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This eighth and penultimate volume of the acclaimed Fons Vitae Thomas Merton Series is a compendium of all relevant material for a thorough consideration of Merton’s knowledge and appreciation of the Confucian tradition. The first of its two sections provides extensively annotated versions of the three distinct resources for investigating Merton’s engagement with Confucianism in the context of his wider studies of East Asian spiritual traditions: his correspondence with Chinese-American scholar Paul Sih; his extensive notes on Confucian and related material; and transcriptions of the five conferences given to young prospective monks on the pertinence of Confucian wisdom to their own spiritual development. Part two gathers together five previously published studies exploring Merton’s interest in Confucian and (in one case) related Chinese traditions that provide various perspectives on Merton’s engagement with what he calls “Classic Chinese Thought.”
Merton’s profoundly “catholic,” holistic Catholicity, open to the broadest and deepest sources of authentic human insight, explicitly embraces Confucianism along with the other major streams of Chinese wisdom, and demonstrates his recognition that “the tone and value of my own interior world . . . is open also to China, to Confucianism and to Zen, to the great Taoists” and that this “openness to other cultures and spiritualities . . . is not only relevant to my life and salvation but has crucial significance in my whole vocation.” It is hoped that making these materials on Confucianism much more readily accessible will stimulate and encourage further research and publication on this fascinating but hitherto somewhat neglected aspect of his inter-religious thought.
Edited by Patrick F. O’Connell