Thursday, June 28, 2012

Types of gold

Religion and belief tend to take their own shape in any mind that continues on for long enough.  A year ago, I was visiting long-time friends and they introduced me to Joan Chittister.  She is an American Catholic nun and a member of the Benedictines.  They were reading "A Gift of Years" on the gift of living a long life.  Whenever friends mention a book they like, I check it out on Amazon.   When I checked out Sister Chittister, PhD, I found this gem Welcome to the Wisdom of the World.  The table of contents will give you the idea of the breadth of the book:

HINDU WISDOM 1. Why Does My Life Feel So Hectic? 2. Why Does the Thought of Getting Older Bother Me? 3. What Does It Mean to "Make a Difference"? 4. What Does It Mean to Be a Spiritual Person?  5. How Can I Learn to Let Go of the Past?

BUDDHIST ENLIGHTENMENT 6. Would I Do It All Again? 7. How Do I Know the Right Thing to Do? 8. How Do I Know Who to Follow? 9. What Does It Take to Succeed?  10. Is It Possible to Make Up for Past Mistakes?


JEWISH COMMUNITY 11 Where Did I Lose My Idealism? 12. Why Do I Feel Stuck? 13. What Can I Do When Enough Is Enough?  14. Does Anything Really Matter? 15. Why Was I Born?

CHRISTIAN LOVE 16. Why Can't I Just Get Away from It All? 17. What Does It Take to Put Excitement Back into Life? 18. How Will I Know Truth When I See It? 19. What's Wrong with Me: Why Can't I Change? 20. What Is the Purpose of Life?

ISLAMIC SUBMISSION 21. What Is There to Get Up for in the Morning?  22. Where Is God? 23. What Is Happiness?  24. What's Important in Life?  25. Why Do I Feel That Something Is Missing in My Life?

EPILOGUE: THE ROOTS OF TRADITION 26. Hindu Wisdom and Eternal Meaning  27. Buddhist Enlightenment and Desirelessness  28. Judaism: Community of justice and joy  29. Christianity: The Call to the Beatitudes  30. Islam: Community of Witness and Submission

Joan Chittister. (2007) Welcome to the Wisdom of the World And Its Meaning for You:  Universal Spiritual Insights Distilled from Five Religious Traditions (Kindle Locations 8-21). Kindle Edition.

I just finished "Bringing Home the Dharma" by Jack Kornfield.  Recently, when I tried to pick a leading name from my reading that had most helped me decide how to meditate and why, Kornfield came to mind as the best, out of dozens of really excellent writers and thinkers.  The closing chapters are the most honest, straightforward and clear statements about the course of a religion I have read.  

You can't cover the earth without spreading out, just as humans did during their long expansion from central Africa to everywhere.  If you spread out, you are going to lose touch, especially in the pre-internet days.  So, there will be natural developments of divergences and differences.  Once realized, there will be charges of who is "right", who diverged improperly, etc.,etc.  Given enough time, we may unite yet.  In some ways, we have already done so.

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