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Transcendent experience or the transcendence of experience? An analysis of transcendent realization in Shankara, Ibn Arabi and Meister Eckhart

Shah-Kazemi, Reza (1994) Transcendent experience or the transcendence of experience? An analysis of transcendent realization in Shankara, Ibn Arabi and Meister Eckhart. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86268) (KAR id:86268)


This research aims at investigating the nature, meaning and implications of 'transcendent realization', that which is held to be the summit of spiritual realization by three renowned and highly influential mystics; Shankara. from the Hindu tradition, Ibn Arabi, from the Islamic tradition and Meister Eckhart, from the Christian tradition.

The central methodological principle of the analysis is interntionalityl the opening chapter situates and discusses this principle in relation to the phenomenological method, while also highlighting the importance of the concept of transcendence for the contemporary discussion in comparative mysticism between the 'contextualist' school of Steven Katz and the 'Pure Consciousness' school of Robert Forman.

Three chapters follow, dealing in turn with each of the three mystics, analyzing in some depth their respective pronouncements on transcendence; this theme is explored in both doctrinal and realizational terms: what transcendence means objectively, and how it is assimilated, realized or attained subjectively, with what pre-conditions and with what ramifications.

The penultimate chapter brings together those features of transcendence shared in common bu the three mystics; differences as well as similarities are analyzed here.

The final chapter consists in a critique of recent scholarly approaches to mysticism. In the light of the conclusions presented in this thesis, the reductive aspect of these approaches - their failure to take into account fully the nature and implications of trascendence with regard to mystical experience - is clearly discerned.

The central conclusion of the thesis is that transcendent realization consists in the realization of identity with the Absolute, an identity which strictly transcends the individual, and by that very token transcends all possible 'experience' defined in relation to the individual; it also necessarily transcends all contextual factors that presuppose the individual as the ground of their mediating influence. The realization of this transcendent identity is incommunicable as regards its intrinsic nature but can be extrinsically described as the realization of the unique and undifferentiable Essence of 'Being-Consciousness-Bliss'.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86268
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: #ethos, Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:47 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 19:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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