The Stillness in Movement: A Buddhist Reading of Ash-Wednesday

  • Chutian Xiao Department of English Studies, Durham University


 Commonly seen as a religious poem that reflects T. S. Eliot’s conversion to Catholicism, Ash-Wednesday demonstrates intensively the poet’s religious experience, especially the union of the spiritual stillness and the movements in time which verges on mysticism. However, such extraordinary experience can be comprehended from the perspective of Buddhism. It corresponds with the Buddhist concept of suchness, which is further connected to religious meditation and the attitude of non-attachment in face of worldly life. It does not violate the speaker’s pursuit for a kind of Christian salvation, for it concerns more the process and the way to achieve the destination than the destination itself.

Author Biography

Chutian Xiao, Department of English Studies, Durham University
Chutian Xiao, a PhD candidate in English at Durham University, is working on T. S. Eliot’s poetic use of Buddhism under the supervision of Professor Michael O’Neill. His research focuses on how Eliot creatively uses Buddhism to aid poetic expression, and to what extent Buddhism helps construct his religious and philosophical thought.
How to Cite
XIAO, Chutian. The Stillness in Movement: A Buddhist Reading of Ash-Wednesday. Exchanges: the Warwick Research Journal, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 1, p. 27-40, oct. 2017. ISSN 2053-9665. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 jan. 2018.


T. S. Eliot; Ash-Wednesday; movement; Buddhism; timeless; divinity