Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Reading

I am spending my summer reading books on Buddhism and Islam in hopes that I can gain a general introduction to these two religious traditions. The books on Buddhism include three by the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Vietnamese Buddhist monk who practices Zen Buddhism.  He is a talented and prolific writer who is well known for speaking clearly about Buddhism to a western audience and finding ways to show the ties between Buddhism and Christianity.  I am reading "The Heart of the Buddha's Teachings", "Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers" and "Living Buddha, Living Christ".

In addition to the Thich Nhat Hanh books, I am finally getting a chance to finish the Karen Armstrong Biolography, "Buddha", which is a beautiful historic account of the narratives that have been preserved in India about the life of Siddhartha Gautama and the subsequent development of the many different Buddhist paths that have developed over the centuries.


As for the Islamic traditions, my professor has directed me towards "The Garden of Truth" by Seyyed Hossein Nasr.  The book is all about Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam, which Professor Farajaje felt would be a good route for someone like me to take in the process of engaging and understanding Islam.

Additionally, to provide historical context, I am returning to another Karen Armstrong book, this one titled "A Short History of Islam".  Already I am gaining a far better understanding of the ways that Islam is (and isn't) related to Judaism and Christianity as well as a more comprehensive narrative of the history of religion  and power in the middle east. 

As I write over the summer, it will be easy to see the influence of these books and the knowledge I am gaining in my posts.  I expect to be blogging almost exclusively from these books for awhile - both in the form of direct knowledge I am gaining and in the form of insights I gain as I find ways to assimilate these new ideas into my existing spiritual life.