31st August, 1967
Rev. Father Thomas Merton.
The Gethsemani Abby, Trappist,
I have taken the liberty of sending to you, through my London Publishers, two of my books: the first one that was published - "IN DAYS OF GREAT PEACE" and the last "MEDITATION: an Outline for Practical Study". In the meantime, I have just read your "NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION", following on a strange issue of my meditations, which has prompted me to write a new work - "CONTEMPLATION: an Outline for Practical Study".
I am still studying your "Seeds" and every time I read them, I find new jewels. Nevertheless, my own book will be somewhat different, the same subject seen from several angles, but inevitably leading to the same conclusion.
In it I am making a distinction between two terms, which are incompatible for me: the intellect (also the mind) and the Spirit and co-related awareness. In this there will be a difference in my conception with that in the first sentence of Chapter I (What is Contemplation) in the "Seeds". However, it is, perhaps, only a technicality. I am not living in a monastery (although I did for some time in Paris), but I intuitively realize the words of our Lord: "Be in the world, but not of it". I have found that Solitude is realizable even in the midst of our civilization, simply because a man, who does not believe in the reality of matter, sees the outer world as a shadow.
Living in the world and among men (I lecture in several study groups) I can see, that there are many who are seeking feverishly for a better, spiritual life and are worthy of help. That is why my new book is not being directed to all and sundry, but only to those who already have developed something of wings for spiritual flights, the peak of which is Contemplation. If they gain some knowledge about their inner experiences and hear of those happening to others, they might be in a better position to engage themselves on the same thorny Paths leading to the Father's Mansion.
We have a special study group studying "INITIATIONS" by P.Sédir, accompanied by active assistance and prayer for those in need, in the Spirit of Love and Service to our Lord. Humanity is living in a very crucial epoch and I pray that, because of some worthy people, the final condemnation may be spared it, although the Enemy is raising his score everywhere.
As a rule, I myself write the Forewords for my books, but this time something tells me to ask a spiritual brother to write one for this new book of mine. If you have no objections I would like to ask you to do it. Of course, the copy of the typescript, as ready for printing, will be sent to you beforehand for kind perusal. You will then be able to judge for yourself as to whether this would be compatible with your rules and opinion and, in the negative case, I shall be as glad to hear of the refusal as the consent. You can believe me in this. Also, in the bibliography (where I list books I recommend for reading in conjunction with my work in question), I would like to mention your books, but only if you agree and permit this.
There are several truly spiritual and wonderful books by P.Sédir, but only in French. If this does not present any difficulty for you, I shall be only too pleased to arrange for "Amitiés Spirituelles" of Paris to send some of them to you.
Hoping that perhaps some day you may mention me in your prayers.
Note: In 1967 Thomas Merton discontinued writting forwards and politely turned down the request.