Eastern Spirituality in America: Selected Writings

By Robert S. Ellwood | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The religions of the East have exercised an influence, direct and indirect, on American culture and the American soul. My endeavor in this volume will be to present representative texts exploring the sources and nature of this influence. These texts should give the reader some impression of how Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Theosophy—a portmanteau conveying East to West and West to East—appear in the traveling guises that have made them options within general American spiritual culture.

It is hoped that the reading selections following will provide an overview of Eastern spirituality as it has historically been presented to Americans. At the same time, it has been necessary to define rather strictly what can be covered in a single volume. Certain principles have had a role in governing the selection of material:

1. Islam and Islamic-derived movements, such as Baha'i, Subud, and various Sufi groups, have been excluded. It can be argued that, as a monotheistic religion rooted in the same Semitic culture‐ area as Judaism and Christianity, Islam should be considered a Western rather than an Eastern religion. In any case, to have included spokesmen for these groups would have been to attempt more than could be done well in a volume of this scope.

2. Writers have been selected who have addressed a "mainstream" occidental-American audience as well as, or instead of, ethnic Asian-American religionists. They are thus persons who have had some impact on American spiritual culture as a whole.

3. At the same time, early Transcendentalist and other writers, such as Emerson and Thoreau, whose general Eastern sympathies

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Eastern Spirituality in America: Selected Writings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Eastern Spirituality in America - Selected Writings *
  • Contents v
  • Preface 1
  • General Introduction 4
  • I - Introduction 5
  • II - Hinduism 45
  • Hindu Selections *
  • III - Buddhism 114
  • Buddhist Selections *
  • IV - Taoism 195
  • Taoist Selection *
  • V - Theosophy 215
  • Theosophy Selection *
  • Bibliography of General Works on Eastern Spirituality in America 235
  • Index to Introduction 237
  • Index to Texts 240
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