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Contemplative Heart, The [Paperback]

James Finley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 11.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

Mar 2000
James Finley recognizes the depth and range of today's spiritual yearning and refuses to settle for anything but its most profound possibilities. He opens our everyday living to the contemplative traditions, practices, and teaching that have been traditionally the preserve of the monk, and he does so without diluting them. The Contemplative Heart, enables readers to realize that wherever we live, whatever we do, the richest possibilities of a contemplative life are within our reach-that they are in fact what we have been searching for all along.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Sorin Books (Mar 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189373210X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893732100
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
These reflections on contemplative living have their origin in the five years that I lived as a monk at the cloistered Trappist monastery of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The answer to lifes journey 1 Jan 2010
This book is a gem! James Finley has captured the art of living in a Spiritual way. The Contemplative Heart leads us to living our life to the full.... being all we can be.
Highly recomended for those searching for their true path.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Easy to Read, But Worth the Effort 3 May 2000
By George E. Shultz - Published on Amazon.com
If you've never read James Finley before, you might think his recent book, "The Contemplative Heart," is just what the doctor ordered for your desire to learn more about the contemplative aspects of the spiritual journey. Well, yes...and no. You will definitely learn more about contemplation, contemplative prayer, and living a contemplative life. But be forewarned. This is not an "easy read." It's a book you'll need/want to read and reread...which is what I found myself doing. Practically sentence by sentence. The first time I met James Finley was at one of his silent retreats at the Holy Spirit Retreat Center in Encino, California. He's indeed a masterful retreat master. Profound yet humorous; complex and surprisingly poetic. The first Finley retreat I attended had the advertised title of "The Spirituality of Thomas Merton." And, although Finley decided to change the title at the first session to "Meditation in Daily Life," the conferences nevertheless seemed to be based on his 1978 book "Merton's Palace of Nowhere" -- a relatively "easy" read. Even his chapter on "The Realization of the True Self" was not terribly difficult to comprehend. Finley's clear and concise writing in "Merton's Palace of Nowhere" stands out sharply against many of his sentences in "The Contemplative Heart." The reader, therefore, must spend a little more time with this latest Finley book. Readers may find in "Heart" that the style of writing is akin to that found in the poetry of Thomas Merton and the prose of St. John of the Cross -- two authors whose books demand care and attention from their readers. In Finley's "Palace," the relatively complex is expressed comprehensibly; for example: "The realization of the true self does not fall into our lap like ripe fruit. It is true that in God we live without effort, but it is also true that it calls for a divestiture of the self to live without effort." On the other hand, in Finley's "Heart," in Part Two's chapter on Meditation, we read, "Contemplative gazing is the visual expression of the self-transforming journey in which we are set free from the twofold ignorance of seeing things as opaque to God as we simultaneously see God to be dualistically other than the concrete immediacy of things." Unfortunately, the clarity of the "Heart's" Table of Contents is not mirrored in most of its following pages. Part One's A Contemplative Vision of Life in the Contents is followed by Part Two: Find Your Contemplative Practice and Practice It, Part Three: Find Your Contemplative Community and Enter It, and Part Four: Find Your Contemplative Teaching and Follow It. However, I can't say that Finley doesn't warn us about the complex nature of this book. In his A Note to the Reader, Finley mentions, "These writings give primacy, not to conceptual thought, but to intuitions, intimations, and experiences of the spiritual path of contemplative self-transformation." Many of us must read that sentence a few times before we might translate it for ourselves into something like "This book is based on my (Finley's) attempt to describe the kinds of spiritual experiences that can change our lives as we travel on the contemplative path." He goes on to say, "I suggest, then, that you read these reflections slowly, much as you would listen to music." Here, again, a minor revision is needed for the sake of clarity. (Who listens to music slowly?) A careful editor would have urged Finley to say, "I suggest, then, that you read these reflections with care and attention, much as you might listen to your favorite music." All of these seemingly disparaging comments about aspects of Finley's latest book are not intended to negate my earlier comment that it is indeed a book worth reading...and rereading. And though Finley's writing here is particularly intricate and weighty, albeit at times poetic, he is at other, fewer, times concise and clear and to the point. For example: "We seek to live a more contemplative way of life, so that we will not have to wait until we are dying to learn how to live." Actually, this book requires study more than it does rereading, and is not for the "beginner," or the curious. This is a book for those who are serious about their spiritual life. And those who are committed to the contemplative path on their spiritual journey can't help but profit from a careful, slow, attentive reading of "The Contemplative Heart."
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A journey into grace. 5 July 2000
By Sophie Larocca - Published on Amazon.com
The Contemplative Heart, from the first page on, is a book that really had an impact on me. Jim Finley communicates gently and without arrogance, speaking to the heart through his own observations, experiences and journey. His writes about how we can know God and experience God through anything and everything...that all of life is speaking to us...that we can experience a deep sense of grace and peace even through the mundane, through pain, through silence, through all of the things that we encounter in our daily lives. I especially was touched by his emphasis on "the divinity of what just is." I've been raised all my life with the concept of grace, but this book expressed grace in a way i never have heard before. It has helped renew my belief that God's heart is full of grace, that all of life is speaking about this grace.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding tranquility and spirituality within a secular life. 4 Jun 2000
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
The Contemplative Heart shows us how to find breathing room in our cluttered daily lives. For five years James Finley lived at the cloistered Trappist monastery where he studied with Thomas Merton. Finley's meditations relate directly to our everyday experience of the hectic, modern world and the necessity to remain grounded in the meaning and value of our lives beyond what we produce, consume, and achieve. Finley offers guidelines for meditative practices that promote self-reflection, and shows how to include contemplative influences in our lives, while rooting out those that hinder the process. The Contemplative Heart is highly recommended reading for anyone needing to find tranquility in the midst of confusion, silence in the noise of the world, and personal spirituality within the framework of a secular life.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an admirer of good writing & thinking 26 Sep 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is so well written that the act of reading is in itself
contemplative. It is not so much difficult to read, but rather each sentence resonates with a depth that requires stillness & presence of mind. So one stops and revels in the moment that each line strips bare. It may take a life time to absorb. In the meantime it may wake you up to all that surrounds you and is within you. What more could one ask of a book?
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindful Guidance from a Gentle Soul 22 Jun 2000
By Jack Quinn - Published on Amazon.com
James Finley's book, "The Contemplative Heart," recommended to me by a friend, is a gentle, melodious and profound treatise on connecting with God and spirit through the practice of mindfulness and contemplation. Though Finley comes from a Catholic tradition--and in fact spent many years studying under the great Thomas Merton--the book is pleasingly devoid of religious dogma or rhetoric, stripping from God the millenia of human-created trappings and faces we have hung on Her and returning her to us, naked and relevant. The premise rests in a mystical and vaguely Buddhist notion that we can have a direct experience of the the presence and creativity of God when we are contemplatively aware of our present moment, whether sitting on a hill looking over the ocean, or stuck in traffic. He presents to us the availability of contemplative experience through meditation, and gives us a practical roadmap to assist us with our inevitable distraction and resistance. Finley's language itself helps take us there, creating in its repetitious, poetic cadence a mantra of sorts which soothes and readies us for contemplative awareness. But Finley cautions us too against the trappings of "mystical thought," as his contemplative path is practical and unromantic. You won't suddenly be "awakened," God will not appear magically to you in a burning bush or a plate of spaghetti. But if you commit yourself to simply being in the present moment, you may find yourself awakened to the divine creative wonder and mystery inherent in our very existence at any given moment of our lives. That is the true beauty and gift James Finley gives us with "The Contemplative Heart"--access to our own "contemplative heart," and through that, access in turn to the heart and soul of God.
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