Knowledge of the world’s religions can lead to a discovery of common ground and shared global perspectives among people of different faiths. It can move people to unite and identify the world’s most pressing needs, enabling them to create plans to reduce violence, fight hunger, alleviate poverty, and promote justice and fairness for all peoples. A first step in this direction is learning about world religions.
In Discovering World Religions, author Gabriel J. Gomes provides a comprehensive overview of a wide range of world religions, including Native American, African traditional, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and more. This thorough investigation
• traces the origins and evolution of the major traditions of these world religions;
• provides deeper analyses and interpretation of their essential beliefs and teachings;
• outlines their practices;
• presents their ethical standpoints;
• discusses their main institutions, organizations, and actions;
• examines the original experiences that gave rise to a number of religions;
• follows the teachings on the sacred in each religion;
• reviews the status of women in each religion; and
• explains the challenges modern and postmodern worlds have presented to religions and how most of them have responded.
Seeking to provide a solid understanding of each religion, Discovering World Religions presents a guide through the maze of myriad beliefs and practices as part of a cultural system that both shapes and in turn is shaped by it.
The debate over who own yoga is appearing on the front page of major newspapers, such as THE NEW YORK TIMES today. For most people in the West, the term "yoga" conjures up various bodily postures and stretching exercises of what is called Hatha Yoga practiced mostly for health, fitness, stress reduction, and other proven mental and and spiritual benefits. Very few people know that yoga was perhaps a part of the original religion of India, the tantalizing evidence of which can be found among figurines in yoga-like postures found among the ruins of the Indus Civilization, which arose in India as early as 2,500 BCE. As a part of esoteric doctrines and practices, it was transmitted orally from teacher to student. Patanjali was the first to write a systematic treatise in about 200 BCE. The word "yoga" itself is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj" and means, among other things to join, bind together, unite, aggregate, and sum. In this root sense, Maitri Upanishad defines yoga as the method of joining the breath, the senses, the mind, and the world, and going beyond conditioned states. In the nondualist Vedanta tradition, yoga is the act, method, ans state of union with personal God or identity with the Godhead or Brahman. It is a path of life's return jouney to its Source. Patanjali himself defines yoga as stilling the ceaseless churning of the restless mind so as to attain self-transcendence. Thus yoga is a multifaceted phenomenon. Traditionally, five major types of yoga have been recongized: Yoga of Knowledge, Yoga of Devotion, Yoga of Action, Concentrative Yoga, which is also called Raja Yoga or the Royal Road, and Tantric Yoga--the path of unity through integration with all aspects of reality. There are numerous offshooots of these main types of yoga. Thus, Transcendental Meditation (TM) is an offshoot of Patanjali's Concentrative Yoga. The "Hare Krishnas" represent Yoga of Devotion. These and other forms of meditation, such as Buddhist and Daoist meditation or yoga are described clearly and succinctly in this book.
Gabriel J. Gomes earned BA and MA degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and a PhD from Columbia University, New York. He has taught at institutions such as Marymount College, Pace University, Western Connecticut State University, and Marist College. Gomes currently lives in Fishkill, New York.