University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

Learning the Sacred.

Hirji, Nanzin. (2007) Learning the Sacred. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.

Download (16MB) | Preview


The thesis poses the question ‘can we learn the sacred’ and argues that the sacred lies at the heart of learning. We look at the implications of this question and find that it translates into ‘what does it mean to be human?’ We use a phenomenological approach and find that we can experience the sacred and give it meaning and interpretation derived from latent learning. There is always more beyond what the eye can see and the thesis highlights the need to use the inner eye to understand human processes and the ordering of these processes. Experience of the unknown leads us to the phenomenon of giving meaning through experiential and transformative learning and tacit interpretation, and points us to the idea of the sacred. However, we use a methodological agnosticism perspective to see if a secular explanation is possible. Writing as a member of a faith community, my argument is that the experience that we call the sacred, or spiritual, appears to be universal. The contexts of ‘place’ and symbol contribute to the extraordinariness of my experiences. How do others experience the profound and the ineffable? Mystery becomes acculturated and embedded within that context in the initial phase of experiencing but then it transcends culture as it does language. Analysis of my experience and those of others reveals significant findings that impact on learning and transformation of the inner and outer worlds of the human being. We find that the architect designing a religious place functions within the sense of the faith community and will use the symbols of that faith community. In the survey of a number of believers, we tested this interpretation and by interviewing the architect who designed the building, we sought to understand how the architect tries to re-create these experiences. We find that methodological agnosticism cannot provide a secular explanation and that religious discourse is part of our ongoing vocabulary and interaction with our lifeworlds. The thesis offers the conclusion that we can learn the sacred, but the caveat is that it can only be articulated through the symbol. In the final analysis, all human beings are members of One Community, diverse cultures, religions and traditions notwithstanding, and this understanding of the sacred residing at the heart of learning can be universal, if self-erected and social boundaries, if not entirely eliminated, are at least made more porous and accessible.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Hirji, Nanzin.
Date : 2007
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2007.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 06 May 2020 11:53
Last Modified : 06 May 2020 11:53

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800