Henry David Thoreau : mystic

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dc.contributor.advisor Satterwhite, Joseph N. en_US
dc.contributor.author Keller, Michael R. (Michael Robert), 1938- en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2011-06-03T19:27:36Z
dc.date.available 2011-06-03T19:27:36Z
dc.date.created 1976 en_US
dc.date.issued 1976
dc.identifier LD2489.Z64 1976 .K45 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://cardinalscholar.bsu.edu/handle/handle/177252
dc.description.abstract This dissertation seeks to construct a profile of Thoreau as a mystic. It examines Thoreau's life up to the publication of Walden, using in the main Thoreau's Journal and letters. It elucidates Thoreau's mystical experience and temperament chiefly by paralleling them with the experience and temperament of other mystics. It comments extensively on Walden throughout its chapters in an attempt to clarify Walden's mystical dimension.The Introduction justifies the method of paralleling Thoreau's experience with that of other mystics. It also defines the terms "mystic" and "mystical experience" and briefly argues the appropriateness of regarding Thoreau as a mystic. The Introduction gives special attention to explaining the various aspects of "illumination," the particular mystical state that Thoreau experienced numerous times in his life.Chapter 1 summarizes and comments in detail on many of Thoreau's illuminative experiences. Thoreau could facilitate these experiences either through meditative practice or through the cultivation of a passive, open, receptive condition while on walks in nature. Thoreau's illuminations included experiences of mystical "Silence," incommunicable noetic experiences, experiences of infinity and of flotation in infinity, experiences of calm and infinite self, "illuminative light," transfiguration and sacramentalization of external nature, joyfully reborn self, and other experiences.Chapter 2 shows that Thoreau conceived of his life as a quest for more and more complete mystical experience. Deliberate pursuit of illumination through nature formed one of the means through which he could make progress on this quest. Thoreau sought out certain natural locales, for example, that might catalyze illumination. Efforts of moral self-examination and self-shaping, efforts of character change, formed another means of progress. Thoreau sought to eliminate negative elements from his character and to cultivate non-self-preoccupation, trust, love, imperturbability, joy.Chapter 3 explores the effects on Thoreau of the gradual lessening, starting perhaps in 1841, of the frequency and intensity of his illuminations. The chapter shows that Thoreau shared in a period common in mystical lives called the Dark Night of the Soul, a period of despondency and spiritual deprivation that springs from the phenomenon of declining illuminations. Thoreau's purpose in going to Walden was partly to dispel the Dark Night he was experiencing and to recover the full illuminative state that he enjoyed previously. Thoreau's Dark Night continued past the Walden sojourn, however. Thoreau's Dark Night was rather frequently brightened by illuminations, although Thoreau commonly expressed dissatisfaction with them. The chapter explores why Thoreau came to regard these later illuminations as insufficient. By the time Thoreau published Walden, he had not advanced to Union, the final stage of the mystical life. The chapter suggests that remaining self-preoccupation and an acquisitive approach to the joys of illumination may have been the reason for Thoreau's not passing completely out of both the Illuminative and Dark Night phases of the mystical life and proceeding to Union. Thoreau seemed to be aware of the hindering effects of his remaining self-involvement, however, so he was in a likely way to grow out of this self-involvement.Chapter 4 discusses the possible effects on Thoreau's character of his numerous illuminative experiences. The chapter finds some of these effects to be a deep feeling of self-worth and of personal security, a sense of belonging in the world by rights as an integral part of it, asense of a loving presence that infuses life, self-detachment, inward calm, loving feeling and behavior, joy and zest in living, liberation from material pursuits, experience of the external world as sacramental or paradisal, and the ability spontaneously to poeticize or mythologize daily experience. en_US
dc.format.extent 326 leaves ; 28 cm. en_US
dc.source Virtual Press en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Mysticism in literature. en_US
dc.subject.other Thoreau, Henry David, 1817-1862. en_US
dc.title Henry David Thoreau : mystic en_US
dc.description.degree Thesis (D. Ed.) en_US
dc.identifier.cardcat-url http://liblink.bsu.edu/catkey/413819 en_US


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  • Doctoral Dissertations [3120]
    Doctoral dissertations submitted to the Graduate School by Ball State University doctoral candidates in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

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