography of Thomas Merton (1980) — Photographer — 27 copies
Silence in Heaven: A Book of the Monastic Life (1956) — Author — 23 copies
Cold War Letters (2006) 22 copies
The Strange Islands (1957) 19 copies
Cistercian life (2001) 19 copies
A Man in the Divided Sea (1946) 19 copies
REDEEMING THE TIME (1966) 18 copies, 1 review
Figures for an Apocalypse (1947) 17 copies
Silence, Joy (2018) 15 copies
Meditations on Liturgy (1976) 15 copies
La Paix monastique (1990) 13 copies
Thomas Merton on Zen (1976) 13 copies
Vägen till kontemplation (1980) 12 copies
The behavior of Titans (1961) 10 copies
Introductions East & West (1981) 10 copies
Szukanie Boga 5 copies
Kallad till tystnad (2005) 5 copies
Vida i santedat 5 copies, 3 reviews
Thomas Merton on Prayer (1989) 4 copies
Come to the Mountain (1964) 4 copies
Diarios. 1939-1968 (2001) 4 copies
Thirty poems (1944) 3 copies
ESCRITOS ESENCIALES DE THOMAS MERTON (2006) 3 copies, 1 review
The Zen revival (1971) 3 copies
Listy (1991) 3 copies
Nativity kerygma (1958) 2 copies
Orar Los Salmos (2005) 2 copies
Leggere la Bibbia (2002) 2 copies
Wybór wierszy (1986) 2 copies
Un vivere alternativo (1995) 2 copies
Humanismo cristiano (2001) 2 copies
A Merton Reader (1974) 2 copies
Merton 2 copies
The Thomas Merton Studies Center (Volume One) — Contributor, some editions — 2 copies
El Camino monástico (1987) 1 copy, 1 review
Cistercian contemplatives / — Author — 1 copy
Thomas Merton on William Faulkner (2018) 1 copy, 1 review
Created for Love (1993) 1 copy
La rivoluzione nera (2016) 1 copy
O Homem Novo 1 copy, 1 review
Paz na era pós-cristã (2007) 1 copy, 1 review
He Has Risen 1 copy
Zeiten der Stille. (1999) 1 copy
Asiatisches Tagebuch (1999) 1 copy
Pensamientos en soledad (2023) 1 copy, 1 review
Fenelon Letters (1964) 1 copy
Love 1 copy
Nonviolent Alternative (1980) 1 copy
Il monaco 1 copy
Silence (1994) 1 copy
Sedmistupňová hora (2002) 1 copy
Thomas Merton on Love (2007) 1 copy
LA EXPERIENCIA INTERNA 1 copy, 1 review
Duh 1 copy
Pasternak (2019) 1 copy
KONTEMPLATIV B (1987) 1 copy
Hetkien kirja (2014) 1 copy

Associated Works

City of God (0426) — Introduction, some editions — 6,305 copies, 34 reviews
A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry (1996) — Contributor — 837 copies, 11 reviews
Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas (2004) — Contributor — 775 copies, 11 reviews
Gandhi on Non-Violence: A Selection From the Writings of Mahatma Gandi (1965) — Editor, some editions — 341 copies, 2 reviews
The Portable Sixties Reader (2002) — Contributor — 331 copies, 2 reviews
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (2006) — Contributor — 164 copies, 2 reviews
Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith (2010) — Contributor — 145 copies, 2 reviews
Saints for Now (1952) — Contributor — 110 copies
War No More: Three Centuries of American Antiwar and Peace Writing (2016) — Contributor — 88 copies, 1 review
Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire (1967) — Foreword, some editions — 79 copies, 2 reviews
Russian Mystics (1976) — Preface, some editions — 72 copies
Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths (2001) — Contributor — 69 copies, 2 reviews
The Prison Meditations of Father Delp (1963) — Introduction, some editions — 62 copies
Counsels of Light and Love (1977) — Introduction — 55 copies
A Hidden Wholeness/The Visual World of Thomas Merton (1977) — Photographer — 55 copies, 1 review
Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton (2006) — Illustrator — 43 copies
Antaeus No. 61, Autumn 1988 - Journals, Notebooks & Diaries (1988) — Contributor — 35 copies, 2 reviews
Merton & Buddhism: (The Fons Vitae Thomas Merton series) (2007) — Photographer, some editions — 32 copies
Elsewhere (Poets in the World) (2014) — Translator, some editions — 26 copies, 1 review
No more strangers (1965) — Introduction — 21 copies
The Analog Sea Review: Number Two (2019) — Contributor — 19 copies, 1 review
Son of Man: Great Writing About Jesus Christ (2002) — Contributor — 17 copies
Clement of Alexandria Selections from the Protreptikos (1962) — Essay, some editions; Translator, some editions — 12 copies
Non-violence and the Christian conscience (1966) — Preface, some editions — 12 copies, 1 review
New World Writing: First Mentor Selection (1952) — Contributor — 11 copies
Merton [1984 film] (2004) — Featured — 10 copies
The Analog Sea Review: Number One (2018) — Contributor — 9 copies
The Jaguar and the Moon (1974) — Translator, some editions — 7 copies
Stroker anthology, 1974-1994 (1994) — Contributor — 7 copies
Mansions of the Spirit (1967) — Introduction, some editions — 7 copies
TriQuarterly 19, Fall 1970 (1970) — Contributor — 4 copies
Palabra de Amor: La búsqueda de la sanación integral (2002) — Contributor — 3 copies
New Directions in Prose and Poetry 33 (2010) — Contributor — 3 copies

Tagged

anthology (153) Apologetics (127) Augustine (240) autobiography (452) biography (559) Buddhism (168) Catholic (544) Catholicism (567) Christian (376) Christian living (153) Christianity (1,407) Cistercians (129) classics (132) contemplation (388) Devotional (126) essays (144) faith (111) history (216) journal (196) meditation (359) Meditations (142) memoir (265) Merton (1,260) monasticism (747) mysticism (325) non-fiction (767) Patristics (132) philosophy (782) poetry (563) prayer (682) religion (2,260) spiritual life (251) spirituality (2,283) Taoism (159) Theology (1,311) Thomas Merton (939) to-read (893) Trappist (124) Trappists (119) zen (152)

Common Knowledge

Members

Reviews

This is the kind of book that requires a great deal of time to really digest what it has to say so to be fair it may deserve more than 3 stars. I do not, however, feel like reading this book was a waste of time. It was interesting see the author's attempt to separate Zen, Buddhism and Christianity (Catholicism) and, yet, show where they seemingly interconnect. Some other reviewers have noted that the ideas in this book were not completely fleshed out but, for me, that makes it all the more interesting. This seemingly allows the reader more room to mentally interact with the ideas that are presented. I did highlight quite a few passages so I am sure that I will return to this one here and there.… (more)
 
Flagged
GrammaPollyReads | 11 other reviews | Jun 14, 2024 |
I found the first half a simple biography but the second half really focused on Merton's spiritual journey.
 
Flagged
Doondeck | 55 other reviews | May 23, 2024 |
 
Flagged
filbo_2024 | May 2, 2024 |
Beautiful, insightful little book on the nature of Christian monasticism. Wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book on a whim from my local used book store, other than a dim awareness that Merton wasn’t your typical “Christian” writer. What I found was a book that is partially an explanation of the principles that underlie the monk’s way of life, partially a description of how these principles manifest in various monastic orders.

Even as a non Christian, I could still see the universal significance of the ideas Merton writes about. This is probably because Merton is concerned not only with dogma and liturgy, but how true adherence to the principles of Christian faith manifest in the real world, and how our society as it stands has fallen so far from those principles. You know you are dealing with a real one when Merton decries the way the “totalitarians” and “capitalists” have deformed modern man, or how a monk that pretends to mere bourgeois values can never reach true spiritual purity. Merton recognizes that society as it stands is lacking, and is unsustainable in the long term. The monastic life provides not only the conditions for a closer relationship with god, but also a model for the way man can organize his relationship with his environment, his tools, his work, and his fellow human beings. A monk shares in the work of the cloister, never slacking but also always allowing for plenty of time for contemplation and rest. Mutual aid is a requirement of the communal like style in the cloister, but a monk must always respect the solitude and space of another. A monk is encouraged to take up a creative exploit and devote time to its mastery. A monk lives simply and without extraneous things; the possessions he does own, he treats with the care and dignity befitting tools made to do God’s work.

One might see the monastic lifestyle as meaningless asceticism, a wholesale denial of a big part of what it means to be human; Merton would argue (I think convincingly) that the excision of all unnecessary things makes space for the sliver of human existence that truly makes a life significant, a sliver that has all but been buried by the modern world.
… (more)
 
Flagged
hdeanfreemanjr | 2 other reviews | Jan 29, 2024 |

Lists

Awards

You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Victor A. Kramer Editor, Foreword
Gray Henry Editor

Statistics

Works
371
Also by
36
Members
33,081
Popularity
#583
Rating
4.0
Reviews
324
ISBNs
710
Languages
20
Favorited
87

Charts & Graphs