Huston Smith: Essays on World Religion

By Huston Smith; M. Darrol Bryant | Go to book overview

same direction was itself invigorating--it was like the scientists' resort to independent verification to check the truth of a hypothesis--but that was only the beginning of my gain. I had had difficulty trying to cultivate the Christian virtues directly: How, for example, does one go about trying to be more humble? Buddhism's back-door approach was more concrete, for once I started watching for the poisons, greed (to mention only the first one, including greed for self- aggrandizement) began to surface at every turn. Because poison is in the system now, one can deal more tangibly with it than with the health that lies somewhere in the distance.

A third transfusion of spiritual energy came from the Buddhist (as also Hindu and Taoist) unblinking recognition that there comes a time in our understanding of the Ultimate when not only personal categories but all categories must be set aside.

At a certain point in my odyssey the Christian emphasis on God's personal nature appeared excessive and confining: It made God seem cloyingly anthropomorphic. When I later discovered the mystics' distinction between God and the Godhead, I saw that the apophatic, transpersonal abysses of God's nature are honored in Christendom too. But it was Asia that introduced me to the distinction and pointed me to its buried presence at home.


CONCLUSION

It seems clear that most of the impetus for dialogue today is coming from Christians, and this is understandable. Christianity has been so bruised by modern secular and scientistic styles of thought that it needs help from its Eastern, more traditional, allies. For only by looking East (or West if we are in California) to the more readily apparent and integral metaphysical truths and contemplative methods of Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim teachings can the Western believer begin to discover the spiritual resources that have been more deeply hidden at the center of their own religion. Meanwhile, if Asians are more reluctant to enter into dialogue, they have reason. There is danger that our scientistic, secular accretions may rub off onto them.

But let me close with the spirit to which we might aspire in this week's conversations. Walpola Rahula and Edmund Perry covered that point so well last evening that a salutation that comes down to us from Tibet is all that I feel I need add. Marco Pallis tells us that on meeting a stranger from abroad Tibetans used to ask "To which sublime tradition, revered sir, do you belong?"

-260-

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Huston Smith: Essays on World Religion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Notes xxix
  • PART I FOUNDATIONS 1
  • Accents of the World's Philosophies 3
  • Accents of the World's Religions 18
  • Conclusion 32
  • Notes 33
  • Truth in Comparative Perspective 37
  • PART II THE SPLENDID PRISM 55
  • East Asia Transcendence in Traditional China 57
  • Tao 1 Now: An Ecological Testament 71
  • A Note on Shinto 93
  • Spiritual Discipline in Zen and Comparative Perspective 96
  • "Celestial Mirages": Reflections on Thought and Truth 113
  • Conclusion 123
  • Notes 124
  • South Asia India and the Infinite 129
  • Vedic Religion and the Soma Experience 135
  • Conclusion 152
  • BIBLIOGRAPRY 155
  • The Importance of the Buddha 161
  • Tibetan Chant: Inducing the Spirit 1 166
  • References 175
  • The West The Western Way: An Essay on Reason and the Given 176
  • The Conceptual Crisis in the Modern West 197
  • Western Philosophy as a Great Religion 205
  • PART III CONSEQUENCES: SOCIAL, EDUCATIONAL, AND ECUMENICAL 225
  • The Relevance of the Great Religions for the Modern World 227
  • Another World to Live in, or How I Teach the Introductory Course 237
  • This Ecumenical Moment: What Are We Seeking? 250
  • Conclusion 260
  • Postmodernism's Impact on the Study of Religion 262
  • References 279
  • Bibliography 281
  • Index 288
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