COMPARATIVE SPIRITUALITY 101
 
Basic Texts

COMPARATIVE SPIRITUALITY 101
Part 1: Beyond Spiritual Correctness


Chris Tong, Ph.D.

54 pages, e-book

Practical Spirituality Press, 2000
ISBN: 0717302377

Chris Tong, Beyond Spiritual Correctness
 

We consider two tendencies that we inherit simply by virtue of living in Western culture — “spiritual correctness” and “spiritual anti-authoritarianism” — and we come to understand the liabilities they represent, relative to our own Spiritual happiness and liberation.

Spiritual correctness says: "all paths to the Divine or ultimate liberation are equal"; and anyone who suggests otherwise risks seriously offending or insulting whomever they are speaking with. But just as everybody knows that not all telescopes are created equal, not all religious means for tangibly linking up with the Divine are equally powerful, reliable, or revelatory. To find the means that will actually most benefit us Spiritually amidst the myriad of possibilities available, requires great discrimination.

Spiritual anti-authoritarianism began with the Protestant Reformation, in righteous reaction to the corruption of the Catholic Church (at the time, the exchange of money for a "reduced sentence" in purgatory). But this reaction too can be carried too far. We are all indeed equal in Spiritual “rights”, that is, in our Spiritual potential. But that does not mean we are all equal in our Spiritual Realization. And vive la difference! Thank God not everyone is equally Spiritually blind, and that the Spiritually Sighted are in a position to help the rest of us.

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COMPARATIVE SPIRITUALITY 101
Part 2: Three Views of Reality
and Human Potential


Chris Tong, Ph.D.

108 pages, e-book

Practical Spirituality Press, 2001
ISBN: 0717305430

Chris Tong, Three Views of Reality and Human Potential
 

Taken together, all the great wisdom traditions around the world and throughout history offer a wide variety of views on (and experiences of) the nature of the Greater Reality and human potential in the context of the Greater Reality. In this book, we make sense of and compare the differing views. We place particular emphasis on the views of materialism, esoteric spirituality, and exoteric religion.

Materialism, the view that what you see (or hear, or touch, or taste, or smell) is what you get (or all that is real), is seen to have many limitations, including its tendency to insist on reducing everything to merely materialistic terms; and its inability to adequately account (in merely materialistic terms) for human consciousness, and hence, human death.

Esoteric spirituality deepens human potential by acknowledging the Greater Reality, and providing the means for experientially embracing It. We briefly touch on four different dimensions of the greater Reality — animistic / psycho-physical, Spiritual, Transcendental, and Divine — and we will elaborate upon these dimensions, their Realization, and the means for Realizing them, in Books 9, 10, and 11.

Exoteric religion is understood to derive from an originally esoteric source (such as a great Spiritual Master or a shaman). The practitioner of a legitimate exoteric religion — one that is still in touch with its esoteric roots — engages disciplines aimed at bringing him or her to full human maturity, in preparation for taking up the esoteric practices of his or her tradition. When an exoteric religion loses touch with its esoteric roots (e.g., by being “re-shaped” for the sake of political and social survival), it can devolve into an illegitimate exoteric religion that still may be socially and politically influential, but is spiritually bankrupt.

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COMPARATIVE SPIRITUALITY 101
Part 3: The Sacred Earth — Realization of the Magical, Psycho-Physical Dimensions


Chris Tong, Ph.D.

145 pages, e-book

Practical Spirituality Press, 2001
ISBN: 0717309800

Chris Tong, The Sacred Earth: Realization of the Magical, Psycho-Physical Dimensions
 

In Three Views of Reality and Human Potential, we identified four different dimensions of the Greater Reality: animistic / psycho-physical, Spiritual, Transcendental, and Divine.

In the animistic / psycho-physical experience (aspects of which are shared by shamans, medicine men, and psychics), it is obvious that we arise as a psycho-physical being within Nature, which has not only a “body” (the “objective reality” of the materialists) but also a “soul”, or psyche. This Sacred Earth is a seamless, psychic unity, populated by all manner of etheric and psychic forces and entities beyond the merely physical, with which we are intimately inter-connected (in a way that is not discernable from the purely materialistic view) and to which we can learn to be rightly, magically related (and, in so doing, allow the Sacred Earth to be revelatory, even a bridge to God).

We conclude by studying the limitations of the purely animistic / psycho-physical view, relative to the ultimate human potential of Complete Awakening from the dream of changes (in both its material and greater-than-material aspects). We lay out which developments in the etheric and lower astral dimensions of our being are necessary and useful for supporting and quickening our Complete Awakening.

 

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COMPARATIVE SPIRITUALITY 101
Part 4: Heaven — Realization of the Spiritual Dimensions


Chris Tong, Ph.D.

Chris Tong, Heaven: Realization of the Spiritual Dimensions
 

In Three Views of Reality and Human Potential, we identified four different dimensions of the Greater Reality: animistic / psycho-physical, Spiritual, Transcendental, and Divine.

In this book, we study those dimensions associated with the Spiritual view, along with the practices for Realizing these dimensions, and the egoic obstacles that must be transcended. We base our study on the understanding that we, ourselves, are a multi-dimensional composite of elements from these different dimensions (matter, spirit, and Consciousness). In the Spiritual view and Realization, it is obvious that we arise as a “spirit” within the all-pervading Divine Spirit, that we are always a part of God.

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COMPARATIVE SPIRITUALITY 101
Part 5: Beyond Heaven and Earth — Ultimate Realizations


Chris Tong, Ph.D.

Chris Tong, Beyond Heaven and Earth: Ultimate Realizations
 

In Three Views of Reality and Human Potential, we identified four different dimensions of the Greater Reality: animistic / psycho-physical, Spiritual, Transcendental, and Divine.

In this book, we study those dimensions associated with the Transcendental and Divine views, along with the practices for Realizing these dimensions, and the egoic obstacles that must be transcended. We base our study on the understanding that we, ourselves, are a multi-dimensional composite of elements from these different dimensions (matter, spirit, and Consciousness). In the Transcendental view and Realization, it is obvious that we arise as a conditional being, along with all of conditional reality, in an Unconditional, Transcendental Reality. In some traditions, the Transcendental Reality is also a personal, Transcendental Consciousness, which is obviously our own True Self. In the Divine view and Realization, it is obvious that everything arises within a Divine Being Who is simultaneously all-pervading Spirit and Transcendental Consciousness; it is directly obvious that we are That One, and that everything is merely a modification of That Consciousness.

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Religious Plurality and Apologetics:
Relativism and Uniqueness Claims

Truth in Religion:
The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth


Mortimer Adler

 

The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth
 

"Only if, with regard to the diversity of religions, there are questions about truth and falsehood do we have a problem about the pluralism of religions and the unity of truth. That problem is not concerned with preserving religious liberty, freedom of worship, and the toleration, in a particular society or in the world, of a diversity of religious institutions, communities, practices, and beliefs. It is concerned only with the question of where, in that diversity, the truth lies if there is any truth in religion at all."

excerpt from Truth in Religion

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The Varieties of Religious Experience

William James

The Varieties of Religious Experience
 

When William James went to the University of Edinburgh in 1901 to deliver a series of lectures on "natural religion," he defined religion as "the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine." Considering religion, then, not as it is defined by--or takes place in--the churches, but as it is felt in everyday life, he undertook a project that, upon completion, stands not only as one of the most important texts on psychology ever written, not only as a vitally serious contemplation of spirituality, but for many critics one of the best works of nonfiction written in the 20th century. Reading The Varieties of Religious Experience, it is easy to see why. Applying his analytic clarity to religious accounts from a variety of sources, James elaborates a pluralistic framework in which "the divine can mean no single quality, it must mean a group of qualities, by being champions of which in alternation, different men may all find worthy missions." It's an intellectual call for serious religious tolerance--indeed, respect--the vitality of which has not diminished through the subsequent decades.
Amazon.com

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The Elephant in the Dark:
Christianity, Islam and the Sufis


Idries Shah

The Elephant in the Dark
 

In 1969, Idries Shah was awarded the Dictionary of International Biography's Certificate of Merit for Distinguished Service to Human Thought. Other honors included a Two Thousand Men of Achievement award (1971), Six First Prizes awarded by the UNESCO International Book Year (1972), and the International Who's Who in Poetry's Gold Medal for Poetry (1975).

"Christian scholars often say that Sufi theories are close to those of Christianity. Many Moslems maintain that they are essentially derived from Islam. The resemblance of many Sufi ideas to those of several religious and esoteric systems are sometimes taken as evidence of derivation. The Islamic interpretation is that religion is of one origin, differences being due to local or historical causes. Rumi, the Sufi teacher of 700 years ago, has emphasised and strikingly illustrated the last contention in his tale of the men who sought to examine an elephant by the sense of touch alone. Each thought that one part was the whole, and experienced it, moreover, in a manner slightly different from reality. The elephant was only, for one a fan (an ear), for another a rope (the tail), for a third a pillar (a leg) and so on. These lectures provide material for the consideration of common factors, in theory and in development, from the viewpoint of the idea of surrender to the Divine Will, reviewing some aspects of the interplay between Christians and Moslems, and introducing material from and about Sufis."

excerpt from The Elephant in the Dark

Admirable above all for its economy, its elegant pithiness. When you have finished with even a little book like this one, you find yourself in possession of the necessary basic information. . . . aims at redressing balances, and to say what we have in common, on what we can build.
New Society

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Religious Pluralism in the West:
An Anthology


David George Mullan (editor)

Religious Pluralism in the West
 

Presents a complete historical overview of the themes relating to religious intolerance, toleration and liberty, from Plato to Vatican II. The issue of religious pluralism continues to be high on the agenda in our increasingly multicultural societies within both secular and religious spheres. This book will therefore be a valuable resource for students studying courses in religion, theology and the social sciences.

The readings contained within the anthology cover the attitudes of religious pluralism from antiquity to the present day. An interdisciplinary, as well as chronological, approach to pluralistic themes is adopted, and it is demonstrated how the issues so pertinent and visible in today´s society have always been a cause for discussion and debate. One of the strengths of the book is that it shows the various ambiguities which a study of pluralism entails, so that intolerance may be viewed in a less moralistic light, while liberty is presented as being not without is own difficulties.

Also includes a substantial introduction by the volume editor and suggestions for further reading.

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The Myth of Christian Uniqueness:
Toward a Pluralistic Theology of Religions


John Hick and Paul Knitter (editors)

 

"What should we do with all those good Buddhists and Muslims? It's a tough question. Three years of rigorous Christian seminary is still not enough to convince me that they go to Hell. It's nice to know that Knitter and Hick feel the same way. If you are looking for a cogent, scholarly approach to the kind of pluralism that most of us accept logically but have trouble defending theologically, this is the book to buy. In addition, its bibliography is outstanding."
C. Joshua Villines, Christian clergyman

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Christianity and Plurality:
Classic and Contemporary Readings


Richard J. Plantinga

Christianity and Plurality
 

A unique and important contribution to the growing debate regarding the the co-existence of various religious traditions and the subsequent questions religious pluralism raises about exclusivity within the Chrisitian faith. This text derives its strength from its balanced presentation of primary sources on religious pluralism from the Patristic era of Christianity to the present. With the aide of a helpful introduction on the issue of pluralism which surveys relevant Biblical texts, Christianity and Plurality encapsulates a variety of opinions on this issue by drawing upon authors both Protestant and Catholic, broadly orthodox and skeptical. By presenting the fruits of two thousand years of thought without thesis or editorial comment Dr. Richard J. Plantinga enables his readers to contemplate individual contributions to this issue without wading through an authorial viewpoint that could influence a readers interpretation of the included texts. Thorough footnoting and recommendations as to other texts regarding this topic aide in furthering a readers investigation of pluralism. I recommend this text as the finest introduction to the issue of religious pluralism now available.
Matthew Flemming

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Avatar and Incarnation

Geoffrey Parrinder

Avatar and Incarnation
 

Geoffrey Parrinder looks at the origin and development of the doctrine of the presence of a divine being on earth, exploring Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam.

"A valuable contribution to the study of religion, and a testimony to the vigor of British scholarship in this field."
Times Literary Supplement

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The All-Completing and Final Divine Revelation To Mankind

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

 

The All-Completing and Final Divine Revelation to Mankind
 

Conventionally heroic and "Creative" personalities Tend To Grasp Only A Portion Of The Great Lesson Of conditional Existence. They Realize a genius For Struggle and self-Sacrifice, but (Unless -- By Grace, and By self-Transcendence, Even By Advancing To The Ultimate Stages Of Life -- They Realize The Truth Itself) they Never Realize Happiness Itself.

Happiness (Like Consciousness and Existence) Is Inherent (or Perfectly Subjective). Happiness Is Not Objectified (or Made an object), and It (Therefore) Cannot Be Attained By The Effort Of Seeking. Happiness (or Inherent Love-Bliss) Cannot Be Achieved objectively (or Accomplished conditionally). You Cannot Become Happy (Any More Than You Can Become Being, or Achieve Existence, or Become Consciousness, or Be Other Than Consciousness). You Can Only Be Happy (or Realize Love-Bliss Immediately, and Inherently, or Always Already, and Perfectly Subjectively).

* * *

There Is No "thing".
There
Is No "other".
There Is No Separate Person.
There Is No world.
There Is No Cosmic Domain.
There Is No such experience.
There Are No Two "Things".
There Is Only One.

Thus, This Immense Cycle Of Motions and worlds and epochs -- With All The Suffering In It, and Everything It Involves Altogether -- Is Not Happening, and Never Did Happen.

There Is No Suffering.
There Is No Godlessness.
There Is Not The Slightest Modification Of The Divine Self-Domain.
This Is Really So, Not Merely Metaphorically So.

Even What Appears To Be Your present lifetime Of Difficulty and Struggle Is Not Happening, and Never Happened. And, Yet, From any Particularized point of view, The Reality Of All Apparent Happenings Is Clearly and Undeniably So.

Reality Is An Immense Paradox That Cannot (From any conditional point of view) Be Comprehended. Ultimately, All conditional Efforts To Investigate Reality and Figure It Out Are Confounded. Only Reality Itself Comprehends Itself (and whatever and All That is conditionally Existing). Therefore, Paradoxically, The Context For Realizing Truth Is The Condition Of Absolute Confoundedness (or Divine Ignorance). Truly, Most Perfect Divine Self-Realization, or Divine Enlightenment, or Most Ultimate Divine Awakening, Requires (As A Prerequisite) That You Be Absolutely Confounded, Absolutely knowledgeless, and Absolutely Surrendered -- Utterly Free Of Any Effort To Control or To Survive.

excerpt from The All-Completing and Final Divine Revelation To Mankind

Nothing like this has ever been Revealed before!
Roger Savoie, Ph.D., Philosopher, writer, translator and author

Adi Da expresses the most profound insight in the simplest terms. He makes clear the principles of the highest Realization.
David Corner, Lecturer in Indian Philosophy, California State University, Sacramento

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