Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Major

Religion

First Advisor

Professor Ellison Banks Findly

Second Advisor

Professor Frank Kirkpatrick

Abstract

In this essay, I will compare three modern, contemporary thinkers, Thomas Merton, Mahatma Gandhi and Jiddu Krishnamurti. These three come from relatively different theological backgrounds. Thomas Merton is a Catholic monk, Mahatma Gandhi is a traditional Hindu with sentiments that come from Buddhism, and Krishnamurti, from birth was predetermined to belong to the Theosophists as their new World Leader. The underlying themes that connects these three profound figures together is, first, their transcendentalist approach in understanding the self, the cosmos, and the profane world by methods of contemplation, meditation and silence. Second, they are connected by a familiar personal spiritual development. In each case, there is a turn inward and then a turn outward, in which they send forth what they learn from their self-transformation, in order to benefit the lives of others. Thomas Merton is the baseline for comparison in this essay. From a depth of understanding of his personal life, I was able to make analytical comparisons with the outcome of his thinking after undergoing a spiritual transformation to Mahatma Gandhi and Jiddu Krishnamurti. Whether it was in literature, political activism or public speaking, each one of these thinkers has a degree of importance for theologians, scholars, and spiritually seeking individuals.

Comments

Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Religion.