Mystical experiences and practices-including dramatic visions, direct communication with the divine, intense spiritual quests, and hermetic lifestyles-are commonly associated with Eastern cultures. They are thought to be far removed from the monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
When does the Jewish Sabbath begin? Who are Vishnu and Shiva? What are Buddhism's Four Noble Truths? What are the Five Pillars of Islam? These questions are more than an academic exercise. Religious belief has been innate to humans everywhere and in every age, from the time of the Neanderthals to the 21st century. It's also one of the strongest motivators of human behavior and has a profound impact on all aspects of our culture—our spiritual beliefs, our rituals, our politics, and the very foundations of our democracy.
Acclaimed humanities teacher Phillip Cary explores thousands of years of deep reflection and brilliant debate over the nature of God, the human self, and the world. It's a debate that serves as a vivid introduction to the rich and complex history shared by the West's central religious and philosophical traditions.