ABSTRACT

While Chapter 1 situates personal narrative within the thesis of its imperative presence within contemplative inquiry, Chapter 2 provides a second exemplar of such notion in selected writings of Thomas Merton. The chapter interprets narrative and aesthetical themes in his work through the contemporary lens of writers in the fields of contemplative and transformative learning in education. Merton’s views are explored as a basis for beginning to configure an understanding of wisdom as one which emerges from the interweaving of the personal and aesthetical. The exploration of Merton’s ideas is guided in part by the strategy of dialogical speaking with Brother Louis which was the name he was known by in the Abbey of Gethsemani.

The dialogical engagement with Merton is my “writing witness consciousness,” a notion extended from Walsh and Bai (2015, p. 24), and reimagined as a terrain wherein is reduced the distance between I, the researcher and the subject of my research within a seeking of connection and non-dualism in inquiry. A form of engaging with a text which seeks the ethos of an arts-based contemplative methodology where research is guided by tools which are artful and extend beyond the narrower register of empirical investigation (Hart, 2004). While the methodological interpretation of such a strategy is explored in Chapter 5, it is introduced in Chapter 2 as a way of beginning to relate themes of the aesthetical and narrative in Merton’s work to the thesis of the wisdom image.