Kindle Pdf The Great Transformation The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions ↠ Karen Armstrong –

Kindle Pdf The Great Transformation The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions ↠ Karen Armstrong –

Karen Armstrong takes great mountains virtual Everests of wretched scholarly prose and turns them into something highly eadable She is a first ate disseminator and popularizer of the history of eligion The Great Transformation eviews the history of what Karl Jaspers famously termed the Axial Age During this period oughly 900 200 BCE the foundations for all of our present eligious traditions were laid down Hinduism Confucianism Buddhism Jainism Judaism the other monotheisms etc For example she follows the Aryans from the Caucasus onto the Gangetic Plain and unfolds the story of proto Hindu culture there Similarly she writes of the pre Biblical development of what would become Judaism and so on for all the elevant faiths These are stories I have never come across elsewhere Leave it to Armstrong to see this gap in common knowledge of eligious history and seek to fill it What she has undertaken here is of enormous scope To write the proto history and then the history of all the Axial faiths is not just ambitious it is an effort that astonishes the eader as he watches it unfold I ecommend all Armstrong s books but especially The Case for God also eviewed here and A History of God What marks her prose is tremendous empathy Her portraits of the various Axial Age peoples are stunning in their ange and complexity It is a very dense book but loaded with fascinating information for the patient eader Armstrong believes that there is much to be learned from our eligious history Properly understood it is both a cautionary tale and an indication of how very much we need spirituality in our lives To paraphrase Jean Paul Sartre without it we are left with a great God shaped hole in our lives Christopher Hitchens RIP and Richard Dawkins think we can discard it I disagree This is an integral part of our evolution as a species and we have much to learn from it Note The other writer of The Great Transformation argues that the core eligiousphilosophical traditions of several major civilizations China India Greece and Israel emerged at about the same time for the same easons and were preoccupied with the same ideas The time is what philosopher Karl Jaspers called the Axial Age the period from approximately 700 200 BC when these civilizations all developed philosophical or eligious tenets that emphasized what we might now call inner spiritual development ather than abasement before omnipotent deities The eason Armstrong suggests is that each of these societies was seeking a way beyond the incessent violence that marked their existence As for the ideas they have become cliches but are no less powerful for that first do unto others as you would have them do unto you and second be the change you wish to see in the world Armstrong concludes that from these concepts explored in different places and for somewhat different easons emerged Confusianism Buddhism classical Greek philosophy and abbinical Judaism she considers the core precepts of both Christianity and Islam to be mere latter day variations on abbinical Jewish thought with few innovations to contribute to that philosophical traditionMuch as I enjoy eading early eligious history I ll confess that I don t have the background to evaluate Armstrong s argument on its merits It s certainly compelling and given my own leanings which are pretty vague but could be said to be triagulated by agnosticism unitarianism and secular humanism the argument that eligion is In the ninth century BCE the peoples of four distinct egions of the civilized world created the eligious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity to the present day Confucianism and Daoism in China Hinduism and Buddhism in India monotheism in Israel and philosophical ationalism in Greece Later generations further developed these initial insights but we have never grown beyond them Rabbinic Judaism Christianity and Islam for example were all secondary flowerings of the original Israelite vision Now in The Great Transformation Karen Armstrong eveals how the sages of this pivotal Axial Age can speak clearly and helpfully to the violence and desperation

T its best when it emphasizes personal growth ather than proper worship of the correct Sky God is one I m inclined to favor I did find myself wondering whether Armstrong was overstating the extent to which these complex philosophies had an impact on their own societies as well as the extent to which they displaced even temporarily traditional eligious emphasis on pleasing andor appeasing an external deity In addition her final chapter aimed at today s fundamentalists of all faiths spends time celebrating Christianity s and Islam s connections to Axial Age tradition than exploring why those connections seem and a minor part of both faiths at least as professed by their loudest adherentsStill this was a thought provoking ead and while slow going at times one I found ewarding A final word of praise the book contains many useful maps and an excellent glossary both of which are essential to a work like this but I find are too arely included Bravo to Armstrong and her publisher for providing them they eally help This textbook covers the beginnings and transformation of the major world eligions through the Axel Age from 1600 BCE to 220 BCE plus an epilogue that brings the history into the current timeI borrowed this from our friend Steve last fall and I haven t had enough brain cells to absorb this much information until now This was the textbook from one of his eligion classes in undergrad he s a genius grad school engineer now and he passed it on to me because he knew I d love it I have to give this copy back to Steve but I m totally buying it for eference For the ecord I did not ead an entire textbook in a month I was eading this well into October as wellI thoroughly enjoyed this book I needed a clear head to ead it it s a lot of information to take in But it is amazing to trace the changes in philosophies and eligious practices over time with the changes in human development Each chapter is broken into four parts one focusing on each of the major Axel Age peoples in China Greece India and JerusalemThis was an introduction to this information for me so I m not eally able to fully criticize the biases or limitations of this text Armstrong did seem to have a strong detachment from the information except when she was drawing her main points in the introduction and final chapter All history texts of course are an argument the author chooses which information to include and which to leave behind in order to strengthen their points and persuade the eader to their way of thinking It is impossible to be objective when writing about history because of the vast amount of information out there Armstrong obviously focused on what tied the major world eligions together and made connections between their individual developments over the age A book could probably just as easily be written on the differences of these eligionsI d love to come back to this after I know PS If you dislike eligious history that is not written from a theological standpoint then you may find this work offensive Karen Armstrong looks beyond doctrine to find a common core in the eligious and philosophical traditions that emerged during the years 900 to 200 BCE an era the German philosopher Karl Jaspers called the Axial Age All around the world at the time people were trying to address the uestion of violence and endless war What she found in the writings of the great thinkers and sages of Confucianism and Daoism in China Hinduism and Bu. Hat we experience in our own times Armstrong traces the development of the Axial Age chronologically examining the contributions of such figures as the Buddha Socrates Confucius Jeremiah Ezekiel the mystics of the Upanishads Mencius and Euripides All of the Axial Age faiths began in principled and visceral ecoil from the unprecedented violence of their time Despite some differences of emphasis there was a emarkable consensus in their call for an abandonment of selfishness and a spirituality of compassion With egard to dealing with fear despair hatred age and violence the Axial sages gave their people and give us Armstrong says two important pieces of advice first there must be

Summary × eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB ´ Karen Armstrong

Ddhism in India Judais I started eading this book on Easter because although I am not eligious I wanted to celebrate the spirituality of the Holiday It was absolutely fascinating to ead the history of the four most popular eligions of the world and it was so interesting to discover that the Christian God s and Islams s Allah s story dates long back evolving from the story of Yahweh a warrior god who later on started to also support people with their crops and became omniscient and omnipresent when the Jews were exiled to Babylon and had to leave their physical temple the Greeks didn t eceive too much support and guidance from their Gods who seemed to mirror the same challenges they were going through so instead they focused on asking uestions analyzing and on dialogue which soon enough esulted in the invention of democracy philosophy and scientific interest the Hindus started focusing on themselves and invented meditation and the Buddhist practices when some wise scholars changed the sacrificial ituals eplacing the violence in them with an inward focus Instead of sacrificing an animal they would pretend to sacrifice themselves and that in exchange would make them feel they are one with the Gods Soon they ealized they can achieve Nirvana by themselves and a lot of them enounced the normal life to go on uests of finding their true selves sure that is not within each to everybody so the majority of the population still had a strong connection to the old Gods or just practiced yoga and various forms of simple meditation the Chinese people with a strong cult of the ancestors were much pragmatic and focused on the present life than on the past or future their ituals explained up to the utmost details were means to show how one should live the best of life I like how they believed that spirituality and heaven is something that you can bring on Earth ather then something you need to each forMy summary is of course over simplified What is interesting is to see how these eligious and spiritual practices evolved depending on the period on what happen in people s lives and what were their needs in certain times In our contemporary highly scientific world when people focus on their own individuality it is no wonder that so many people from western countries are now drawn to the spiritual practices of the yogis ather than the eligious christian ituals and the figure of an almighty GodWhat all the sages from the Axial Age had in common and what Karen Armstrong tried to show is that they all put the abandonment of selfishness and the spirituality of compassion at the top of their agenda No matter if their beliefs were secular or eligious as long as they made people act compassionately and to honor the stranger they were skillfulThe book is sometimes a challenge to follow as there are so many concepts and historical figures mentioned and you eally want to emember all I took a lot of notes I admire the author so much for having the skill and knowledge to put everything together so comprehensively and on top of that because in 2009 she created a Charter for Compassion an umbrella for people to engage in collaborative partnerships worldwide to do good Axial Age is a term coined by German philosopher Karl Jaspers in the sense of a pivotal age characterizing the period of ancient history from about the 8th to the 3rd century BCE the time in which all foundations that underlie current civilization came into being. Ersonal esponsibility and self criticism and it must be followed by practical effective action In her introduction and concluding chapter Armstrong urges us to consider how these spiritualities challenge the way we are eligious today In our various institutions we sometimes seem to be attempting to create exactly the kind of eligion that Axial sages and prophets had hoped to eliminate We often euate faith with doctrinal conformity but the traditions of the Axial Age were not about dogma All insisted on the primacy of compassion even in the midst of suffering In each Axial Age case a disciplined evulsion from violence and hatred proved to be the major catalyst of spiritual change.

Karen Armstrong a comparative religion specialist is the author of numerous books on religion including The Case for God A History of God The Battle for God Holy War Islam Buddha and Fields of Blood as well as a memoir The Spiral Staircase Her work has been translated into 45 languages In 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and began working with TED on the Charter for Compassion

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