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Comparative Religion

ANCIENT RELIGIONS

ANCIENT RELIGIONS

Author: JOHNSTON, SARAH
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Religious beliefs and practices, which permeated all aspects of life in antiquity, traveled well-worn routes throughout the Mediterranean: itinerant charismatic practitioners journeying from place to place peddled their skills as healers, purifiers, cursers, and initiators; and vessels decorated with illustrations of myths traveled with them. New gods encountered in foreign lands by merchants and conquerors were sometimes taken home to be adapted and adopted. This collection of essays by a distinguished international group of scholars, drawn from the groundbreaking reference work Religions of the Ancient World, offers an expansive, comparative perspective on this complex spiritual world.
AVATAR & INCARNATION

AVATAR & INCARNATION

Author: PARRINDER, GEOFFREY
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Hindu beliefs in avatars, heavenly beings who come down to earth to restore right and destroy wrong, are more than 2000 years old. For the greater part of this history, beliefs in avatars have run parallel to the Christian doctrine of incarnation, the manifestation of God in Jesus. This study looks at the origin and development of these doctrines of avatar and incarnation, not just in Christianity and Hinduism, but also in other religions with comparable elements, such as Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Geoffrey Parrinder explores the scriptural sources for these doctrines and surveys the commentaries of theologians past and present. His absorbing examination of key issues, such as Christian belief in the uniqueness of Christ versus belief in successive avatars, the relationship between historicity and legend and the humanity - divinity debate, produces a rich and detailed comparison of the variety of beliefs in the earthly manifestation of the deity.
BENEDICT'S DHARMA

BENEDICT'S DHARMA

Author: HENRY, PATRICK
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Saint Benedict's Rule--a set of guidelines that has governed Christian monastic life since the sixth century--continues to fascinate laypeople and monastics alike. Buddhist monks and nuns have been intrigued by Benedict's insights into human nature and by the similarities between Christian and Buddhist traditions. Now, through personal anecdotes and thoughtful comparison, four prominent Buddhist scholars--including Joseph Goldstein and Yifa--reveal how the wisdom of each tradition can revitalize the other. Benedict's Dharma is a lively and compelling dialogue which will appeal not only to Buddhists and Christians, but to anyone interested in rediscovering the value of an ancient discipline in the modern world. Edited by Patrick Henry, with a new translation of the Rule of Saint Benedict by Patrick Barry, OSB.
BESIDE STILL WATERS: Jews, Christians, and the Way of the Buddha

BESIDE STILL WATERS: Jews, Christians, and the Way of the Buddha

Author: KASIMOW, HAROLD
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A compelling question for people of faith today is how to remain committed to one's own religious tradition while being open to the beauty and truth of other religions. For example, some fear that Buddhism is a threat to Western faith traditions and express grave doubts about interreligious and cross-cultural encounters. Yet, many who have actually broadened their experience profess to have developed a deeper understanding of and a deeper commitment to their tradition of origin.

This is what makes Beside Still Waters: Jews, Christians, and the Way of the Buddha such a new and meaningful contribution. Rather than offering research or lectures, Beside Still Waters takes a deeply personal approach, allowing the reader to delve into the individual experiences of fourteen Jews and Christians whose encounters with Buddhism have truly impacted their sense of religious identity.

As Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography, says in the book's foreword, "The Buddhist presence in the religious world is far larger than a head-count of Buddhists can reveal." Beside Still Waters upholds this point by way of the diverse and eloquent authors who lend their perspective in its pages; these include Sylvia Boorstein, John B. Cobb, Norman Fischer, Ruben Habito, and other important members of the Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and scholarly communities. Their collected anecdotes and interviews amount to an unprecedented and enduring work, sure to deepen our ability to understand each other, and therefore, ourselves.

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BIOGRAPHY OF SILENCE: AN ESSAY ON MEDITATION

Author: D'ORS, PABLO
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A publishing phenomenon in Spain: a moving, lyrical, far-ranging meditation on the deep joys of confronting oneself through silence by a Spanish priest and Zen disciple.

With silence increasingly becoming a stranger to us, one man set out to become its intimate: Pablo d'Ors, a Catholic priest whose life was changed by Zen meditation. With disarming honesty and directness, as well as a striking clarity of language, d'Ors shares his struggles as a beginning meditator: the tedium, restlessness, and distraction. But, persevering, the author discovers not only a deep peace and understanding of his true nature, but also that silence, rather than being a retreat from life, offers us an intense engagement with life just as it is. Imbued with a rare beauty, Biography of Silence shows us the deep joy of silence that is available to us all.

COMMON ERA

COMMON ERA

Author: SCHOLL, STEVEN
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This is a selection of articles on the major religions, new religious movements and indigenous traditions from around the world. The book is a blend of accessible scholarly studies with articles and interviews from leading religious and lay figures.
COMMUNITY OF RELIGIONS

COMMUNITY OF RELIGIONS

Author: TEASDALE, WAYNE
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Gathered on the centenary and in the same city of Chicago where the first Parliament took place, the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions was the largest interfaith gathering ever held. Representatives from minority, ethnic, and tribal religions took the podium as equals alongside representatives from the world's largest religious traditions. The Community of Religions is an essential record of this historic event, containing major addresses and reflections as well as numerous short evocations of the spirit of the Parliament.

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CRITICAL TERMS FOR RELIGIOUS STUDIES

Author: TAYLOR, MARK
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Critical Terms for Religious Studies provides vocabulary with which religious diversity can be effectively described and responsibly discussed. Each essay provides a concise history of a critical term, explores the issues it raises, and puts the term to use in an analysis of a religious work, practice, or event. Moving across Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Native American and Mayan religions, contributors explore terms ranging from experience, territory, and image, to God, sacrifice, and transgression.
ENCOUNTERING GOD

ENCOUNTERING GOD

Author: ECK, DIANA
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Winner of the 1995 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in ReligionDiana L. Eck, professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard University, eloquently reveals how her study of Asian religions has widened her own Christian faith, and shows why dialogue between people of all religions is cruci
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HUMAN CONDITION

Author: NEVILLE, ROBERT
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This multi-authored collaborative work on the idea of the human condition as a comparative category cuts across major religious traditions and cultures. Extensive essays by distinguished specialists examine Chinese religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Together the essays provide a multi-cultural approach to the human condition, discussing both broad sensibilities of religious traditions as well as specific texts. In addition the volume contains an introduction to a sophisticated theory of comparison for religious ideas, including explicit comparisons based on the specialized essays.

Contributors include Francis X. Clooney, S.J., Malcolm David Eckel, Paul Fredriksen, S. Nomanul Haq, Joseph Kanofsky, Livia Kohn, Robert Cummings Neville, Hugh Nicholson, Anthony J. Saldarini, Tina Shepardson, John Thatamanil, and Wesley J. Wildman.

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I & TAO

Author: HERMAN
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"Through competent scholarship, insightful interpretation, and masterful understanding of the present dialogue on hermeneutics, it brings Buber's book on Chuang Tzu into sinology and sinology via this book into the understanding and interpretation of Buber. No one else has ever tackled bringing these three fields--Sinology, Buber scholarship, and comparative mysticism--into meaningful interrelation and dialogue."-- Maurice Friedman, author of Martin Buber's Life and Work

"The best thing is the depth and breadth of his discussion of hermeneutic issues. Herman is very well read both in theoretical hermeneutics and in sinological literature on the Chuang Tzu, and he has thought carefully through the main methodological issues related to his task. His discussion of the relation between unitive/escapist and 'intraworldly' mysticism in the Chuang Tzu is a great contribution." -- Michael LaFargue, University of Massachusetts, Boston

"Buber's approach to Taoism is not primarily that of the scholar, but of the practitioner of philosophia perennis. And since Buber holds a prominent place in twentieth-century religious history, his appropriation of the Chuang Tzu is an important subject. Herman, to his credit, has not stood in Buber's path, but has allowed him to speak for himself.

"His treatment of textual reconstruction, interpretation, and reception in the hermeneutic chapters adds a great deal to these topics that is valuable quite apart from the specific text he addresses." -- David L. Hall

JEW IN THE LOTUS

JEW IN THE LOTUS

Author: KAMANETZ, RODGER
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"A highly entertaining personal account of one man's surprising journey into the mystical heart of Judaism."-- "Kirkus Reviews"
JOURNEYS INTO EMPTINESS: Dogen, Merton, Jung, and the Quest for Transformation

JOURNEYS INTO EMPTINESS: Dogen, Merton, Jung, and the Quest for Transformation

Author: GUNN, ROBERT JIGEN
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Models for every spiritual seeker Here are the life journeys of three great seekers who, though separated by time and culture, had much in common. Dogen was the 13th-century Japanese founder of a School of Zen Buddhism, the Soto School, and a teacher of zazen, wordless meditation. Jung was a 20th-century Swiss psychiatrist who broke with psychoanalysis and saw the mind as having both male and female elements. Merton was a 20th-century American Trappist monk who through traditional Christianity eventually embraced a wider spirituality. Each of the three engaged in a search for personal transcendence, a search that was triggered by a private experience of emptiness. Requiring no previous knowledge of its subjects, this book looks at the tradition in which each man worked, the key events of his life, his particular experience of emptiness, and how he used the experience to be transformed. The book shows how to bring the wisdom of all three men into our lives today. It also shows how to bring meaning and understanding to emptiness, one of the most difficult problems of the psychospiritual journey. These side-by-side biographies summarize each life in a wonderfully cohesive way for anyone new to the particular man. They also shed fascinating new insight for those more familiar with either the man or his philosophy.
LIVING ZEN, LOVING GOD

LIVING ZEN, LOVING GOD

Author: HABITO R
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The release of Ruben Habito's new book, Living Zen, Loving God has coincided with a rave review from Publishers Weekly magazine:

"Habito may not seem himself as a revolutionary, but his humble life calling - to illuminate the commonalities between Zen Buddhism and Christianity - seems a profound gift. Habito excels in illuminating the connective spiritual tissue between the two religions, while explaining the principles of Buddhism. This is an excellent book for readers who want to deepen their understanding of Christianity, as well as Buddhism." - Publishers Weekly

Exactly right. This wonderful book, in its friendly, informative tone, carefully explains Buddhist ideas - from key concepts like Emptiness and The Truth of Suffering to an in-depth and enlightening examination of the Heart Sutra - all in terms that will help modern Christian practitioners to deepen their faith, and Buddhists, to revitalize and broaden their perception and understanding.

This is a book with immense value to anyone interested in interreligious dialogue and studies, and as such, has already won accolades from Habito's contemporaries. (See below.)

Habito, a practicing Catholic and former Jesuit priest - as well as an acknowledged Zen master and professor in the School of Theology at Southern Methodist University - makes a clear case that Zen practice can deepen a Christian's connection to God, further clarify the Gospel teachings of Jesus, and enable one to live a more joyous, compassionate, and socially engaged life. Habito demonstrates that the practice of Zen meditation and even some elements of the Buddhist worldview can enable one to love God more constantly and commit to the service of the Realm of Heaven and the human community more wholeheartedly.

Ruben L.F. Habito is the author of numerous publications, in both Japanese and English, on Zen and Christianity and is a prominent figure in the Buddhist-Christian Dialogue. A native of the philipines, Habito served as a Jesuit priest in Japan under the guidance of the great spiritual pioneer Father Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle and studied Zen with renowned teacher Koun Yamada. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

MYSTICISM: Holiness East and West

MYSTICISM: Holiness East and West

Author: CARMODY, DENISE & JOHN
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Mysticism is pervasive throughout the religions of the world, yet varies widely in its particulars. This comprehensive work surveys the mystical dimension of the world's major religions, beginning with a working description of mysticism as "direct experience of ultimate reality," and examining how this understanding of mysticism holds up when set in interaction with Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, Japanese, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. The authors also examine the religious practices of North American, Latin American, African, and Australian native peoples, illuminating the history, principal beliefs, and teachings of each religion, and examining the lives and works of each tradition's outstanding mystics. The result is a dialogue between the particulars of mystical experience, which vary from tradition to tradition, and the generalities they share which make it possible to discuss mysticism across these traditions. This accessibly written introduction will appeal to students of mysticism, readers seeking mystical experience, and all those interested in religion as practiced throughout the world.

ON PILGRIMAGE

Author: WESTWOOD, JENNIFER
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On Pilgrimage walks readers through the 12 stages that are common to sacred journeys, describing both the spiritual and physical process. It features over 60 pilgrimage destinations worldwide and emphasizes both the personal quest and the multicultural and multifaith dimension of sacred travel. Full-color illustrations.
OPENING THE DOORS OF WONDER: Reflections on Religious Rites of Passage

OPENING THE DOORS OF WONDER: Reflections on Religious Rites of Passage

Author: MAGIDA, ARTHUR
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This bold, pioneering book explores rites of passage in America by sifting through the accounts of influential thinkers who experienced them. Arthur J. Magida explains the underlying theologies, evolution, and actual practice of Jewish bar and bat mitzvahs, Christian confirmations, Hindu sacred thread ceremonies, Muslim shahadas and Zen jukai ceremonies. In rare interviews, renowned artists and intellectuals such as Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, holistic guru Deepak Chopra, singer Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), actress/comedienne Julia Sweeney, cartoonist Roz Chast, interfaith maven Huston Smith, and many more talk intimately about their religious backgrounds, the rites of passage they went through, and how these events shaped who they are today.

Magida compares these coming of age ceremonies' origins and evolution, considers their ultimate meaning and purpose, and gauges how their meaning changes with individuals over time. He also examines innovative rites of passage that are now being "invented" in the United States. Passionate and lyrical, this absorbing book reveals our deep, ultimate need for coming-of-age events, especially in a society as fluid as ours.

Conversations with: Bob Abernethy, Huston Smith, Julia Sweeney, Roz Chast, Harold Kushner, Ram Dass, Elie Wiesel, Deepak Chopra, Robert Thurman, Coleman Barks, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), And others
OXFORD BOOK OF PRAYER

OXFORD BOOK OF PRAYER

Author: APPLETON, GEORGE
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Despite the anxious and ubiquitous materialism of the modern world, the practice of prayer and meditation remains a source of both relief and inspiration for millions. This unique compilation of over 1,100 prayers combines the traditional with the modern, stretching from the Bible, the saints and mystics of the past, and the Book of Common Prayer, to a Ghanaian fisherman's prayer, and prayers from many influential non-Christian religions.
Selected for their literary merit as well as spiritual quality, these prayers speak to the modern reader. Arranged under headings such as "Prayers from the Scripture," "Prayers of Christians, Personal and Occasional," and "Prayers of Other Traditions of Faith," the anthology includes a subject index to guide the reader to prayers for particular occasions, as well as an index of authors and sources. It serves as the ideal source for browsing or for more structured prayer, as well as for private meditation or public worship.
PARLIAMENT OF SOULS IN SEARCH OF GOD

PARLIAMENT OF SOULS IN SEARCH OF GOD

Author: TOBIAS, MICHAEL
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Through illuminating one-on-one interviews, this book captures the convictions and the questions of individuals in a tapestry of spiritual perspectives. Various religious traditions are represented by such diverse personages as a Sri Lankan Buddhist scientist, a feminist Islamic lawyer and the son of a militant Black Muslim. A Parliament of Souls will soon be a PBS series.
PILGRIMAGE: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION

PILGRIMAGE: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION

Author: READER, IAN
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Pilgrimage is found in most religious cultures, with large numbers of sites - from globally renowned places to regional shrines - flourishing historically and in the modern day. Pilgrimage centres around the world, including Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Guadalupe in Mexico, Lourdes in France, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Haridwar in India, and Shikoku in Japan, attract millions of pilgrims annually, while a flourishing 'spiritual tourism' industry has grown to promote the practice. In the present day, new pilgrimage locations, including 'secular' ones with no official affiliation, such as Graceland (Elvis Presley's house), continue to emerge across the world.

In this Very Short Introduction Ian Reader explores the factors that affect how pilgrimage has changed over time, from contemporary international developments, such as mass transportation to changing social attitudes reflected in the motives of pilgrims through the ages. He demonstrates the social and international aspects of pilgrimage, showing how it has become a way of expressing social identity and cultural heritage, as well as being entwined with themes of entertainment and tourism.

Reader explores the key issues and themes of pilgrimage through history to the present, looking at its various forms, how people take part, what is learned from the journeys, and why pilgrimage remains popular in an increasingly secular age.

ABOUT THE SERIES:
The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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PILGRIMAGE: Past and Present in the World Religions

Author: COLEMAN, SIMON & ELSNER, JOHN
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From the Great Panathenaea of Ancient Greece to the hajj, people of all nationalities have made sacred journeys to confirm their faith and their part in a larger identity. This text provides a guide to the cultural territory such pilgrimages have covered across the ages.
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PRAYER FROM ALEXANDER TO CONSTANTINE

Author: KILEY, MARK
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Prayer From Alexander To Constantine presents a diverse selection of prayer chosen by over 40 different historians, all specialists in their respective areas of Graeco-Roman literature. This collaboration gives the book a range and depth that no individual author could hope to rival.
Each selection includes an introductory essay, followed by a new English translation of the prayer, accompanied by critical notes and biography. In this way the reader is able to gain an insight into the variety of subjects and styles involved in people's communications with their gods in antiquity.
The volume will be a key text for students engaged in courses which explore the period's history and theologies. There is no comparable anthology available in English. The volume will also be of value to the general reader interested in the history of this period and anyone interested in the forms of prayer.
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PRAYER: CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM PERSPECTIVES

Author: MARSHALL, DAVID
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A record of the 2011 Building Bridges seminar in Doha, Qatar, featuring Muslim and Christian scholars analyzing the meaning and function of prayer within their traditions. Part I includes three pairs of essays: Michael Plekon on people who pray and Sha-Kazemi on a Qur'anic theology of prayer; M.M. Dheen Mohamed and Philip Sheldrake on the practice of prayer in Christianity and Islam, respectively; and Caner Dagli's Muslim perspective on Christian prayer along with Daniel Madigan's Christian perspective on Muslim prayer. In Part II Susan Eastman and Rkia Elraoui Cornell introduce key themes from the best-known prayers in the Bible and the Qur'an, and Philip Sedddon and Asma Asfaruddin address Romans Chapter 8 and Qur'an 3:190-194 and 29:45. Part III focuses on how Christians and Muslims learn to pray, with essays by Lucy Gardner, Ibrahim Mogra, Timothy Wright, and Timothy Gianotti. The volume includes Lucinda Mosher's "Conversations in Qatar," an account of the main issues of the seminar; an afterword by Rowan Williams; and a collection of personal reflections on prayer written by seminar participants.
RATIONALITY & RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE

RATIONALITY & RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE

Author: ROSEMONT, HENRY
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This work examines how the world's many religions contributed to humankind's intellectual evolution and points out their value in the future. Rosemont also explains that all religion enhances our non-material lives by providing a sense of fully belonging.
RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY

RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY

Author: DEUTSCH, ELIOT
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Through the skillful use of a great variety of literary genres, this book explores the intimate relation and tension between religion and spirituality, evoking a wide range of responses that may awaken one to various possibilities of spiritual experience.

RELIGION & THE BODY

RELIGION & THE BODY

Author: COAKLEY, SARAH
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This will be the standard study on the "body" in relation to the major religions. It highlights the distinctive and unfamiliar ways in which diverse religious traditions understand the "body" and notes the assumptions and problems of contemporary attitudes to it. Religion and the Body brings together essays by established experts in the history of religion, the social sciences and philosophy. The result is a rich source for comparative studies of the "body", its relation to society and to the divine.
RELIGIOUS & SPIRITUAL QUOTATIONS

RELIGIOUS & SPIRITUAL QUOTATIONS

Author: PARRINDER, GEOFFREY
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How did the universe come to exist? What is the nature of its creator? Is there a purpose to human existence? What is it to live a good life?
The Routledge Dictionary of Religious and Spiritual Quotations offers not just one, but many, answers to these questions. Geoffrey Parrinder has drawn on all the great books of world religions - the Bible, the Qur'an, Zoroastrian Gathas, Hindu Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, Jewish Mishnah, Sikh Adi Granth and Chinese Tao Te Ching - in this collection of over 3000 quotations. Discover the words of prophets, scholars and mystics on matters spiritual and moral, as well as Plato on sexuality, Freud on religion and Gandhi on violence.
Originally published in 1990, The Routledge Dictionary of Religious Quotations is now reissued with a new preface by Geoffrey Parrinder.
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SACRED and THE PROFANE: The Nature of Religion

Author: ELIADE, MIRCEA
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A highly original and scholarly work on spirituality by noted historian Mircea Eliade

In The Sacred and the Profane, Mircea Eliade observes that while contemporary people believe their world is entirely profane, or secular, they still at times find themselves connected unconsciously to the memory of something sacred. It's this premise that both drives Eliade's exhaustive exploration of the sacred--as it has manifested in space, time, nature and the cosmos, and life itself--and buttresses his expansive view of the human experience.

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ULTIMATE REALITIES

Author: NEVILLE, ROBERT
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The idea of ultimacy as a comparative category that cuts across major religious traditions and cultures is discussed in Ultimate Realities, a multi-authored collaborative work. In this light, Chinese religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are examined by distinguished specialist historians. Two senses of ultimacy emerged in the Comparative Religious Ideas Project from which this volume came. One is the ultimacy of ontological matters such as God, the Dao, or Brahman. The other is the anthropological ultimacy of religious quests such as the Buddhist journey to enlightenment which does not stress any ontological ultimate, and indeed in some forms considers ontological ultimates to be problematic. Underneath this comparative study is a theory and method of comparison which are discussed at length and embodied in the project.

Contributors include John H. Berthrong, Francis X. Clooney, S.J., Malcolm David Eckel, Paula Fredriksen, S. Nomanul Haq, Joseph Kanofsky, Livia Kohn, James E. Miller, Robert Cummings Neville, Hugh Nicholson, Anthony J. Saldarini, Tina Shepardson, John Thatamanil, and Wesley J. Wildman.

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ZEN & THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

Author: CHETWYND, TOM
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"Let us guard the mind with all diligence from thoughts that obscure the soul's mirror; for in that mirror Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God the Father, is luminously reflected. And let us unceasingly seek the Kingdom of Heaven inside our mind. Indeed if we cleanse the eye of the mind, we will find all things hidden within us. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ said that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, indicating that Divinity dwells in our minds."
--Saint Philotheos of Sinai, circa ninth century.

In this provocative and very human work, Tom Chetwynd tells the story of how his skeptical first encounters with Zen Buddhism led him to discover the rich-but largely forgotten Christian tradition of pure contemplative prayer. Chetwynd explores the surprisingly Zen-like teachings of the Desert Fathers and other Christian meditation masters whose practice stems from the very first Christian communities--and perhaps Jesus Christ himself.

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ZEN SPIRIT, CHRISTIAN SPIRIT

Author: KENNEDY, ROBERT
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'Kennedy shows other Christians a way of integrating Zen Buddhism and Christian belief. He does this convincingly and gracefully... by weaving together Zen poetry and koans, Western poetry and literature, scriptural texts and personal experience.' --National Catholic Reporter
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ZEN TRACES: EXPLORING AMERICAN ZEN WITH TWAIN AND THOREAU

Author: KRAFT, KENNETH
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"Kraft rubs together these pithy thoughts and phrases from traditional and present-day Zen with the sayings of Henry-David Thoreau and Mark Twain to come up with fresh portals of spiritual openness."--Spirituality & Practice

As Zen takes root in the west, new forms arise. For centuries Zen masters have tested their students with "koans" and "capping phrases." A koan is a spiritual paradox that must be solved intuitively. A capping phrase is a trenchant comment. Both are meditative practices that reveal deeper truths about the self and, ideally, lead to enlightenment.

In Zen Traces, Buddhist scholar Kenneth Kraft plays off these practices in a new idiom. He selects passages from four sources: traditional Zen, present-day Zen, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain. When a koan-like story about a contemporary Zen teacher is paired with a pithy comment by Mark Twain, something fresh emerges.