From the world-renowned authority on religion comes a completely revised and updated version of his masterpiece. Explore the essential elements and teachings of the world's most predominant faiths, including: Hinduism; Buddhism; Confucianism; Taoism; Islam; Judaism; Christianity; the native traditions of Australia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.
Originally titled The Religions of Man, this completely revised and updated edition of Smith's masterpiece, now with an engaging new foreword, explores the essential elements and teachings of the world's predominant faiths, including:
and the native traditions of the Americas, Australia, Africa, and Oceania.
Emphasizing the inner -- rather than institutional -- dimensions of these religions, Smith devotes special attention to Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, Sufism, and the teachings of Jesus. He convincingly conveys the unique appeal and gifts of each of the traditions and reveals their hold on the human heart and imagination.
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April 01, 2003
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Excerpt from The World's Religions, Revised and Updated by Huston Smith
Preface to the Second Edition
In the years that have elapsed since this book first appeared, people have grown more sensitive to the gender biases in language; so I have changed the book's original title, The Religions of Man, to The World's Religions. No book can include all of the world's religions. Here the major ones -- as determined by their longevity, historical impact, and number of current adherents -- are dealt with individually, and smaller, tribal ones considered as a class.
In addition to switching to gender-inclusive language, I have added a short note on Sikhism and sections on Tibetan Buddhism and Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam. A section on "The Confucian Project" has been inserted, Taoist materials have been considerably reworked, the chapter on Judaism now includes a section on Messianism, and the historical Jesus is treated in greater detail.
I have also added a short concluding chapter on the oral traditions. This is partly to acknowledge that the historical religions the book covers are latecomers; for the bulk of human history, religion was lived in tribal and virtually timeless mode. A strong supporting reason, however, is to allow us to affirm our human past. Recent decades have witnessed a revival of concern for the feminine and the earth, concerns that the historical religions (with the exception of Taoism) tended to lose sight of, but which tribal religions have retained.
The somewhat informal -- though not unserious -- tone of the book derives from the fact that it evolved from a television series on what is now the Public Broadcasting System. Mention of that allows me to acknowledge again my indebtedness to Mayo Simon, my producer, for what success in communication the book achieves. The book's aim remains the same as the one we set for that series: to carry intelligent laypeople into the heart of the world's great enduring faiths to the point where they might see, and even feel, why and how they guide and motivate the lives of those who live by them.