Alone in Community: Journeys into Monastic Life Around the World

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9780939516520: Alone in Community: Journeys into Monastic Life Around the World
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In this first-person account, William Claassen offers an engaging and reflective description of monastic life as practiced in eleven countries. Beginning in France and ending in India, he opens a window into the daily life of these communities.

Reading Thomas Merton's works more than twenty years ago motivated Claassen to embark on his first monastic retreat in the Kentucky woodlands. There, he found a community that honored the power of silence and provided space to explore the inner life. His experiences there ultimately led him to make an extended journey around the world, visiting and participating in monastic communities within the religious traditions of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism and Sufism.

Readers will recognize some of the sites in this book, such as Spain's Monasterio de Santo Domingo, home to the singing Benedictine monks who recorded CHANT, and Greece's Mt. Athos, the only "republic of monks" in the world. They will discover others, including the remote Coptic monasteries in the Egyptian deserts, the isolated and austere "forest" monasteries in Thailand and an Orthodox Hindu community tucked away in the hills of southern India.

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About the Author:

William Claassen, a nomadic pilgrim raised in Kansas, has trod various paths over the years. From community organizing in the South and stage acting in the East to tree planting in the Northwest and development work abroad, the author continues to seek out new vistas. He is a journalist and presently lives in Columbia, MO.

From Booklist:

Inspired by the writings of Trappist monk Thomas Merton, Claassen traveled around the world visiting Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Sufi, Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu monasteries. Attempting to understand and communicate the gentle rhythms of life inherent in the monastic tradition, he embarked on a lifelong spiritual odyssey that included participating in religious retreats in a multitude of monastic communities in 11 different countries. By documenting and describing the daily rituals embraced and practiced by each secluded community that welcomed him, the author provides an intimate glimpse into a variety of contemplative lifestyles. An educational as well as inspirational pilgrimage. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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William Claassen
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Claassen, William
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