ABSTRACT

In this study the transit onto the contemplative terrain is guided by both analytical and literary texts, and accompanied by a first-third-person presence in my writing. The text flows between first- and third-person voices; to speak between voices, in turn, foregrounds methodological themes, explored in Chapter 5, about the ethos of an arts-based contemplative inquiry. Amongst these is the strategy of dialogical discourse, which is echoed in Merton’s (1966) own writings such as Letter to an Innocent Bystander where he addresses the text and reader respectively and which is reciprocated in the present study as a tool which fosters reflection.

Departing from a third-person approach, dialogical discourse falls within the broader range of creative tools which Hart (2004) ponders in his characterization of contemplative knowing. It also follows in the spirit of arts-based researchers who encourage ways of doing inquiry which are marginalized within the academy (Diamond & Mullen, 2001) and researchers in spirituality studies such as Palmer (1993) who advocate that we listen to the subject within a spirit of holism and connection. In this inquiry, dialogical writing to Merton was generative of questions and meditations and following Susan Schiller’s observation becomes a form of writing which becomes meaningful by being connected to “something in the writer’s world that allows the writing to be both desirable and worthwhile to that person” (Schiller, 2014, p. x).

If an inquiry is configured within the entwining of narrative and the dialogical, then of what configuration is its methodology? The questions returns to Bruner’s idea of narrative as being fundamental to meaning making and gravitates towards Ergas’ kindred thesis of how meaning is constructed within our “personal paradigms” (Ergas, 2016, p. 14). Chapter 5 extends Bruner’s and Ergas’ notions with the observation of the personal character of methodology as one configured in narrative and underscored by the thesis that my research is guided by a methodology of my own making—a methodology of one.