Thoughts on the East

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The Eastern religious traditions, especially the varieties of Buddhism, were the last great passion in Thomas Merton's life. His participation in a monastic conference in Asia led to his premature, accidental death. He discoursed on equal terms with the Dalai Lama, and extracts from their interviews appear in this book. The introduction brings together extracts from Merton's Asian Journal (Hinduism and varieties of Buddhism), and other short works on Eastern religions written in the last few years of his life. They all combine to demonstrate the breadth of vision that is such an integral part of Merton's lasting appeal, his quest for a deeper unity underlying apparent fragmentation. They might be regarded as steps toward the great book on monasticism that Merton might have written but never did. As they stand, they provide Merton's essential definitions of the religions that so interested him in the last years of his life, and of which he became a skilful Western interpreter.