James Finley, a clinical psychologist, and for a while (around 6-years) in his life-journey, was a monk at Gethsemani Abbey while Thomas Merton was there. He’s written a wonderful little book Merton’s Palace of Nowhere (first published in 1978). Henri Nouwen provided the original foreword, while Patrick Hart provided the foreword to the 25th Anniversary issue (pub. 2003).
In the book, which Finley describes as a “series of reflections into the spirituality of Thomas Merton”, he explores Merton’s understanding of the so-called “true self” and the “false self”, and of contemplation in relation to these two. It’s a fascinating book, and well worth a read. Finley also wrote the excellent Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God, A Guide to Contemplation (published 2004).
Most recently (Nov. 2015) he recorded a conversation with Tami Simon under the title of The Axial Moment of Healing, which only figured in the last 5 mins of the conversation. It’s a fascinating conversation, typical of those featuring Finley. He talks about the Dark Night of the Soul and the place of trauma in ones formation.
You’ll find it here. Finley has also recorded other talks with Sounds True including on focusing on Meister Eckhart. Sounds True have also produced a couple of audio-series by Finley. Again, well worth a listen.