by Stephen Damon. Yesterday, while shelving books at my bookstore I noticed a slender book, Thoughts on the East, by Thomas Merton, the Catholic monk who, among other things, helped bring Buddhism to America in the ...

Mindfulness and Zen have been popping up in towns and cities in the west now for well over 50 years and for many I suspect it is hard to think of a time when the concept of mindfulness as we now know it was virtually nonexistent here in the west.

It was people like Alan Watts and Thomas Merton who helped open the minds of many to the possibility of seeing things differently than before, of seeing a reality that most had missed as they went through their daily routines.

It's rarely a good time to share unorthodox thoughts, the powers that be frown on it but, Merton and Watts took the courageous step and did share unorthodox thinking about meditation and mindfulness.