Regular readers of this site will notice I have not updated the book selection in the sidebar in a while, and truth is, I haven’t been reading very much since starting my new job at the beginning of September. What’s more, the book I’m actually reading now, A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation, came off that sidebar list during the summer because I had found other things to read.
But two weeks ago, as I spent eight days serving on a criminal jury, I brought A New Religious America with me, and I’ve managed about a quarter of the book so far. I’m currently on the chapter that looks at the growth of Hinduism in the United States, and the author is discussing the Vedanta Society, a group based on the study of the Hindu philosophy that attempts to understand the real nature of reality.
Through an interview with Swami Tathagatananda of the Vedanta Society’s New York headquarters, the author summarizes the main teachings of Vedanta:
— God is one; people worship him in different forms (i.e., Shiva, Christ and Buddha)
— Humanity, in its essential nature, is divine
— The goal of humanity is to realize this divinity
— The ways to realize this divinity are innumerable.
“This is the temple that counts,” the swami said, pointing to his heart. When asked about Christian fundamentalism, he responded, “To think you own the Almight cannot but be counterfeit. No real experience of the infinite presence of God can leave you condemning your neighbor. When Christ suffered on the cross, he did not condemn either the theives next to him or the executioners. God within us is ‘the way, the truth, the life.’ “