The Poetics of “Standing in Relation” William James in Conversation with Transcendent Poets Expressing Relation with the Divine

Hughes, Elle (2018) The Poetics of “Standing in Relation” William James in Conversation with Transcendent Poets Expressing Relation with the Divine. Masters thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

This dissertation undertakes the study of religious experience in religious poetry utilizing the ideas of the twentieth century American psychologist and philosopher William James. James’s ideas that the religious impulse is personal, relational, and experiential with its source in the inner life of the individual provide the lens for this study. Because poetry draws from the inner life for its creation and tells of personal experience it provides rich potential for testing James’s ideas across historic, cultural and religious contexts. The four poets in this study draw from these varying contexts and are also highly popular in contemporary English translations. They include thirteenth century Persian Sufi master Jalal al-din Rumi, fourteenth century Kashmiri renouncer Lal Ded, and Hindu bhakti poets of northern India, Kabir and Mirabai of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. These poets were chosen for their large body of work using the relational language of love, longing and nearness to the unseen and their influence within their cultures and traditions across generations. Prominent in their poetry is relational language and experience with an external “other” as well as an experience of internal relation which James’ might have identified as the MORE. The poets will be discussed along these two trajectories; relation to an external other (Rumi and Mirabai) and internal relation (Lal Ded and Kabir). Drawing on a variety of perspectives addressing human to non-human relation provides support for the commonality of such relation. Historical elements demonstrate the long use of poetry as a religious form of language used to communicate with and establish relation to what is beyond human. During the research it became clear that a large number of unknown individuals composed songs and poems later attributed to Lal Ded, Kabir and Mirabai. This finding addressed a lingering question about the possible effects of religious ecstatic poetry and how widely such poetic expression is recognized by others. This comes around again to James and suggests that his view of religion as personal, relational and experiential between an individual and what is perceived as divine may continue to provide insight in contemporary studies.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Religious experience, William James, Religious poetry
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
Depositing User: Sandra Stedman
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2020 10:43
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2020 10:43
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/1211

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