The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

MERTON'S CORRESPONDENCE WITH:
Wu, John C. H. (Wu Jingxiong), 1899-1986

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Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence

Dates of materials: 1961-1968, 1983

Volume: 122 item(s); 178 pg(s)

Scope and Content

Merton was familiar with some of John Wu's books, including his autobiography Beyond East and West. Merton writes to Wu to seek his help in studies of Oriental philosophy. They collaborated on a volume of sayings by Chuang Tzu. Merton, though he had been reading and studying Taoist texts in translation, did not have knowledge of the Chinese language. Drawing from various English texts and Wu's word-by-word literal translations, Merton makes his own interpretation of Chuang Tzu's writings in English, The Way of Chuang Tzu. Responding to Merton's letter of July 1962, Wu was quite impressed with Merton's translation, stating, "I am not flattering when I say that this is exactly what Chuang Tzu would write had he learned English."

Biography

Born in Ningpo, China, Jingxiong (or Ching-hsiung) Wu attended law schools in the United States and Europe in the late 1920's becoming a friend of the young Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., later to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. He had westernized his name, going by John. He became a wealthy lawyer and judge in Shanghai, but had a spiritual crisis in the late 1930's. During this time, he read St. Thèrése of Lisieux's Story of a Soul. This had a profound effect on Wu. Some sources give this time as his conversion to Christianity and baptism, others say his baptism was earlier but that this was still a crucial time in his faith life. In the late 1940's, he lived in Rome with his wife Teresa and his 13 children while serving as Chinese delegate to the Vatican. As an official of President Chiang Kai-shek, he was not able to return to China after the Communist revolution. A scholar of jurisprudence, philosophy, literature, religious studies, and cultural studies, he served as dean of the College of Chinese Culture in Taiwan and a research professor at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. (Sources: [1]The Hidden Ground of Love, p. 611. Augustine, John. [2] "John C. H. Wu." Website of Christ the Eternal Tao. Accessed at Bellarmine University Library, Louisville, KY, 26 Sep. 2006. ‹http://www.geocities.com/johnaugus/taowu.html›. [3] Elkins, James R. "John C. H. Wu." Strangers to Us All: Lawyers and Poetry. Website of College of Law, West Virginia University. 2 Sep. 2001. Accessed at Bellarmine University Library, Louisville, KY, 26 Sep. 2006. ‹http://www.wvu.edu/~lawfac/jelkins/lp-2001/wu.html›)

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Related Information and Links

See all letters published between John C. H. Wu and Merton in Merton & the Tao: Dialogues with John Wu and the Ancient Sages, pp. 173-346; and see also Cold War Letters #82 and other letters from Merton to Wu published in The Hidden Ground of Love, pp. 611-635. See also the "Meeus, Charles L., Fr." and the "Wu, John, Jr." files.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

SeriesDateTypeTo/FromFirst LinesPubNotes
 1961/02/03 TL[x] from Merton to Archbishop Yu PinTwelve years ago when you visited Gethsemani I had the pleasure of meeting your Excellency [copy of Merton's letter to Archbishop Yü Pin (later Paul Cardinal Yü Pin) - this letter is referenced in Merton's first letter to John C. H. Wu of 1961/03/14]
 1961/03/14 (#01)TLSfrom MertonFather Paul Chan wrote to me some time ago saying that he had kindly spoken to you about a projectYes 
 1961/03/14 (#02)TL[c]from MertonFather Paul Chan wrote to me some time ago saying that he had kindly spoken to you about a projectYes 
 1961/03/20 TALSto MertonThe Feast of St. Joseph happens to be celebrated today this year. As I usually drop in at the mailYes 
 1961/03/31 HLSto Merton<u>The Wisdom of the Desert</u> came yesterday. By this time I have read through the whole volume.Yes[dated "Good Friday, 1961"]
 1961/04/01 TALSfrom MertonYour wonderful letter was a joy and an encouragement. I have no more doubt about the project beingYes 
 1961/04/04 HLSfrom MertonI am having a really wonderful time with Chuang Tzu and today I am sending you a first tentativeYes 
 1961/04/07 TALSto MertonYour gracious letters of April 1 and 4 have come. I like your selections very much. They not onlyYes 
 1961/04/11 (#01)HLSfrom MertonThank you for your very good letter, for the Giles translation which I have now received and whichYes 
 1961/04/11 (#02)transcriptfrom MertonThank you for your very good letter, for the Giles translation which I have now received and whichYes[typed transcript of Merton's handwritten letter]
 1961/04/15 (#01)TLSto MertonOnly today did the lovely thing on Meng Tzu come! It has taken a month <u>in traveling</u>.Yes 
 1961/04/15 (#02)TLSfrom Sheed, FrancisAlas, I don't see us doing your essay on St. Therese. Two different reasons converge upon this [letter from Frank Sheed to Wu concerning his essay on St. Therese]
 1961/04/21 HLSfrom MertonThanks for your good letter. I am very glad the Mencius finally arrived and I know you would likeYes 
 1961/04/25 HLSto MertonI should be most delighted to receive a copy of the Chinese translation of the Seeds of Wisdom.Yes 
 1961/05/19 (#01)HLSfrom MertonForgive me for the delay in writing to you. I have been busy finishing up my course in mysticalYes 
 1961/05/19 (#02)transcriptfrom MertonForgive me for the delay in writing to you. I have been busy finishing up my course in MysticalYes[letter from Frank Sheed to Wu concerning his essay on St. Therese]
 1961/05/25 TALSto MertonYour good letter is a tremendous spiritual uplift to me. I am so happy to know that you likeYes 
 1961/05/27 (#01)TLSto MertonOn June 4 I shall be at the Rockhurst College in Kansas City delivering a commencement address.Yes 
 1961/05/27 (#02)otherfrom MertonI want to finish my list of passages in Chuang Tzu and my typewriter has gone wrong, so I will haveYes[handwritten list of passages for Merton's rendering of <i>The Way of Chuang Tzu</i>]
 1961/05/27 (#03)transcriptfrom MertonI want to finish my list of passages in Chuang Tzu and my typewriter has gone wrong, so I will haveYes 
 1961/05/29 TLSfrom MertonI had written out my list Saturday and I received your fine letter this morning. There is certainlyYes 
 1961/07/31 TLSfrom MertonAll this time I have refrained from writing to you because I supposed that you were in FormosaYes 
 1961/08/04 TALSto MertonIt is always an uplifting and thrilling experience to receive a letter from you. So powerful isYes 
 1961/08/12 TLSfrom MertonMany thanks for the letter. It is too bad we cannot look forward to receiving you at the endYes 
 1961/08/15 HLSto MertonThis is my last letter before my flying to Formosa. Yours arrived yesterday. Paul (Sih) isYes[dated "Assumption of Our Lady, 1961"]
 1961/10/11 TLSfrom MertonAre you back from Formosa? I presume you must be. And you are probably very busy at Seton Hall.Yes 
 1961/10/21 TLSto MertonEarly part of 1962 will suit me perfectly. I will write you further about the date.Yes 
 1961/11/28 HLSto MertonSome days ago I received <u>The New Man</u>. Although I have not yet finished it, I have readYes 
 1961/12/12 TLSfrom MertonToday is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, significant to us all in a very special way I am sure.Yes 
 1961/12/19 HLSto MertonThis Christmas, as I look back upon the whole year, I have a special reason for thanking Our Lord.Yes 
 1962/03/09 TL[c]to MertonYour <u>Introduction to Christian Mysticism</u> is simply an inexhaustible treasure houseYes 
 1962/04/18 HPCSfrom MertonI have been a very bad correspondent and have not been a good student of Chinese either - reason:Yes 
 1962/05/01 (#01)TALSto MertonYour postcard delights me and also Brenda, although the joke was on me when I phoned her upYes 
 1962/05/01 (#02)HLS from Meeus, Charles / to John WuOh, what a fine Easter I had this year! I offered Mass in a Carmelite monastery with neither doors  
 1962/06/07 (#01)TLSfrom MertonI had better get this letter written before any more time flows under the bridge (what bridge? whatYes 
 1962/06/07 (#02)transcriptfrom MertonI had better get this letter written before any more time flows under the bridge (what bridge? whatYes[transcript from bound set]
 1962/06/19 HLSto MertonHow wonderful the Providence of Our Father! When you wrote your gracious letter of the 7th,Yes 
 1962/06/30 TALSto MertonYour <u>Dharmakaya</u> (<u>Fa Sheng</u>) is with me, although physically you are far far away.Yes 
 1962/07/03 TLSto MertonI have started with my summer schedule since yesterday--a course of Chinese History and CultureYes 
 1962/07/10 TLSfrom MertonMany thanks for your two letters, and above all, thanks for coming. It was certainly a graceYes 
 1962/07/17 TALSto MertonI got yours of the 10th some days ago. I need not tell you how delighted I was about Abbot'sYes 
 1962/12/16 TLSto MertonThe books--Disputed Questions and Reader--arrived some time ago. It is only today that I amYes 
 1962/12/20 (#01)TLSfrom MertonI was so happy to get your letter this morning. I am putting aside all others toanswer [sic] youYes 
 1962/12/20 (#02)TL[c]from MertonI was so happy to get your letter this morning. I am putting aside all others toanswer [sic] youYes 
 1962/12/26 (#01)TLSto MertonIt is indeed a blessing to have you by bedside during this glorious Season of His Birthday. DisputedYes 
 1962/12/26 (#02)TALSto MertonThis morning I mailed out a letter to you. This noon your letter came. This evening I am writingYes 
 1963/03/28 TLSfrom MertonFor a long time I have been wanting to thank you for your last letter and for the valued giftYes 
 1963/03/31 TALSto MertonYour letter came yesterday with your article on "Mystics and Zen." I have read it today; and I didYes 
 1963/06/23 (#01)TLSfrom MertonYour two fine letters have been waiting long for a reply. I was especially happy that you agreedYes 
 1963/06/23 (#02)TL[c]from MertonYour two fine letters have been waiting long for a reply. I was especially happy that you agreedYes 
 1963/08/09 HLSto MertonYour of the 6th gave me a shock and a relief. I am happy that you were getting out of the hospitalYes 
 1964/12/23 (#01)TALSfrom MertonIt was a great joy to get your card and note. What happened to our correspondence? The last letterYes 
 1964/12/23 (#02)TL[c]from MertonIt was a great joy to get your card and note. What happened to our correspondence? The last letterYes 
 1964/12/25 HCSto MertonYou have been on my mind every day, and yet I have not written you. I was in Honolulu this lastYes 
 1964/12/27 (#01)TALSto MertonI am thrilled to read your of Dec. 23. First of all let me tell you that I am so happy to have oneYes 
 1964/12/27 (#02)TL[c]to MertonI am thrilled to read your of Dec. 23. First of all let me tell you that I am so happy to have oneYes 
 1965/01/31 (#01)TLSfrom MertonLook how much time has passed since I received your letter and the chapter on Hui Neng.Yes 
 1965/01/31 (#02)TAL[c]from MertonLook how much time has passed since I received your letter and the chapter on Hui Neng.Yes 
 1965/02/05 TALSto MertonHere is your <u>wonderful</u> letter of Jan. 31. I see eye-to-eye with you in your transparentYes 
 1965/05/11 TALSto MertonIt's half past one after midnight, and I have just read (in bed) your gosegay [sic] of poems calledYes 
 1965/06/09 (#01)TALSfrom MertonWhat a wonderful letter that was! It was a pure delight, and it made me so happy that I had beenYes 
 1965/06/09 (#02)TAL[c]from MertonWhat a wonderful letter that was! It was a pure delight, and it made me so happy that I had beenYes 
 1965/06/13 TLSto MertonI am so happy to learn that you have gone ahead with the work on Chuang Tzu. Rather the Holy SpiritYes 
 1965/06/25 TLSto MertonThis is the first time I have sat at my desk since I moved into this new apartment two days ago.Yes 
 1965/07/11 (#01)TLSfrom MertonI don't want to delay any longer in writing you at your new address, and telling you that of courseYes 
 1965/07/11 (#02)TL[c]from MertonI don't want to delay any longer in writing you at your new address, and telling you that of courseYes 
 1965/07/18 TLSto MertonGee! This time you have made me laugh or even smile, but <u>stare</u>! I have swam through the 22Yes 
 1965/07/19 TLSto MertonI am happy to receive your first letter to my new address. I shall be quite contented if you wouldYes 
 1965/07/22 (#01)TLSfrom MertonThanks for your good letter, and for the offprint, which I will certainly send on to the censor.Yes 
 1965/07/22 (#02)TL[c]from MertonThanks for your good letter, and for the offprint, which I will certainly send on to the censor.Yes 
 1965/08/03 HLSto MertonI have met one of your great admirers, Father William Johnston, S.J., a student of Zen.Yes 
 1965/08/06 (#01)HLSfrom MertonYour letter reached me here in the hospital. Nothing serious. I am getting out today. But all myYes 
 1965/08/06 (#02)transcriptfrom MertonYour letter reached me here in the hospital. Nothing serious. I am getting out today. But all myYes 
 1965/08/10 (#01)TALSfrom MertonHere are two of your chapters, I do not want to make you wait any longer.Yes 
 1965/08/10 (#02)TAL[c]from MertonHere are two of your chapters, I do not want to make you wait any longer.Yes 
 1965/08/12 TAL[c]to MertonOnly yesterday I sent a letter to you, telling you that I was now more interested in yourYes 
 1965/08/14 TALSto MertonNow my spirit is enlivened again with the receipt of your articles and my chapters as touched upYes 
 1965/09/12 TLSfrom MertonI am really very sorry to have kept your chapters on Zen so long, and I don't want to hold them upYes 
 1965/11/11 TLSfrom MertonIf there is one truth I have learned about the hermit life it is certainly this: that hermits areYes 
 1965/11/16 TALSto MertonYou see, Father, I persist in using "my." You are more mine in your present hermitage than everYes 
 1965/11/19 TLSto MertonYesterday I mailed out my nine chapters. I am inclosing now the chapter on the outstanding mastersYes 
 1965/11/24 TLSto MertonI received <u>The Way of Chuang Tzu</u> the day before yesterday. I have reread the whole bookYes 
 1965/12/02 TL[c]to MertonI am inclosing here the chapter on Pai-chang and Huang-po. I have enjoyed writing it more thanYes 
 1965/12/03 (#01)TALSfrom MertonWell, I think there could be worse involvements than being involved with Sun Yat Sen, especiallyYes 
 1965/12/03 (#02)TAL[c]from MertonWell, I think there could be worse involvements than being involved with Sun Yat Sen, especiallyYes 
 1965/12/07 TLSto MertonEvery time I received a letter from you, I feel as though I had a new satori!Yes 
 1965/12/17 TLSto Merton<u>Reading Father Merton's The Way of Chuang Tzu</u> [-] Your pen has the magical powerYes[poems by Wu at the top of the page with a letter at bottom - two enclosures of Chinese calligraphy included in the page count for this item - one page in Chinese characters on onion paper is a poem, the other on stiff paper is a preface to the poem including Merton's name in Chinese: <i>Mei Teng</i>, or "Silent Lamp"]
 1965/12/28 (#01)TLSfrom MertonYour letter and poem reached me on the Feast of St Thomas just as I was about to say Mass for AsiaYes 
 1965/12/28 (#02)TL[c]from MertonYour letter and poem reached me on the Feast of St Thomas just as I was about to say Mass for AsiaYes 
 1965/12/31 TLSto MertonIf the old year is like this, what will the new year be? The year refuses to close without beingYes 
 1966/01/01 TLSto MertonI wrote you last year. This is my first letter to you this year. The enclosed piece of calligraphyYes 
 1966/01/10 TLSto MertonThese days it's all ashes, no inspiration. So I have not proceeded with my first chapter.Yes 
 1966/01/19 TLto Merton"The Zen Koan" has just come today, and I have had it in bed. Not that I am sick, but I takeYes 
 1966/01/21 TLto MertonThis is the New Year's Day of old China, when you were living in the Middle Kingdom. That was longYes 
 1966/01/24 HLSto MertonYou should be tickled by the enclosed clipping. What strange bed-fellows fame makes! I don't meanYes 
 1966/01/24 (#02)otherto MertonPEOPLE IN THE NEWS [-] By William Rollins [-] Merton: A Further Retreat [-] When he enteredYes[newspaper clipping sent by Wu to Merton, of the same date as Wu's letter, from unknown newspaper]
 1966/01/27 (#01)TLSfrom MertonI owe you forty winks so I will pay it back in prayers. Usually my writings are good for puttingYes 
 1966/01/27 (#02)TL[c]from MertonI owe you forty winks so I will pay it back in prayers. Usually my writings are good for puttingYes 
 1966/02/07 (#01)HLSfrom MertonI am sorry that New Directions did not take the book, but as I said a long time ago I did not reallyYes 
 1966/02/07 (#02)transcriptfrom MertonI am sorry that New Directions did not take the book, but as I said a long time ago I did not reallyYes 
 1966/02/23 TLSfrom MertonLent is upon us but I must still remember to type that Pakistan address: Ch Abdul Aziz/ First FloorYes 
 1966/03/22 HCSfrom MertonA note to say I am just off to the hospital for a back operation and other problems - I don't knowYes 
 1966/03/26 (#01)TLSto MertonI have received today yours of the 22th. By this time I hope that the operation is over, and thatYes 
 1966/03/26 (#02)otherto MertonI have received today yours of the 22th. By this time I hope that the operation is over, and thatYes 
 1966/05/05 HLSto MertonYou see I am writing from Tokyo on my way to Taipei. I have been here for four days, and hadYes 
 1966/05/no transcriptfrom MertonIt was very good to hear from you on your way to Taipei. Sorry to have missed you here though.Yes[copy from published letter - this note appeared on the cover a mimeograph of Merton's essay "Love and Solitude" sent to Wu]
 1966/07/11 TL[c]from MertonFor a long time I have been trying to get over my consternation at the fact that you were in Asia.Yes 
 1966/07/18 TLSto MertonYour two letters were both received in due course of time. The second one, dated July 11,Yes 
 1966/08/05 transcriptfrom MertonIn order to get the introduction off to you without delay, I am sending it at once without writingYes[copy from published letter]
 1966/09/06 TALSto MertonI have just got yours of the 27th ult. The introduction hasn't arrived. A possible explanationYes 
 1967/01/02 TLSto MertonThis is my first letter I type this year. I feel that to write to you is, in itself, a greatYes 
 1967/09/19 HLSto MertonAt last I am again in the States. <u>The Golden Age of Zen</u> is being published in TaipeiYes 
 1967/09/24 TL[c]from MertonHurray! So glad to have you back. Permanently I hope! And delighted to hear that the book is soYes 
 1968/01/24 TAL[c]from MertonHow are you? Snowed in? I haven't heard from you in a long time. This letter is a quick one,Yes 
 1968/01/26 TLSto MertonYours of the 24th has just arrived this morning. I am sorry to have delayed responding to yourYes 
 1968/03/04 TLSfrom MertonWell, here is the magazine. I doubt if it will overturn the literary world in one bang.Yes 
 1983/01/27 TLS from Schymeinsky, Victor / to William ShannonThank you for your recent letter. We have received no word that Doctor John C. H. Wu has passed [from Fr. Victor J. Schymeinsky of the Maryknoll Fathers of New York, to William H. Shannon, general editor of Merton's published letters
 1983/02/01 (#01)TLSfrom Shannon, WilliamI am a priest of the diocese of Rochester, a professor at Nazareth College in Rochester and chaplain [from William H. Shannon, general editor of Merton's published letters]
 1983/02/01 (#02)TLS from Shannon, William / to Peter A. WuThe enclosed letter to your father is self-explanatory. I am sending a copy to you just in case [from William H. Shannon, general editor of Merton's published letters, to John Wu's son, Fr. Peter A. Wu, M.M.]
 1983/04/28 TLS[x]from Shannon, WilliamOn February 1, 1983 I wrote to you concerning the Merton letters. As general editor of the Merton [from William H. Shannon, general editor of Merton's published letters]
 1983/05/24 TLS[x] from Shannon, William / to John Wu, Jr.I was delighted to receive the set of Merton letters to your father. They are fine letters and will [from William H. Shannon, general editor of Merton's published letters]
 undated/no/no other JOHN C. H. WU [-] Dr. John C.H. Wu, author of many books on jurisprudence, philosophy and literature [John Wu biography by William H. Shannon for Merton's published letters]
       

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