The Positive Psychology of Buddhism and Yoga: Paths to a Mature Happiness

By Marvin Levine | Go to book overview

Introduction

This book has a special form. Before I describe it, let me first tell you about myself, and how I came to write it. I was born Jewish and, until I was 10, was educated in Orthodox Judaism. The vision I absorbed, a monotheistic God surrounded by angels who painted sunsets and watched out for me, was of a warm and friendly universe. Like many American Jewish youths, however, I grew away from Judaism in my teens. But that vision, that cosmology, persisted, although I wasn't aware of it. Awareness came at Columbia University starting with a freshman humanities course, where I was immersed in the literature and culture of ancient Greece. For the first time I saw another culture, dazzling in its creative and intellectual activity, that had a totally different cosmology. I asked a classmate "How could the Greeks, who were so advanced, be so naive as to believe in many Gods?" My friend's answer was simple and irrefutable: "Maybe they were right." I stammered indignantly, but knew that I had no real defense of my childhood beliefs. My subsequent education at Columbia was heavily influenced by the cultural-relativistic outlook of its distinguished Anthropology Department, and by the strong environmentalism of its psychology program. Students were confronted with the challenge that their beliefs and values were arbitrary, conditioned by their cul

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