Lights in the East


Taming The Gods : Religion And Democracy On Three Continents by Ian BurumaI felt like titling this “Lights in the West,” since Asia and the Pacific Islands are west of here, but that didn’t sound right. Anyway, here are a few books in our San Mateo County Library collections you might want to have a look at.

These Are Titles I Haven’t Mentioned Before

Ian Buruma, Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents. 2010. Buruma, author of Murder in Amsterdam, looks at religion and state in America, Europe and Asia (China & Japan), and draws some unpredictable conclusions. Among them: while monotheistic religions are not the only ones to impact political development, Christianity has had an important and revolutionary influence in Asia.

My Spiritual Journey : Personal Reflections, Teachings, And Talks by Dalai Lama XIV Bstan ʼdzin rgya mtshoDalai Lama, My Spiritual Journey: Personal Reflections, Teachings and Talks. 2010.  The Dalai Lama discusses his own inner spiritual life as it has unfolded from his recognition as the fourteenth incarnation of the Dalai Lama, through his monastery life in Tibet, and onto the world stage.

Dalai Lama, Essential Writings. 2008. Writings selected by an American professor of Religion.

Eknath Easwaran, The Upanishads. 2007.  Selections from the great Hindu scriptures, which have been chosen for their relevance to students and seekers today.

The Shark God : Encounters With Ghosts And Ancestors In The South Pacific by Charles Montgomery Charles Montgomery, The Shark God: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in the South Pacific. 2006.  Montgomery is the great-grandson of a missionary, the daring Anglican Bishop of Tasmania. In this adventure, he decides to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps, discovering that the local people have since syncretized Christianity with their local “custom” beliefs, or continued to hold those beliefs alone. In the climax, he reaches an island in crisis, where a new cult may make all the difference.

Sosan Taesa, The Mirror of Zen: The Classic Guide to Buddhist Practice. 2006. A Korean Zen Buddhist classic translated into English for the first time.

A Lifetime Of Peace : Essential Writings By And About Thich Nhat Hanh by Thích. Nh́ât HạnhThich Nhat Hanh, A Lifetime of Peace: Essential Writings by and about Thich Nhat Hanh. 2003.  A collection of the writings of the well-known Vietnamese Buddhist monk, an advocate of world peace and engaged Buddhism.

Swami Bhaskarananda, Essentials of Hinduism. 2002. A primer for those who do not know much about Hinduism in general, by a monk who has been involved in interfaith relations.

V.S. Naipaul, Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples. 1998.  A follow-up to Naipaul’s Among the Believers of 1981, this book describes another journey to non-Arab Muslim countries, among them Indonesia and Malaysia. Naipaul is critical about the effect of Islam on the varied societies he visits.

Essential Tibetan Buddhism by Robert A. F. ThurmanJohannes C. Andersen, Myths and Legends of the Polynesians. 1995.  This collection was originally published in 1928, and betrays the prejudices of the time and of ethnologist Andersen.

Robert A.F. Thurman, Essential Tibetan Buddhism. 1995. An introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, with new translations of key texts.

Hindu Scriptures, trans. and ed. by R. C.Zaehner. 1992.  Excerpts from the Rig-Veda, Atharva-Veda, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.

See my previous posts for other ideas!


Author Bio:

Vaughn Harrison works at Half Moon Bay Library and on the Bookmobile. She just finished reading a mystery set in the Solomon Islands, with a detective reminiscent of Tony Hillerman's Jim Chee.

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