The first chapter of my thesis deals with the history and roots of Buddhist-Christian dialogue in relation to the formation of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. My studies begin with the U.S. immigration policies of the late nineteenth century and the subsequent importance of Hawaii remaining a territory during this time. This led to a significant Asian Buddhist population in Hawaii. The World's Parliament of Religions is then discussed as another example of the coming pluralistic, secularized, and global age throughout the world. The ecumenical movement and Theories and models it provided during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which culminated in the creation of the World Council of Churches, are also significant movements that contributed to the rise of interreligious dialogue. The Second Vatican Council is significant not only in relation to the Catholic Church, but also to interreligious dialogue as a whole. Through the papers On Ecumenism, which clarified the importance of ecumenism to the Catholic Church, and Nostra aetate which affirmed the importance of interreligious dialogue to the Catholic Church in the coming age. This provided the ideal opportunity for Catholic monks, in particular Thomas Merton, to inquire about taking up the Church's claim at partaking in a deeper conversation between the religions of the world. During his visits with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1968, as well as with his attendance, and subsequent death, at the Conference of East-West Monastics in Bangkok later that same year, intermonastic Buddhist-Christian dialogue was initiated and immediately had quite a following due to Thomas Merton's notoriety as a poet, author, and theologian. The World Council of Churches' Guidelines on Dialogue, published in 1972, presented interreligious dialogue with a paradigm shift away from being restricted solely to monastics, clergy, scholars, and religious leaders, and brought out to the grassroots level for the common person to partake in. The monastic contribution to interreligious dialogue continued to thrive due to many similarities held in common between Buddhist and Christian monastics. The Gethsemani Encounter, the largest, longest and most comprehensive intermonastic conference, was held at Merton's home monastery, The Abbey of Gethsemani, in Trappist, Kentucky in July 1996. The book The Gethsemani Encounter made up the case study portion of my thesis in which I was able to look at what a Buddhist-Christian intermonastic encounter looks like. Several different theories and themes were presented at this conference that make there way into several other dimensions of interreligious thought and theory. Several distinct theories and models surrounding the proper way in which to engage in interreligious dialogue are presented in the final chapter of my thesis. These include interreligious prayer and worship, Zen and Christianity, mysticism, dual religious citizenship, interreligious friendship, deabsolutization of the truth, pluralism interreligious dialogue and the academic study of religions, language, and interreligious dialogue as means to peace.


Duntley, Madeline


Religious Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2150

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