At the center of the religious life is a peculiar kind of joy, the prospect of a happy ending that blossoms from necessarily painful ordeals, the promise of human difficulties embraced and overcome.
Every society and religion has rules, for both have moral laws. And the essence of morality consists, as in art, of drawing the line somewhere.
Exclusively oral cultures are unencumbered by dead knowledge, dead facts. Libraries, on the other hand, are full of them.
First of all, my persuasion is what really breeds violence is political differences. But because religion serves as the soul of community, it gets drawn into the fracas and turns up the heat.
God has to speak to each person in their own language, in their own idioms. Take Spanish, Chinese. You can express the same thought, but to different people you have to use a different language. It’s the same in religion.
God is defined by Jesus but not confined to Jesus.
Human intelligence is a reflection of the intelligence that produces everything. In knowing, we are simply extending the intelligence that comes to and constitutes us. We mimic the mind of God, so to speak. Or better, we continue and extend it.
I am critical of modernity giving science and technology a blank check as if it were the fountain of all truth. That is not true. And I think I may have introduced a word which has now caught on quite a bit, scientism. Science is good. It simply reports a discovery.
I am very orthodox in thinking that Jesus acted in his life the way God would have acted if God had assumed human form.
I don’t have any fear of death. I do, however, have an inordinate fear of becoming dependent on other people. To me, that’s the severest test, not death.
I grew up taking it for granted that missionaries were what American boys grew up to be.
I had assumed that Bush’s seemingly inflexible policy to support Sharon was for political reasons of his getting elected. But as to whether he really believes his actions are going to hasten the day of the final conflict, I do not know.
I happen to be a Christian. I was brought up and drenched in that. I am very orthodox in thinking that Jesus acted in his life the way God would have acted if God had assumed human form.
I think it matters almost infinitely that we practice one of the authentic religions. But if you mean does it make any difference which. The answer is no, as long as each is followed with equal intensity, sincerity, dedication.
I’m not a chauvinist. I’m a universalist. I think that God imploded, like a spiritual big bang, to launch the eight civilizations that make up recorded history and the religions in those civilizations.
I’ve spent the last 50 years or so steeping myself in the world’s religions, and I’ve done my homework. I’ve gone to each of the world’s eight great religions and sought out the most profound scholars I could find, and I’ve apprenticed myself to them and actually practiced each faith.
In my town, I had only one adult American male role model: my father. I grew up taking it for granted that missionaries were what American boys grew up to be.
In nature, the emphasis is in what is rather than what ought to be.
In order to live man must believe in that for which he lives.
It is commonly said and known that each civilization has its own religion. Now my claim is that if we look deeper, the different civilizations were brought into being by the different revelations.
It’s often difficult for us to act compassionately, but sacred art eases the difficulty by ennobling us.
No one in human history has given as much thought to the interweaving of altered states of consciousness and religion as I have.
Poetry is a special use of language that opens onto the real. The business of the poet is truth telling, which is why in the Celtic tradition no one could be a teacher unless he or she was a poet.
Pure science – this vision of the universe as 15 billion light years across – I am bedazzled and awed by it.
Rationalism and Newtonian science has lured us into dark woods, but a new metaphysics can rescue us.
Religion is the call to confront reality; to master the self.
Science is empirical, all about physical senses that tell us about the world. But physical senses are not the only senses we have. Nobody has ever seen a thought. Nobody has ever seen a feeling. And yet thoughts and feelings are where we live our lives most immediately, and science cannot connect with that.
Science is like a flashlight in the hands of people living in a huge balloon. They can illuminate anything in the balloon, but cannot shine it outside the balloon to see where it is floating – or if it is floating at all.
So always, if we look back, concern for face-to-face morality, and its modern emphasis on justice as well, have historically evolved as religious issues.
Swallow your pride and admit that we all need help at times.
The Buddha is in me, the Buddha is in you. Live up to it.
The Chinese began with the assumption that the group is the fundamental unit of reality. Individuals? Sure, we can factor them out from their groups, but let us not think that they as individuals have any viability apart from their group.
The crisis that the world finds itself in as it swings on the hinge of a new millennium is located in something deeper than particular ways of organizing political systems and economies.
The faith I was born into formed me.
The faith I was born into formed me. I come from a missionary family – I grew up in China – and in my case, my religious upbringing was positive. Of course, not everyone has this experience. I know many of my students are what I have come to think of as wounded Christians or wounded Jews.
The modern period adds social ethics to religions agenda, for we now realize that social structures are not like laws of nature. They are human creations, so we are responsible for them.
The most powerful moral influence is example.
The New Age movement looks like a mixed bag. I see much in it that seems good: It’s optimistic; it’s enthusiastic; it has the capacity for belief. On the debit side, I think one needs to distinguish between belief and credulity.
The notion that Western religions are more rigid than those of Asia is overdrawn. Ours is the most permissive society history has ever known – almost the only thing that is forbidden now is to forbid – and Asian teachers and their progeny play up to this propensity by soft-pedaling Hinduism’s, Buddhism’s, Sufism’s rules.
The scientific method is nearly perfect for understanding the physical aspects of our life. But it is a radically limited viewfinder in its inability to offer values, morals and meanings that are at the center of our lives.
There are wonderfully intrinsic moments when life makes sense, and doubts are banished as irrelevant in those moments. Of course, we can’t stay in that state. We’re not here to be blissed out all the time.
Walnuts have a shell, and they have a kernel. Religions are the same. They have an essence, but then they have a protective coating. This is not the only way to put it. But it’s my way. So the kernels are the same. However, the shells are different.
When I read the Upanishads, which are part of Vedanta, I found a profundity of worldview that made my Christianity seem like third grade.
When the scientific method came into being, it gave us a new window on the truth; namely, a method by laboratory-controlled experiments to winnow true hypotheses from false ones.
Whether things turn out for the better depends on what we do. We ought not spend our time masterminding the future, but recognize our marching orders: to do the best we can for history and the planet.
You subtract Christianity from Huston Smith, and there is no Huston Smith left.