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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



The Light (La Luce): An Introduction to Creative Imagination by Massimo Scaligero, translated by Eric L. Bisbocci (Lindisfarne Books) is an undiscovered classic of contemporary spirituality. Massimo Scaligero (1906–1980) was a student of Zen, Yoga, and the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner, but he came to altogether independent conclusions based on his direct spiritual experience. He was born Antonio Sgabelloni in Veroli, Calabria in 1906. He is a contemporary Italian spiritual master, who has drunk deep from Western and Eastern traditions. Equally at home by direct experience with Western philosophy and psychology, Western esotericism (Rosicrucianism, Templarism, and Anthroposophy) and Eastern meditative practice (Zen and Tibetan Buddhism), Scaligero created a body of work that will continue to influence spiritual seekers into the next century and beyond. He is the author of the following, among others, (in Italian, untranslated): Treatise on Living Thinking; The Way of the Solar Will; Immortal Love; The Secrets of Space and Time; Yoga, Meditation, Magic; From Yoga to the Rose Cross; Practical Manual of Meditation; The Logos and the New Mysteries; Psychotherapy; Techniques of Inner Concentration; Healing with Thinking; Meditation and Miracles; Thinking as Antimaterialism; Western Kundalini; Isis Sophia; and Zen and Logos.

 This text, The Light (La Luce): is his masterpiece. A continuous, unfolding meditation, it is the immediate expression of Scaligero’s travels in higher realms. It shows how the primal principle, the source of all being — knowing and love — descends instant by instant into the known world of things. Scaligero writes from the very stream of being, into which this work invites us. He poses the challenge: will we learn to experience the processes of consciousness, or will we rest in their products? Such meditations encourage to see anew the perennial truths of the inner worlds which seem so various and unique and which provide grand truths more constant than sunshine. It is hoped other titles will find their way into English.

Purity of Heart and Contemplation: A Monastic Dialogue Between Christian and Asian Traditions by Bruno Barnhart, Joseph Wong (Continuum) Christian-Buddhist dialogue is now old hat, a common occurrence at least since Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh became buddies through their shared concerns about the Vietnam War. But Christian-Taoist dialogue? Or Christian-Confucianist dialogue? Such is the uncharted interfaith territory explored in Purity of Heart and Contemplation: A Monastic Dialogue Between Christian and Asian Traditions, edited by Bruno Barnhart and Joseph Wong. The 18 essays gathered here were presented during a "remarkable week of interfaith dialogue" at New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, Calif., last summer, and push the envelope of interfaith spirituality in fresh ways.

Hinduism is not a single distinct and coherent religion; the word has come to denote a wide spectrum of spiritual traditions of the different peoples of India. The traditions of India can, however, claim a certain primacy among the world's religions. It is in this fertile human soil that, over two thousand years ago, the spiritual aspiration had already manifested itself with the most luxuriant variety and with an unsurpassable depth and intensity. Our presentations of "Hindu" spirituality can only suggest something of these developments.

Pravrajika Vrajaprana presents the spiritual journey as a quest of the "kingdom" as one's true identity‑a royal (divine) identity. The four "yogas" are paths responding to the individual temperaments of the seekers, but they also sketch out an anthropology, a paradigm of the fullness of humanity. Purity of heart is identification with the Atman, or true self. Contemplation is equivalent to samadhi, or divine union. This first presentation communicates both the breadth and the depth of experience that characterized this sunrise of the human spirit, marking out for us the dimensions of the country in which our subsequent encounters will take place.

Thomas Matus examines the Yogic tradition of Hinduism, with reference to its recent interaction with the spiritualities of the West. He chooses two texts from different strata of the tradition which present Yoga as "a way of the heart and to the heart, in view of the recognition of God in ourselves." The way is one of devotion, of "abiding in the heart." Once again, salvation is understood as a realization of one's own true nature‑but also as vision of all other beings in God. This realization does not remove a person from the common human condition, from ordinary life.

Cyprian Consiglio studies the vision of Bede Griffiths, a contemporary Christian monk who spent much of his life in India, engaged in a dialogue between Hindu Vedanta and Christianity. The focus is particularly upon Griffiths's "tripartite anthropology": his conception of the human person as constituted by body, soul, and spirit and thus as integrating within itself all reality. Of particular interest is Griffiths's notion of spirit, the unitive ground of all created reality in which body and psyche, or matter and consciousness, are united.

The presentations of Vrajaprana and Cyprian Consiglio‑to recall Brother David's metaphor‑seem to place us in an original Paradise of human spiritu­ality, with four rivers flowing from its center. It is as if‑Bede Griffiths might say‑all the possibilities of human spiritual realization had already emerged in this lush spiritual garden five hundred years before Christ. The diverse ways and their abundance are summed up in the term "Yoga." Thomas Matus focuses upon one of these ways: that of bbakti yoga, the way of devotion (emphasized also by Vrajaprana). Here his concern is with the "center": the human center which is the heart. Cyprian Consiglio also arrives at the heartcenter, corresponding to the "human spirit." He proposes "the space in the lotus of the heart" as the common center, the meeting place of religions. These opening presentations from the Hindu tradition have sketched out for us the great dimensions of spiritual life and fixed the center of that spacious universe: the human heart.

Our Buddhist contributions represent two successive phases of a single, highly focused tradition of contemplative spirituality. Chan Buddhism is believed to have been initiated by Bodhidarma when he brought Dhyana Buddhism from India to China at about 500 CE Chan Buddhism moved to Japan around 1300 CE, becoming Zen. The strong central thread of continuity which joins all of these papers is the quest for enlightenment, or nondual consciousness.

Martin Verhoeven (Chan) insists upon the necessity of practice as a basis for enlightenment. The journey is a return to our true nature, "Buddhanature," "self‑nature." The fullness is within oneself, and not to be attained through the mediation of any external power. Heng Sure (Chan) concentrates upon the bodily practice of bowing, which is not understood‑and often regarded with aversion‑in the modern West. Through bowing, the self‑concept may gradually disappear, opening the way to nondual consciousness. Nicholas Koss (Chan) fords similarities between the enlightenment experience of the Chan Buddhist Sixth Patriarch, Hui‑neng, and the experience which is expressed in the fourteenth‑century English Christian Cloud of Unknowing.

Francis Cook (Zen) discusses the place of purity in Buddhism from its beginnings through its development into Mahayana and finally Zen forms. Impurity is a matter of perception and of consciousness. Through meditation, one may arrive at the state of sunyata (emptiness), in which the illusory duality of pure and impure disappears. Zen, stressing the practice of meditation rather than moral improvement or intellectual development, shows relatively little concern for purity. William Skudlarek (Zen) considers Jesus' command, "Do not judge...," in relation to the nondual consciousness of Zen Buddhism. For a Christian, he proposes, sitting in zazen can be one way of surmounting the dualistic consciousness which is compelled to judge, and of coming to an experiential realization of the all‑embracing love of God.

Taigen Dan Leighton discusses the anomalous figures of the Zen tradition. In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, Maitreya, the archetypal bodhisattva, is taken as a model for the purity of heart which expresses itself in lovingkindness and in a simplicity which can appear foolish. Along with Zen

monks who exemplify this Maitreyan simplicity and foolishness (Hotel, Hanshan, and Ryokan), he recalls the monks cited by Dogen who stood out for the excellence of their practice and the altruism of their behavior while violating monastic regulations. Exact observance of rules does not suffice to bring a person to purity of heart. Rather, "the monastic procedures . . . serve as a cauldron for guiding the practitioner toward actualizing the inner spirit of the pure heart." Kevin Hunt brings us back to the Christian monastic tradition, where he considers the perennial theme of temptation and trial in the light of the Zen Buddhist conception of the "Great Doubt."

Corresponding to "purity of heart" in the essays of Martin Verhoeven and Heng Sure is practice. The stern logic of purification demands an integrity of life on all its levels down to the most earthly. Heng Sure, indeed, regards this integrity of practice "from below," from the viewpoint of the bodily practice of bowing and prostration. Corresponding to "contemplation" in this same tradition of Chan Buddhism is the goal of pure nondual "original mind" or "buddha­mind," a goal which is also the inner principle of the way. Contrasting with the practical logic of the way is Nicholas Koss's presentation of Hui‑neng as "gifted," enlightened gratuitously and suddenly. Enlightenment, or nondual consciousness (primary for all three presentations), appears in this essay in its splendid autonomy, free of conditions­even the condition of consistent practice. The strength of Chan Buddhism appears, then, as a paradoxical union of (1) a consistent logic of practice leading to purity and thus to enlightenment, with (2) the perfect and unconditioned principle of "original mind": infinite consciousness without duality.

The Zen Buddhist tradition appears as an unswerving path of the transformation of consciousness, a way of return to the absolute nonduality of "original mind" through meditation. In the four presentations of Zen, nondual consciousness consumes all dualities: the dualities of morality (Cook), of judgment (Skudlarek), of law and lawbreaking (Leighton), of the experience of light and darkness, certainty and doubt, along the path (Hunt). During a discussion, Professor Cheng recalled the verse from the Diamond Sutra that is said to have catalyzed Hui‑neng's enlightenment. Here is the heart of this Chan‑Zen tradition:

One should bring forth the thought that dwells nowhere.

 Lao Tzu (or Laozi) and Confucius, to whom are attributed the two great philosophical traditions of China, Taoism and Confucianism, are believed to have been contemporaries in the sixth century B.c.E. Confucian teachings became established as the norm for life in the social and political world, while the more mystical and paradoxical teachings of Taoism gave rise to a tradition of interior, contemplative, and often solitary spiritual life.

Liu Xiaogan surveys the historical development and transformation of Taoist meditation from antiquity to modern China, with particular attention to the basic spiritual practice of keeping the One‑a way of maintaining the harmony of body and mind, or of the totality of the person. Reality is one; through meditation and other practices the person pursues an inward path to union with the Tao and thus realizes the unity of the divine and the human, the transcendent and the secular. Paul Crowe presents the concept of chaos, or hundun, in Taoist tradition from the time of the Tao‑to Ching (or Daode jing) and Chuang Tzu (or Zhuangzi) (where it is of central importance) through the inner alchemy or Golden Elixir tradition reaching into the fourteenth century. Here‑in contrast to the biblical and Western tradition‑chaos is conceived in a positive way: It is "the state of unity and completeness which precedes and makes possible the creation of the world." Inner alchemy, a system of practices centered in meditation, pursues a path of inner return from complexity to an original state of simplicity and unity, of tranquillity and composure. Finally the inner universe of the person is experienced as one with the larger universe in which it exists.

Joseph Wong examines the affinities between Eckhart and Chuang Tzu, the second patriarch of Taoism. He finds strong parallels in the way that the two masters conceive the relation between emptiness or detachment, on the one hand, and vision or the experience of light, on the other hand‑terms comparable to purity of heart and to contemplation. While Eckhart stresses the "vertical" fruit of detachment in the emergence of the divine element in the person, Chuang Tzu points rather to the vision of the Tao immanent in all things and the "horizontal" experience of oneness of the self with all things.

Professor Chung‑ying Cheng outlined the ideal of human self‑realization in Confucius and Mencius, then the development of the doctrine of selfcultivation in neo‑Confucianism. In this process, Heaven, nature, and the human person are to be brought together. (Because of other commitments, it was not possible for Dr. Cheng to prepare his paper for publication.)

Sister Donald Corcoran examines the relationship between Benedictine humility and Confucian "sincerity." While humility is central to the great tradition of monastic spirituality based on the Rule of Benedict, modern Westerners find it very difficult to understand the way of humility in a positive way and to embrace it personally. The Confucian concept of ch'eng (sincerity) offers a perspective on true humility which can help to overcome the individualistic and moralistic and dualistic influences of the Western religious tradition. The Confucian teaching of self‑cultivation constitutes an education of the heart/mind leading to an integration of all the levels of being.

One image, simple and luminous, emerges from the three studies of Taoism. This is a way of return to the Source, the One, the root which is the Tao, to the undifferentiated original unity, to the primordial state of chaos (Crowe). It involves keeping the One (Liu), seeing the One, and achieving union with the One, and thus becoming one with all things (Wong). The person becomes integrated as he or she is united with the One, with the original Chaos (Crowe). This union is experienced, as in Buddhism, in nondual consciousness. In this Taoist conception of the One, however, we find a more positive and "objective" assertion of the original and all‑embracing Reality.

From our two presentations of Confucianism, similarly, there results an overall impression of simplicity and wholeness. Rather than the sharp spiritual tension and cognitive shock of Zen Buddhism, there is set forth before us the prospect of a progressive harmony of soul and body. Such a vision of human balance and integration is characteristic of these two older Chinese traditions, Taoism and Confucianism. The latter, particularly, offers both a positive anthropology and a practical teaching of self‑cultivation. Here unity is realized as the harmony and integration of heaven and earth, of spirit and body, rather than as a dramatic awakening, a breakthrough into a radically different unitive consciousness.

Our contributions from Western perspectives are marked by a sensitivity to personal experience, to subjectivity. Laurence Freeman's graceful essay ranges freely through a wide and varied terrain of human experience. He presents the journey to purity of heart as a way of the transformation of desire. The human person is "an animal of desire, a wanting being." Here we may sense a strong, existential contrast with an Asian conception of the true self as Atman or absolute consciousness. Father Laurence introduces us to four teachers in this way of desire: William Shakespeare, the eleventh‑century Tibetan master Langri Thangpa, the fifth‑century Greek bishop Diadochos of Photiki, and the twentieth‑century writer Simone Weil. The key to the transformation of desire, and the thread which joins these four writers, is attention.

Bede Healey explores the same subject‑desire‑from the viewpoint of a professional psychologist as well as a Christian monk. Here it is the recreation of distorted desire that is proposed as a path toward the attainment of purity of heart. Following the Benedictine spiritual writer Sebastian Moore, Bede Healey examines the central role of fear in the distortion of desire. He uses an Object Relations model of human development, which understands human experience as based on relationship. A false self is constructed through the distortion of desires, largely through fear. God is the "Desiring One"; "recognition that we are desired by the Desiring one can lead us to the surrender of our falseness." A model for the re‑creation of desire is outlined, based on the potentially transforming experience of crisis moments.

Mary Margaret Funk's presentation takes the form of a dramatized fictional dialogue between herself and Thomas Merton, centering in the phrase le point vierge which Merton had appropriated from the Sufi tradition. What is the relationship of le point vierge to purity of heart? The phrase is explored in the light of Merton's celebrated account of his enlightenment experience in Louisville, and then of two moments of profound crisis in Sister Meg's own life.

Bruno Barnhart proposes that dialogue with the Asian traditions, centered in nonduality, can open Christianity to a rediscovery of the simple fullness of its beginnings. Conversation with the Asian traditions draws Christianity back toward its own internal "East." Here is discovered the original unity and apophatic transparency of the Christ‑event. Here is the wilderness, the symbolic place of Christian baptism or "illumination." This baptismal birth of the "new person" is the pivotal point of contact with the Asian spiritual traditions. Eastern nonduality catalyzes the reawakening of the pole of unitive identity in Christianity. This, in turn, is the core of a new "Christian wisdom." Purity of heart appears as a characterization of this "new self" of the baptized person, under the particular aspect of interiority. Baptismal rebirth and illumination is the primordial Christian contemplative experience, as an experience of nonduality, the awakening of the nondual divine‑human self. Subsequent contemplative experience is to be understood in the same way. Nonduality in the Christian context, however, pursues a distinctive course which may be summed up in the word "incarnation."

While each of the three great religions of the Word found some expression in the symposium presentations, only Christianity was amply represented. Islam appeared only in the Sufi perspectives brought forth by Thomas Merton in his dialogue with Sister Mary Margaret, as he unfolded the context of le point vierge. This "virgin point" itself relates easily both to the Western "purity of heart" and to the Asian nondual self.

While there was little direct reference to Judaism, the religion of Israel, during the symposium, Norman Fischer boldly confronted the problem which biblical religion presents from the point of view of an Asian nonduality. He quoted the words of a friend to the effect that the strength of Buddhism is in its "making sense," while the strength of Judaism, in contrast, is precisely in its "not making sense." Fischer senses in this "irrationality" of Judaism a resonance with much of the experience of humanity in the twentieth century: spiritual darkness, meaninglessness, the absence of God. Here we may see the revelation to Israel taking up once again its historical role of theological criticism: demolishing premature sufficiencies, perfect closures and enclosures‑even those of the spirit. This mystery, at once intimate and alien, resonates with the mystery of the cross in Christianity.

The specific strengths of Christianity appeared only indirectly and obliquely. Perhaps this is because they are largely to be found outside the perimeter of the dialogue's common ground‑in the sphere of acceptance of a divine event and participation in Christ through faith and love. Christianity is not primarily a "monastic" religion. Enlightenment, nondual consciousness, and transformation tend to disappear into faith and love in a movement of incarnation and of a divinization of ordinary humanity and ordinary life. The ultimate mystery reappears in the difficult language which is the human person: in the "ordinary" human experiences, decisions, actions, and relationships. Some qualities expressive of this movement do appear in the papers from the Christian perspective‑as well as in Norman Fischer's presentation. We may sense a broad humanism and a respect for subjectivity and for personal experience‑whether from a psychological, a literary, or a spiritual perspective. Here, perhaps with surprise, one may also detect a "feminine" dimension. This is evident in the attention given to desire, to relationality, and perhaps in the more‑than­rational hope invested in dialogue itself.

 Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh: Engaged Spirituality in an Age of Globalization by Robert Harlen King (Continuum) Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh met briefly at the Gethsemani Trappist monastery in Kentucky in 1966, and though they admired each other, they had no further significant contact. King is interested in exploring the convergence of their viewpoints, which he sees as having caused a significant impact on current thinking regarding spirituality and social action.

ON A COLD WINTER morning in the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village in southern France, Thich Nhat Hanh had just finished a talk on anger when I approached him with a request. I told him I was writing a book about Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh and would like an opportunity to talk with him. He looked at me very intently for a moment and then asked, "Why do you want to write a book about Merton and me? You should write about your own prac­tice." When I explained that this book was an outgrowth of my spiritual practice, he said I should write about how he and Thomas Merton have affected my practice. I never did get the meeting I asked for, but I have tried to take his advice to heart.

The themes of this book are not unrelated. Contemplative practice can open the way to interreligious dialogue. Dialogue, in turn, can lead to greater mutual understanding and a greater willingness to cooperate with persons of other faiths in addressing the pressing social issues of our day. These will almost certainly be global issues that will require cooperative action across national, ethnic, and religious lines. We humans have shown on occasion that in spite of our religious differences we can come together in a common effort to address major crises such as war, famine, plague, and other natural catastrophes. But to sustain such an effort in the face of the profound ethical problems that will surely confront us in the twenty‑first century‑the allocation of scarce resources, preservation of the environment, and care of an aging population‑we will need to find common ground at the level of spiritual awareness. Merton and Nhat Hanh found a way of doing that through the practice of engaged spirituality. We would do well to learn from their example.

 According to Joseph Campbell, the hero's adventure begins with a "call." The call may take the form of a "religious awakening," as it did with Merton, or it may summon the hero to "a high historical undertaking," as with Nhat Hanh. In any case, the call signals the beginning of a transformation. "The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals and emotional patterns no longer fit."6 We see the beginning of this transformation in Nhat Hanh with his first visit to the United States when he underwent a profound personal crisis mirroring the one in his own country. "I became a battlefield," we may recall his saying. "I couldn't know until the storm was over if I would survive, not in the sense of my physical life, but in the deeper sense of my core self." What he experienced was the falling away of social expectations and a realization of the freedom to be himself, even when faced with fierce opposition from others. Nhat Hanh emerged a changed person, prepared to assume a larger role in the struggle to end the war in his own country. He also became a major player on the international stage, no longer just a reformer within a particular strand of Buddhism. Even his engaged Buddhism took on new meaning as he outgrew his "familiar life horizon."

In his early writings and his work with young people, Nhat Hanh stressed the need for Buddhism to engage current social conditions if it was to retain its vitality as a living religion. Meditative practice was not emphasized at this time, though it was certainly not ignored. In the midst of the struggle to bring an end to the war in Vietnam, while also ministering to its victims, his emphasis began to shift. He took the anger and violence of the peace movement as an indication of what happens when activism, even on behalf of a good cause, is not grounded in meditative practice. "If we look deeply," he wrote, "we will observe that the roots of war are in the unmindful ways we have been living."? In order not to perpetuate the violence and injustice in the world, he believed, we must find a way to transform our anger into love. Meditation may not be the only way to accomplish this transformation, but it is a proven way. It is also a way of dealing with fear. So he exhorted his students, many of whom had remained in Vietnam to continue the work he began, to practice mindfulness as a way of maintaining peace within themselves, even in the face of death. Sometimes, he said, the most we can do on behalf of peace is simply to be peace.

Nhat Hanh's activism carried him deeper into the practice of meditation, even as Merton's contemplative practice drew him out into the world of action. Thus, there is a convergence in their two lives that is really quite remarkable. Starting from different positions, they managed to end up in a very similar place. What is more remarkable, they did so by going against the grain of their respective religious traditions. Merton might well have become a social activist straightaway had he not felt so strongly the pull toward contemplation. But if he had gone directly into a life of service, as he considered doing and as many Christians have done, it would have been without the deep spiritual grounding that his contemplative practice provided. It is questionable just how effective he would then have been. In any case, he would not have resolved for himself or others the seeming contradiction between contemplative life and the active life.

As for Nhat Hanh, he might have followed the traditional path of the Buddhist monk by remaining in the monastery or taking a position as a temple priest. He says in one place that he was expected to succeed his teacher as abbot of the monastery where he trained. But instead he followed the path of the worldly bodhisattva. In this way he modeled the engaged Buddhism he espoused. What made him such an effective leader in charting a new direction for his religion was his capacity for incorporating meditative practice into everything he did. Like Merton in his later years, Nhat Hanh has come to epitomize engaged spirituality, a form of spirituality that combines contemplative practice and social action.

As we have said many times, these two men were pioneers in working out this unique synthesis. But to say they were pioneers is also to say they did not do what they did just for themselves. They would certainly not be the global heroes we take them to be if they had not done it for others as well. The "second solemn task" of the hero‑after battling through to a resolution of his own personal conflict is, according to Campbell, "to return to us, transfigured, and teach the lesson he has learned of life renewed.  Both Merton and Nhat Hanh were and are consummate teachers, committed to sharing what they have learned. What Merton sought by way of the contemplative path was nothing less than union with God. Yet it was clear from the outset that he did not intend to travel this road by himself. He planned to bring others with him, though without leaving the monastery. His writing was the vehicle for introducing others to the contemplative experience. What he learned through his contemplative practice, he shared with them through his many books, articles, essays, and letters. As for Nhat Hanh, as near as I can tell, he has always been a teacher. Before he left the monastery, he was writing books and giving lectures. With a freedom to move around that Merton did not have, he was able to take his message to many more places. But he did not simply talk about engaged Buddhism: he lived it. he inspired others as much by his example as by his words. Both Merton and Nhat Hanh modeled what they learned, and in that way "returned to us transfigured" to teach of "life renewed."

At the conclusion of his book, Campbell offers the opinion that the hero today must transcend the factionalism and nationalism historically associated with institutional religion because "the community today is the planet." The contemporary hero, in other word, must be a global hero. Once again Merton and Nhat Hanh fit that definition. Not only have they been able to rise above the factionalism and nationalism historically associated with their own religions; they have been able to communicate in depth with representatives of other religions. Their extraordinary capacity for interreligious and intrareligious dialogue sets them apart from most -of their contemporaries and marks them as belonging to the age of globalization.

Merton, for instance, maintained a far-flung correspondence that included Muslims and Jews as well as Buddhists, while Nhat Hanh has made a career of traveling around the world and meeting with persons of all faiths. Both men have clearly been deeply affected by those they have engaged in dialogue. David Steindl-Rast once asked Merton whether he thought he could have presented Christian teaching in the way he did without his exposure to Buddhism. Merton ‑thought about the question for a while and then replied, "You know, 1 think I couldn't understand Christian teaching the way I do if it weren"t in the light of Buddhism."  Nhat Hanh surely would not regard Jesus as one of his "spiritual ancestors" if his understanding of Buddhism had not been profoundly affected by his encounters with men like Merton and Berrigan.

So it is not only engaged spirituality that these two men model, but interfaith dialogue as well. Moreover, theirs is no ordinary dialogue; it is dialogue carried on at the deepest human level. Merton and Nhat Hanh are global heroes first and foremost because their common humanity transcends their religious identity. They are global heroes at a time when the world desperately needs men and women who can model a way of life that is authentically human and also deeply spiritual. Neither of them, I am sure, set out to be heroic, yet in faithfully following where the spirit led they have fulfilled that role for all of us.


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