In this fascinating book, Richard Smoley examines the roles God has played for us and reconciles them with what we today know through science and reason. In the process, he shows that consciousness is the underlying reality beneath everything in the universe.
In one of Hinduism’s great myths, Shiva plays a dice game with his consort, Parvati, and loses consistently. If he is the greatest god, why does he lose? Through this story, Richard Smoley explores the interplay between consciousness, represented by Shiva, and experience, exemplified by Parvati. He draws on numerous disciplines to offer an illuminating exploration of mind and matter and a provocative understanding of consciousness, the self, and the world.read more
I've been avoiding "rating" books since LT instituted this practice, but this book was such a disappointment, I"ll try to give a warning to any other would be readers.I was excited to hear about this book and that Smoley was very versed in philosophy and both Eastern and Western religions. Perhaps he is better versed in philosophy than I, so I will not criticize his comments on various philosophers.When it comes to religion, however, he is not the expert he sets himself up to be (if nothing else, writing a book such as this one is, in effect, de facto setting oneself as some type of authority). In the beginning chapters I was buying into his comments, but towards the end of the book he began such a rant against Christianity that I (an avowed Universalist Quaker) feel I have to take a stand.I will grant that Smoley is probably more familiar with Christianity than other religions--after all, those of us raised in the United States or Britain should be able to admit that it is almost a part of our civil religion. But _ad hominem_ arguments do not add to the authority or truthfulness of one's claims.To site a few examples, Smoley writes on page 136:"To speak of faith is to invoke Christianity, because no other religion in the world has placed such emphasis on faith or made so many demands on it. However post-Christian our civilization may be at this point, if we bring our thoughts to bear on faith, we will probably do so in terms of Christian concepts and categories."Surely this is only true if we are, or I will concede, were raised, as Christians?I am not a Muslim, but I do believe that _faith_ is certainly a key component of their religion (I daren't quite say faith!): The 5 Pillars of the Islamic Faith are1. Shahada (confession of faith)2. Salat (prayer)3. zakat (almsgiving)4. sawm (fasting, especially during Ramadan) and5. The Hadjj (pilgrimage to Mecca)The Jewish religion, in its many sects, also relies on faith. Abram, because of his great FAITH, was renamed Abraham; his wife Serai was renamed Sarah and gave birth at an advanced age.There are many sages/sadhus in India who go on pilgrimages, or perform ascetic austeries because of their faith that this is was their concept of the Divine wants.Buddhists of many different types believe in a myriad of heavens and hells because of their faith that their holy writings from down the centuries are true.on pages 159-60 Smoley takes on the Bible:"Consider this verse: 'The kingdom of God is within you' (Luke 17:21). So reads the King James Version, which, for all its faults, in many ways remains the most intellectually honest of all biblical translations: the translators did their best to render what they thought the text actually said rather than what they thought it ought to say."Hmmm. The KJV actually is NOT a translation, but is a "version" comprised of the poetry of, translation, and what the populace wanted from several older poor translations. I don't go so far as to call it a paraphrase, but it did not have rigorous scholarship behind it.Smoley goes on to write:"Most modern versions are more disingenuous, and this verse is a cas in point. The Revised Standard Version reads, 'The kingdom of God is in the midst of you.' I don't have an RSV to check, but the NEW Revised Standard Version reads: "...the kingdom of God is among you." with a note after "among" that reads "Or _within._" A guess would be that the Revised Standard Version has a similar notation. In any case, why choose a version that has long since been updated by the National Council of Churches. I do not own an NIV, but my guess is that it also shows alternative translating choices.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
No rating provided
While the subtitle could imply grandiose theorizing, Smoley (Forbidden Faith), the former editor of the journal Gnosis and a specialist in esoteric religious thought, has written a commendably modest book. In it, the sacred Vedas of Hinduism meet Western philosophers puzzling out causation, God, the nature of reality and other questions that have given philosophers and theologians of the East and West something to think about for the past few millennia. This history of thought predates contemporary neuroscience and its exciting discoveries about the relationship between brain and mind. It also reaches across the West-East spiritual divide (monotheistic, personal religion versus impersonal, nondual religious thought) to look at patterns, associations and categories that different cultures at different times have used to make sense of the world and the challenges offered by events of the world to human needs for justice and orderliness. This is a serious, almost old-fashioned history of ideas about transcendent and human thought rather than a cheesy come-on about how your thoughts can make you rich, beautiful and successful. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved