Author: David Shulman Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
This book brings together scholars of a variety of the world's major civilizations to focus on the universal theme of inner transformation. The idea of the "self" is a cultural formation like any other, and models and conceptions of the inner world of the person vary widely from one civilization to another. Nonetheless, all the world's great religions insist on the need to transform this inner world. Such transformations, often ritually enacted, reveal the primary intuitions, drives, and conflicts active within the culture. The individual essays study dramatic examples of these processes in a wide range of cultures, including China, India, Tibet, Greece and Rome, Late Antiquity, Islam, Judaism, and medieval and early-modern Christian Europe.
This collection of essays deals with anthropological rather than theological aspects of the Near Eastern and Mediterranean religions from the archaic period to Late Antiquity. Part one focuses on "Confession and Conversion," part two on "Guilt, Sin and Rituals of Purification."
This book brings together scholars of a variety of the world's major civilizations to focus on the universal theme of inner transformation. The idea of the "self" is a cultural formation like any other, and models and conceptions of the inner world of the person vary widely from one civilization to another. Nonetheless, all the world's great religions insist on the need to transform this inner world, however it is understood, in highly expressive and specific ways. Such transformations, often ritually enacted, reveal the primary intuitions, drives, and conflicts active within the culture. The individual essays--by such distinguished scholars as Wai-yee Li, Janet Gyatso, Wendy Doniger, Christiano Grottanelli, Charles Malamoud, Margalit Finkelberg, and Moshe Idel--study dramatic examples of these processes in a wide range of cultures, including China, India, Tibet, Greece and Rome, Late Antiquity, Islam, Judaism, and medieval and early-modern Christian Europe.
All the great religions insist on the need to transform the inner world, however it is understood, in highly expressive and specific ways. Such transformations reveal the primary intuitions, drives, and conflicts within the tradition. This collection studies examples of these processes in a wide range of cultures.
Many recent studies have argued that the self is a modern invention, a concept developed in the last three centuries. This text challenges that idea by presenting a series of studies that explore the origins, formation, and limits of the self within the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world.
From Shirley MacLaine's spiritual biography Out on a Limb to the teenage witches in the film The Craft, New Age and Neopagan beliefs have made sensationalistic headlines. In the mid- to late 1990s, several important scholarly studies of the New Age and Neopagan movements were published, attesting to academic as well as popular recognition that these religions are a significant presence on the contemporary North American religious landscape. Self-help books by New Age channelers and psychics are a large and growing market; annual spending on channeling, self-help businesses, and alternative health care is at $10 to $14 billion; an estimated 12 million Americans are involved with New Age activities; and American Neopagans are estimated at around 200,000. New Age and Neopagan Religions in America introduces the beliefs and practices behind the public faces of these controversial movements, which have been growing steadily in late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century America. What is the New Age movement, and how is it different from and similar to Neopaganism in its underlying beliefs and still-evolving practices? Where did these decentralized and eclectic movements come from, and why have they grown and flourished at this point in American religious history? What is the relationship between the New Age and Neopaganism and other religions in America, particularly Christianity, which is often construed as antagonistic to them? Drawing on historical and ethnographic accounts, Sarah Pike explores these questions and offers a sympathetic yet critical treatment of religious practices often marginalized yet soaring in popularity. The book provides a general introduction to the varieties of New Age and Neopagan religions in the United States today as well as an account of their nineteenth-century roots and emergence from the 1960s counterculture. Covering such topics as healing, gender and sexuality, millennialism, and ritual experience, it also furnishes a rich description and analysis of the spiritual worlds and social networks created by participants.
Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature and Civilization
Author: Frederick M. Smith
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Category: Social Science
The Self Possessed is a multifaceted, diachronic study reconsidering the very nature of religion in South Asia, the culmination of years of intensive research. Frederick M. Smith proposes that positive oracular or ecstatic possession is the most common form of spiritual expression in India, and that it has been linguistically distinguished from negative, disease-producing possession for thousands of years. In South Asia possession has always been broader and more diverse than in the West, where it has been almost entirely characterized as "demonic." At best, spirit possession has been regarded as a medically treatable psychological ailment and at worst, as a condition that requires exorcism or punishment. In South (and East) Asia, ecstatic or oracular possession has been widely practiced throughout history, occupying a position of respect in early and recent Hinduism and in certain forms of Buddhism. Smith analyzes Indic literature from all ages-the earliest Vedic texts; the Mahabharata; Buddhist, Jain, Yogic, Ayurvedic, and Tantric texts; Hindu devotional literature; Sanskrit drama and narrative literature; and more than a hundred ethnographies. He identifies several forms of possession, including festival, initiatory, oracular, and devotional, and demonstrates their multivocality within a wide range of sects and religious identities. Possession is common among both men and women and is practiced by members of all social and caste strata. Smith theorizes on notions of embodiment, disembodiment, selfhood, personal identity, and other key issues through the prism of possession, redefining the relationship between Sanskritic and vernacular culture and between elite and popular religion. Smith's study is also comparative, introducing considerable material from Tibet, classical China, modern America, and elsewhere. Brilliant and persuasive, The Self Possessed provides careful new translations of rare material and is the most comprehensive study in any language on this subject.
Mysticism and Self-Transformation in Early Quanzhen Daoism
Author: Louis Komjathy
Employing a comparative religious studies approach, this book provides a comprehensive discussion of early Quanzhen as a Daoist religious movement charactized by asceticism, alchemical transformation, and mystical experiencing. Emphasis is placed on the complex interplay among views of self, religious praxis, and religious experience.
Fairyfolk are fairyminded people who have had direct experiences with the divine energy and appearance of fairies, and fairypeople, who additionally know that they have been reincarnated from the Fairy Realm. This book gives an account of the living spirituality and mysticism of fairyfolk in Ireland.
Form as a Second Self in the Poetry of George Herbert
Author: Julia Carolyn Guernsey
Publisher: University of Delaware Press
Category: Literary Criticism
"Guernsey draws on D. W. Winnicott's object relations model, which focuses on self-development in a relational context, to illuminate various senses of self and Other that Herbert's poems express discursively and formally. The book will appeal not only to Herbert scholars and other Renaissance critics but also to audiences interested in psychoanalysis and how it relates to literature, religion, culture, and poetics."--BOOK JACKET.
The essays in this volume focus on philosophical, theological, and structural aspects of contemporary BuddhistÐChristian dialogue in an effort to assess its potential as a source for the renewal and transformation of both traditions. Writing from differing assumptions, academic disciplines, and religious world views, the nine Christian and two Buddhist contributors are nevertheless agreed that interreligious dialogue can contribute meaningfully to our understanding of some of the profound issues arising out of modern selfÐconsciousness. Believing that the human community and its survival are threatened everywhere by secularism, they seek to show that the dialogue between Buddhists and Christians can provide not only insights but a conceptual framework for authentic living in the present age of religious pluralism. Each writer shares the conclusion that BuddhistÐChristian encounter is vitally important for a larger understanding of contemporary issues of selfÐidentity, evil, communication, and fulfillment.
This comprehensive guide offers an unrivalled introduction to recent work in the study of religion, from the religious traditions of Asia and the West, to new forms of religion and spirituality such as New Age. With an historical introduction to each religion and detailed analysis of its place in the modern world, Religions in the Modern World is ideal for newcomers to the study of religion. It incorporates case-studies and anecdotes, text extracts, chapter menus and end-of-chapter summaries, glossaries and annotated further reading sections. Topics covered include: * religion, colonialism and postcolonialism * religious nationalism * women and religion * religion and globalization * religion and authority * the rise of new spiritualities.
Foucault, Christianity and Interfaith Dialogue develops a new model for interfaith dialogue using the work of the French historian of ideas, Michel Foucault. The author argues that it is the injustice done to the 'Other' by Roman Catholic, Protestant and other centred and unitary models of religious pluralism that allows the introduction of Foucault's de-centring of transcendence and human reason as an alternative model for understanding religious diversity and the role it ought to play, in the constitution of the self and the making of society. This Foucaultian approach provides a new direction for interfaith dialogue in the modern world and leads to an ethical rather than a nihilistic position while fostering a non-unitary theology of religious pluralism and an open-textured process of self-transformation. The author's original and imaginative application and expansion of Foucault's concept of the 'More' from The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969) makes important and original contributions to academic work on Foucault and contemporary theology.
Originally published in 1992, this remarkable book challenges many of the assumptions governing the Sociology of Religion and the Sociology of Culture by arguing that Western religion is neither science nor morality - it is the promise of happiness. Learned and incisive, it will be essential reading for students of religion, culture and anyone interested in the character of Modernity.
Russians have often been characterized as people with souls rather than selves. Self and Story in Russian History challenges the portrayal of the Russian character as selfless, self-effacing, or self-torturing by exploring the texts through which Russians have defined themselves as private persons and shaped their relation to the cultural community. The stories of self under consideration here reflect the perspectives of men and women from the last two hundred years, ranging from westernized nobles to simple peasants, from such famous people as Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Akhmatova, and Nicholas II to lowly religious sectarians. Fifteen distinguished historians and literary scholars situate the narratives of self in their historical context and show how, since the eighteenth century, Russians have used expressive genres—including diaries, novels, medical case studies, films, letters, and theater—to make political and moral statements. The first book to examine the narration of self as idea and ideal in Russia, this vital work contemplates the shifting historical manifestations of identity, the strategies of self-creation, and the diversity of narrative forms. Its authors establish that there is a history of the individual in Russian culture roughly analogous to the one associated with the West.
In this groundbreaking comparative study, Matthew Bagger investigates the role of paradox in Western and Asian religious discourse. Drawing on both philosophy and social scientific theory, he offers a naturalistic explanation of religion's oft-noted propensity to sublime paradox and argues that religious thinkers employ intractable paradoxes as the basis for various techniques of self-transformation. Considering the writings of Kierkegaard, Pseudo-Dionysus, St. John of the Cross, N?g?rjuna, and Chuang-tzu, among others, Bagger identifies two religious uses of paradox: cognitive asceticism, which wields the psychological discomfort of paradox as an instrument of self-transformation, and mysticism, which seeks to transform the self through an alleged extraordinary cognition that ineffably comprehends paradox. Bagger contrasts these techniques of self-transformation with skepticism, which cultivates the appearance of contradiction in order to divest a person of beliefs altogether. Bagger further contends that a thinker's social attitudes determine his or her response to paradox. Attitudes concerning crossing the boundary of a social group prefigure attitudes concerning supposed truths that lie beyond the boundaries of understanding. Individuals who fear crossing the boundary of their social group and would prohibit them tend to use paradox ascetically, while individuals who find the controlled incorporation of outsiders enriching commonly find paradox revelatory. Although scholars have long noted that religious discourse seems to cultivate and perpetuate paradox, their scholarship tends to ratify religious attitudes toward paradox instead of explaining the unusual reaction paradox provokes. A vital contribution to discussions of mystical experience, The Uses of Paradox reveals how much this experience relies on social attitudes and cosmological speculation.